The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com
), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has expressed support for journalist VP Rajeena, who described instances of sexual abuse of children that she witnessed in a Madrasa (traditional Islamic school) over two decades ago.
Ms. Rajeena, who works for a Malayalam newspaper, posted on Facebook her childhood experiences at a Madrasa, where an “ustad” (teacher) allegedly engaged in abusive behavior with both boys and girls. Unfortunately, instead of taking the journalist’s revelations with the seriousness they deserve, many Muslims questioned her motives or launched a harassment campaign online including threats and hateful remarks. Its heartening to note she has received some support as well. Ms. Rajeena has repeatedly stated her post was not intended to be a generalization of all Madrasas
, but a sharing of her own experience. Since Ms. Rajeena’s revelations, Kerala filmmaker Ali Akbar has come forward alleging abuse
by an Ustad at a Madrasa in Wayanad district.
“There are many Madrasas across India that have made positive contributions to Islamic scholarship and to the religious and spiritual upbringing of Muslims. However it does not mean all Madrasas are automatically immune to problems in the wider society,” said Umar Malick, President of Indian American Muslim Council. “We support Ms. Rajeena’s right not only to speak up about past abuse but also warn the community about the potential for such abuse
, that would victimize innocent children,” added Mr. Malick.
IAMC has called for an internal but independent and transparent assessment by credible community leaders, leading up to an investigation by law enforcement in all instances where there are grounds to believe the law has been violated.