Emirati author urges closer cultural ties with India

UAE author and the Assistant minister for culture and Public Diplomacy Omar Saif Ghobash is holding an interactive session at the JLF where he is discussing with the Indian author Rakhshanda Jalil what it means to be a Muslim, an Arab and a father. All his three sessions saw packed audience. (Photo by : Sanjay Kumar - Arab News)
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Updated 27 January 2020

Emirati author urges closer cultural ties with India

  • “When I go back I will encourage other Emirati writers and Arab thinkers to come to India.”

JAIPUR: The UAE's Assistant minister for culture and public diplomacy  is asking more Emirati writers to be curious about India.

Ghobash, who is in the western Indian city of Jaipur to attend its five-day literature festival, said he wants a greater interaction between Emirati writers and the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF).

“The festival itself is huge. It has a large audience, with so many different subjects being tackled simultaneously. I am pleased I am here,” Ghobash told Arab News.




UAE author and the Assistant  minister for culture and Public Diplomacy Omar Saif Ghobash is holding an interactive session at the JLF where he is discussing with the Indian author Rakhshanda Jalil what it means to be a Muslim, an Arab and a father. All his three sessions saw packed audience. (Photo by : Sanjay Kumar - Arab News)

Ghobash praised the “curiosity of the Indian audience for the Arab world” at the JLF.

“I am hoping to have some kind of a tie-up with the UAE and the JLF (so that) interested people can come here. It will increase links with the Emirates and India,” he said, adding that: “We need to do a lot from our side to bring in more writers and thinkers to places like JLF and other parts of India to explain what is happening in our parts of the world.”

The envoy said: “When I go back I will encourage other Emirati writers and Arab thinkers to come to India. Maybe we can organize our own special festival and events. We need to be listening to each other.”

Ghobash catapulted to fame with his 2017 book “Letters to a Young Muslim” — a series of personal letters to his son — which offers a manifesto to tackle global issues. 

The burning question, Ghobash argues, is how moderate Muslims can unite to find a voice that is true to Islam while engaging with the modern world.

At the JLF, he is part of two panel discussions titled “Present Tense” and “Letters to a Young Muslim,” where he is talking about the present crisis in the Gulf and the evolving facets of Islam in the region.

Several young festival attendees queued for a signed copy of his book.

“I didn’t think anyone would buy the book. I was surprised when lots of young people bought my book and came for my signature.”

The author added: “I am surprised that there is a great deal of interest among young people about the Arab world. The audience was asking about how Islam is accommodating the changes in technology, society and the economy.”

Ghobash said that his father and uncle had trade links with Mumbai and were well-versed in the Hindi language. “There is a deep, historical relationship. There was a period when the relationship fell into neglect. But Gulf states hold India in high regard. Recently, there has been much more interaction between India and the Arab world. It is very exciting to see where the relationship has moved on,” he said.

He added that “a glasnost is taking place in Islam in the Arab world. It is looking inside and trying to understand what we did right what we did wrong, whether this is the right way to go forward. We are taking very important steps to move beyond the closed environment we were in for a long time.”

Another Emirati author taking part in this year’s literary festival is Afra Atiq, an award-winning poet and PhD candidate, who recently won the special achievement award at the Arab Women Awards and the 2017 Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation creativity award.

“It’s an amazing festival to be in, people are so welcoming, it is really a nice experience.” Atiq told Arab News.

She added: “People here are very curious about the Arab world and its literature. But poetry is universal and it goes above and beyond, it is borderless.”


Death toll rises to 32 in religious violence in India’s capital

Updated 27 February 2020

Death toll rises to 32 in religious violence in India’s capital

  • Uneasy calm prevailing in northeast Delhi
  • Modi government blames opposition for violence

NEW DELHI: At least 32 people have been killed in the deadliest violence to engulf India’s capital New Delhi for decades as a heavy deployment of security forces brought an uneasy calm on Thursday, a police official said.
The violence began over a disputed new citizenship law on Monday but led to clashes between Muslims and Hindus in which hundreds were injured. Many suffered gunshot wounds, while arson, looting and stone-throwing has also taken place.
“The death count is now at 32,” Delhi police spokesman Anil Mittal said, adding the “entire area is peaceful now.”
At the heart of the unrest is a citizenship law which makes it easier for non-Muslims from some neighboring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the new law adopted last December is of “great concern” and she was worried by reports of police inaction in the face of assaults against Muslims by other groups.
“I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence,” Bachelet said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Critics say the law is biased against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has denied having any prejudice against India’s 180 million Muslims, saying that law is required to help persecuted minorities.
New Delhi has been the epicenter for protests against the new law, with students and large sections of the Muslim community leading the protests.
As the wounded were brought to hospitals on Thursday, the focus shifted on the overnight transfer of Justice S. Muralidhar, a Delhi High Court judge who was hearing a petition into the riots and had criticized government and police inaction on Wednesday.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the transfer was routine and had been recommended by the Supreme Court collegium earlier this month.
Opposition Congress party leader Manish Tiwari said every lawyer and judge in India should strongly protest what he called a crude attempt to intimidate the judiciary.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said inflammatory speeches at the protests over the new citizenship law in the last few months and the tacit support of some opposition leaders was behind the violence.
“The investigation is on,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who romped to re-election last May, also withdrew Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy in August with the objective of tightening New Delhi’s grip on the restive region, which is also claimed by full by Pakistan.
For months the government imposed severe restrictions in Kashmir including cutting telephone and Internet lines, while keeping hundreds of people, including mainstream political leaders, in custody for fear that they could whip up mass protests. Some restrictions have since been eased.
Bachelet said the Indian government continued to impose excessive restrictions on the use of social media in the region, even though some political leaders have been released, and ordinary life may be returning to normal in some respects.