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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08NEWDELHI1515 2008-06-04 13:32:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

INDIAN MUSLIMS RALLY AGAINST TERRORISM, AGAIN

Tags:   PGOV PREL PTER KISL IN 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 001515 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/03/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER KISL IN
SUBJECT: INDIAN MUSLIMS RALLY AGAINST TERRORISM, AGAIN

REF: NEW DELHI 623

Classified By: A/PolCouns Joel Ehrendreich for reasons 1.4 (B,D)



1. (SBU) Summary: Leading Indian Muslim clerics denounced
terrorism as un-Islamic at two separate, very different
events over the May 31-June 1 weekend. Seizing the political
upper hand, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
publicly welcomed the events and focused on their
anti-government sentiments. The BJP senses that terrorism
will be a winning issue for them in the coming national
elections, and took the opportunity to bash the United
Progressive Alliance (UPA) for having "completely failed" to
tackle terror. Over the last several months, numerous Muslim
clerics have publicly condemned terrorism. Their comments
tend to follow a familiar line: condemn terrorism as
un-Islamic, denounce authorities for indiscriminately
targeting all Muslims, and throw in plenty of anti-US,
anti-Israel rhetoric for good measure. The anti-terror
declarations are helpful, to the extent they create an
increasingly larger community of people who agree violence is
not acceptable. But deadly acts such as the recent Jaipur
blasts require only rudimentary bombs and a handful of
committed individuals (in a country of 1.1 billion).
Terrorism is an incumbent government's problem, and the BJP
will ensure the Congress Party's "failings" remain center
stage from now until election day. End Summary.

"Mass" Rally


--------------------------





2. (U) At a rally on May 31, clerics from Darul Uloom Deoband
officially issued a fatwa against terrorism. The fatwa read,
"Islam is a religion of peace and security. In its eyes, on
any part over the surface of the earth, spreading mischief,
rioting, breach of peace, bloodshed, killing of innocent
persons and plundering are the most inhuman crimes." Mahmood
Asad Madani, JUH leader and Uttar Pradesh Rajya Sabha MP,
along with Deoband's Rector Marghoobur Rehman and Deputy
Rector Qari Syed Mohammad Usman presided over the conclave.
According to Embassy personnel at the rally, the crowd
cheered enthusiastically when Usman condemned "the dual
policy of America," and stated, "Whenever Christian and
American interests are hurt in any part of the world, they
take prompt action to set things right, even at the cost of
human lives. They maintain silence though, when Muslims are
victims." While organizers had hoped for 500,000 people,
attendance was closer to 50,000, not a particularly large
gathering for
India.

Formal Conference


--------------------------





3. (U) On June 1, New Delhi's prominent Jama Masjid hosted
religious and political leaders from around the region for a
more staid affair to discuss terrorism and how to best
counter it. High-level conference attendees including the
Dalai Lama, the Archbishop of Delhi, UPA Science and
Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Jammu and Kashmir Chief
Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Samajwadi Party leader Amar
Singh took turns denouncing terrorism. The Dalai Lama lauded
India's religious diversity, telling the gathering, "India's
long tradition of religious tolerance can be a role model for
the rest of the world." Minister Sibal said terrorism "knows
no boundaries, we need global cooperation and understanding
to check it." Ever the politician, he added, "Making it an
electoral issue will encourage terrorists." Not heeding this
call, conference organizer and Jama Masjid Imam, Syed Ahmad
Bukhari lashed out at the Gujarat BJP Chief Minister
declaring, "Narendra Modi is terrorist number one in the
country."

BJP Sees a Winning Issue...


--------------------------





4. (U) The BJP was quick to laud the Deoband sponsored rally
and could not resist using the event to attack the Congress
Party. BJP President Rajnath Singh, speaking at the party's
national executive meeting, complimented Deoband for its

NEW DELHI 00001515 002 OF 002


anti-terror fatwa and accused the UPA of "wanting to equate
Muslims with terrorism." He said the UPA had "completely
failed" to tackle terrorism and repeated BJP calls for new
prevention of terrorism legislation. Imam Bukhari's comments
about Chief Minister Modi were not addressed.

...That's Not Likely to Go Away


--------------------------





5. (C) Comment: The chorus of Muslim voices against terror
has swelled in recent months. In equal measure (if not more
so) those voices have also criticized the GOI for
indiscriminately harassing and arresting innocent Muslims
whenever an incident occurs - every several months for the
last few years. This puts the weakening Congress Party in a
tight spot. The Muslim vote is up for grabs as regional
parties such as the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party
erode this once loyal Congress Party vote bank. The Congress
can talk tough on terror, but the party will not take any
significant actions, such as enacting new prevention of
terrorism legislation, for fear of losing more Muslim voters.
Meanwhile, the BJP will take any opportunity to criticize
the UPA on its "failed" terrorism record. The BJP smells
victory in the upcoming national elections, and terrorism is
a major plank in their electoral platform. Between now and
the May 2009 elections, terrorism will continue,
condemnations will continue, and the likely political fallout
will be positive for the BJP and negative for the Congress.
End Comment.
MULFORD