Shocking facts keep coming out of the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco after a trans-national conference in Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin area with over 8,000 Islamic preachers attending it from different countries- India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
Today, the entire country stands severely affected as the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases has suddenly risen to 1,718- largely attributed to the massive conference held by the Tablighi Jamaat at its India headquarters in Nizamuddin, at a time when prohibitory orders on religious gatherings had come into force.
Meanwhile, shocking facts such as the Maulana Saad who had organised the trans-national conference, who can be heard saying, “They are trying to stop & divide us…asking us not to gather, they’re trying to scare us by saying we will get infected…This restriction is placed to stop Muslims from joining hands using a virus…”, in an audio, going viral since yesterday is now absconding.
Shocking! Maulana Saad, superspreader #Corona, Tablighi Jamaat: "They are trying to stop & divide us…asking us not to gather, they're trying to scare us by saying we will get infected…This restriction is placed to stop Muslims from joining hands using a virus…" @TimesNow pic.twitter.com/NmBEbEiXt5
— Makarand R Paranjape (@MakrandParanspe) March 31, 2020
Maulana Saad Kandhalvi is untraceable: Delhi Police
— Raj Shekhar Jha (@rajshekharTOI) April 1, 2020
In fact, the footprint of the Tablighi Jamaat which organised the fateful conference can be traced to all corners of India- Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Kashmir, Telangana and Maharashtra.
But even after cases of deaths and positive cases directly related to the conference at the Nizamuddin Markaz started coming in, the Tablighi Jamaat remained defiant to the hilt. In this video, the concerned SHO can be seen issuing strict directives to the Markaz officials to vacate premises, while the latter can be seen exhibiting criminal negligence.
— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2020
In fact, even after repeated warnings, Tablighi Jamaat remained uncooperative and the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval had to drop by at 2 AM to vacate the Banglewali Masjid. The fact that the man who had once negotiated with the IC-814 (Kandhar) hijackers had to negotiate with the Tablighi Jamaat shows the level of defiance involved.
But then this is not the first time that the Tablighi Jamaat has come under the scanner, but it has only exposed it further. In the past, Tablighi Jamaat has faced allegations of terror links, but it has always presented itself as an apolitical, revivalist missionary.
Nonetheless, it faced some serious allegations in 2011, when Wikileaks accused the Nizamuddin Markaz, the same shrine that has now drawn fire amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, of acting as a cover for Al-Qaeda operatives.
In France, intelligence officials call it the “antechamber of fundamentalism,” and attribute 80 per cent of the Islamist extremists as coming from the Tablighi Jamaat. Several terror attacks such as the 7/7 London attack and the failed Glasgow Airport terror attack have been attributed to members of the Tablighi sect. Members of the Tablighi Jamaat have also been linked with the San Bernardino massacre in California, and the Barcelona bombings in Spain.
While the Tablighi Jamaat conference at a Markaz in Nizamuddin has come under spotlight now. It has had a sketchy past. In 2011, a Wikileaks release accused the same Markaz-HQs of Tablighi Jamaat in India of facilitating travel documents and shelter to Al Qaeda operatives
— Akshay Narang (@akshaynarang96) March 31, 2020
Tablighi Jamaat has a massive global footprint and while it proclaims itself as a revivalist movement- an orthodox Muslim organisation demanding Muslims to embrace the lifestyle of Prophet Mohammed.
However, orthodoxy and religious conservatism can many a times be the starting point of radicalism, something that has been recognised by intelligence agencies across the world, and at least three intelligence agencies- Britain’s MI5, FBI of the United States and the French intelligence officials have accused it of terrorism, with the FBI Deputy Chief (International terrorism section) of being involved in Al-Qaeda recruitment.
When thousands of sectarians from different nationalities gather for international conferences like the one in the Nizamuddin Markaz or the one in Kuala Lumpur’s Sri Petaling Mosque last month or for that matter for the Tablighi Ijtema in Lahore’s Raiwind in Pakistan, then it is quite probable that at least one of them gets radicalised.
This is not such a remote possibility after all- case in point being Kafeel Ahmed, a Bangalore resident who was involved in the Glasgow terror attack, more than a decade ago was a Tablighi follower.
However, the Tablighi Jamaat has never directly promoted global jihadism even though terror suspects or attackers have been time and again directly or indirectly involved with the Jamaat. In usual circumstances, what goes on inside such orthodox organisations is something that doesn’t concern the general public. The meetings organised by the sect and the contents thereof are generally known only to intelligence agencies.
Intelligence inputs that are usually not concrete grounds for governments to officially crackdown on orthodox organisations, have allowed to Tablighi Jamaat to go about its job with impunity. But what the COVID-19 outbreak and Jamaat’s misadventures have done is to turn the tide of public opinion against it.
Now, with public anger growing against it across borders from Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan and further West where Tablighi Super Spreaders have been responsible for creating new clusters, governments have concrete grounds for taking action against the organisation for its violations and excesses.
SHO Ashraf Malik in Layyah stabbed & injured by a Tablighi Jamaat member who was trying to escape quarantine. 27 Tablighi Jamaat members out of 35 screened at their markaz in Raiwind have tested positive for coronavirus. Islam or not, Tablighis are certainly spreading the virus pic.twitter.com/dcFmynBaJd
— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) March 30, 2020
And with anger building up, crackdown will most likely follow. India, for instance, has blacklisted 800 Indonesian citizens from the Tablighi conference as they had violated visa norms. Such action would have been considered politically incorrect in the pre-Coronavirus world, but now that the Jamaat went ahead with its ulterior motives affecting public health across international borders, it will no longer be politically incorrect for State authorities to crack down upon the orthodox organisation.