17 September: Tollywood actress and politician Nusrat Jahan was harassed after posting a picture and a short video of a photo shoot of her dressed as Hindu Goddess Durga on her Instagram, as reported by OpIndia.
A few hours after her posts, several Islamists from both India and Bangladesh questioned her faith as a Muslim, with a user going as far as issuing a death threat: “your time of death has come. Fear the Allah.”
The Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament is no stranger to attacks on her religious practices, as she is also criticised for marrying a Hindu man. Last year, a Muslim cleric from Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh condemned the actress for her participation in Durga Puja, urging her to change her name and religion. “Under Islam, a follower is not allowed to offer prayers to any God other than Allah, this is haram (sinful)”. Jahan responded to the accusations on Twitter, while also stating on an interview that she celebrates “all festivals” and is not worried about controversies.
Paying heed or reacting to comments made by hardliners of any religion only breeds hatred and violence, and history bears testimony to that.. #NJforInclusiveIndia #Youthquake #secularIndia pic.twitter.com/mHmINQiYzj
— Nusrat Jahan Ruhi (@nusratchirps) June 29, 2019
Article 153A of the Indian Constitution provides “heavy terms for acts that promote disharmony or enmity on religious grounds”.
Freemuse’s report State of Artistic Freedom 2020 reports several instances where Indian government representatives framed artists as individuals who brought hatred or contempt towards the government.