The position that the left-liberals have adopted in regard to Sharjeel is this—we don’t agree with Sharjeel but he should not be charged with sedition. In place of sedition, these are the charges that the left-liberals level against him:
Sharjeel asks non-Muslims to stand with Muslims on their terms—communalism
Sharjeel’s speech helps the BJP because ‘the time is not right’—political stupidity
The left-liberals, who seem to have either not heard the speech or not understood it, miss the lip-smacking irony that these were the exact charges laid against the Barelvi Ulema by the Congress and their supporters, the Deobandi Ulema. Sharjeel reminds us in his speech that the unpardonable sin of the Barelvis was to oppose the Congress. Today, the unpardonable sin of Sharjeel Imam is the same, opposing the left-liberal combine. Only if he supports the left-liberal combine against the BJP will they recognize the validity of his position. Otherwise, he will be silenced and side-lined in favour of those Muslims who are more favourable to left-liberal Hindu nationalism.
Can there be a Critical Muslim in India? The Case of Sharjeel Imam
Sharjeel spoke not merely of being Muslim, but also about Islam as a critical Muslim- which is what has unsettled many. While we combat the state witch hunt and media trials of Sharjeel- it is also important to combat narratives that reduce his politics as irresponsible and uninformed with patronising jibes that make him a caricature. Sharjeel was not misguided or ignorant- he was very clear about his politics, a clarity that has rattled this nation. It is not that Sharjeel did not know enough, but rather that Sharjeel knew too much. After all, he said this in his ‘seditious’ speech.