“The Islamists want CAA protests to be ‘inclusive’ only till the time you, the non Muslims, start accepting their religious identity, beliefs and supremacist slogans as gospel,” tweeted BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya while sharing a video of journalist Arfa Khanum.
In the 42 second clip, Khanum can be heard saying, “A common opinion should be developed at least among the people here that until we become an ideal society where our religious identity, our religious beliefs and our slogans are accepted, we should carry out an inclusive protest. This protest is also taking us to a society where everybody will be included. So we aren’t compromising our ideology, I want to reiterate this. We are not compromising out ideology but changing our strategy.”[Translated from: यहाँ पर एक आम राय कम से कम जितने लोग बैठे हुए है की एक आम राय इसको लेके बने कि जब तक हम वो आइडियल सोसाइटी बन पाए जहा हमारी मज़बी पहचानो, हमारी मज़बी जो बिलीफ है, जो हमारे नारे है, उनको लेकर एक तरह का एक्सेप्टेन्स पैदा हो तब तक हम एक इंक्लूसिव प्रोटेस्ट करे. और ये प्रोटेस्ट भी हमे उसी सोसाइटी की तरह ले जा रहे है जहा हम सबको शामिल करेंगे। तो हम हमारी जो आइडियोलॉजी है उससे कोम्प्रोमाईज़ नहीं कर रहे है, आयी वांट टू रीइटरेट यहाँ हम हमारी आइडियोलॉजी से कोम्प्रोमाईज़ नहीं कर रहे है, हम अपनी स्ट्रेटेजी बदल रहे है।]
The video was also tweeted by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra who took it up a notch and claimed that Khanum disclosed the strategy to develop an ‘Islamic Caliphate’. “Hindus will be required only till the time an Islamic society is not created. (हिंदुओं की आवश्यकता केवल “तब तक” ही है जब तक इस्लामिक Society का निर्माण न हो जाए),” wrote Patra.
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri also tweeted the video along similar lines – “Islamic Caliphate Chief strategist @khanumarfa explains how to fool people with words like ‘inclusive’ in order to establish an ideal Islamic Society in India.”
Other usual suspects were BJP Mahila Morcha’s Priti Gandhi, BJP politician Major Surendra Poonia, BJP spokesperson Suresh Nakhua, BJP supporter Shubhrashtha, Pakistani-Canadian author Tarek Fatah, Manushi founder Madhu Kishwar, lawyer Prashant Patel Umaro, Swarajya columnist Shefali Vaidya, former Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai, former Shiv Sena member Ramesh Solanki and former MyNation editor Abhijit Majumdar. Many of them reposted the video first tweeted by @EthnicLinkGuru.
CLIPPED VIDEO TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT
The complete speech delivered by journalist Arfa Khanum at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was uploaded by The Wire on January 24, 2020. It is titled as, “The language of anti-CAA movement shouldn’t be Muslim but secular.”Khanum is a senior editor at The Wire.
Nearly half-way into her speech, the journalist congratulates the women of AMU who shaped the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). At 14:42, Khanum says, “However, it is important to understand how we want to protest.” She expresses solidarity with those who feel that their Muslimness is being attacked however urges the audience that the protests need to have an ‘inclusive’ shape and should not turn into a ‘Muslim-only’ agitation.
“If only Muslims protest in this country. If only 20 crore people protest, will the rest of the 100 crore want to be a part if you raise religious slogans? …What I want to say is make the protests more inclusive…You are a Muslim, there are no doubts about that and I have no objection to accepting the fact that you are being attacked. But understand that these protests are for India’s secularism and its Constitution,” she says.
The part of her speech that has been clipped and presented on social media starts from 17:15 minutes. In fact, this portion, even when heard independently, does not translate to Khanum promoting the establishment of an ‘Islamic Caliphate/ society’. “This protest is also taking us to a society where everybody will be included. So we aren’t compromising our ideology, I want to reiterate this. We are not compromising out ideology but changing our strategy,” she states. Here, the word ‘strategy’ implies adhering to a form of protest where religious slogans are shunned and a secular movement is embraced.
“On January 12th, I was invited to AMU to speak on a program on the CAA. Activist Medha Patkar, historian Prof Irfan Habib, and student activist Ayesha Renne were my co-panellists. Many students were insisting that they wanted to protest as Muslims because the attack is on their Muslim identity. To counter that, I argued that although in an ideal society, everyone should be welcome to join the protests with their own beliefs and slogans, including religious ones if they feel motivated by them, we are far from being an ideal society, and this is a larger fight to save the Indian Constitution and its secular character. Hence, we should allow only secular slogans in the protests. Since these protests should eventually take us toward a society that is truly inclusive, the protests too should be inclusive,” said Khanum speaking with Alt News.
The journalist has expressed similar views in the past as well. In a December 30 tweet thread, she wrote, “While it’s perfectly fine for Muslims to draw strength from their religious beliefs, it’ll end up alienating a lot of non-Muslim allies…we live in an extremely polarised polity that runs high on propaganda. Here optics matter. Religious slogans on secular protests are bad optics.”
That Khanum was advocating for inclusive and secular protests was also explained by journalist Marya Shakil.
A speech delivered by Arfa Khanum at Aligarh Muslim University was clipped and misrepresented on social media by BJP officer-bearers and supporters of the party. They claimed that the journalist was promoting the establishment of Islamic society and urging protesters to maintain a pretence of support to non-Muslims until such a society is created. However, Khanum was stating the complete opposite. She urged protesters to not use religious slogans to maintain the secular character of the movement.