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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2677

Extreme Wahabism and 'Moududism' are spreading to Nepal

By M Rama Rao - Reporting for Asian Tribune

New Delhi , 16 December, ( As Nepal took the first formal steps towards becoming a Republic by notifying the Interim Constitution on Monday, strident voices are being heard from a section of Muslim community. There are calls for 'a separate identity for Muslims' and 'enforcement' of Shariat laws. These demands are coupled with warnings of nationwide protests if the Muslim community goes unrepresented in the interim government and the Constituent Assembly.

Also a cause for serious concern is spread of extreme Wahabism and its South Asian derivation, 'Moududism' in parts of Nepal. Moududism has spread in Bangladesh in a big way under Khaleda Zia's BNP led four party alliance rule.

What prompted the Muslim assertiveness is unclear but diplomatic observers in the Nepalese capital concede that the assertiveness borders on 'militant' declarations from certain Nepalese leaders. It calls for 'serious' attention, according to them.

Maulana Abdul Jabbar Manjari, who heads Madrasa Islamic Sangh, has articulated the warnings on representation for the minority community in the interim government. The Sunsari district's Islamic Sangh has demanded reservations in government jobs and introduction of Urdu language in government schools. The Nepal Muslim Samaj has been making out a case for setting up a Muslim Personal Law Board and for declaring holidays on Muslim festival days.

Sectarian strife is alien to Nepal. For long years, the Nepalese Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others have lived in peace and harmony.

Reports available here show that the 'new Muslim assertiveness' by some leaders of the Muslim community is not a sudden development. It was first heard five months back in September and gained some strength by November. It became pronounced in December. Some Nepalese Muslim leaders took a public position on the Shariat Law for the first time at a public meeting held in Banke district on Dec 12.

Interestingly, Sunsari district, the home to a large number of illegal Bangladeshi settlers has emerged as the beehive of activity.

Nepali Islamic Sangh held series of seminars in the district on issues facing the community and its socio-economic uplift. A prominent Bangladeshi represented a Gulf based Islamic Bank at one of these seminars and promised financial assistance for the 'progress' of the Muslim community of Nepal.

According to Indian intelligence reports, cadres of Jamatul Muslim Bangladesh (JMB) are active in Sunsari. JMB is aligned with Al-Hamrain Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), Benevolent International and others, which are directly or indirectly linked with Al Qaeda.

The JMB activists are believed to have crossed over to the Terai region through North Bangladesh and Siliguri strip. Nepali media reports that Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) of Nepal has also become 'hyper active'. It has taken up several community based activities besides construction of Madrasas. Already a new Madrasa has come up in Morang. More madrassas and mosques are planned in Sunsari, Jhapa and Banke districts.

A Gulf based Islamic Development Bank and the Pak High Commission are funding the JeI activities to help the underprivileged Nepali Muslims. There are not many takers to the claim that it is all philanthropic activity. "It is not philanthropy. It is driven by an agenda", say intelligence officials who have studied the phenomenon. Their assessment is based on two 'note worthy' factors.

First mosques and madrassas are coming up in the districts that border India. Such buildings were used in the past as safe houses by Pakistani terrorists and fake currency smugglers before they could sneak into India. Pakistan embassy in Kathmandu is known to have brought explosives and fake currency in diplomatic pouches from Islamabad on PIA flights and handed over to them in this belt.
These developments are a challenge to the Nepalese government which is otherwise pre-occupied with the transition of the country from monarchy to a Republic. The Nepalese authorities, political parties and intelligentsia will have to quickly come to grips with the issue.

For India too these developments particularly, the emergence of extreme Wahabism and Moududism in Nepal are a matter for worry. First any disturbance to the communal harmony in Nepal will have a spill over effect. Second Pakistan has been using Nepal's territory for terrorist operations against India for a long time. Delhi is still experiencing the after effects of the hijack of Indian Airlines flight IC-804 from Tribhuvan airport and the ignominious way it had to set free Maulana Masood Azhar to secure the release of passengers. Masood Azhar has since become hero in terrorist folklore of Pakistan. His organisation was involved in the killing in Karachi of American journalist working for the Wall Street Journal

- Asian Tribune -

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