Hyderabad: A lecturer’s anti-Islam remarks during a class at a Christian missionary women’s college here has sparked angry protest from the Muslim students of the college and organisations and individuals across the city.
Though the lecturer was arrested by police following angry demonstration by students, the protest is continuing by Muslim organisations to demand her dismissal.
St. Ann’s Degree College for Women in Mehdipatnam on July 13 witnessed unprecedented protest by Muslim girls, who constitute about 80 per cent of 5,000 students of the college.
They were protesting remarks made by political science lecturer Prashanti. The Christian lecturer during a class of BA second year on July 12 made certain remarks praising Salman Rushdie. About five students protested and walked out of the class. But the next day when she made insulting remarks about Islam, the Holy Qur’an and also passed blasphemous comments about the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be with him), the students decided not to keep quiet.
They came out of the class in protest and as the word spread in the sprawling premises, hundreds of girls, most of them clad in burqa, gathered outside the principal’s office to stage the protest.
Shouting slogans of ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ they demanded an apology from the lecturer and her immediate suspension. They intensified the protest when the lecturer refused to apologise and the principal and other teachers defended her. As the word spread media persons and Muslim leaders rushed to the college. The students then started demanding her arrest. Sensing mood of the students, the lecturer apologised but this failed to pacify the students, who demanded her arrest.
The students withdrew their protest only after the police arrested the lecturer and registered a case against her. She was later produced before a magistrate and released on bail.
The college is one of hundreds of missionary educational institutions in Hyderabad and its twin city Secunderabad. These institutes are known for quality education and Muslim parents, especially those coming from upper middle class and affluent sections, feel proud to admit their children in these institutes.
The incident has once again sparked a debate on whether Muslim girls and boys should be admitted to missionary schools and colleges. Urdu newspapers ran editorials advising parents not to admit their students to institutions, which are running a deliberate campaign to insult Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) and trying to wean Muslim children away from the Islamic way of life. Such institutions are also propagating Christianity.
This is not the first incident. Few years back the textbook of a missionary school carried some blasphemous remarks. The book was withdrawn only after strong protest from the community.
One missionary school had made it compulsory for all girl students to wear skirt. The incidents of such educational institutions imposing restrictions on Muslim students are also common. Muslim students complain that they are neither allowed to offer prayers in the school or college premises nor given break to go out for prayers.
The incident took place amid reports of Christian missionaries becoming active in Muslim-majority old city of Hyderabad and trying to convert poor families in the name of helping them.
The incident evoked strong reaction from all sections of the community. The Muslim organisations and leaders hailed the courage of Muslim girls of the college to stand up and protest.
The Muslim students said the lecturer had made deliberate attempts on few occasions in the past to insult Islam and made blasphemous remarks. But on Friday when she repeated her remarks, the students felt they had enough of it.
The Muslim organisations want her immediate sacking. Nasira Khanam, president, women’s wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, Andhra Pradesh demanded that the lecturer should be sacked as her act was unpardonable. She was all praise for the Muslim girls of the college saying their protest was a testimony to their Islamic awareness.
Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) and Girls Islamic Organisation (GIO) said unless the college management dismiss the lecturer, they would not keep quiet. SIO city unit president Syed Fakruddin Ali Ahmed and GIO nazima Nikhat Shamma urged the government to act against those teachers who are trying to create disharmony.
Addressing a press meet, City President Students’ Islamic Organisation Hyderabad Fakhruddin Ahmed and Organiser Girls’ Islamic Organisation North Hyderabad Nikhat Shama issued a joint statement condemning the lecturer’s outrageous remarks targeting the religious sentiments of a particular community and the management’s unapologetic conduct. They demanded her immediate dismissal and made a plea to the government to bar her from being eligible for teaching in the future, to ensure that this incident is not repeated by anyone else.
GIO said that it is a matter of serious concern especially since the individual has abused her position as a teacher – a role assumed to be a model of conduct and appropriacy for the upcoming generation. They also said that in the light of constantly increasing attempts to vilify Islam, it is crucial to engage in dialogue with non-Muslims in order to clear their misconceptions about Islam.
SIO said that in the wake of this happening, their organisations would be launching a joint campaign to introduce Islam to the management of different colleges in the city, as part of their effort to create Islam awareness.