News / Asia

Kashmiri Girl Band Folds After Muslim Cleric Issues Fatwa

Members of Indian-controlled Kashmir’s first all-girl rock band Praagaash, or First Light, perform at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' in Srinagar, India, Dec. 23, 2012.
Members of Indian-controlled Kashmir’s first all-girl rock band Praagaash, or First Light, perform at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' in Srinagar, India, Dec. 23, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
In Indian Kashmir, an all-girl rock band has called it quits after a Muslim cleric issued a fatwa calling on them to disband. Assurances of protection from the state government apparently failed to reassure the teenage girls.    

The three high school girls had enthusiastically formed the rock band after winning an annual music contest held in the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar, in December. They called it "Praagaash”, which means from darkness to light. It was the Muslim majority state’s first all-girl music band.

But, it folded up a day after the chief Muslim cleric in Jammu and Kashmir, Bashiruddin Ahmad, said singing is un-Islamic and issued a fatwa calling for them to disband. His edict followed an online campaign of threats and hate messages targeting the teenage girls.   

Amid the outcry which followed, the state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, extended assurances of police protection to the girls and hoped they would not allow a handful of “morons” to silence their music.



Politicians, artists and media across the country rallied to their support.

“We do hope that on this issue across the political spectrum in Jammu and Kashmir, there would be a degree of unanimity which would ensure that the freedom of speech and expression can be allowed to flourish without any curbs on it,” said Manish Tewari, the federal information and broadcasting minister.   

The head of the opposition People’s Democratic Party in Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, says she is taken aback by the controversy because Kashmir boasts of a long line of successful women artists.

“Even I am surprised," she admitted. "Kashmiris have admired their women singers.  We have great singers at this point of time and people really love their singing.  We have been listening to their songs all through our lives. This whole issue has kind of painted Kashmiris as if they are women haters, they live in some kind of stone age, which is contrary to what Kashmiris are, they are very emancipated.”

Mehbooba Mufti says the controversy is getting a lot of publicity.  She says following one religious ruling would only encourage further edicts.

“If we don’t put our foot down at this point of time, it has started with these three young girls. Tomorrow they will be dictating something else," noted Mufti. "We need to stop it here. It is not about religion.”

The rock band initially also faced the ire of the separatist Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir, which said there is no room to nourish Western culture in the state. But, following the national outcry, it stepped back and said it had nothing to do with the fatwa.    

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state and hardline Islamists have tried to impose Islamic law since the onset of an anti-India insurgency in 1990. Last year, a Kashmiri religious group, the Jamaat-e-Islami, said tourists should follow a dress code and not move around in mini skirts and other objectionable dresses. It was largely ignored.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Joel O'Brien
February 07, 2013 7:30 PM
Would someone please inform Bashiruddin Ahmad that this is the 21st century and approval of ANY kind of hate is not acceptable?


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
February 06, 2013 9:38 AM
Shame on India, the biggest democratic secular country! If the state government of Kashmir in India cannot implement the secular rules, the central government should implement the secular laws. If India allows the rule of Moslem clerics and their fatwas in India, India will degenerate to the level of Muslim nation of Pakistan, where the central governments are helpless to implement secular laws in the tribal areas of the north western Pakistan. The Jammu-Kashmir state and/or central government should provide police protection for the all-girl rock band and its members so that these girls can perform.

Freedom of speech cannot be denied by the Moslem clerics and their fatwas in a secular country. India should uphold its laws and punish these Moslem clerics who issue edicts in contravention to the secular laws of India.

In Response

by: Ian from: USA
February 06, 2013 12:42 PM
We should actually say:
-shame on the Muslims all over the world not to lend their supporting voice to these girls .
-and shame on this particular cleric to scare a bunch of girls

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid