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Javed Akhtar on Muslim-Hindu fundamentalists

A police van is stationed out of doors Javed Akhtar’s Mumbai house once we meet him on Monday afternoon. Even we are intently monitored as we input the construction. As quickly as we meet him, the senior lyricist and poet lauds Mumbai Police and clarifies that they have got deployed security at his house on their very own, after the Karni Sena’s risk to him on Sunday, over his touch upon banning the ghoonghat and burqa. The fringe outfit demanded an apology from the author within 3 days, threatening him with “dire consequences”. Concerned by means of the unsettling language of fringe parts, Javed sahab settles down and explains that he is scheduled to satisfy the police commissioner later within the day to talk about the issue. He reiterates that his remark used to be intended for women empowerment, and that he has been striving to achieve gender equality for the longest time and receiving threats isn’t new for him, especially from Muslim fundamentalists. Excerpts:

In the wake of your touch upon banning the burqa and ghoonghat in combination, the president of the Maharashtra wing of the Karni Sena advised TOI, ‘The burqa is related to terrorism and (is a question of) national security. We have requested Akhtar to render an apology about ghoonghat within 3 days or face the results’. What’s your reaction to this?
People who're asking me to apologise possibly don’t know that my buddies and I have been relentlessly combating the burqa, naqab and purdah observe for 20 years. We have spoken against triple talaq years ago, when it wasn’t within the information. My credentials in these issues are impeccable. I have at all times stood against the regressive mindset of the minority group, because to bring a few trade, you must first look at the group that you have been born in. That’s your first accountability. I have mentioned ghoonghat once and you want me to apologise? Are you seeking to wreck my credibility in my combat against the mullahs? You need me to lose face in entrance of the folk I’ve been combating against for years? Is this what you want to achieve? Everybody is aware of that ghoonghat is not a non secular belief, but a convention. I have won messages the place people have advised me that the ghoonghat custom is withering away and it’s handiest left in villages. If it’s now not that prevalent anyway, why react this way?

They additionally stated, ‘We will gouge out your eyes and pull out your tongue in case you don’t apologise. We will input your own home and beat you’...
Haan, consequences ki detail bhi di hai. People can oppose. We can mutually disagree. Their concept of morality and tradition is different and what I say can be outrageous to them. If you're disappointed, then you'll even go to court docket and sue me, but this isn't the right way to serve as in a civilised society, the place you're being forced to apologise. You can’t say that intolerance has higher or freedom of speech has been curtailed, because in case you do, then you're going to be labelled as anti-national or pseudo secular, and many others. This is not the India that I have grown up in. We are known for our talent to co-exist. It saddens me a little bit as I'm happy with our democratic charter that grants you the liberty of expression. We can say things here that aren't imaginable in our neighbouring countries. Different points of view must be heard.

Did you concern that your remark would possibly trigger such an uproar?

I don’t know why they have made this into such a big issue. I have at all times antagonistic the burqa. Most of the time, these Muslim fundamentalists suppose that I handiest oppose them. Likewise, Hindu fundamentalists suppose that they are at all times the target. My point is, any type of protecting the face, whether or not it’s a ghoonghat, naqab or burqa, any custom whether or not religious or social, which expects a lady to hide her face, is a hindrance to her empowerment. That must be banned. Maybe, in Sri Lanka it’s achieved for security. In our country it must be achieved for women empowerment. It may or might not be a risk to security, but it is a risk to a lady’s development.

Why did you're feeling the wish to equate the burqa and the ghoonghat? A burqa covers a lady from head to toe, whilst a ghoonghat partly covers the face. Why the need for ‘if you are banning the burqa, then ban the ghoonghat’?
There isn't any ‘if’. It’s now not tit for tat. I'm really not seeking to balance things out. Why would you duvet a human being’s face? Anything that restricts freedom and development must be stopped, period! I didn’t speak from the protection point of view. I spoke about girls empowerment. It’s now not about equating. Whether you're protecting a lady’s face for religion, custom or values or tradition... you're still protecting her face. There isn't any difference. Why prohibit girls?

Several countries have banned full-face veils...

France has stepped forward of others and I admire that. You can’t wear your religion to your sleeve in public offices. That way France is even-handed. You can’t display your religious identity so openly. Country comes first. I really like that.

However, in October 2018, the United Nations Human Rights Committee stated that the ban imposed by means of France on face-covering veils is a contravention of human rights...
I totally disagree with this. To say that it’s a choice of a lady? No. You have banned sati, haven’t you? Did you are saying it must be a choice of a lady? You stated it’s improper, so prevent it. Should it be a choice of a minor or her oldsters or the person marrying a kid whether or not to delight in child marriage or now not? There are positive practices that are improper and also you don’t have to look ahead to your communities to decide that for you. Some things wish to be imposed. I have at all times antagonistic triple talaq as smartly. These things can’t be an issue of choice. If it’s improper, it needs to be abolished. Uncle Tom used to be a happy guy, but Abraham Lincoln still selected to abolish slavery.

Why shouldn’t a burqa or ghoonghat be an issue of choice?
I feel that because most ladies can’t decide that out of unfastened will. There will probably be peer power. They are brainwashed since formative years and conditioned to consider that that’s the way in which forward. Some girls may feel that if I wear the burqa, I will win some brownie points from my group, the boys people within the family will probably be satisfied and that will give me extra elbow room. There are many reasons... First give them that freedom for 100 years after which ask them if they need to wear a burqa. Let a couple of generations reside without the naqab first after which give them a option to decide if they would like it again.

Recently, a lady’s video went viral the place she criticised young ladies for wearing short attire and ‘inviting rape’.
So all the girls who wear lengthy attire, saris, salwar kameez and lehengas, which duvet them from head to toe are never raped? Within girls, numerous girls are brainwashed into believing the improper things.

Shahid Afridi revealed in his e-book that he gained’t permit his daughters to play cricket. He wrote, ‘Cricket? No, now not for my ladies. They have permission to play all the indoor games they would like, but my daughters aren't going to be competing in public carrying actions. It’s for social and spiritual reasons that I’ve made this determination and their mother concurs with me.’

I didn’t have an idea that for women, cricket is haram in Islam. But what else do you expect from this Pakistani intellectual giant like Shahid Afridi?

What’s your tackle religious identity?

Be it kebab and biryani or my love for poetry... I have cultural commonalities with my group — North Indian Urdu-speaking Muslims. But I'm really not religious in any respect. I don’t proportion my group’s beliefs so far as religion is worried. I'm an atheist.

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