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Modi's new admirer: Ahmedabad's Imam

Modi's new admirer: Ahmedabad's Imam

Author: Saeed Khan
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 23, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Ahmedabads-Imam-is-Modi-admirer/articleshow/4171018.cms

[Note from the Hindu Vivek Kendra: Now, if this person had criticised Narendra Modi, his views would have been splashed in all the secular media, with bold headlines, etc.]

Mufti Shabbir Ahmed Siddiqui, the Imam of Ahmedabad's biggest mosque, has found himself alone among the city's Muslim clerics. What has landed the 52-year-old Imam in trouble in his own community is his admiration for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

Siddiqui, a native of Sirsa in Bihar, has been living in Ahmedabad since 1982. The hardliners in the community feel he is soft on the state government with which he has been building bridges in turbulent times.

But Siddiqui is unabashed about his admiration for the CM and would like Modi, already popular among Shia muslims, to gain acceptance among the Sunnis too. The Jama Masjid Imam calls the 2002 riots an "atrocity'' but adds that the projection of the riots was "much graver'' than what had actually happened. "The time has come now to move on. It is seven years since the riots and people have already started forgetting what had happened,'' he told TOI.

The Imam says Modi has ensured peace after 2002 and feels the chief minister has "lived up to the expectations''. "Muslims too have an opportunity to prosper in the peaceful environment that the Modi government has created. Modi has provided an atmosphere which is conducive for those who want to do business in Gujarat,'' he says.

According to Siddiqui, Modi does not need Muslim votes to win the elections. It is up to the Muslims to make friends with the chief minister, he says. "Islam has in the past befriended even bigger fundamentalists,'' he argues, adding Muslims must appreciate the performance of the CM, "if he is good''.

He is also happy that the spread of the hardliner Tablighis in Gujarat, who have created numerous problems for him in recent years, has been checked by the Modi government by blocking the influx of foreign funds through `hawala'. He says his battle with the Tabhlighis for the control of mosques across Gujarat would be won only if the flow of funds from abroad is stopped.

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