Malayalam actor Mamukkoya has come out strongly against the growing intolerance in our society. The beloved veteran, among the more cerebral of mainstream Malayalam cinema personalities, highlighted the atmosphere where ideas are no longer bulletproof, stopped by murdering those who dare to voice them.
Always a staunch critic of the hypocrisy in the Muslim community, the examples Mamukkoya cited during his speech at Samakalika Malayalam magazine's Social Service Award function not just include Gauri Lankesh, but also a progressive Muslim imam who disappeared without a trace.
The key in these times, when the communal and political forces have formed a nexus, is to be aware of the agenda of the opportunists, he says. To take them on, form a coalition with your friends - as friends, not on a religious or political level.
Read the complete translation of Mamukkoya's speech here:
The ones who were talking about communalism have now begun talking about unity. Because it has reached a point where you could lose your head. The people who used to mock us for staging plays to support unity and opposing communalism and caste-religion divide are now speaking about unity. They are even quoting Prophet Mohammed and Sri Narayana Guru now.
Today nobody can express their opinion. If you don't like what I have to say, you will silence me forever.
This has happened earlier, too. Today it is happening against those who voice dissent against the government. Earlier it happened to those who spoke against religion. Chekannur Moulavi and others were killed for that. Not because he hurt or killed somebody. He spread the ideas he had in his mind. Ideas should be opposed with ideas. Not by killing him. What does it mean? It is a failure. It is happening even more strongly these days. I cannot express my ideas.
Nilambur Ayisha and VP Suhara were subjected to harassment by the society, and even within their families, for doing exactly that (expressing their ideas). This happens in all ages and times. There will be ten times the people against what we say.
There some people saying that if you drink the water in which Prophet Mohammed's hair was dipped, diseases will be cured. There isn't even a fraction of people who oppose it as compared to those who support it.
In such a situation, we shouldn't look at who wins or who loses. I should be able to convey my opinion. If a religion is so fragile that it would be harmed by my doing that, then I don't belong to that religion. I have my own set of beliefs. My faith is the relation between my creator and I.
Who decides what is haraam (heretic) and halaal (permitted)? Earlier using microphone/mic was haraam. There are people who say mic is not allowed, even today. Photography used to be haraam. Actually, there were many 'haraam'. Automatically many things became halaal. Passport became mandatory to go for Hajj. Whoever holds the passport had to have their photo taken. So, photography went from haraam to halal.
Today most of the Thangals (religious, political heads of Muslim communities) apply make-up when they appear on television. It is not wrong. But our parents belong to the old times. They believe them (the ones on TV) and trust that what they say is right.
I should decide what is right and wrong and I should teach it to my children. They will have their own rights and wrong and they should decide what our country stands for.
Our children should not become pawns to raise slogans for those thugs (referring to polarising communal politicians).
What I am saying are my thoughts and feelings. This may not seem right for you. It need not be. You may not agree with them. But it should not reach a point where you kill me because you don't agree with my opinion. Oppose it intellectually.
There was a play about the tradition where the son's family wouldn't have inheritance rights if he dies
while his father is alive. The play written by B Muhammed was not allowed to be staged. The reason was apparently it was against Isalm. There used to be a scholar called C N Ahmed Moulavi of Mithai Street in Kozhikode. We spoke to him and presented the play's script. After reading it, he said our intentions were good and told us to go ahead and stage it. The play was staged at Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala's PVS Hall because we couldn't get a space anywhere else. The play was about the son killing his father because his family wouldn't inherit any property if he dies. It has nothing about Islam. Today it is being linked. For personal agendas, religion and politics are being used.
People are being killed for being Muslims. They are beaten to death. There aren't many reactions against it. They haven't been able to catch the killers of Gauri Lankesh who was killed in Bengaluru. Apart from the noises created by some social activists and journalists, what political reactions have come about due to these incidents? We don't have a voice. There is no action taken based on our protests. Many are being sidelined. Even in Kerala many artists and writers have been sidelined. I don't mention anybody's name. Parties which call themselves progressive themselves have silenced many.
I don't believe in viewing the society from the prism of gender. Or male chauvinism, which, if it exists, is the construct of ignorant men. There are so many households headed by women. These are dependent on each individual's strengths and weaknesses. The essence is to lead a life with a conscious attention to doing social good.
God listens only to those prayers that are accompanied by a good deed. I can't ignore a wilted plant and proceed to pray at the masjid without watering it first. How can you ostracise somebody without doing all this (good deeds)? All some people can think of is how to move ahead of others.
Despite the thousands of opinions that rend the air in this country, we still are moving ahead with unity. Some political-religious nexus are trying to break that. Our aim should be to understand their agenda and shun it. We should be moving ahead by cherishing our friends, and serving them. Not according to whether they are Hindu - Muslim or Communist - BJP.
(Speech by actor Mamukkoya at the Samuhya Sevana Award Samarpana function of Samakalika Malayalam magazine, originally published in samakalikamalayalam.com. You can read the Malayalam report here.)