The London School of Economics' student union on Friday issued a statement condemning spiritual leader Jaggi Vasudev's alleged comments calling a Muslim student during an interaction a "Talibani". Vasudev was delivering a lecture at the university called 'Youth and Truth: Unplug with Sadhguru'.
After the talk, Vasudev reportedly had a discussion with Bilal Bin Saqib, during which he called him a "Talibani". The students' union (LSESU), in the statement issued on Thursday, said that it was "deeply disappointed" by Vasudev's comments and "viewed them as Islamophobic".
Asserting that such language did "not have a place" on the LSE campus, the organisation said, "If the comments were made in jest, this does not lessen their impact — the words still offend. Such incidents, if not duly denounced, aggregate to create a culture where casual Islamophobia becomes acceptable." The students' union also demanded a formal apology from Sadhguru.
However, when the union contacted Vasudev for a statement on the matter, the spiritual leader denied an "intention to abuse or insult" Saqib. He said, "I would like to tell all those concerned that the word ‘Taliban’ in Arabic means an ‘ardent student’, which Bilal definitely is, as also the other two students are.
"This term is always used in India in relation to someone who is over enthusiastic. It is in that context that I was joking with Bilal, it is very unfortunate that it has been projected this way," he said.
Vasudev also added that the video clip of the discussion had been "mischievously edited". "This private conversation was mischievously edited, with what intent, I am unable to fathom," the statement said. "I wish to anyway apologise to the London School of Economics and the Students Union, if it offended any of you in some way."
The LSESU denied Sadhguru's claim of the video having been edited. "We do not believe the video was 'mischievously edited' and have heard no reports supporting the common use of ‘Taliban’ in India as meaning over-enthusiastic," the statement said.
"We believe that individuals who have many followers, hold power and status, and claim to promote tolerance, should be aware of and sensitive, to the political and extremist connotations attached to the word ‘Taliban’ in our current context. Casual Islamophobia such as this perpetuates the culture of misunderstanding and judgement...This is especially relevant given recent spates of terror against Muslims in Britain, New Zealand and around the world," the statement concluded.
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Updated Date: Apr 05, 2019 15:29:04 IST