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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Al-Ameen’s centenary becomes celebration of its founder

A newspaper that played a significant role in bringing the voice of the marginalised to the mainstream national freedom movement in 1920s and 1930s was celebrated here on February 3 (Saturday). It marked the centenary of the Al-Ameen newspaper published by freedom fighter Mohammed Abdur Rahiman Sahib in 1924. A seminar titled ‘Distance to a Secular India’ became the key attraction of the celebrations.

Although started as a monthly, Al-Ameen (meaning honest) became a fortnightly, later a weekly and then a daily. Its content was brutally uncompromising and anti-British, and it was confiscated by the British in 1939.

Many attempts were made to revive the newspaper, but in vain. Although the digital reincarnation of Al-Ameen was planned a couple of years ago, the pandemic became a spoilsport. Sahib’s friend and freedom fighter Moidu Moulavi had tried to revive it in 1946 and 1960, but financial constraints burdened the publication. Moulavi’s sons V. Subair and M. Rasheed too tried to revive it, but without success.

The seminar, inaugurated by Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan, found an analogy between the British India of 1924 and the India under Narendra Modi in 2024. The seminar, in which popular journalists Siddharth Varadarajan, R. Rajagopal, and Pramod Raman spoke, reminded the people of the dwindling freedom of speech under the current regime.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan inaugurating a seminar on ‘Distance to a Secular India’ in Malappuram on Saturday. (Source: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT)

The celebration of Al-Ameen became the celebration of Abdur Rahiman Sahib, who had named his paper so because he insisted that the content of the publication should be truthful. He had taken a firm stand against deporting freedom fighters to the Andaman cellular jails and the enactment of the Mappila Outrages Act, said K.P. Noushad Ali, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee secretary, who organised the event.

Al-Ameen spoke against the British when some other Malayalam newspapers kept silent during the Simon Commission period and Salt Satyagraha. When some detractors branded the paper as pro-Muslim, some others termed it as anti-Muslim.

Underscoring the secular history of Malappuram, Mr. Noushad Ali described how Sahib had been elected from Malappuram in British India’s first province election amid strong opposition from conservative Muslims as well as fighting the Muslim League and the Communist Party.

“The Samastha had issued a fatwa describing Sahib as an infidel. His opponents had used the Arab-Malayalam translation of that fatwa to campaign against him. A section within the Congress led by K.P. Kesava Menon called him a fundamentalist. But Sahib stood his ground, firmly and famously declaring that he would not compromise his ideals even if he loses 1,000 elections,” said Mr. Noushad Ali delineating the secular history of Malappuram.

District Congress Committee president V.S. Joy presided over the function. Mr. Noushad Ali welcomed the gathering. A.P. Anil Kumar, MLA, spoke.

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