RJ Sooraj, who appreciated Malayali Muslim girls who had danced to the song Jimikki Kammal in a flash mob in Malappuram, received death threats following the outrage from religious fundamentalists, and was forced to apologise. Sooraj, who hosts the primetime evening show called Doha Junction on Radio Malayalam 98.6FM in Doha, Qatar, posted a video on December 2 to support the girls who performed the flash mob at Malappuram as a part of the district administration’s campaign against AIDS.
The girls too had earlier received abusive and were attacked on social media by sexist trolls, following their performance.
Sooraj’s first Facebook post on the issue irked the fundamentalists as he questioned the patriarchal thinking suppressing the freedom of women. In the video, Sooraj said he was being threatened for raising his voice for women’s rights.
“We will burn you in Doha. We will hit you, we will kill you. We will put you in jail. We will make you lose your job,” Sooraj describes some of the threats he received.
In the Facebook video, he questioned the hypocrisy of the men who stood for the freedom of Hadiya, who converted from Hinduism to Islam and married a PFI member Shafin Jahan even as a case was being heard in court regarding whether there was any element of coercion with regard to her adopting Islam. “Can I ask these kinds of people a question — a few days ago hadn’t you asked for Hadiya’s freedom as brothers? You even questioned the Supreme Court on it? But don’t these girls have the same kinds of rights like Hadiya? Why can’t they live life freely like you want Hadiya to? What is your definition of personal freedom? Is personal freedom a gift you give to people who convert and come to your religion?” Sooraj asked in the video.
Following the hate campaigns on social media, Sooraj posted another video, this time apologising for hurting religious sentiments.“I apologise. I hereby request all my Muslim friends to put this controversy to rest. Please don’t blow this up further and harm the radio station. I had no communal agenda when I put out the first video,” said Sooraj in his second video.
In the post, he pleaded with the hate campaigners to spare his radio station as many are dependent on it for for their livelihood. “I request everyone not to pull my radio station into the controversy. A lot of young men from Kerala work in my radio station. If they were to lose their jobs because of the video I put up, that would hurt me. Please take my radio station out of this controversy. I admit that it is my personal blunder,” Sooraj says in the video.
In the post, Sooraj once again reiterated his political stand by saying that he is not a right-wing sympathiser. “I am not someone who ridicules any religion. I am now being painted as an RSS supporter and a Hindutva bhakht aiming to insult Islam but that is not true. My politics is not RSS Sangh Parivar or any Hindutva politics. I would only call myself a Communist sympathiser, not even a supporter.”
BJP State Secretary K Surendran, recently put up a Facebook post slamming RJ Sooraj’s act of apologising, terming it “cowardice”. In the post, he said intellectuals were being selective in their response towards intolerance.