//Muslim groups launch campaign against Bush's visit

Muslim groups launch campaign against Bush's visit

Hyderabad: Several Muslim groups here Friday launched a week-long campaign to protest US President George W. Bush’s visit to India next month, saying he was not welcome in the country.

Imams at mosques called on Muslims during Friday prayers to join protests against the visit, which had pained the community. After the prayers, hundreds of people took part in a signature campaign against the visit.

A committee comprising about a dozen Muslim political and religious groups and prominent Muslim personalities announced the protest that will conclude with a rally March 3, the day Bush visits Hyderabad for few hours.

Moulana Abdul Basit Anwar, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami unit of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa and convenor of the committee, said a public meeting would be held Sunday at which author and activist Arundhati Roy will be the chief guest.

"We will organise one protest every day till Bush’s arrival here," Anwar said.

The resolution signed by the people said: "We Indians do not welcome the visit of Bush because of his blackmail policy towards nuclear proliferation in Asia, especially towards India, his failure to fulfil commitments of human rights and democracy and hollow slogan of terrorism to fulfil the interests of the US and Britain, (as well as) our commitment to keep Asia and the Muslim world free from great power politics."

The resolution along with the signatures will be sent to the Andhra Pradesh governor. The committee also decided to send e-mails and letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convey its opposition to Bush’s visit.

Delivering Friday sermons, imams termed Bush the "enemy number one of Muslims all over the world", and said his visit would cause mental agony to the community.

"His policies are responsible for the sufferings of people in many parts of the world, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Waseem Ahmed, speaker at Azizia Masjid, one of the larger mosques here.

The imams blamed US-led forces in Iraq for destroying a holy shrine of Shia Muslims to provoke sectarian violence. They also condemned the publication of caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in European newspapers.

The Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) has announced plans to hold a photo exhibition March 1 and 2 to highlight "atrocities committed by Bush in the Muslim world".

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which has one MP and five legislators in the state assembly, Tameer-e-Millat, Jameeat-e-Ahle Hadees, Majlis Bachao Tehreek and prominent religious leaders, academicians and intellectuals have come together to form the committee.