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Owaisi in trouble for ‘hate speech’


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Hate speeches in diverse India are not rare, but those delivering venomous speeches have more often than not either evaded their arrest, dodged the authorities, or not been taken to task for various reasons; strong backlash from their followers being one of the many fears. Akbaruddin Owaisi, the 41-year-old floor leader of his party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen [MIM] in the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly, faces serious charges like “waging war against the state, sedition, promoting enmity and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings”. Owaisi was finally arrested on Tuesday and sent to 14-day judicial custody on Wednesday after a vociferous campaign in the Indian media. Holding Owaisi’s pictures and placards, many of his supporters are also holding massive protests against his arrest in some parts of Andhra Pradesh like the capital Hyderabad and Nirmal area. Some have turned violent and even attacked the media vans.

Owaisi, a young politician from the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, landed himself in a major controversy because of his alleged ‘hate speech’ against another community. The MIM Member of Legislative Assembly [MLA] was arrested on Tuesday around 1745 Hours [IST] after several medical tests in a government hospital in Hyderabad, a day after his arrival from the United Kingdom. Owaisi had moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking quashing of FIRs filed against him. The court reprimanded the Muslim legislator and turned down his request.

This arrest gave birth to a fresh debate in India regarding who would decide the fine line between ‘free speech’ and ‘hate speech’.

Taslima Nasreen, a controversial Bengali writer in exile, supported Owaisi’s arrest but raised some concerns about the possible threat to free speech. “If you make hate speech illegal, you make free speech illegal. Book Owaisi for making violent threats,” Nasreen was quoted by the Indian media as having said so.

Some political observers said Owaisi is notorious for making hate speeches. India’s popular weekly magazine, Tehelka, wrote that in 2007, Owaisi got away with threatening to behead Taslima Nasreen if she set foot in Hyderabad.

What did Owaisi actually say in his speech and where did he deliver the alleged “hate speeches”?

Owaisi is under the scanner for the “objectionable” speeches he made at Nizamabad recently and at Nirmal in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh against the majority community last month. The Internet made life difficult for him, as the videos of his speeches went viral on YouTube and Facebook, both popular social networking sites.

It is alleged that Owaisi in his speech at Nirmal had remarked that “the 25 crore Muslims will take care of the 100 crore Hindus if only the police was removed for 15 minutes”. He is also accused of using distasteful language against the majority community and their gods and goddesses.

The politician was booked for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion. He has been accused of “waging” or “attempting to wage war” against the Government of India. Also, he has been charged for “deliberate” and “malicious acts” to “outrage religious feelings” of any class by insulting its religion or beliefs.

Many of his supporters had gathered at the Hyderabad airport to greet him after his return from London, where he had gone for treatment. He was undergoing treatment for intestinal injuries, which he had sustained after being attacked by his rivals over a land row. Citing health reasons, he had asked for more time before he would face the law. What Owaisi had actually said in his speech before boarding a flight for London is nothing new for him. He had been delivering such speeches in the past as well.

Akbaruddin Owaisi is the younger brother of Asaduddin Owaisi, another influential Muslim politician and parliamentarian from Hyderabad. Senior Owaisi had assured the media that his brother would not run away from the law. “We are not against Hindus. We are against the BJP and Kiran Kumar Reddy [the Chief Minister of the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh],” he told Indian television channel NDTV.

Another private Indian television channel ‘Times Now’ aired a debate on junior Owaisi’s controversial speech while asking: “Should the case of Owaisi be an example to drill fear into the hearts of hate-mongers?”

“Politicians like him (Owaisi) do the biggest disservice to Indian Muslims, the deprived and poor community. Owaisi is guilty of something very serious. It is easy to arouse passions in the name of Allah and Ram, it is difficult to provide good governance,” said Shazia Ilmi, member of newly formed Aam Admi Party.

Siddharth Nath Singh, the BJP spokesman, said India has changed. “Any hate-monger cannot be accepted by the Indians, politicians and the media fraternity.”

Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, editor ‘Milli Gazette’ and President All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawrat, did not agree on making Owaisi an example to instil fear amongst “hate-mongers”. He favoured equal treatment. “We want justice and equal treatment. You can’t make an example of one individual. No action has been taken on the ‘Owaisis’ on the other side. I want one rule for the whole society. I see no action on the other side.” Dr. Khan was making an indirect reference to the hawkish Hindu speakers like Praveen Tagodia, Raj Thackeray and Varun Gandhi.

Thackerays in Maharashtra, Mumbai, have always delivered inflammatory, provocative and threatening speeches against Muslims and other immigrants from Assam and Bihar. Some leaders of other Hindu nationalist and fascist organisations such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena have a history of making provocative speeches and issuing anti-Muslim statements and threats.

Many radical organisations including the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindu Raksha Samiti have demanded a complete ban on the MIM. But they are tight-lipped on the hate-speeches made by their own leaders and mentors as a matter of routine.

Meanwhile Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi compared MIM’s politics to the idea of Pakistan. “India had chosen to be a secular state contrary to Pakistan which opted to be an Islamic country on the very first day after its creation. Everyone has equal constitutional rights in India but some parties still fan communal hatred for political gain. Law will take its course on what has happened in Hyderabad” Alvi told journalists.

Whatever happens to Akbaruddin Owaisi in the court of law, many analysts in India feel there are clear “double-standards” when it comes to dealing with cases of such nature from the other side.

The writer is a professional journalist with international experience. He has worked as the Editor at Deutsche Welle in Bonn, Germany. Previously, he has also contributed features to the BBC website. Send your feedback at:

