Faced with growing outrage and strong condemnation from the LSE Students Union, self-proclaimed spiritual leader, Jaggi Vasudev, also known as Sadhguru, has apologised to the Muslim student, who he called Taliban during a recent event in London.
Taking strong note of Jaggi’s Islamophobia, the LSE Students’ Union had condemned the controversial Indian spiritual leader’s attack on a Muslim a student. Its statement had read, “There have been reports that, subsequent to the event ‘Youth and Truth: Unplug with Sadhguru at LSESU, Sadhguru (Jaggi Vasudev) called a Muslim student at the LSE “a Talibani” and “Taliban”. The LSESU is deeply disappointed in Sadhguru’s comments and views them as Islamophobic. The LSESU confirms that such comments do not have a place on campus and are to be condemned. 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 and, as such, we implore Sadhguru to release a formal apology to the student body with regards to the statements made.”
Reacting to the strong protest, Jaggi released a small video apologising to the student, but not before he unsuccessfully justified the use of the word Taliban. He said that his use of the word Taliban was to refer to him as a passionate student.
In his video apology, Jaggi said, ” This small video clip of a private conversation, which has been mischievously edited, is unfortunate. 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.
“If this has in anyway offended or insulted anybody, this was not the intent. This private conversation was mischievously edited, with what intent, I am unable to fathom. I wish to anyway apologise to the London School of Economics and the Students Union, if it offended any of you in some way. My gratitude to the London School of Economics and the Students Union for having organised this event.”
Contrary to Jaggi’s clarification, the LSE Students’ Union said that it firmly stood on its above stance and ‘deem the comments to be Islamophobic.’ “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 by the union read.
Lecturing Jaggi on the need to show grace and sensitivity on religious tolerance, the statement by the LSE Students’ Union read, “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.”