Furfura Sharif cleric Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui adds fuel to communal fire

Siddiqui’s hate speech against those who allegedly placed a Quran at a Durga Puja pandal in Bangladesh is a call to violence

Furfura Sharif cleric Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui adds fuel to communal fire

While the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led Bangladesh government has sprung into action to control the communal tensions in the country, across the border in West Bengal, hardliner Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, who is the cleric at Furfura Sharif, and the founder Indian Secular Front (ISF) has added fuel to the communal fires. Siddiqui’s latest statement that those who allegedly placed a copy of the Quran at a Durga Puja pandal in Bangladesh should be “beheaded” is one of the most dangerous ones made on the issue.

A video of Siddiqui recently went viral where he says the men who allegedly placed a copy of the Quran near the feet of a deity at a Durga Puja pandal in Bangladesh should be “beheaded”. Siddiqui reportedly made this vile and dangerous statement at a program in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas on Friday and said that it was not right that Muslim youth were even attending Durga Puja, claiming that he remembered that a few years ago, “a Kaaba themed Durga Puja pandal,” was made adding “if Kaaba is liked so much then why don’t you embrace Islam?” He screams that “intollerence to Islam will not be tollerated,” then adding in a mellow tone that “limits had been crossed”. 

As soon as that video went viral on social media, Abbas Siddiqui demanded an inquiry into the matter of the alleged desecration in Bangladesh. According to news reports, his brother Mohammad Nawsad Siddique, ISF’s sole MLA in the West Bengal Assembly, has also written to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeking a probe into the incident, and “stern action against perpetrators of crimes against minorities.”

Siddiqui’s rise a shot in the arm for BJP?

As controversy continues over Siddiqui’s statement, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded that he be arrested. According to India Today, BJP MP Rahul Sinha has appealed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to order the arrest, alleging that Siddiqui “was trying to disturb the communal atmosphere in the state”. Meanwhile Trinamool Congress’s Kunal Ghosh reportedly took a dig at the Left leaders, asking them why they were not condemning Siddiqui’s statement. This is significant because Abbas Siddiqui’s ISF had contested the last election in alliance with the Left Front and Congress, against the TMC.

In March 2021, SabrangIndia had reported that Abbas Siddiqui from Furfura Sharif was being talked about all over the place, especially over the vicious, violent and sexist video against TMC MP Nusrat Sultan, in which he calls her (foul) names, and says that she should be tied to a tree and beaten up. Abbas Siddiqui and his older uncle the Pirzada, Toha Siddiqui, are the two important symbols there. Abbas Siddiqui is known as ‘Bhaijaan” there and the report stated that Abbas Siddiqui’s style was that of an  aggressive “rabble-rouser par excellence,” while Toha was discreet, committed quietly to Trinamool.

However, as time has proven, Abbas Siddiqui’s aggressive style and his way of courting controversy has also kept his party, ISF in the news. On the flip side these hardline aggressions have also cost his allies CPI(M) and the Congress dearly in the state. That leaves the BJP hoping to reap the political benefits that Siddiqui’s conservative, and perhaps even fundamentalist ideas and hate speech, may have in the long run. He has in the past, reported Outlook “wished before ‘Allah’ in the aftermath of the Delhi riots in 2020″, and that, “He should send a virus to India that could kill crores.” Siddiqui has also “lambasted France over the Muhammad caricature row in the aftermath of a school teacher’s beheading,” and said that “those insulting the Prophet were illegitimate born” and called for giving them “proper treatment.” He has reportedly called secular Muslims ‘kafir’, or infidels on occasions. 

According to Outlook, “His uncle Tawha Siddiqui, who was so-long the most-known face from the Furfura Sharif, rubbished Abbas as nothing but a creation of the BJP” around the Assembly elections and had added, “Let a hundred Asaduddin Owaisis or Abbas Siddiquis come. The people of Bengal are in favour of communal harmony and they will not vote for the agents of communal parties. Mamata Banerjee is all set to return to power.” Tawha Siddiqui’s words were prophetic.

Abbas Siddique criticised widely

The Furfura Sharif cleric has been condemned widely for his hate speech, and according to news reports both Congress and CPI(M) have distanced themselves from him. The WBPCC President Adhir Chowdhury called Siddique’s statement deplorable saying, ”Congress had never indulged in communal politics. For us protecting the harmony of the state and country is more important than vote-bank politics.” Left front leader Sujan Chakraborty said, ”Only he can explain why he made such an irresponsible statement. We condemn his utterances about beheading” reported Devidiscourse. TMC spokesman Kunal Ghosh had earlier urged CPIM and Congress ”to unequivocally condemn their alliance partner Siddique who has threatened to sever the head…..please say you disapprove such statements.” 

Bangladesh clerics call for peace

In Bangladesh, Abul Kalam Azad Bashar, an Islamic scholar said that it was “absolutely unislamic to attack any place of worship and gave reference of quranic ayat “lakum deenakum waliyadeen, (you follow your religion, let others follow theirs)”. According to a video shared on Facebook, he can be heard saying, “Police fired at the violent mob to stop the violence, those who died in firing are not martyrs, don’t call them Shaheed. How can anyone dying in the process of committing a crime can be called a martyr?” He calls for peace and says police and other government agencies will investigate and “if there has been any disrespect to the scripture… allow the justice to prevail.” 

According to Bashar, as translated by social media users, to “attack minorities and attack their places of worship is a crime in itself and it triggers a reaction in India and innocent minorities in India are also targeted by similar mobs. this is the result of such mindless aggression.” He reportedly refers to teaching of the Holy Quran to explain that “you can not punish any other individual for someone else’s crime” and that any action without understanding and conscience will make you crazy and destroy you.”



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