A madrasa-educated student from prestigious Aligarh Muslim University has become the first Indian to be elected to represent about 2,000 foreign students from 80 countries in Israel’s famed Hebrew University.
Zulfiqar Sheth, 27, a doctoral fellow from AMU and currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School (RIS), was elected to the post in the elections held recently.
A madrasa-educated Gujarati Muslim from Himmatnagar town in Sabarkantha district, Zulfiqar told PTI that his Muslim background was “never an issue” in the elections and that “he has never felt discriminated in any form on the University campus and has been very well treated by everybody around”.
“This (his election) is testimony of functioning democracy in Israel as well as broad mindedness of the global community. I also urge Muslims to realise that there is enough space for secular and liberal Muslims even today”, he said.
Barely two-and-a-half months on the campus since joining the programme, the AMU doctoral student has emerged as a very popular figure on the Hebrew University campus.
Asked what made him throw his hat in the ring despite being new to the University, Zulfiqar said that “contesting elections was not in my plans but when I learned that not a single Indian student has been elected for this position till date, I thought it’s time for India now”.
“Professors at AMU and specially Vice-chancellor Lt Gen (retd.) Zameeruddin Shah has encouraged me to come here for research,” he said.
Zulfiqar’s campaign was centered around the idea of integrating the foreign students in Israel with the local community which was very well received by RIS students who assemble here from all parts of the world.
During a brief scholarship programme at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) in 2011-12, he was adjudged the best student of the year and awarded SEAL for exemplary performance in Service, Excellence, Academics and Leadership.