Comments (79) Closed

Muhammad Jan 11, 2013 06:28pm
We want Muslims like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad who unite Hindus and Muslims rather than Muslims like Jinnah who divide Hindus and Muslims.
stranger Jan 11, 2013 02:42pm
Yes he should be punished. Being 'foreign' educated he should be more responsible in speaking.
Gautham Jan 11, 2013 09:16am
I do not want to stretch the already tempered nerves but (his videos are there on YouTube) to say he used distasteful language is understatement, he actually said 'where all did Kausalaya (Ram's mother) go to give birth to her children?' If some of the readers are not aware, MIM is a party which was created to defend Nizam and Islam when the question Hyderabad's accession to Indian Union arose. For a decade Kasim Rizvi terrorized people of Hyderabad state as he suspected them to be either working for Congress or Communists. Several people got killed and enormous amount of property annihilated (that included my large ancestral house). Rizvi was imprisoned after Hyderabad's accession where he remained until he migrated to Pakistan (and died there). Akbaruddin Owaisi grandfather inherited the MIM party. Though the party constitution was re-written to coexist in Indian Union, within Indian constitution, the inflammatory character always remained in MIM. Akbaruddin is simply carrying that legacy, despite being highly educated (so is Asaduddin Owaisi, who is barrister from Oxford). As much as I despise any right wing, insulting Gods and Goddesses by name, in the worst possible derogatory innuendos is height of incitement. Hope some sense dawns upon him and hope he looks beyond electoral math of pure polarizing communalism. Not good for Hyderabad, not good for Andhra Pradesh, not good for India.
Vimal Jan 11, 2013 01:58pm
Dividing people is easy but uniting people is very difficult.
harish Jan 11, 2013 02:05pm
The state should just ignore these trouble mongers as that is exactly what these trouble mongers are expecting, infact the state should make a statement saying it will ignore such trouble mongers and look into more serious issues.
harish Jan 11, 2013 02:09pm
what have any of the muslim politicians done for their own in I India, one can see their areas of residence, they are really in a sorry state, owaisi should be more concerned about impoving leaving and health conditions for muslims. Infact that should be the first priority of any community.
Pramod Jan 11, 2013 02:14pm
Fida . What else proof you need that such hate speech was made and clearly available on net. But still Majorities did not started attacking Muslims in India. In Pakisitan someone spread a word about mad person or 14 year girl burning some pages of Quran and 1000 of people attack them.
Pramod Jan 11, 2013 02:17pm
Forget it man . Logical and unbiased thinking is very rare in Muslims.
RJ Jan 11, 2013 04:20pm
Somebody please google Varun Gandhi
Prakash Jan 11, 2013 11:09am
Very true. In Pakistan, would you entertain any hate speech against the majority community. Let alone hate speech, hindus are openly targeted. It is like 'sau chuhe khake billi chali haj'.
ABS Jan 11, 2013 02:57pm
Liberal Jan 11, 2013 10:33am
Stop dividing India on communal lines.
ARUP Jan 11, 2013 03:07pm
DOUBLE STANDARDS... I think this is an article which just speaks hatred against India . First do proper research and then write the article.
Md Imran Jan 11, 2013 03:17pm
We in Pakistan will start taking India seriously if someone like Owaisi becomes your PM. Owaisi is the true representation of the muslim sentiments.
Mukesh Devrari Jan 11, 2013 08:57am
Leniency to Owaisi means subtle acceptance of division of India on religious lines. Increasing population of Muslims in India is posing threat to the concept of India. Owaisi makes fun of Hindu gods and goddesses. Good luck to him, but then accept the cartoons of Allah and Muslim prophet Mohammad by others.
Haider Ali Jan 11, 2013 01:27am
I have seen his speech on youtube. His type of politicians are the lowest kind who get the votes by inciting religious hatred. These type of politicians have no agenda regarding jobs, economy or development. They have done nothing for muslims except spread hate and marginalize them further. People like him bring shame to Islam. Maybe his next speech will be how to hate shias in India and kill them.
Hindu Jan 11, 2013 01:30pm
There is a correction in the statement We can afford another partition.... The actual statement I wanted to make was We cannot afford another partition....
vijay Jan 11, 2013 08:22am
The Article was unbiased and balanced until the last statement Whatever happens to Akbaruddin Owaisi in the court of law, many analysts in India feel there are clear
ssss ffff Jan 11, 2013 01:53am
very very impartial article indeed.... a great balanced article giving an unbiased view... this is how journalism should be!
ganesh Jan 11, 2013 06:52am
whatever speech given by owaisi is bad. but whatever Dr. khan told about thakrey & shiv sena is not write bz raj thakray is not against the muslims but against the up/biharie's migrants. Also shiv sena never against Muslim's but anti Indian Muslim like owaisi . so don't try to broke India which uniquely binded by various religion it is highly impossible target for anti Indian.
