Sonu Nigam has the right to speak freely

Sonu Nigam has the right to speak freely

Irfan Iqbal Gheta | 19 Apr 2017 03:45 PM

PC: Instagram/ ANI

Is the Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam right or wrong? Sonu Nigam who is a well known singer has recently  protested against the use of loudspeakers at places of worship especially during early morning hours. He feels that when people are asleep, they should not be disturbed. Azaan is for Muslims who want to offer prayers on time. For the sake of Muslims and their prayers why should other people suffer?

This brouhaha started with a set of tweets he posted after being woken up one early morning by a prayer call emanating from loudspeaker at a nearby mosque. He was merely expressing his opinion about the need to use loudspeakers at religious places of all faiths. This could have started a healthy debate.

Instead what we see is merciless trolling of Sonu Nigam who has decided to stay stuck to his guns. Much to the chagrin of his detractors he has refrained from deleting those tweets nor he has issued an apology for hurting religious sentiments of a particular community.

The plot has now further thickened with Mullahs and Maulvis jumping into the fray with a fatwa that promises to reward anyone who gives a tonsure to Sonu Nigam’s head, puts a garland of old foot wears around his neck and parades him on a donkey through bazaars with a sum of rupees ten lakh. How silly!

Nothing can be more intolerant and vitiating than this absurd fatwa that has a potential of misleading youths into taking law into their hands and unleashing mayhem. At this juncture what Muslim youths need is proper guidance on how they should conduct themselves at public places with so much of mistrust and hostility ruling the roost. Under the circumstances this kind of fatwa is the last thing one needs.

What could have happened had trolls not taken umbrage at those ill fated tweets? What would have happened had trolls accepted the fact that Sonu Nigam’s right to free speech cannot be trampled upon and he is free to express his opinion about early morning prayer call made upon loud speakers? What these so called custodians of Islam have conveniently chosen to forget is the fact that Sonu Nigam has not slammed the practice of prayer call (azaan) per se.

He knows that it's a call made to remind the followers or mosque goers that it's time for prayers. This is precisely why he has said nothing about prayer call. Nor he has slammed Islam or any other religion for that matter. The outrage against Sonu Nigam’s tweets criticising the use of loudspeakers at the places of worship is in a poor light.

First and foremost those tweets posted in anger at being woken up rudely deserves no attention. Secondly, if at all followers of Islam has a problem with his views on Azaan delivered on loudspeakers early morning, politely they could have requested an audience with him and misunderstanding could have been cleared behind closed airs. This sort of public preening and posturing or muscle flexing does no good. On the contrary, it brings bad name to the followers of Islam that always finds itself in the eyes of the storm at regular interval.

All said and done, Sonu Nigam is entitled to his personal views. His freedom of speech should be respected since he is a man of repute with many achievements under his belt. Moreover, he is a member of film fraternity that prides itself on its secular ethos. Many devotional songs singing praises of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are sung and composed by Muslim singers and composers. Hindu actors portray Muslim characters with elan and vice versa on the celluloid and walk away with all the accolades.

Shah Rukh Khan is better known as Rahul or Raj. At the same time Sushant Singh Rajput has immortalised his place in the hearts of cinema lovers as Sarfaraz. Sonu Nigam’s tweets are much ado about nothing just like that proverbial storm in the tea cup. These tweets don't deserve such a hostile reaction.

India is a truly tolerant nation. People from all castes and creeds have equal opportunities to show their mettle and make a mark in this land of the Gita and the Mahabharata. Why to target someone over silly remarks? After Sonu Nigam wrote those tweets, government of the day has not clamped down on places of worship using loudspeakers that create nuisance and noise pollution. Nor the Parliament has initiated a debate to discuss the ban on the use of loudspeakers at the places of worship. Everybody needs to take a chill pill. Is there any real need to outrage so much when more important issues like triple talaq and unemployment  are crying for attention?

(Irfan Iqbal Gheta is a blogger. He tweets at @_gheta)

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