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‘Empowerment Conference’ organised by the alumni of India’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Sharjah

SHARJAH: Hundreds turned up at an ‘Empowerment Conference’ organised by the alumni of India’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Sharjah on

Thursday evening.

Held on the sidelines of the university’s 199th founder’s day celebrations, the event focused on the problems affecting religious minorities and Dalits in India and discussed ways to empower them.

S.M. Qutubur Rahman, president, AMU Alumni Forum, highlighted the contribution of AMU founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and said the lack of education was the biggest stumbling block for Muslims and Dalits in the country.

Rana Ayuub, journalist and author of the book ‘Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up’, blamed politicians for the ‘rife inequalities’ prevailing in India. She was equally critical of Muslim leaders in India calling them inept and callous.

Recalling her experience as an undercover journalist for eight months, Rana said she had to undergo psychiatric treatment when the magazine she was working for refused to publish her expose.

“I had to take a personal bank loan of Rs1 million (Dh55,000) to get the book self-published.” she said.

US-based Kashif-ul Huda, founder and executive editor of news portal Twocircles.net, blamed the Indian media for creating negative stereotypes about Muslims and Dalits, while Bihar education minister Dr Ashok Choudhary said India cannot emerge as a developed nation until it integrates its largest minority into the mainstream.

“Dalits and Muslims are on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. This has to change,” he said.

Congress leader Zafar Ali Naqvi and Professor Syed Ali Kareem were among others who spoke at the event.

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