On Friday Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in a barely concealed attempt to woo the Muslim community allowed schools in his state to close down every Friday noon to facilitate namaz.
Your Say: Do you agree with Mulayam's decision?
While some organisations and individuals welcomed the move, others reacted cautiously. rediff.com presents some of the reactions:
Abdul Hameed Nomani, spokesman of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind: It is a good move as Muslim students will now be able to offer afternoon prayers. But we have to see the timing of the decision. We should avoid doing anything that disturbs peaceful environment in the country. It may help communal forces to spread canards about Muslims. We are going through a crucial phase, as elections will be held in another two months or so.
(Jamiat has several educational institutions and Islamic seminaries (madrasas) in Uttar Pradesh)
Rahat Abrar, spokesman of Aligarh Muslim University: The order is not going to make any difference here as the university has been practicing half day off on Fridays ever since its existence.
(The university caters mainly to Muslim students)
Syed Shahabuddin, member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board: It is nothing but to help the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. It is the outcome of BJP's tacit support in the formation of the Yadav government in UP.
Historian Mohammad Sajjad of AMU: Yadav has an understanding with the BJP to corner their common enemy -- Congress party. The move is targeted at consolidating the Hindu votes for the BJP and Muslim votes for the Samajwadi Party. But the electorate has become very mature. And Yadav's leaning towards the BJP has become evident. So it may not help Yadav to woo Muslim voters.
Hamid Ansari, former AMU vice-chancellor and retired diplomat: I wish political parties have real agenda to empower and educate the backward Muslim community. Unfortunately this is not happening.
Farooq Sheikh, actor and television anchor: I am shooting right now and rediff.com is the first to let me know about this news. At present, I can only tell you that I don't understand the logic of giving half day for schools on Friday. If the government is planning Friday half day then there must be some logic behind. I will have to know more about this issue before commenting.
Javed Anand, co-editor of Communalism Combat: I am opposed to this decision. I don't know what is the logic behind it. I think this is being done keeping the parliamentary election in mind.
Javed Akhtar, film writer and president of Muslim for Secular Democracy: We don't appreciate this gesture. Instead of this the government should think of building more schools and colleges for Muslims and other weaker section of the society. This fruitless gesture won't help Muslims in any way. It will only benefit the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal who will propagate the appeasement attitude of the UP government for Muslims. When France is banning the headscarves and Jewish caps in their country we are trying to appease some community by giving Friday half day in schools or playing Saraswati Vandana in schools. We should try to uphold our secular values of our country rather than getting involved in such acts.