Muslims Worrying About Wrong Things, Says Naseeruddin Shah

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The veteran actor said he would like to see Prime Minister Modi wear a skullcap to show Muslims he has ‘no aversion’ to them.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – Muslims in India should prioritise education over less significant issues like the hijab or the length of tennis star Sania Mirza’s skirt, veteran thespian Naseeruddin Shah has said.

In a recent interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Shah expressed his views on the current socio-political landscape in India, particularly focusing on the issues concerning the Muslim community. He said while it was easy to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah pointed out that Modi often gets blamed for everything wrong in the country. “But underlying problems existed long before his tenure,” he said.

“Muslims are worrying about all the wrong things like hijab and the length of Sania Mirza’s skirt. They should be instead worried about education, enlightening, modern ideas instead of madrasas,” he said.

The 73-year-old actor said Muslims have been at fault, highlighting the community’s misplaced focus.

Shah was critical of Modi’s leadership, stating: “Until this election, the PM believed that he is invincible and right about everything.” He further added, “Modi has been talking less and less sense over the years.”

Shah elaborated on the tendency of people to hold Modi responsible for the country’s issues. “It’s very easy for those of us who oppose Modi to blame everything that’s wrong with the country on him. The fact is, there was plenty wrong with the country even before Modi came to power. Modi just managed to tap into what was always dormant. There has always been an undercurrent of hostility among religions in our country. I can recall, as a child, being taunted for being a Muslim, and I remember taunting others about their religions. Which I think has always been under the surface and Modi was very clever to tap into the hint that he got, the cue that he got, and dismember whatever remnants there were of secularism and of equality.”

The veteran actor said he would like to see Prime Minister Modi wear a skullcap to show Muslims he has ‘no aversion’ to them.

When asked about no Muslim representation in Modi 3.0 Cabinet, a first in Indian history, Naseeruddin Shah said: “It is depressing, but not surprising. The hatred for Muslims seems to be visceral… Hamid Ansari (former Vice President) said there is an element of apprehension among the Muslims in the country. It is something we just have to get used to, it is not something the Hindus alone or the Muslims alone can do. It is something we have to do together.”

Naseeruddin, who has often shared his honest political views, added, “Modi seems fond of headgear. I’d like to see him wear a skullcap someday… just wearing a skullcap would be a gesture. After his refusal to wear a skullcap at a function (in 2011), where the maulvis presented him with one, it is difficult to erase that memory. But if he does, it would be a gesture that ‘I am not separate from you. You and I are citizens of the same country. I have no aversion to you.’ If he were to convince the Muslims of this country of that I think that would be a great help.”

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