Condemn Cleric for Forcing Only All-Girl Band in Kashmir to Disband

Target: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah

Goal: Condemn state-sponsored cleric for declaring fatwa of girls’ band in Kashmir and ask Chief Minister of Kashmir to strip government support of cleric.

Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad, a controversial state-sponsored Islamic cleric, issued a fatwa (an order from a religious authority rooted in Sharia law) that forced the only all-girl band in Kashmir to split up. The band, Pragaash, was forced to disband after its debut concert. The girls received death threats following the fatwa, which demanded they stop performing. Sign the petition to condemn the cleric for his fatwa and ask the Kashmir government to strip their sponsorship of this cleric.

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority province of India that is disputed with Pakistan. Sharia law applies in certain circumstances and the Mufti is granted legal powers by the state government. The province has been a source of conflict between the two countries and since 1989 has been the scene of an armed uprising which has killed 68,000 so far. The cleric issued a fatwa to the girls telling them to “stop from these activities and not to get influenced by the support of political leadership.” The Kashmiri separatist group, All Parties Hurriyat Conference, threw their support behind the cleric stating their disapproval of the band calling it “a step toward Westernization of young girls.” The band received death threats and sexual slurs online prompting the police to arrest and charge three men. Others called for the girls and their families to be expelled from the province.

To his credit, the Chief Minister of Kashmir Omar Abduallh threw his support behind the girls saying, “the talented teenagers should not let themselves be silenced by a handful of morons.” He also promised a police probe against all those threatening the girls. A human rights lawyer has filed a case against the Grand Mufti seeking to have him stripped of his legal power. Sign the petition to condemn the cleric for his fatwa against the girls and ask the Chief Minister to strip the cleric of his legal power.


Dear Chief Minister Omar Abduallah,

I am writing as a human rights activist to ask you strip legal power from Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad. The fatwa issued by the cleric has led to three teenage girls receiving death threats for participating in a band. I commend you for your support of the girls so far but I urge you to remove the Mufi from his position. He is notorious for controversial statements in the past, such as demanding all Americans and foreigners leave the province and ordering Christians to appear before his Sharia court.

The girls have been harassed and intimidated into giving up their dreams, because of, as you aptly put it, “a handful of morons.” It is particularly tragic that the girls are being forced to disband after their debut concert in Srinagar. They were third-place winners of the annual Battle of the Bands show. They are quitting because of the Mufti’s fatwa. “We quit for the happiness of our people. As the grand mufti said, it is un-Islamic … that’s why we quit.” He should not be permitted to arbitrate what women are permitted to do. It violates the principles of democracy, human rights and the Indian Constitution.

The Jammau & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society is filing a lawsuit against the Mufti to have him stripped of his legal authority. I urge you to support them.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Laura Leonard Fitch via Flickr

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