Muslim civil rights groups concerned that anti-Muslim tropes in Indian box office hit, which is playing in select American theaters, will incite violence
(WASHINGTON, D.C, 11/16/2021) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Justice for All (JFA), and the Indian-American Muslim Council (IAMC) today called on movie theaters nationwide to drop the newly-released Indian film Sooryavanshi for spreading “disgusting and dangerous” anti-Muslim propaganda inspired by the fascist Hindutva movement.
The film stokes the Indian “love jihad” conspiracy theory, which alleges that Indian Muslim men lure Hindu women into converting to Islam by seducing them. The film is also filled with scenes depicting Indian Muslims as disloyal, violent extremists who should be subjugated to India’s Hindu majority. An op-ed published in The Washington Post yesterday said that “every third frame of the film is a bloodcurdling Islamophobic image.” The film also attempts to justify the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which stripped the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy.
SEE: Why an Indian film’s Success at the Box Office Should Worry Us All
In a statement, CAIR Research and Advocacy Coordinator Huzaifa Shahbaz said:
“Sooryavanshi is a disgusting and dangerous example of anti-Muslim bigotry in the film industry that is designed to portray Muslims and Islam as a threat and inferior to others. In a time when hate crimes against Muslims and other minorities have dramatically increased in India, this film only serves to endanger Muslims further and contributes to the environment of hate and hostility faced by Muslims in India.”
Zahir Adel, Team Lead for Save India From Fascism, a project of Justice for All (JFA), said:
“The Nazi propaganda machine made wide use of films to promote their narrative. We all know what that narrative led to. Our research indicates India’s Modi and his BJP party similarly use films to push their radically anti-Muslim, Hindutva agenda. “Sooryavanshi” is one such film, which in the guise of fiction, relays the narrative that Indian Muslims cannot be trusted. Such films lead to real-world violence against Muslims in India. The film is being screened in the US and will undoubtedly fuel Islamophobia. Justice For All urges American companies to stop platforming propaganda films from a country with two genocide alerts.”
Adil noted that JFA’s Nazification of India report provides an in-depth and eerie comparison of Nazi Germany and India under Modi and the BJP.
IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed said:
“For many years now Hindi cinema has especially become rabidly Islamophobic promoting Hindu majoritarian propaganda and falsehood, spreading hatred and inciting violence towards Muslims. It is truly sad because barely a hundred years ago this film industry was literally built up from the ground by Muslim artistes, including A-list producers, directors, leading stars, character actors, musicians, lyricists, singers, choreographers, cinematographers, make-up artists, among others. Even today, the top three male stars are all Muslims. Indian film industry once propagated the glorious narrative of Hindu-Muslim unity and true nationalism. Now, it has become a tool in the hands of the hate-filled agenda of the RSS.”
Concerns over a rising tide of human rights abuses against religious minorities are increasing. In August 2021, Siasat, an Indian newspaper published by the Siasat Press based in the city of Hyderabad, published a list of hate crimes ranging from physical assaults to forcing Muslims to chant Jai Shri Ram, or “Glory to Lord Rama.”
SEE: List of Hate Crimes Against Muslims in India Reported in August
In September 2021, Genocide Watch issued a Genocide Emergency: India report placing India at stage No. 8 – persecution – on the 10-point scale leading to genocide, adding that although the government is not yet at the mass extermination phase, No. 9, it is already at No. 10, official denial.
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
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