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The Recent ShahRukh Khan Controversy And Being A Muslim In India

By Shaik Zakeer Hussain

30 January, 2013

Islam came to India in 7th–8th century, so Islam in India, is as old as Islam’s existence. Around 19% of population in India is Muslim, and this population, at least the majority of it, are people whose ancestors converted to Islam. Yet time and again, Muslims in India, have to prove that they are Indians to their majority counterparts. It is as though our only role is to convince this nation, that we did not cross the Khyber pass to get here, we have always been here, just like the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and adherents of other religions have.

In an article titled ‘Being a Khan’ published by U.S based Outlook Turning Point magazine, ShahRukh Khan, perhaps India’s most famous name had written,

“I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India. There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighboring nation rather than my own country – this even though I am an Indian whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave my home and return to what they refer to as my “original homeland”.”

Khan was referring to him having a Muslim name, and living in India, where the majority are Hindus, and how he, despite being a Bollywood superstar, and mobbed by people of every religion ‘with love and apparent adulation’ had been reminded several times of an alien element in him, which makes him, along with millions of others who carry this element, pariahs.

I am not a ShahRukh Khan ‘fan’, and I would only be honest, to tell the readers that there might be very little in common between me and him, nevertheless, when I read his article, I was heartfelt for its sheer honesty, and its profound sensitivity, though there is a lot in it, that I would disagree with. And I was sure, any sensible person would feel the same way, at least he or she would not feel that, he was trying to play the ‘Muslim card politics’ or was being ‘unpatriotic’. But that is too much to expect, in a country, where riots break out, for a petty reason that a person belonging to one community does not pay for his meal, in a restaurant owned by another.

One of the first articles to attack him was published by FirstPost, it was disturbingly titled ‘King of Victimhood: Shah Rukh Khan bites the hand that fed him‘. Disturbingly, because it somehow conforms the notion that Muslims are pariahs in this country, and inadvertently tells us that, Muslims should never speak their hearts, irrespective of the reality we live in.

“So, grow up, Shah Rukh, and learn to take it on the chin like a man. Don’t bite the hand that fed you – and made you who you are – by running off to an overseas publication and crying your heart out…”

Social media erupted with slurs against him, and how Muslims always cry being a victim in India, many right wing leaders had similar things to say. Adding to the heat was Pakistan’s interior minister, who has done next to nothing to stop his government’s ally, the USA from bombing its innocent citizen day in and day out, but played his dirty politics, by advising “India should provide security to SRK.”

ShahRukh Khan may not be a victim, in fact he is one of the few privileged ones in this country, but there are scores of others, who are stigmatized for being a Muslim in this country, thousands of everyday men and women, who have to prove their credibility, every debate, every article, every speech related to Muslims in this country, always centers around this subject, how long will it continue, how long, before everyone in this country realizes that, Muslims in this country, did not cross the Khyber pass to get here.

Shaik Zakeer Hussain is an independent writer, and edits Mashaal - A News and Analysis site on Indian Muslims.





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