Using headgear to signify identity could be bigotry: Ansari

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New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) A skull cap does not add to identity and suggesting it does may be a misperception or “perhaps a reflection of bigotry”, former Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Monday.

Speaking at the launch of book “Of Saffron Flags and Skullcaps: Hindutva, Muslim Identity and the Idea of India” written by veteran journalist Ziya Us Salam, he also recounted his lone experience of wearing a skullcap when he was India’s Ambassador to UN.

“During a prayer at a dinner by my Israeli counterpart, everyone put on their caps on their heads. I did likewise. A gentleman said I need not have done that. I said I didn’t see the problem. It doesn’t in anyway impinge on my identity,” said Ansari.

Citing it to be a “very seriously and carefully written book” with an innovative approach, he said the writer has woven “happenings, episodes, practices” into a pattern.

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The book, published by Sage Publishing, takes a dispassionate look at how majority communalism is sought to be passed off as nationalism and explores “how the new notions of nationalism are removed from the principles of our Constitution”.

“Having discerned that there are two dominant patterns in our society, he comes back to the third most important pattern, which is India, and the idea of India,” said Ansari who was recently in news for his book “Dare I Question”.

Salam’s book attempts to “trace the growth of the Hindutva ideology from the time of V.D. Savarkar and M.S. Golwalkar to the contemporary age, and how it precedes any talk of Muslim appeasement”, said the publisher.

The author’s “Till Talaq Do Us Part” — a study of various divorce options available in Islam — was released earlier this year.

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The book launch was followed by a discussion with Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, CNN-News 18 Political Editor Marya Shakil, JNU Professor Aditya Mukherjee, Aligarh Muslim University Professor Mohammad Sajjad, DU Professor Apoorvanand Jha and SAGE CEO Vivek Mehra, as panelists.

–IANS

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