October 30, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10918

Hamas Leader Khaled Mashal's Address To Anti-Israel Rally And Conference In India Draws Attention To Radical Islamism Of The 'Solidarity Youth Movement';, Mashal Says: 'Take To The Streets… For Palestine Cause In Various Nations, Also To Protest American Imperialism, Which Is Complicit In The Zionist Actions Affecting Our Society'

October 30, 2023
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10918

On October 27, 2023, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal addressed an anti-Israel rally organized by a group of radical Muslim youths associated with Jamaat-e-Islami Hind in the southern Indian state of Kerala. His remarks triggered controversy, and raised concerns that some Muslim groups in India are providing a hospitable environment for terrorist groups such as Hamas.

The event, part of a series of anti-Israel lectures and protests, was organized on the theme of "Uproot Bulldozer Hindutva, Apartheid Zionism" by the Solidarity Youth Movement (SYM), the radical youth wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, in Malappuram, a Muslim-majority town in the southern state of Kerala. The state of Kerala, ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has attracted news headlines over the past few decades for fostering Islamic radicalism as some Muslims and newly-converted Muslim youths have travelled to Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya from Kerala to join jihadi groups.[1]

Jamat-e-Islami Hind has a student wing, known as the Students' Islamic Organization of India (SIO). In 2003, SIO's Kerala unit transformed itself into the youth wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, though the SIO also exists as a separate entity. Known as Solidarity Youth Movement, it has evolved a global outlook in its methodology, adopting louder stances on major issues. Its activism is aided by a host of leftwing intellectuals and activists in India. The SYM is also seeking to expand to other states, such as Karnataka, to the north.[2]

Hamas leader Khalid Mashal addressed the Kerala conference on October 27, 2023.

"Under the guise of 'Save Palestine,' they're glorifying Hamas, a terrorist organization, and its leaders as 'warriors,'" wrote K. Surendran, the chief of Kerala state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs. [3] It was Surendran's tweet that triggered a political debate on how terrorist organizations like Hamas must not be legitimized in India by providing their leaders a platform.

Rahul Eashwar, a political commentator who describes himself as "a Hindu rightwing activist” said on a YouTube telecast: "As long as India is not designating Hamas as a terror organization, I wouldn't call it a terrorist organization because my nation has not particularly designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. I know that the U.S. and European Union have designated. But like our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, or a global citizen Shashi Tharoor from Congress [party] said, what happened on October 7 was a terror attack. Let's be very honest about it…."[4]

At the October 27 event, Khaled Mashal's pre-recorded video address in Arabic was beamed on a screen at the Youth Resistance Rally, bearing the tagline "Uproot Bulldozer Hindutva [a political ideology advocating Hindu hegemony within India] and Apartheid Zionism." "Bulldozer Hindutva" refers to rightwing Hindu governments demolishing the homes of Muslims, sometimes on flimsy pretexts, when they turn out to protest. A report in The Times of India noted that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was also expected to address the event "but he did not."[5]

CT Suhaib, who is the president of SYM Kerala, justified the Hamas leader's address to the rally in Mallapuram, saying Hamas is a legitimate political party, having won 74 of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. He stated: "There is nothing unusual about the leader of such an organization speaking at a Palestinian solidarity event in Malappuram"; "Hamas is not an active or banned organization in India. So, the presence of a Hamas leader in the event is not against law."[6]

In an interview with The National of the UAE, CT Suhaib said: "The Hamas leader [Khaled Mashal] did not talk about India or the issues there, but only about Palestine…. Allegations that there is terrorism in Kerala and that the Kerala government is not trying to stop it are only political exploits by the BJP."[7]

In his address to the rally in Malappuram, Khaled Mashal declared: "We should be making all efforts for the Palestine land. These activities are meant to regain Al-Aqsa Mosque. We should make all possible efforts. Together, we will defeat Zionists and we will stand united for Gaza, which is fighting for Al Aqsa. Israel is taking revenge on our residents. Houses are being demolished. They have destroyed more than half of Gaza. They are destroying churches, temples, universities and even UN institutions. What is meant by this attack is the evacuation of Gaza, and they are retaliating against it. Because the fighters in Gaza have defeated them militarily."[8]

Khaled Mashal, according to another report, stated: "We should witness widespread protests in our society against the Israeli occupation. Firstly, we ought to unite and take to the streets, rallying for Palestine cause in various nations, also to protest American imperialism, which is complicit in the Zionist actions affecting our society. Secondly, our brothers in Gaza urgently require humanitarian and financial support. Thirdly, we must stay vigilant, staying informed about the ongoing injustices. Utilizing social media and other forms of media, we should counter misinformation propagated by Israel and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle."[9]

Mashal continued: "Use the might of social media and expose the true pictures of the resistance put by the Palestinians…. We will defeat the Zionists. We will bring back the splendor of Al-Aqsa. This is the time that we need to come together. Allah has said when your enemies have come together, there is a need for Islamic followers to also come together in unity."[10]

Responding to criticisms of Khaled Mashal's appearance at Mallapuram, Wahid Chullippara, state secretary of the Students Islamic Organization of India (SIO), wrote on X (formerly Twitter): "India's history is always with Palestine, not with Apartheid Israel. Hamas is resistance movement of Palestine not a terrorist organization. Israel is war criminal. So you Zionist racists don't try to teach us. Israel is terrorism, not Hamas. We will always be with Palestine's freedom struggle and Hamas. Zionist racists don't try to teach us."[11]

"In the past also, Hamas leaders had addressed several solidarity conferences in Kerala through video conference. The Palestine cause is being kept alive also because of the unconditional support from the Islamic movements in Kerala." In a separate interview, SYM president CT Suhaib added that the Solidarity Youth Movement is planning to stage similar events in support of Palestine.[12]

However, the controversy over Khaled Mashal's address in Malappuram has drawn attention to the activities of SYM, especially its radical orientation. This radicalism was explicit in the way CT Suhaib framed his organization's support of Hamas as a fight against extremist Hindu groups in India, which are collectively identified by the term Hindutva. Since "Hindutva forces are openly standing with Israel" and declaring "another section (Hamas) terrorists," the SYM chief said, "standing with those so-called terrorists [Hamas] is a fight against Hindutva."[13]

Below are some images from anti-Israel public rallies and events organized by the Solidarity Youth Movement (SYM).



[3], October 27, 2023.

[4], October 28, 2023.

[5] (India), October 29, 2023.

[6] (India), October 29, 2023.

[7] (UAE), October 29, 2023.

[8] (India), October 29, 2023.

[9] (India), October 29, 2023.

[10] (India), October 28, 2023.

[11] (India), October 29, 2023.

[12] (India), October 29, 2023.

[13] (India), October 29, 2023.

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