Malayalam film director Ali Akbar came out in support of journalist V P Rajeena, declaring that he too had been sexually abused at a madrassa. He made the allegation as a direct retort to Sunni Muslim leader Kanthapuram Aboobacker Musliyar, challenging Musliyar to investigate the accusation.
Musliyar had earlier dismissed the claims of Rajeena, declaring that such things did not happen in madrassas and demanding that she provide proof 'if such a claim was real'. He also launched a full scale attack on women in the same talk, declaring that women 'shiver' before doing the work of men and that women as a whole were really fit only to be mothers. He also called gender equality 'un-Islamic'.
Stating that the abuse took place when he was in class IV, Akbar told Indian Express -
"That madrasa was run by Kanthapuram Musliyar. If Musliyar is willing to look into the issue, I am ready to give details of the ustad...Sexual exploitation of children in madrasas is still going on. But, nobody is ready to speak out against it out of fear. When leaders like Kanthapuram Musliyar are heading the madrasa education system in Kerala, who would dare to complaint against an ustad...That incident of abuse...in early 1970s haunted me for several years. Hence, I decided against sending my children to madrasa...After the experience from ustads, many students start abusing their classmates… Ustads create curiosity about sex in their class on whudu (ablution). After that, it is easy to trap children."
Muslim Cleric Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali also lashed out at Musliyar over his remark that gender equality was 'against Islam' and dubbed his statement as baseless and misconceived.
"Islam is actually for gender equality because if you look at the history of Islam, it has given equal rights and responsibilities to both men and women. The fact is that Islam stands with gender equality and it will be very wrong if someone says that it is against it. Women have the same status as men in Islam. In property, marriage, inheritance, women shares equal rights as of men," Mahali told ANI.
A Lucknow-based cleric on Monday rubbished Ali Akbar's allegations.
"I simply dismiss the allegation of the Malayalam film director. I see it as a conspiracy to malign the image of the Islamic institutions because one must keep in mind that at this Islamic institution, emphasis is laid on discipline and moral education. I think this is a conspiracy to affect the positive image of these Madrasas," Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali told ANI.
"I strongly want to say that there is no sexual abuse in any Madrasa throughout India," he added.