Malegaon: The Doha Debates, the Arab world’s only free
speech forum, are to spotlight India's Muslim minority in a
high-profile session, to be broadcast globally on BBC World News.
According to the
organisers, the motion ‘This House believes Muslims are not getting
a fair deal in India' will be debated at St. Stephen's College in
New Delhi on
Monday February 15.
Debates’ Chairman Tim
Sebastian said the subject had provoked considerable controversy
within India and he was anxious to see the different arguments
brought before an international audience.
“How does a democracy
the size of India deal with its Muslim minority and are their rights
effectively safeguarded? Who's to blame if they under-perform? What
lessons can the rest of the world draw from India's experience?
Those are just some of the questions I hope we'll see answered in
what I believe will be a lively and important debate", he said.
Speaking for the motion
is Ms. Seema Mustafa, the Editor of Covert magazine. She has
authored a number of books on Indian politics and in 1999 received
the prestigious Prem Bhatia Award for Excellence in Political
Reporting and Analysis for her coverage of the Kargil war.
With her is Ms. Teesta
Setalvad, Civil rights activist and the co-founder of Sabrang
Communications, an organisation aimed at protecting and promoting
human rights in India. She has been at the forefront of the campaign
for justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots and in 2003 she won
the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. In 2007 she was
awarded the prestigious civilian honour, the Padma Shri by the
Indian Government for her work in public affairs.
Against them is
M.J.Akbar, distinguished journalist and Chairman and Director of
Publications of Covert Magazine. He has launched and edited several
publications in India including a new weekly publication The Sunday
Guardian and served as a member of India’s Parliament from
He is joined by the
Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Sachin
Pilot. Pilot made history in 2004 by becoming the youngest Member of
Parliament when he was elected in Dausa, Rajasthan. He won by a
record margin of over 120,000 votes.
The trip to St.
Stephen’s College, one of India’s top-rated educational
institutions, is a sign of the unique status of The Doha Debates as
the leading forum for free speech in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Reverend Valson Thampu, Principal of St. Stephen's College, welcomed
the Debates to India and the opportunity for his students to be
ambassadors for their country.
Doha Debates have established a fine reputation as a forum that
gives a fair hearing to both sides, applying equal pressure and
giving equal time. We are looking forward to hosting them and are
delighted that they have accepted our invitation," he said.
the fourth time that the Debates have been hosted outside Qatar.
Previous sessions were staged last year at Georgetown University in
Washington DC and at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions in the UK in
group of students, based in Qatar and representing a selection of
high schools and universities, will attend the debate in Delhi and
visit a number of educational institutions.
Bhavya Suri / Dhruv
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