Muslim Cleric Detained in Porbandar for Remarks on National Flag and Anthem


Team Clarion

AHMEDABAD – In a recent development that has sparked controversy, the Gujarat police detained a Muslim cleric, Wasid Raza, from Porbandar, over allegations of disrespecting the national flag and the national anthem. The detention comes after an audio clip surfaced on social media in which Raza purportedly expressed views that were deemed offensive to these national symbols. The incident has prompted legal action against the accused and ignited discussions about freedom of expression, religious sentiments, and patriotism.

The detention of Wasid Raza was carried out after an FIR was lodged against him at the Kirtimandir police station. The complaint was filed by Azim Kadri, a resident of Porbandar and the proprietor of a local restaurant. According to Neelam Goswami, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) in Porbandar, Raza has been charged with multiple offenses, including insulting the national flag, attempting to prevent the singing of the national anthem, and inciting hostility between groups.

Raza, who serves as an Imam at Nagina Masjid in Porbandar, was reportedly a member and one of the administrators of a WhatsApp group called Bahar-e-Shariat. This group primarily focused on religious discussions, with members posing questions in audio format and Raza responding with audio messages. The controversy arose when Raza addressed queries about whether Muslims should hoist the national flag and whether they should sing the national anthem.

“On January 25 and 26, two individuals raised queries—one regarding whether Muslims should hoist the national flag and, if so, whether they should salute it. To this, the Maulvi replied that they can unfurl the flag but should not salute it. The second question was whether they can sing the national anthem or not. To this, the cleric replied in an audio clip that Muslims should not sing the Indian National Anthem due to words like ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’ and ‘Jay He Jay He’. These audio clips were circulated on social media on Friday and were received by the complainant,” explained Goswami.

Authorities are now investigating the rationale behind Raza’s assertions, which prompted him to advise Muslims against saluting the national flag and singing the Indian national anthem based on specific terms within the anthem. The detained cleric has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act – 1971.

The incident has ignited a debate on the delicate balance between freedom of expression, religious beliefs, and national unity. It has also raised questions about the role of social media in disseminating sensitive content and its potential impact on communal harmony.

As the legal proceedings continue, the situation remains a focal point for individuals, scholars, and civil society members engaging in discussions about the boundaries of free speech and the importance of maintaining respect for national symbols in a diverse and culturally rich society.


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