Celebrating diversity

Published On: July 18, 2016 08:33 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Muslims in Nepal 
To start with, we would like to offer our wholehearted apology to the Muslim community of Nepal. We realize that we hurt their sentiments with our editorial (Ignorance Kills, July 16) on Saturday. We didn’t mean to. We would also like to take this opportunity to clear some misconceptions regarding our earlier editorial.

First, nowhere does it mention that there are any ‘Muslim terrorists’ in Nepal. Second, talking to some members of the Nepali Muslim community on Sunday, we got a feeling that they felt singled out by our editorial.

That, again, was not our intent. In fact, in the same editorial we cite the growing right-wing Hindu radicalism in Nepal as one of the possible causes for greater alienation of the Nepali Muslim community in the future. We have in this space repeatedly highlighted the risks of Hinduism as a political ideology. We have also written critically about forced conversion to Christianity. So it would be wrong to say that we single out Muslims. 
In fact, we find there is a lot to admire about the Muslim community in Nepal. For instance during last year’s earthquakes Muslim organizations were among the first responders on the ground, offering food and medical help to quake victims in the immediate aftermath. Nepali Muslims are also among the most integrated communities in Nepal, seamlessly blending in with the country’s predominantly Hindu society.

What better example of this goodwill between the two communities than to have the Jame Masjid in Kathmandu right next to the former Royal Palace, the home of the erstwhile monarchs who were considered ‘Vishnu’s avatars’? In many communities in Nepal, we can find mosques and temples next to each other. Also, concerning the madrassas in the Tarai belt, yes, we would like all of them to be registered with the government. Not only will such an arrangement make it easier for these madrassas to access government funds for their smooth operation, it will also remove suspicions that they have something to hide. But the majority of the unregistered madrassas are unregistered because the government has shown no willingness, despite Muslim leaders repeatedly calling on the state to do so. 

The exemplary brotherhood and camaraderie between people of all faiths in Nepal is something the country can rightly be proud of. It would be most unfortunate if this camaraderie was somehow disturbed. We are also aware that the Muslim community in Nepal (4.4 percent of national population according to the 2011 census) is among the most deprived, with abysmal human development record. So there is no question of targeting this most deprived of communities. Republica prides itself in being a newspaper that has since its establishment in 2009 consistently covered the issues that affect, in ways both good and bad, the Muslim community in Nepal.

We have repeatedly highlighted their tolerance and affability and their disproportionate contribution to national development. There has thus always been a very harmonious relationship between Republica and Nepali Muslims. We would hate to do, even inadvertently, anything that mars this relationship.   

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