Hindu Jan 11, 2013 06:39am
I am a Hindu and I want the same law to be applied to Hindus or Muslims or Christians or Sunni or Shia or Sufi .When law is weak or biased or Partial you find people like Gandhi,Jinnah,Mujibur rehman,Akbar Bugti,Mulana abdul kalam azad,wanting separate india,Pakistan,Bangladesh, Baluchistan and pashtoonistan. We can afford annother partition with people like Akbar Owaisi who divide society in the name of religion.We cannot have another Jinnah in Akbar Owaisi and MIM.
andy (ON, Canada) Jan 11, 2013 02:08am
i really admire guts of all Pakistanis! hundreds of their own people are killed on daily basis and they have time and energy for speaking against so called oppression of minority in India. We at least don't kill each other in the name of religion.Caring about freedom of speech in India should be the last thing they worry about!
Iyaz Ali Jan 11, 2013 06:35am
For ur information Varun Gandhi was arrested and most Indians including people from the majority community agree for Togadia to be arrested. But Togadia is not a legislator unlike Owaisi. Seems like all of the razakars didnt live India. Owaisi is a traitor by book definition.
Devendra Jalihal Jan 11, 2013 06:33am
Dear Sir, In your article you make the same mistake that many well-meaning Indians are doing by conflating what Owaisi "allegedly" said with what Narendra Modi or Thackery or any other Hindu activist may have said. This is plain obfuscation of the hate speech issue at hand. Firstly, there is nothing "alleged" about Owaisi's speech. His speech is available on the internet for anyone to verify. In it he clearly says, the 25 crore Indian Muslim can take care of 100 crore Hindus if the police allow them 15 minutes of free hand. This is the "Direct Action" he wants to do much as MA Jinna proposed and did in 1946. This much is clear. He wants to "take care of Hindus". A private citizen from Hyderabad went to court seeking justice against what Owaisi said and that complaint finally led to his arrest. I wish, as a citizen who believes in the rule of law , that Owaisi be convicted for this crime which will make him ineligible from contesting any future elections. If it is your case that Indian authorities show double standards while dealing with Hindu activists, please show any internet video by Narendra Modi or Thakery or by any one else, where they propose to "take care of" Muslims with or without Police help. If you find any such video, I request you to go to the nearest police thana and lodge a complaint and go to a court and seek justice. That is a fitting thing to do rather than write highly obfuscating articles and claim to be some sort of an expert with connections to Germany. Hoping to see Pakistanis with better sense, Regards, Devendra Jalihal
Zimbo_Indian Jan 11, 2013 01:38pm
Well said, Devendra.
Abdullah Hussain Jan 11, 2013 01:14pm
What ever Owaisi has felt has said and whatever he has said is logical & has some substance. Whether one can digest or not the claim that India is a 100% secular country is exaggeration. Minorities are not altogether free peoples in India, there is limitation for them & all Indians knows it well.
aries Jan 11, 2013 11:31am
When in minority , pretend to be secular. When in majority , declare Islamic country.
Zimbo_Indian Jan 11, 2013 01:47pm
The speech by Owaisi or those by his Hindu counterpart are not surprising. These people have a stake in inciting hatred. But what I find horrifying is that these people have a huge audience which applauds the hatred. I think India really needs a second partition. All Muslims should be given an option to migrate to Pakistan. This will ensure justice and freedom to them and also leave the Hindus in peace.
Geekay Jan 11, 2013 11:50am
It is remarkable that Pt Nehru and all the subsequent PMs did not ban the communal parties in India. The constitution should be amended to make such in-eligible to participate in elections. Towards the end of his speech Owaisi was seeking Allah's blessings for MIM and Muslim League. The blessings should be for secular parties. BJP by its constitution is not Hindu party but what about these two parties. Communal party can only polarise community into adversaries to each other. It's about time India govt realises the greatest folly of the country.
MC Jan 11, 2013 05:11am
Amazing... there are still 2 set of laws in India (exact reason of Pakistan's birth)... learn India learn.. I see no action on the other side.
Anil Jan 11, 2013 01:01pm
Mr Author - Alleged?? The speech is available on youtube. Are you saying you didn't bother to verify the speech which is freely available and are taking the word of people who supposedly alleged? It says you are a professional journalist. I'd say you are hardly one.
matta Jan 10, 2013 08:37pm
balthakray was booked for making hate speeches he went to jail for 2yrs and banned from participating in the elctions for 6yrs in fact it his hate speeches that lead to the law against hate speeches. varun gandhi didnot say anything similar to what owaisi said even but he faced the law............. end of the day be hindu or muslim it is the common man that is going to suffer ................
