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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs