Subhash K Jha (DNA; March 20, 2017)

Within two weeks, two young female singers Suhana Syed and Nahid Afrin have been victims of fundamentalism for “hurting religious sentiments”. Suhana was savagely condemned and trolled for singing a bhajan on a reality show. Nahid Afrin’s proposed presence at a live musical show in Assam invited the wrath of some clerics, who allegedly imposed a fatwa on her, a claim that has since been denied by at least one organisation named.

Javed Akhtar, one of India’s most liberal and outspoken Muslim artistes, says this is another attempt to smother these young female voices smacks of a farce. “Who are these people opposing the singing by these two girls? Which section of the Indian Muslim do they represent? These are nothing but a nuisance created for self-publicity. In fact, a few years ago, a leading news channel had a done a sting operation where it was revealed that a fatwa can be arranged in Rs 10,000. Yes, that’s how little it costs to create havoc in people’s lives.”

Regarding a Muslim girl singing a bhajan, he says, “If you’re going to try to punish a girl for singing a bhajan, then please also think back to great Muslim artistes like Amir Khusro, Bismillah Khan, Mohd Rafi, Naushad, Sahir Ludhianvi and Shakeel Badayuni, who have paid rich homage to the Hindu religion. The idea of restricting a singer or an artiste on the basis of religion is ridiculous.”