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NEW DELHI,AMITA SHAH: After “Gulf Bazaar”, “Dubai Gold” shop, burkha-clad women and palatial houses, the serene hilly roads lead to the modest house of activist and writer Mohiyuddin Nadukkandiyil Karassery, who is fighting an almost lone battle against religious fundamentalism.
At a time when political parties- Left, Right or Centre– play to the tune of various religious sections in the run up to elections, Karassery says no party is brave enough to risk facing the ire of vote banks.
The 65-year-old scholar popularly known as MN Karassery castigates both Islamism and Hindutva as two sides of the same coin. The campaigning for Kerala’s polling on May 16 came to an end on Saturday, but Karassery’s battle will continue way beyond elections and politics.
It was during the agitations after the disappearance of Chekannur Moulavi, who had advocated several radical reforms, in the 1990s that Karassery got an anonymous call threatening that he would be next. “I asked him if he was brave enough to reveal his name and he disconnected the phone. These are cowards,” he said.
His mission has left him with several enemies and few friends. Like Moulavi, Karassery too was seen as a threat by fundamentalists. He is undeterred by the threat letters and calls. “Very few people like me. There is no forum or association of people fighting fundamentalism,” he said smiling.
“Chekannur fought superstition and blind belief and he was killed. For 19 years we agitated… Everyone knows about Govind Pansare (CPI leader) and MM Kalburgi (Kannada writer and rationalist, but who knows about Chekannur Moulvi. No politician raised the issue in the assembly,” he said.
Karassery was apparently referring to the reluctance of the state parties– Congress-led UDF and CPM-led LDF– to upset the Muslims, in a state where the community comprises 26.6
“The Communists criticise Hindutva politics but keep silent about Muslim fundamentalism. The Congress also does the same thing. Neither are brave enough and they fear angering their vote banks,” he said.
With the UDF and LDF pandering to the minorities, the BJP’s strategy revolved around reaching out to the Hindu vote bank in the run up to the elections.
On the assertion of Muslim identity, Karassery said it has a history of around twenty years in the state. “They are imitating the life of the Arabs in gulf, in the houses they build, food, dress, customs, hugging and even greeting in Arabic at times.”
According to Karassery, who has been writing on gender equality and done his PhD in Mappila paattu (folk song tradition of Muslims), the Islamism upheld by Jamaat–E–Islami was a threat to democracy. He said pan-Islamic Maududi visualised Muslims as part of Islamic nation and propagated a regime managed by clergy.