Seek freedom from burqa first, not CAA: Tarek Fatah (IANS interview)

By Vivek Tripathi
Lucknow, Jan 26 (IANS) Pakistani-Canadian author Tarek Fatah has said that those opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) are prone to a “separatist mindset”. Raising questions on Muslim womens’ participation in anti-CAA demonstrations, he said before seeking freedom from the new citizenship law, they must seek freedom from the veil (burqa) first.

In a special interview with IANS, Fatah said that as far as the issue of anti-CAA protest is concerned, it began first in West Bengal, where some politicians have vested interests and are keen to expand their sphere of influence into state politics. Those who have settled here from Bangladesh or the erstwhile East Pakistan want to make West Bengal a Muslim majority state in order to increase their vote share. They are the people who are opposing the new law and some politicians are backing them.

He said, “They are not like Indians. They think that if illegal migrants are not given citizenship, their plan which is all about Muslim Nationhood, will never succeed. This reflects their separatist mindset. So they have no solid ground for opposing the CAA.”

Fatah said, “NRC is still far away. But, as far as the CAA is concerned, what we have learnt from Assam is that it must be implemented. The government has openly said that it is a right step. Even Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan have such laws. I do not understand why people are opposing the CAA. If government wants to correct the data, well and good.”

Speaking about Muslim women’s participations in the protests, he said, “Those who keep their wives and daughters in Burqa at home, send them for protests. If you have the courage, why do you send your wives and children to protest. This is nothing but exploitation of children.”

Fatah recalled meeting a Sikh from Kabul in Delhi, saying, “He faced an identity crisis in Afghanistan and came back to India. This law is for those who have already come to India due to religious persecution, people should understand it.”

On the question of CAA protests at educational institutions, he said university campus is not immune to politics. But it should be in the right direction.

Regarding the National Citizenship Register (NRC), Fatah said, “It seems to me that Muslims fear that if the displaced Hindus in Bengal get citizenship, then the minorities will lose their place in Bengal. The entire matter is of Muslim nationality.”

On the issue of triple talaq, Tariq Fatah said that it has nothing to do with secularism. If we speak of secularism, what is the need of Muslim Personal Law Board. And there is definitely a need of uniform civil code. Seeking secularism in CAA and boycotting triple talaq is double standard of Muslims.”

On coming to Ayodhya, he said, “I have come here for the first time. For me it was like a Haj. The decision has been made. We have to be grateful to the people who have sheltered us in India. Here is a five thousand year old civilization, Muslims came here later, they came from outside. You cannot rule here by coming from outside. This is just as the Soviet Union cannot be ruled by America.”

(Vivek Tripathi can be contacted at


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