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'Hatred Won': Comic Munawar Faruqui Says he is 'Done' After Latest Show Cancelled

From being arrested for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments to having multiple shows cancelled due to threats, comedian Munawar Faruqui had a challenging year. And now, he signs off.
'Hatred won': Comic Munawar Faruqui Says he is 'Done' After Latest Show Cancelled

Image Courtesy: Twitter screengrab/Munawar Faruqui

The right to freedom of expression once again went for a toss as comedian Munawar Faruqui on Sunday announced what appears to be the end of his comedy career after his show in Bengaluru was cancelled. His decision comes after sustained persecution by right-wing Hindu organisations for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, which led to 12 of his shows being cancelled in the last two months.

Hatred won, the artist lost. I’m done! Goodbye! INJUSTICE,” the 29-year-old comedian wrote in a social media post as he signed off for the last time, recounting that 12 of his shows were cancelled in the last two months owing to threats to the venues and audiences.

The latest was the cancellation of his Bengaluru event, scheduled to be held on Sunday for a charitable trust. Faruqui wrote that more than 600 tickets had been sold for the show.

The Bengaluru Police denied him permission as Munawar Faruqui was a “controversial figure.” “It is learnt that Munawar Faruqui is a controversial figure... Many states have banned his comedy shows. It is learnt that a case has been registered against him in the Tukoji police station in Indore of Madhya Pradesh,” the inspector of the Ashokanagar Police station said in his letter, the Hindustan Times reported.

Hindu right-wing organisations such as Sriram Sena and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti had approached the Bengaluru city police commissioner, alleging that Munawar hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus by insulting Hindu gods, according to the Hindustan Times.

In a move that many artists saw as violating the constitutional right to freedom of expression, Faruqui was arrested by the Indore Police earlied this year for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. After being denied bail and lodged in jail for almost a month, he was released on February 7 following the Supreme Court granting him bail in the case.

Faruqui and four others were arrested following a complaint by a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA’s son alleging that “objectionable” remarks about Hindu deities and Home Minister Amit Shah were passed during a comedy show at a cafe in Indore on New Year’s Day.

Faruqui claimed that he never cracked the joke on that show for which he was arrested as he got arrested even before the show started. The video evidence that was produced was reportedly from his earlier shows in different parts of the country but not in Indore.

In his latest post, he said, “Putting me in jail for the joke I never did to cancelling my shows which has nothing problematic in it. This is unfair [sic].” He added that he had a censor certificate for the show, and there was nothing “problematic” in it.

I think this is The End,” the comedian wrote, concluding his social media post. “My name is Munawar Faruqui and that’s been my time, you guys were wonderful audience,” he said as he signed off.

Faruqui’s post generated a strong reaction from his fellow comedians and performance artists. Comedian Kunal Kamra released a statement saying, “With every passing year I feel laughter is costing comedians more & more. It’s costing them their spontaneity and it’s costing them their impulse. I have even heard some comedians telling jokes to their lawyers & showing their video to a legal team before they release it online.” He added, “The impulse of any artist to be calculative, a move in itself is the slow death of the art from.”

Comedian and writer Varun Grover wrote on social media, saying, “The best times for comedy are also the worst times for comedy. Satire and stand-up have always been dangerous art forms because dissent is their foundational principle. But with a mix of fake news pandemic, crawling-in-the-mud mainstream media, and happy-to-look-away public and judiciary- we are always a day away from an artist being publicly lynched for their thoughts, and the lynching celebrated.”

Grover further added, “I am sad today that Munawar feels like quitting an art form he loves and is brilliant at - but am sadder that we have let our minds be manipulated enough to stay indifferent in the face of such developments. (The only vikas that’s really visible in the last few years.)”

Actor Swara Bhasker tweeted saying, “It’s heartbreaking and shameful how we as a society have allowed bullying and gaslighting to become normalised. I’m sorry Munawwar!” 

Satirist Arpit Sharma wrote that his story would have been different if he had been a Muslim instead of a Hindu. “As an Artist, If I had ‘Khan’, ‘Farooqui’ or ‘Kappan’ as my surname, I would have had a different story altogether on Social Media. I know I get that escape gate being a Hindu. But, I always ensure that I utilise this privilege for Truth & Justice. With You Bhai - @munawar0018,” Sharma tweeted.

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