SHARJAH – A prominent Keralite businessman in the UAE has issued apology for hurting religious sentiments of Muslims through his poem about coronavirus.
Sohan Roy, founder chairman and CEO of Sharjah-headquartered Aries Group and director of the sci-fi movie DAM 999, tendered the apology in a Facebook live video on Saturday after being accused of using coronavirus to fuel Islamophobia, reported Gulf News.
Titled ‘Viddi Janman’ (Fool’s life), the short poem which went viral on social media is in Roy’s native Malayalam language.
The poem does not invoke any religion and community but the visual that runs in the background as the narrator recites the verses shows the stereotyped image of a Muslim preacher leading a crowd of blindfolded men wearing kurta pyjama and skull caps.
The illustration alludes to members of the Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary group that’s being vilified for spreading the virus in India.
Roy said the depiction was an ‘honest mistake’ on the part of his graphic designer based in Kerala, India.
“There was no malicious intent. It was an honest mistake. That said, I take full responsibility of what has happened. I am sorry if I have unknowingly hurt any religious sentiments. I don’t want to be dragged into a controversy. As soon as I realised that people had been offended I did a Facebook live video and apologised,” Rao said on Sunday.
The 53-year-old who has since removed the poem from his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts said he’s been writing poems on social issues for two-and-a-half years.
In recent days several Indian expats have been called out for spreading hatred through Islamphobic posts in wake of the pandemic. Many have been subsequently fired and referred to authorities.