Citizens extend support to Javed Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah

New Delhi: Over 150 citizens from different walks of life have condemned the hounding of prominent Bollywood personalities Javed Akhtar and Naseeruddin Shah.

In a signed statement, the citizens said, “We, the undersigned, unequivocally support the recent interview given by author and poet Javed Akhtar to the media in the context of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan.

“We strongly condemn the attempts to intimidate him and affirm his right to speak his views. We strongly disagree with those in the Sangh Parivar, led by a BJP MLA and other elements from the same wider parivar, who have objected to the understanding of right wing supremacists, be it of the Muslim or Hindu kind,” they said.

They mentioned that in an interview to a news channel, Akhtar had spoken with clarity and passion.

“We agree with his statement that irrespective of the religion in whose name they claim to speak, right-wingers — be they Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christians — share a common majoritarian world-view,” the statement said.

They further mentioned that this is particularly evident when it comes to their views on the status of Afghan women in the family and in the society.

The statement said, “The Taliban are but an extreme and violent version of the same common fundamentalist mind-set. It is not for nothing that many in recent years have referred to the violent elements from the Sangh Parivar as the ‘Hindu Taliban’.

“It is not insignificant that around the same time as the venal reactions to the interview by Akhtar, sections of the Muslim community have raised similar objections to the recent comments by actor Naseeruddin Shah.”

The signatories claimed that in his video clip which went viral, Shah specifically addressed the Indian Muslim community, warning his Muslim compatriots against rigid forms of Islam, and advising an espousal of modernity.

“Shah is only reiterating the long, vibrant and tolerant tradition of Indian Islam that has been in recent decades afflicted by the Saudi-exported Wahhabi Islam, a trend that large sections of Indian Muslims recognise and also deplore,” the statement added.

The letter was signed by 152 prominent citizens, including admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, and film writer Anjum Rajabali, among others.