Fatwa was issued because I am a girl, teen singer Nahid Afrin tells mid-day

Nahid Afrin got her big Bollywood break with Rajj Rajj Ke in Akira (2016). Pic/Facebook/Nahid Afrin
Nahid Afrin got her big Bollywood break with Rajj Rajj Ke in Akira (2016). Pic/Facebook/Nahid Afrin

Nahid Afrin will not cow down. A fatwa was issued last night against the 15-year-old Assamese singer, who was the first runner-up of musical reality TV show 'Indian Idol Junior in 2015, by 46 clerics, but she will not let the fundamentalists have the last word.

The fatwa was reportedly issued over an event scheduled for March 25 in the vicinity of a mosque and a graveyard in Lanka town in Assam, in which she is slated to perform. Afrin, who made her Bollywood playback debut with Sonakshi Sinha-starrer Akira last year, told mid-day from her home in Biswanath Chariali, Biswanath district in Assam, she is ready to fight the fatwa.

A fatwa is a religious edict over an issue/person and does not always involve death threat.

Support pours in
"Last night, the news [of the fatwa] came as a shock. Initially, I thought it was a rumour. But when my father switched on the TV, we learnt that 46 Muslim organisations had issued a fatwa against me. I was hurt. They've treated me like a culprit. They want me to quit music. Music means everything to me, and music has no religion," she said.

Afrin is happy to have received support from several artistes from Mumbai who have called her all morning and encouraged her to stay strong.

"I got calls from [composer-singer] Vishal Dadlani sir and others from the fraternity after news of the fatwa broke. They said they are ready to help me in every possible way. Last night, the chief minister (Sarbananda Sonowal) also contacted us and offered to provide security, if needed. He asked me not to worry," said Afrin.


Sonakshi Sinha in a still from Rajj Rajj Ke sung by Nahid for Akira

Calls out gender bias
Nahid said the clerics have picked on her because she is a girl. "If I were a boy, they wouldn't have had an issue. They are trying to browbeat me because I'm a girl," she said. Crediting her parents for offering her unconditional support, she said they have been citing examples of Muslim musicians like Begum Parveen Sultana, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Javed Ali, AR Rahman and Salim Merchant to keep up her strength. "They are an inspiration. So, I have decided that come what may, I will face this situation bravely."

Enough is enough
The press has been hounding the young star since last night. Does the media glare intimidate her? "(Laughs) Yes, it's a bit tiring. But, it's important for me to speak up on the matter," said Afrin.

Revealing that this isn't the first time she is being 'troubled,' she said, "Even when I was part of Indian Idol, some maulanas and maulvis spoke ill of me. Some imams and maulanas criticised me in the jumma namaz. My maternal uncle attended one namaz where they said, 'If you have voted for Nahid, do tauba (repent), since she is doing a gunah (crime) by singing.' I ignored them, but it's important that I speak out now. I can't be quiet anymore."

'Artistes soft target'

Vishal Dadlani, who gave Afrin her break in Akira, said, "It's unfortunate that we live in a climate where there is proliferation of godmen/religious leaders who do the most absurd things. She's a 15-year-old girl, with a voice that is a gift. They should encourage her to make Assam and India proud. Instead, we see this. It’s an absolute shame. Artistes are defenceless. Oppressors get publicity by beating us down. I hope people support Nahid and stand up for her. The Assam government must guarantee her freedom and safety."

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