TRUTH Jan 11, 2013 10:13am
dear kuldip, you should also check that same website for speeches made by Praveen tagodia, subramaniam swamy where they call for open anihilation of muslims.. punishing one and treating others as nationalist is called hypocrisy in every language of the world.
Hari Jan 11, 2013 04:58am
It only takes commonsense to understand that none of these politicians care for the people they represent and in this case, the community they vouch their support. Owaisi's intent here is only to make feel the majority of the Muslim voters in his constituency that he is their savior. The whole episode is a mere political stunt.
shrirang, Navi Mumbai Jan 11, 2013 03:15am
Good Article.
Aslam Jan 11, 2013 03:03am
He need islamic punishment i.e. cut off his head as per the Islam for using BAD words to any religion. Where is OIC? Why no out-cry in the Islamic world?
Fida Sayani Jan 11, 2013 07:44am
calling India a secular country is a blasphemy.
swap Jan 11, 2013 12:59pm
Varun gandhi and thakrey both faced arrest and rightful punishment for their hate speeches. Authorities were prompt in taking actions against them. However I don't see that happening in Mr Owaisi's case. His speech has not been aired by any news channel in India even once. Whereas Varun gandhi's speech made rounds and rounds on the channels for a long time. Government has been shying away and has not given any reaction on the matter. Owaisi was not arrested for a long time after the speeches. Had the lawyer not filed the petition against him in the court, he would have got away with it, which has happened many a times in the past. I surely see double standards!
HinduWarrior Jan 11, 2013 12:22am
Muslims can't even stomach Mohammed's cartoons but want Hindus to keep numb after this radical rant. No wonder you guyz are bigtime hypocrites
Mr. Q Jan 11, 2013 12:09am
He seems to be a trouble maker. Minorities should be extra cautious siding with such people.
Notebook Jan 11, 2013 11:32am
Indian cannot afford more jinnah's like Akbar Owaisi.
Neptune Srimal Jan 10, 2013 08:02pm
In Pakistan, someone making similar speech against the majority community and Islam will be hanged for blasphemy.
Burhan Jan 11, 2013 01:06pm
Learn Paki Learn
Kuldeep Jan 10, 2013 07:36pm
Ms Gowhar, I am sure since u r writing on the net, that you have an access to Internet and Youtube for sure. Pl look at his speech, rest of the questions will be automatically answered.
swap Jan 11, 2013 12:51pm
My sincere request to all those who are reading this post...please go and watch Mr Owaisi's speech on youtube and decide for yourself rather than reading what is being interpreted and reported by the media. If somebody from any other community had said such things about the Profet, he would have been killed by now.
Krishna Chaitanya Jan 11, 2013 07:44pm
What sort of double standards? Bal Thackery was banned from voting and contesting in any election for 6 years!!
Samir Jan 11, 2013 08:28pm
"many analysts in India feel there are clear
HIBZULLAH Jan 11, 2013 08:51pm
Time is near for you to see the result, if you don't change your attitude and behavior towards us, what ever he said is in reaction to what actions your leaders have been taking since last 100 years. Open your eyes and understand the ground realities, change your attitude. Don't drag ALLAH & MUHAMMAD SAW into this drama, I am not impressed by Owaisi nor do I support him or his view. But your attitude towards Islam & Muslims instigated me to reply.
Ram Jan 11, 2013 08:57pm
It is true that the hate speeches have not been dealt seriously by the law. But what Akbaruddin said is possibly the worst I have ever heard. Especially about finishing off 100 crore non-muslims in 15 minutes. That certainly mounts waging war against the country. If he is offended with Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie writing against his God then he has no right to make comment about non-muslim gods and godesses in bad light. FInally his family been the elected representatives for over 4 decades now and this coming from law makers is not acceptable. And yes they made sure the old city of Hyderabad with muslim majority remains backward for their political gain.
siraj Jan 11, 2013 10:45pm
Dear Arup! The article hasnt sided with any party. I dont know which of the facts you are calling "doubel standards".
Singh Jan 12, 2013 01:20am
All my keyboard warrior friends, lets put our energy and time to fight our corrupt systems, better education, better facilities. You will find mistreatment done to every community some point of time in history. All of us have some issues from other's religion. But we have issues with our parents, brother, sisters, neighbors etc too. So why hate someone on religion lines. I request all of you to keep your religion as personal matter and fight for better system for next generation in your country. Lets break this slavery of brown foreigner ruling us and treating us worse than dogs.
Robert Jan 12, 2013 03:15am
What's interesting here is that some Muslims are demanding same standard (same crime, same punishment). These are the same people who won't agree to uniform civil code, I might add. I won't blame them because they figured out that they will have cake and eat it too. They are special you know, so they need special rights.
Mali Jan 12, 2013 04:50am
they should get a taste of Gujarat in hyderabad...then see how much can he talk..
anil tiwari Jan 12, 2013 05:27am
You cannot listen to Owaisi's speech. It is so full of vemon that the country will go up in flames. Better to keep it under a cap.
chakraborty Jan 12, 2013 05:55am
watch the speech first
chakraborty Jan 12, 2013 05:57am
yes sure , you check also, Owaisi wins the first prize
SAT GOEL Jan 12, 2013 06:18am
He should reflect on his statement of keeping police away for fifteen minutes. Does he know or understand the consequences of this?
Kiran Jan 12, 2013 07:33am
Owaisi has fallen to the pray of anger.Anger,hatred and violence is not the solution for any problem peaceful talks and compromise is the solution to resolving problems.
akhter husain Jan 12, 2013 07:43am
Very true
Vijay Jan 12, 2013 07:43am
he is a Medical dropout, his brother is foreign educated.
Mack (usa) Jan 12, 2013 07:55am
India is at the threshold of over population implosion. Sooner or later people start stepping over each other.Clashes are bound to happen
Chen Jan 12, 2013 07:56am
This is a internal domestic issue of india , I don't know why @Dawn is so interested in it . We have "many" other issues in our country to take care of.
Ahmed Jan 12, 2013 07:58am
A judaicial case has been registered against him for hate speeches.. He went to jail also
akhter husain Jan 12, 2013 08:13am
All hate mongers must be brought to justice without any sympathy,because they are the killers of human beings.
holyboy Jan 12, 2013 09:11am
over population will give trouble to west migration will increase due to competition....and your job is all gone
Vivek Sehgal Jan 12, 2013 10:17am
please specify what limitation or discremination is folllowed in india on basis of reigion. yes there is discremination but that is on basis of economic status and that too is prectised by people individually and not as a state policy.
Akram Jan 12, 2013 11:08am
because 'newspapers' are meant to contain news...
khanm Jan 12, 2013 01:06pm
Very well said Mr. Singh. The split of Indo Pak was based on hate. It will take generations to over come this. We have to re vamp our education and teach our children religious tolerance. It is clearly mention in our holy scripture (Quran).let there be no compulsion in religion and so would be the case in other religious teachings
I am Sorry Jan 12, 2013 02:01pm
No Sir, they will get outsourced to USA. RUN while u can.
I am Sorry Jan 12, 2013 02:04pm
Muslims are free to migrate to Pakistan. See any coming ????
Sahil Jan 12, 2013 02:19pm
If you have read or actually heard what Owaisi has said and still feel whatever he has said and felt is logical, go save you and your country.
Govind Jan 12, 2013 02:28pm
Dawn is highlighting the problems so that we can correct it.
Kaly Jan 12, 2013 03:21pm
I used to be secular mindset, but sorry to say, except very very few, people from a particular community having no faith in secularism, hence I have decided not to be secular with them. a days I too feel, India could be a much better country being a Hindu nation, Pakistan was created on the base of religion, all Hindus should have been in India & vice-versa.... Pathetic Indeed, just imagine one HINDU is talking against Islamic god, what could have happened with them, this C -grade politician is fortunate that Hindus are not violent and not mad...
Kaly Jan 12, 2013 03:23pm
Yaah..this nonsense is taking against Hindu god, what could have happened if someone is talking against Islam in Pakistan?
anonymous Jan 12, 2013 07:13pm
Pakistan did not choose to be an islamic state from the first day. It was in the constitution of 1956 that pakistan was named islamic republic.
Singh Jan 13, 2013 01:47am
In Congress's rule there is double standard but it always in favour of largest minority. Because its their major vote bank.
sanjay Jan 13, 2013 01:47am
You know lawyer of owisi are sitaram murti and ramchandra rao so judge say you know what two ram in your side though to save you so peace and harmony can prevail that why india is great
NASAH (USA) Jan 13, 2013 02:56am
Owais a member of minority community is not supposed to preach bigotry and hatred - a privilege that belongs to the majority.
sona Jan 13, 2013 03:20am
Mr. Gouhar please urge pakistan govt. to take away all the muslims from India.They want to go to pakistan and we are happy letting them go..our country will be a happy and progressive country then.Gandhi and nehru who were completely british except their skin colour, allowed them here and gave them superior rights over minority and we are still paying for that mistake.they[muslims] eat and drink in india but their heart is still with pakistan,rightly so according to their theory of universal brotherhood by religion,reason behind Pakistan's creation.