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Kerala: Muslim politicians and organisations outrage after state-run school festival depicts a terrorist as a Muslim

In the musical dance-drama program it was shown that the Indian army has captured a rifle-yielding terrorist who is seen sporting a Keffiyah, which is a traditional Arabic scarf, allegedly giving the impression that the terrorist is a Muslim. 

Outrage erupted in Kerala after several Muslim organizations alleged that a cultural program presented on Tuesday during the inaugural function of the state-run 61st Kerala School Arts Festival in Kozhikode allegedly depicted Muslims in a ‘bad light’ and promoted ‘Islamophobia’.

In the musical dance-drama program it was shown that the Indian army has captured a rifle-yielding terrorist who is seen sporting a Keffiyah, which is a traditional Arabic scarf, allegedly giving the impression that the terrorist is a Muslim. Malayalam Theatrical Heritage & Arts, in collaboration with Matha Perambra, directed the musical.

Local Muslim organizations slammed the CM Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government for allegedly sanctioning an ‘Islamophobic’ program at the Kerala School Kalolsavam.

The allegedly controversial dance-drama was presented shortly before CM Vijayan inaugurated the annual event. Kerala School Kalolsavam is regarded as the biggest cultural event for students in Asia.

Indian Union Muslim League MLA K P A Majeed objected to the portrayal of a terrorist as Muslim, calling it a reflection of Islamophobia. “It is objectionable that a Muslim costume was portrayed as a terrorist in the musical sculpture presented in connection with the inauguration of the State School Art Festival. It is clear that it is not a coincidence that a Muslim dressed man was portrayed as a terrorist in a visual expression that speaks of brotherhood, religious harmony and patriotism. This is a true picture of islamophobia”, he wrote in a Facebook post.

“The image will have disastrous effect at a time when the government itself is spreading the ideology of hatred,” the MLA added. He demanded immediate action against the concerned people.

In a Facebook post, Fathima Thahiliya, a lawyer and former vice president of the Muslim Students’ Federation claimed that “CPM MLA from Kozhikode North, Thottathil Ravindran had seen the rehearsal of the program and yet did not find the musical ‘Islamophobic’. Ravindran was also invited to the BJP by its leader K Surendran.”

Screengrab of the Facebook post by Fathima Thahiliya

Samastha Kerala Sunni Yuvajana Samgham (SYS) in a Facebook post claimed that the ‘controversial program’ was a challenge posed to the secular society in Kerala and that the visuals did not match with the lyrics. 

In its Facebook post, SYS dragged the RSS into the issue and alleged that the state education department should investigate and take strict action against those who ‘misused’ the Kalolsavam and officials who took a supportive stance to further the “agenda of the  Sangh Parivar by depicting a terrorist should be a Muslim.”

Screengrab of the Facebook post by SYS Kerala

It is pertinent to mention that Kerala School Kalolsavam is an annual event organised by the Government of Kerala. Started in 1956, the Kalolsavam features multiple art competitions for high school and higher secondary school students of Kerala. The Kalolsavam is monitored by the state Education Department. The event is conducted between December and January annually wherein several state-level competitions are organised.

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