Delhi Jamia avoids Osama and Obama


No one is ready to talk about al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden or US President Barack Obama at the Jamia Millia Islamia (National Islamic University) in New Delhi. It seems that the word ‘Osama’ is avoided as if it is taboo for the people at the campus, reports The Times of India. “I’m sorry, I have to catch the bus,” says a student.
“My friend is waiting, I have to go,” says a burqa-clad girl, seeking admission to the Persian class. “The administrative office is about to close for lunch. I’d better go and submit my form,” says a third. But the teachers say it is not a taboo topic but the Jamia is irritated at being asked the question. “Why are we supposed to answer questions on Osama? Where is the link? We and Osama don’t follow the same school of thought,” says a professor.
He adds after a pause: “For that matter, neither do we and Obama. He (Obama) justifies violence when his men carry it out. We hate them both.” The newspaper says there are two extremes found at the Jamia – hate Osama and hate Obama. “Yes; but there’s a reason for this,” explains Professor Akhtarul Wasey, who heads the Islamic Studies department. “We are against the violence being perpetrated by NATO forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. We denounce any kind of violence, to whatever end. We are equally against the violence of Obama and Osama.”
But lecturer Arshad Alam says at least some of the caution on the campus is on account of the stereotypical view of the Muslim community. “Muslims in India have nothing to do with Monday’s events,” he says, adding, “Now that Osama has been killed, I hope the fear psychosis created by the West (against Islam) will give way.”
“Osama was pro-American; he was raised by America to stand against Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan. But he died anti-American. In between, whatever he did, he was not elected by Muslims at an international forum to represent them. He was not our figurehead; we never authorized him to do what he did.” Wasey speaks for many when he says it may be time to calibrate campus sentiment.
“Osama was never able to redeem himself in the eyes of peace-loving Muslims, but Obama can,” he says. “Now that Obama has no justification to keep Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, let’s see how things shape up. If forces are withdrawn, things will certainly change for the better.”