Mayawati denies calling Muslims fanatics

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati called for a press conference and denied that she had called all Muslims "fanatics", following protests by Indian Muslims against her remark. She had been quoted as saying

Muslim voters general tilt towards fanatics. That is why I told BSP voters to even vote for BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) since we were not contesting (the recently concluded) civic elections in the state.

Maywati went on to claim that Muslims in the town of Meerut supported "fanatics".

Her comments led to protestors in Meerut taking to the street and burning effigies of the leader. Some hours later, a "visibly jittery" Mayawati told journalists that her comments had been taken out of context, stating that:

Some TV channels have been projecting that I have referred to Muslims in general as fanatics but that is not true. All I said was that I asked my party supporters to vote for the strongest candidate against the wife of minister Haji Yaqoob Quraishi because he was trying to vitiate the atmosphere by fuelling fanaticism. In the Lucknow Mayor's poll we transferred our BSP vote to the Muslim nominee of the Congress because the independent whom we had extended support got sold to Mulayam (Singh Yadav) and we were determined to ensure the defeat of the Samajwadi Party. I have always considered Muslims as a part of Bahujan Samaj.