Jamait wants to shut down 16-year-old singer Nahid Afrin

A runner-up in Indian Idol Junior in 2015, teen says she is ready to fight the clerics' directive and appreciates the support

Nahid Afrin hails from Biswanath district in Assam
Nahid Afrin hails from Biswanath district in Assam

Nahid Afrin will not cow down, not to the 46 maulvis who issued a leaflet condemning an upcoming show by the 16-year-old singer, who was the first runner-up in Indian Idol Junior in 2015. The pamphlet was issued over an upcoming event where Afrin was to perform in the vicinity of a mosque and a graveyard in Lanka town in Assam.

Speaking to mid-day from her home in Biswanath district in Assam, Afrin said she is ready to fight the clerics' directive.

The teenager, who made her Bollywood playback debut with Sonakshi Sinha-starrer Akira last year, was initially taken aback by reports about the clerics' directive.

"Last night, the news came as a shock. Initially, I thought it was a rumour. But when my father switched on the TV, we learnt that 46 Muslim leaders had issued a directive against my performance. 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.

Support pours in
Afrin is happy to have received support from several artistes from Mumbai who called her after the news broke and encouraged her to stay strong.

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

Gender bias?
The leaflet asks people not to attend the March 25 event, claiming it is against Sharia rules because of the venue's proximity to a mosque and graveyard. But Nahid said the clerics have picked on her because she is a girl. This is not the first time she is being "troubled" said the teen.

"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."

"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 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."

Artistes are soft targets, says Vishal Dadlani
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."

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