The Kerala Women’s Commission on Wednesday asked police to take action against trolls who insulted three Muslim women college students who participated in a World Aids Day flash mob wearing hijab on December 1.
Commission chairperson M C Josephine said the insults and sexually explicit social media attacks were an insult to the state and hurt the dignity of women and that the commission would take deterrent steps.
Several flash mobs — a group dance that looks like an impromptu jig on a street — performed on December 1 at the Kottakkunnu junction, in front of a state bus depot, in Mallapuram. In one of the flash mobs were the three women dancing to Jimmikki Kammal, a popular Malayalam film song. The health department of Mallapuram district organised several events on AIDS awareness, among them the flash mobs.
Unsavoury comments were made on social media when the video started circulating. Those who backed the performance were not spared either. The women are students of Educare Dental College. They were among 50 students from the campus who were part of the AIDS awareness event. The college’s mass media officer (of the health department) Gopalan Kutty said: “The college volunteered to take part in the awareness programme. Of the 50 students, 15 participated in the flash mobs. In one performance, only three girls participated. Unfortunately, the video of that show was circulated on social media. In the other flash mobs, there were girls from Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. In fact, the college had come forward to conduct the flash mobs.’’
— ANI (@ANI) December 4, 2017
College administrator Abdul Razak said: “We have no complaints against the girls participating in the flash mob wearing hijab. We believe these students have the freedom to stage such a performance. The trouble started when someone singled out three Muslim girls and circulated their video on social media.”
Nazer Faisy Koodathai, the general secretary of Samastha Kerala Sunni Students’ Federation, said a religion cannot be blamed for comments by orthodox elements of a community. “Religious scholars and preachers have the freedom to speak on an action as right or wrong. Islam does not encourage women dancing in public. However, it is up to each person to accept to refuse it,’’ he said.
A radio jockey in Doha, R J Sooraj, who appreciated the women’s courage, lashed out at the trolling against them.
In the video uploaded on Facebook, Sooraj asked why were those who speak about the freedom of Hadiya (a Muslim convert whose nullified marriage is being heard by the Supreme Court) not respecting the freedom of these girls. He too came under fire from trolls.
On Tuesday, Sooraj said extremist elements on both sides were exploiting his comments. “For the time being I am keeping away from the job of jockey at Radio Malayalam. I tender apology if my comments have hurt the religious sentiments.”
“In the past, I have never tried to defame any religion. I will never do so. Please consider this as a mistake. My politics has never been aligned with RSS-BJP-Sangh Parivar…. I have had Communist leanings. I will never take up such issues again. I realised that this issue has crossed limits and is even being given a communal tinge. That was not my intent,” Sooraj said.
Sooraj’s public apology and withdrawal from the show is learnt to have stemmed from the displeasure of the radio show’s management in Doha and among the Muslim community there.
(With inputs from Vishnu Varma, Kochi)