Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan’s Call for Ban on Islamophobic Movie Gains Massive Support

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‘Hum Do Hamare Barah’ which is set for release on June 7 has been described by several critics as ‘venomous.’ It defames Islam, Muslim women, and the Indian Muslim community.

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – There is considerable outrage among Muslims over the Islamophobic movie ‘Hum Do Hamare Barah’ which is set for release on June 7. The film has been described by several critics as “venomous,” since it defames Islam, Muslim women, and the Indian Muslim community, prompting a call for action to halt its release.

Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, a distinguished intellectual and former chairman of the Delhi Minority Commission, has issued a strong statement urging immediate steps to counter what he describes as an “evil project.”

Dr. Khan, who is also the current Director of Darul-Musnafin and former president of the All India Muslim Majlis Mushawarat, has outlined a two-pronged approach to combat the release of the film. In his note, Dr. Khan emphasised the need for both legal and regulatory interventions.

“I request you to take action on two lines: First, approach the Censor Board of India in Mumbai or its branch near you to register your strong yet dignified protest. Second, file a petition for banning this film in your district court for fanning intolerance and hate against a religious community,” Dr. Khan stated.

He further advised against taking the matter directly to the higher courts. “A top lawyer has advised against approaching the high court or Supreme Court because any adverse decision (which is more likely in the current atmosphere) will only benefit the film producers. Dozens of such cases should be filed across the country in local courts, preferably by our sisters,” he added.

In addition to his public appeal, Dr. Khan has written a letter to Prasoon Joshi, President of the Censor Board of India, urging an immediate ban on the film. In his letter, Dr. Khan outlines his concerns after viewing the film’s teaser, which he found on YouTube.

“Dear Prasoon Joshi-ji, A teaser of the film Hum Do Hamare Barah is making rounds these days. I have seen the trailer and listened to the dialogue contained therein. I find it very offensive, injurious to communal harmony and defamatory to Islam, Muslim women, and the Indian Muslim community,” Dr. Khan wrote.

He detailed several points of contention in his letter:

1. Misrepresentation of Islam: “Islam does not allow or promote injustice to women. In fact, Islam was/is the first religion and legal system in history which gave women dignity, and specific rights including the right to divorce their husbands (khula) and share in inheritance.”

2. False Narrative About Indian Muslims: “An average Indian Muslim does not produce 12 children. Reproduction in Muslim families follows the same class pattern as with other communities in our country.”

3. Political Agenda and Communal Discord: “This film is based on a concocted and fake narrative which spreads hate against Indian Muslims and serves a certain political agenda. It is not a normal artistic effort.”

Dr. Khan concluded his letter with an urgent plea: “It is my earnest request to you to take urgent action and ban this film before it wreaks havoc on communal harmony in the country with the possibility of inciting violence and riots.”

Broader Implications

The controversy surrounding the film has sparked a broader debate on the representation of religious communities in Indian cinema. Many within the Muslim community see the film as part of a larger pattern of media and artistic efforts that seek to vilify and marginalise them.

Community leaders and activists are rallying to support Dr. Khan’s call for action. Several organisations have pledged to organise peaceful protests and mount legal challenges. “This film is not just an attack on our faith but on our identity and our existence in this country,” said Ayesha Siddiqui, a prominent activist. “We will use every legal and democratic tool available to us to stop this film from spreading its poison.”

Legal and Regulatory Avenues

Legal experts are weighing in on the best strategies to address the issue. While there is agreement on the need for a multifaceted approach, opinions differ on the most effective legal pathways.

“Filing petitions in local courts is a sound strategy given the current judicial climate,” said advocate Rajesh Sharma, a human rights lawyer. “The aim should be to create a widespread legal challenge that can not only delay the release but also build public awareness about the film’s harmful content.”

Others, however, caution against underestimating the influence of the film industry and political pressures. “This is not just a legal battle but also a cultural and political one,” noted Prof. Asim Khan, a sociologist. “The film’s producers are likely banking on the controversy to boost their visibility, so the response must be carefully calibrated to avoid inadvertently amplifying their message.”

Role of the Censor Board

The Censor Board of India plays a crucial role in this controversy. As the regulatory body responsible for film certification, its decisions can significantly impact the release and distribution of films. Prasoon Joshi, the Board’s President, is now at the centre of this storm, with many looking to him for a decisive response.

The censor board’s track record on controversial films has been mixed, with some decisions praised for upholding cultural sensitivities and others criticised for being perceived as an overreach. “The censor board must navigate this issue with great care,” said film critic Rakesh Mehta. “They need to balance artistic freedom with social responsibility, especially in a diverse and pluralistic society like India.”

Community Mobilisation

Grassroots mobilisation is already underway, with community leaders calling for peaceful demonstrations and petitions. Social media campaigns are amplifying the message, urging people to write to the censor board and local authorities. “This is a critical moment for our community to stand united,” said Mohammad Iqbal, a community organiser. “We need to show that we will not tolerate any form of hate or defamation against us.”

Potential Impact on Communal Harmony

The potential impact of Hum Do Hamare Barah on communal harmony is a major concern. India’s history of religious tensions makes the release of such a provocative film particularly perilous. Experts warn that inflammatory content can quickly escalate into real-world violence, especially when amplified by social media.

“Films have a powerful influence on public perception and can shape societal attitudes,” explained Prof. Ayesha Khan, an expert in media studies. “A film that portrays a community in a negative light can reinforce stereotypes and prejudices, leading to discrimination and even violence.”

As the release date of Hum Do Hamare Barah approaches, calls for its ban are growing louder. Dr. Khan’s appeal has galvanised a significant segment of the Indian Muslim community, which sees the film as a direct threat to their dignity and safety. The coming weeks will be critical in determining whether these efforts will succeed in preventing the film from reaching audiences and potentially igniting communal strife.

In the meantime, the spotlight is firmly on the Censor Board of India and its chief. Their response to the controversy will not only impact the fate of this film but also set a precedent for how such issues are handled in the future. The balance between artistic freedom and social responsibility remains delicate, and the decisions made now will resonate for years to come.

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