Karnataka Hijab Row: Al Qaeda Chief Al-Zawahiri Praises Muskan, Says Muslims Are Oppressed In Hindu Democracy

New Delhi: Al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has produced a new video message focusing on the Karnataka Hijab dispute, which he claims has revealed “the reality of Hindu India and the illusion of its pagan democracy.” The video was distributed to al Qaeda online groups late Tuesday night, marking the first public remark by the world’s most wanted extremist since September.

In the eight-minute statement, al-Zawahiri hails Muskan Khan — the Karnataka student who became famous for her pro-hijab protest in February — for having “challenged a mob of Hindu polytheists with defiant slogans of Takbeer [God is the Greatest]”.

“May Allah reward her for showing a moral lesson to sisters plagued by an inferiority complex via-a-vis the decadent Western world,” al-Zawahiri says.

Al-Zawahiri’s last video, released in September, 2021, came on the back of rumours that he had died, and did not reference the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, which had taken place the previous month. The Taliban’s victory had been hailed by al Qaeda as the jihadist movement’s “greatest victory”.

In Tuesday’s statement, al-Zawahiri tells Indians in the subcontinent to “avoid being deceived by the pagan Hindu democracy of India which, to begin with, was never more than a tool to oppress Muslims”. “It is exactly the same tool of deception the true nature of which was exposed by France Holland and Switzerland when they banned the Hijab while allowing nudity,” he says.

“We must understand the way out is by holding on to our Shariah (Muslim religious law),” al-Zawahiri goes on, “uniting as a single Ummah (Arabic word for community) from China to the Islamic Maghreb, from the caucuses to Somalia.”

He also lashes out at other South Asian states, saying that “Governments imposed on us, specifically in Pakistan and Bangladesh, do not defend us, rather they defend the very enemies they have empowered to fight against us”.

The Karnataka High Court last month had last month upheld the ban on hijab in educational institution saying that wearing hijab is not an essential religious practice of the Islamic faith. 

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