Muslims from India’s Mumbai city and its surrounding areas on Friday demanded deployment of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Arab and West Asian countries where pro-democracy and pro-reform protests were raging.
The demand was made by several speakers after a huge rally of Muslims organised by several Sunni and Shia organisations at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai, a spokesman, Imran Rasool, said.
Among the organisations, the Khoja Isnaashari Jamaat urged UN forces to be rushed to countries like Bahrain and Yemen to ensure that civilians, including Indians, are safe there, while also calling upon the Indian government to do its bit.
‘All possible steps must be taken by the Indian government to ensure that the repressive regimes are immediately ended,’ Jamaat’s president Safdar H. Karmali said.
Maulana Ahmed Abidi, Khoja Jama Masjid’s head priest Maulana Hasan Karmali and others also demanded immediate cessation of all violence against the peaceful, unarmed protesters struggling for democracy.
They noted that there has been ‘unprecedented levels of state oppression’ and now there was ‘foreign oppression’, referring to the offensive launched by western countries in Libya as well as some Persian Gulf states sending troops to Bahrain.
‘Bahrain is now gripped by further violence after the Saudi Arabian and UAE forces entered the country last week compelling the Bahrain ruler to declare a national emergency,’ said Maulana Ahmed Abidi.
Protesters in Bahrain have been demanding political reforms and greater freedom. A government crackdown on protesters has left at least 12 people dead since Feb 14.
The speakers also demanded steps by the Indian government on these issues. ‘We demand that India should condemn military action against innocent people and enquire about the Indians living and working there,’ social activist Sabbir Somji said.
The protest was held post-Friday namaaz to express solidarity with the people of Bahrain and other Arab countries where democratic movements have strengthened in the past couple of months.