Release of Malayali rationalist sought

Abdul Khadar Puthiyangadi has been jailed in Dubai for criticising religion

Rationalist groups have urged the Union government to help release a free thinker from Kerala, who has been jailed in Dubai for alleged blasphemous remarks against Islam through writings and videos.

According to sources, Abdul Khadar Puthiyangadi from Kasaragod runs an IT-related business in the Gulf country for the past five years. Arif Hussain Theruvoth, president, Non-Religious Citizens, told The Hindu on Sunday that Mr. Khadar was earlier a firm religious believer, who had learnt about Islam in the traditional way. He used to be critical about those who speak, write or campaign against Islam. Mr. Khader delved deep into religious texts to take on anti-religion campaigners. In the process, he is claimed to have become a critic of the religion.

“Later on, he started criticising Islam with the same vehemence with which once defended that religion, especially through social media platforms,” Mr. Hussain said.

This apparently did not go down well with a section of Islamists from Kerala based in the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Hussain said that they translated his writings and the text of his speeches in Malayalam to Arabic and presented before the Dubai authorities, seeking action against him as per relevant laws. This led to Mr. Khader’s arrest on April 22 and later sentence for three years.

K.N. Anil Kumar, president, and Shooranad Gopan, State secretariat member, Kerala Yutkthivadi Sangham (Kerala Atheists’ Society), C.M. Liyakathali, president, Ex-Muslims of Kerala, and Mr. Hussain pointed out in a joint statement that the same group of Islamists were “champions of secularism, and freedom of expression” in India.

“In another country, they are trying to suppress the freedom to express criticism against religion using their political clout there. It is also quite ironical that Mr. Khader, who was a sharp critic of the Islamic laws being taught in Kerala’s madrassas, had to meet this fate,” they added.

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