Days after his Taliban-RSS remark sparked a row, screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar said that ‘Hindus are the most tolerant majority in the world’ in Shiv-Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’.
In his earlier statement, Akhtar had said that Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) were similar to the Taliban in their form of extremism.
Clarifying his remarks, Akhtor wrote, “Actually, in the recent interview, I have said ‘Hindus are the most decent and tolerant majority’ in the world. I have repeated this time and again and also emphasised that India can never become like Afghanistan because Indians by nature are not extremists. It is in their DNA to be moderate, to keep to the middle of the road.”
Further, Akhtar went on to explain what according to him was similar between the Taliban and Hindu right-wing.
“As a matter of fact, there are a lot of similarities. While the Taliban is forming an Islamic government based on religion, the Hindu right-wing wants a Hindu Rashtra. The Taliban wants to curb women’s rights and put them on the margin, the Hindutva right-wing has also made it clear that they don’t like the freedom of women and girls,” he said.
Akhtar was earlier criticised by the Shiv-Sena for his controversial comment. An editorial in Saamna said that even though Akhtar was secular and spoke against fundamentalism in general, he was completely wrong in comparing the RSS with the Taliban.
In his piece, Akhtar praised Uddhav Thackeray and said that even Thackeray's worst critics could not accuse the chief minister of discrimination and injustice -- so it was beyond his understanding why the Thackeray government might be referred to as ‘Talibani’.
“My detractors have said that while I am criticizing the Hindu right-wing I have never stood against fanatics among the Muslim fold. They have accused me of not saying anything about triple talaq, of not speaking on purdah or any other regressive practice within the Muslim community. I am not surprised at the fact that they are totally unaware of my activities over the years,” he also said.
“Over the past two decades, I have been given police protection twice because of the threats to my life from fanatical Muslims: first, because not only had I vociferously opposed triple talaq when the issue was not on the national radar, but I had, along with an organisation named Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD), toured several cities across India like Hyderabad, Allahabad, Kanpur and Aligarh and from a variety of public platforms spoken out against this retrograde practice,” he said.