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A top Islamic cleric Wednesday welcomed the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, describing it as ‘a great step towards women’s empowerment’.

‘This is a great step towards women’s empowerment. I would urge Indian Muslim women to enter politics and get themselves elected to parliament and state assemblies. They will have to empower themselves,’ the Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Maulana Bashir-ud-Din, told reporters here. 

The Mufti said that since there are apprehensions about the bill being anti-Muslim, ‘I urge political parties to give tickets to women from minorities so that all the apprehensions about the bill are cleared’. 

Bashir-ud-Din heads the Sharia court of Jammu and Kashmir and is also the president of the state Personal Law Board. He is authorised to make decisions on Islamic law and issue fatwas. 

‘There is no doubt that the country belongs to us all. Muslims need not think that there is nothing for them or the nation doesn’t belong to them. They should come forward and start taking part in nation building and towards self empowerment,’ he said, reacting to opposition to the bill by some parties on grounds that it is anti-Muslim.

He said that he hoped that the bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha Tuesday, will see a smooth passage in the Lok Sabha. 

The bill seeks to set aside for women 181 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and 1,370 of the 4,109 seats in 28 state assemblies

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