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    Secular Muslims must stand up: Javed Akhtar

    Thursday, May 05, 2005
    Well-known Lyricist-scriptwriter-activist Javed Akhtar believes secular Muslims must raise their voice against obscurantism in today''s "intolerant, communally divided" society.

    For a man who gifted Indian cine-goers their beloved angry young man, Akhtar perhaps has reason to be anguished.

    "It is high time secular, educated people like us stood up and got counted. The fundamentalists always send a wrong message to the people. We must reach them the right information," Akhtar told IANS in an interview here.
    The poet is also part of a forum called Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD).
    "Some years ago we felt it was essential for secular Muslims to get organised and form a platform to counter reactionary groups like the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, Babri Masjid Action Committee and such bodies. So MSD was formed," he said.
    "We have since been talking to the common man and informing him of the damage these people are causing to the nation and the community," said Akhtar, who was here for the launch of Sony Entertainment Channel's reality show "Fame Gurukul".
    "The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board recently released its model nikahnama (empowering Muslim women with certain rights). Actually, there is nothing model about it.
    "It is too little too late. It is actually nothing. This whole show of moving forward is some kind of pretension under pressure."
    Akhtar is also part of the 11-member group called Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which had taken the Gujarat government to court over the 2002 communal violence, including the Best Bakery case.
    "We are also representing the Godhra victims and so some people are unhappy with that," he said referring to those who suffered when a train was torched in the Gujarat town in February 2002, killing nearly 60 people and triggering bestial communal violence against Muslims in the state.
    "There are many social causes to fight. But the biggest menace is fundamentalism's ugly face. So we must give people the right perception," said Akhtar.
    "We keep raising our voice against obscurantism. We don't owe allegiance to any party. CJP members like me or Teesta Setlavad or Javed Anand are not members of a party.
    "But ideologically and logically both me and my wife, Shabana Azmi, find ourselves closer to the Left," said Akhtar.
    Talking about another thing close to his heart - movies - he said he was happy with the way son Farhan Akhtar's career was shaping up as a filmmaker.
    "I have no choice but to be happy with his success," laughed Javed, the lyricist and scriptwriter of such films as "Zanjeer", "Deewar", "Sholay", "Haathi Mere Saathi" and "Seeta Aur Geeta" who had paired up with scriptwriter Salim during the 1970s to offer super-hit storyboards.
    After his son's "Lakshya", Akhtar has just written another script for a film.
    "While poetry writing is there, after a long time I have written another script," he said without disclosing the details.

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