Shares conversation with mother about changing wife's religion
Veteran Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah has called India’s recently adopted controversial law penalizing religious conversions a “tamasha”. Innocent people are being caught and harassed because of it, the actor says.
The law is in force in several India states, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. Critics say it was introduced to bar Muslim men from marrying Hindu women.
The ordinance, which penalises religious conversions through fraudulent means came into force less than two weeks ago. It provides for jail terms of up to 10 years and fines up to INR50,000.
Last month Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan declared “if someone plots religious conversion or does anything like ‘love Jihad’, you will be destroyed“.
Uttar Pradesh, another BJP-ruled state, passed a similar ordinance in October amid widespread (and ongoing) debate over ‘love jihad’ – a Hindu right-wing conspiracy theory that Muslim men seduce Hindu women to convert them. The theory usually ignores relationships between Hindu men and Muslim women.
“Firstly, they don’t even know the meaning of word ‘Jihad’,” the actor told a YouTube channel. “I don’t think anyone would be so stupid to actually believe that Muslims will overtake the Hindu population.”
Shah married a Hindu Indian actor and director Ratna Pathak in 1982. His mother had asked him if he would ask his wife to convert to Islam, according to the actor.
“I said [to my mother] you are talking about changing religion and I would not do it,” the actor disclosed. He said his mother had agreed with him.
The new law was introduced to restrain Hindus and Muslims from interacting with each other, according to Shah.
“The whole tamasha of Love Jihad has been created to stop social interactions between Hindus and Muslims and to stigmatize them,” he said.