“Hate wins, artist loses. » When writing this tweet, at the end of last November, Indian comedian Munawar Faruqui certainly couldn’t bear to laugh anymore. Once again, a show he was due to present that same evening in Bangalore, in southern India, has been cancelled. Hindu extremists threatened to disrupt the show. And in the state led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), police prefer to cancel the event, calling Munawar Faruqui a “controversial figure”.
Earlier this year, the Muslim comedian spent 36 days in jail for a joke he did not play on stage but which he posted in April 2020 on YouTube in a video that has since been deleted. 1uh In January, members of an extremist group stormed a cafe where he was appearing accusing him of insulting Hindu gods, as well as the all-powerful Amit Shah, the interior minister and the prime minister’s right-hand man. It didn’t take long for Munawar Faruqui to be arrested. After more than a month behind bars, the Supreme Court finally gave him bail.
Today, the 29-year-old young artist from the state of Gujarat, in the western part of the country, bowed. Unrelenting attacks where he is the object will make his career even better. Over the past two months, Munawar Faruqui had to give up on stage twelve times. This includes Bombay, India’s entertainment capital, where the Bajrang Dal, a radical Hindu organization, has threatened to burn down theaters if Munawar Faruqui’s performances are kept up.
The news shocked the public, comedians and some in the political opposition. “If my name was Faruqui, I would never dare to make all the jokes I make about supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hindu fanatics,” regrets comedian Arpit Sharma. Many believe that if Munawar Faruqui was abused in this way, it was mainly because of his religious identity.
Two Indians against all
But other comedians, though non-Muslims, also ended up being targeted. A few days after the cancellation of Munawar Faruqui’s appearance, another comedian had to give up performing in Bangalore. “We can find comfort in the fact that the ruling class at least tries to oppress with the logic of equality”, launched Kunal Kamra, also in the crosshairs of the old Hindu extremists. He had defended Munawar Faruqui a few days earlier. “If you say something against those in power or their policies, you will definitely be targeted and at the rate that is happening, very soon no one will question the government.” regrets Arpit Sharma.
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