Actor Shah Rukh Khan Monday joined the chorus against “growing intolerance” in the country, saying that “religious intolerance and not being secular…is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot”.
At a press conference in Mumbai, when asked whether he would return an award — on the lines of what writers and filmmakers have been doing as a form of protest — he said, “No one can force me to do anything I don’t want to, but let me get a National Award, and then I will return it.” He added that he respected the writers for what they are doing.
Earlier, talking to India Today TV, he said, “There is intolerance, there is extreme intolerance… there is, I think… there is growing intolerance.”
“It is stupid… It is stupid to be intolerant and this is our biggest issue, not just an issue… Religious intolerance and not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot,” he said.
He added, “People put words into the air even before thinking and here is a secular country. Here’s a country perhaps for the last 10 years that is on the cusp of going beyond what we think.”
On writers and filmmakers returning their awards, he told the TV channel, “I respect those who returned awards, but I don’t have to.”
However, he admitted that being a celebrity, it was tough for him to take a stand on every issue. “We may talk about freedom of speech, but people come outside my house and throw stones,” he said.
He added that no one should question his patriotism. “We will never be a superpower if we are not going to believe that all religions are equal,” he said.
At the press conference, too, he said, “Creativity is secular. Creativity ke andar koi jaat paat, koi dharm nahin aata hai. Kis religion ke hain. Humein kalaakaar se pyaar hai, na ke kahaan se aayein hain (Creativity does not involve caste or religion. We love the artist, not where he is from),” said the actor, who turned 50 Monday.