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Friday, December 9, 2022

Mandana Karimi stands alone; paper tiger Bollywood feminists lack the guts to support the Iranian women’s anti-hijab protest

While support comes pouring in for the anti-hijab protest by Iranian women fighting for fundamental rights from all corners of the world, India’s feminist hub, also known as Bollywood, has maintained an eerie silence. While this odd silence of the Bollywood feminist brigade was bothering almost all of us, Iranian-born Bollywood actress Mandana Karimi exposed their hypocrisy.

Dressed in black attire and holding a placard in solidarity with women of her native country, Karimi was spotted as a lone warrior in the crowded city of Mumbai. She failed to find even one supporter in a town thriving with “intellectuals”, Bollywood-attested self-styled women’s rights activists known to have loud voices. Be it protesting the CAA, NRC, or Farm Bill, the city has witnessed vast gatherings of protesters led by members of Bollywood. So why was a Bollywood entertainer left alone when she needed support?

Karimi voiced her disappointment over how her industry colleagues shied away from the purpose and provided some weird excuses not to join her. Talking to The Times of India, Mandana Karimi said, “The past three weeks have felt like months and years. I’ve been reliving everything that’s happening to my people in Iran. I make sure I speak to my mum and brothers every day. My first waking thought is – what if something happened to them? Buying groceries could land you in jail or worse. The past three weeks have also been a time to unite, make new friends with amazing people worldwide, and try to make a difference. Everyone must have witnessed the bravery of Iranian women by now. The world heard us roar”.

She lamented, “150 cities worldwide stood in protest but I couldn’t find India on that list. So, I decided to organize one in the city. The responses I received from people were disappointing. They ranged from ‘I have to speak to my PR team’, to ‘we are just two of us, what can we do?’, ‘It’s better to post online about what’s happening back home, and give interviews”, ‘I have family commitments, ‘I don’t care, I don’t live in Iran anymore’, ‘I will put a story for you’. These were just some of the words that left me hollow and broken.”

Talking about her decision to stage a solo protest, Karimi adds, “I was reminded of Mahsa Amini. She was also alone. She didn’t know anyone in Tehran and she is the reason for this movement. Saturday was important to show our people back home in Iran that we are with you. So, I went out alone, held Mahsa’s name, played Sherveen’s song, and explained to the few who gathered about the current situation in my country. Although it was overwhelming, I felt like I was a part of something bigger.”

The actress also took to Twitter to speak about the lack of human rights women in her home country suffered and tried to create awareness about the same. Unfortunately, she didn’t get much support from her co-artists on Twitter either.

We all remember Kareena Kapoor Khan for the infamous placard she held during the alleged Asifa-rape case and slandered a Hindu temple. The “begum” in Bollywood and a self-claimed feminist has not spared a single word about the Women’s protest in Iran.

Similarly, the most prominent feminists of the film industry, like Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar, Alia Bhatt, and Taapasee Pannu, have skipped commenting on one of the greatest struggles of women of our times.

Shabana Azmi, the Islamist in the garb of a communist, attracted immense flak for pushing her anti-Hindu agenda under the pretence of feminism during Durga Puja in 2018 and could only sum up the guts to endorse a statement issued by IMSD but stayed silent in her personal capacity. But again, the Iranian woman’s fight couldn’t be linked to Hindu Dharma and hence her silence on the matter is just as evident as that of Ratna Pathak who was horrified to see Hindu women decked in precious silk and adorned with jewellery, observing Karvachauth for their husbands.

Another woman who had some painfully “funny” thoughts against Karwachauth is Twinkle Khanna. But the privileged “anti-patriarchy” idealist known for her literary skills found no words to condemn the violence against Irani women. “It’s her choice” fame Neha Dhupia couldn’t gather the guts to assert that wearing or not wearing the hijab should be an Iranian woman’s choice.

While we shine the spotlight on the hypocrisy of these Bollywood women, we aren’t surprised to see their silence on the matter. Nothing is as easy as spewing venom on Hindu traditions. Even a word against Islamic practice invites “sar tan se juda” threats. They are all aware of it and hence, keep their frosty boldness at bay and shove their heads in the sand in the face of Islamist barbarity on women.

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