Al-Qaeda 'has no business' to comment on Karnataka student Muskan, says Congress

Muskan’s father also condemned Al-Qaeda's video, saying that it is an “attempt at creating division”.
Collage of Muskan Khan on the left and Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri on the right
Collage of Muskan Khan on the left and Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri on the right
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The Congress on Thursday, April 7, lashed out at Al-Qaeda for wading into the hijab controversy in Karnataka and said that the banned terrorist organisation “has no business” to comment about the the “internal affairs of the country”. The statement came after a video was shared by Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al Zawahiri, in which he praises Karnataka college student Muskan Khan after she stood up to those heckling her for wearing a burqa amid the hijab row protests.

In the Arabic video clip, with English subtitles provided by the American SITE Intelligence Group that tracks online activity of white supremacist and jihadist organisations, Zawahiri also reads out a poem, which he says he wrote for "our Mujahid sister" and for her "brave feat". "May Allah reward her for exposing the reality of Hindu India and the deception of its pagan democracy," the Al-Qaeda chief said in the video. Muskan’s father has condemned the video, calling it an “attempt at creating division”.

While the Congress condemned his praise for Muskan’s decision “brave feat”, it also charged the BJP and right wing organisations with trying to 'polarise' and 'vitiate' the atmosphere of Karnataka with an eye on the 2023 Assembly polls. "Let me make it amply clear in most unequivocal terms that we condemn the statement of Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organisation, it is a banned organiation, and it has no business to comment anything about the internal affairs our country... Congress party strongly condemns it," Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken told reporters.

Maken said his party condemned the behaviour of the Karnataka Home Minister and demanded the sacking of Araga Jnanendra besides booking a case against him, alleging that he tried to disturb peace. "Both of them are doing the same thing, their statements are polarising and vitiating the atmosphere of the country..... Karnataka has a composite culture and that is why Bengaluru and the state is the most favoured destination for businessmen, investors throughout the world. Please don't polarise this atmosphere," he added.

Maken was referring to the recent remarks of the Karnataka Home Minister, with regards to the killing of a Dalit youth in Bengaluru. The minister had alleged that the 22-year-old was passing by an area with a high Muslim population, and that he was killed for not knowing Urdu. However, the police later issued a statement, clarifying that the murder was an incident of road rage. The Congress on Thursday filed a complaint against Jnanendra and sought his arrest, as he “intended to portray the whole of the Muslim community in a bad light”.

On the recent incidents of right wing groups demanding boycotting of halal meat, non-hindu traders in temple fairs, and ban on loudspeakers at mosques, he said they are doing it now to divert the attention of people from the "failures of the BJP government and 40% (commission) corruption charge against it".

Asking people of the state to "read behind things", Maken said, "these people are right wingers here, Al-Qaeda is right wingers somewhere else. So one right winger is trying to help the other right both are right wingers, and they are trying to polarise."

The Congress will counter these things by taking up real issues, which impacts the common man, he said, adding that "in Karnataka the party has been performing exceedingly well and that is why most of the issues (like hijab, halal) are originating here. It is because the BJP here is scared," he claimed. 

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