Moulavi Abdul Hameed Sharaee, an Islamic preacher in Sri Lanka, faced backlash after making disparaging comments about Bharatanatyam during an online speech on the Tamil Dawah Media YouTube channel. In his address, Sharaee criticized the performance of Bharatanatyam by men at an Islamic school’s Teachers Day celebration, suggesting a historical association with courtesans seducing kings.
The remarks drew widespread condemnation, particularly from the cultural and artistic communities, who argued that Sharaee’s statements perpetuated outdated stereotypes and disrespected the revered art form of Bharatanatyam. Originating from South India, Bharatanatyam holds cultural and religious significance and is performed by both men and women as a sacred traditional dance.
The Sri Lankan Hindu community expressed outrage, with students from the Swami Vipulananda Institute of Aesthetic Studies in Batticaloa staging demonstrations, demanding an apology from Moulavi Abdul Hameed Sharaee for his derogatory remarks.
Thamotharam Pratheevan, a Sri Lankan human rights defender and civil social activist, released a statement condemning the remarks and calling for an immediate apology from Sharaee. Pratheevan also urged authorities to take stringent action against the preacher for his offensive comments against Hindu culture. Sri Lankan Hindus took to social media to express their discontent.
Asheik Arkam Nooramidh, the general secretary of the Jammiyathul Ulama Council, denounced Sharaee’s comments, emphasizing that such remarks go against the principles of Islam and strongly condemning the statement for hurting the sentiments of Hindus.
Social media influencer Shazna Zawahir, a Muslim, criticized Abdul Hameed Sharaee in a video, highlighting how some Moulavis frequently post videos that insult and abuse Muslim women under the guise of religious discourse.
In response to the criticism, Moulavi Abdul Hameed Sharaee uploaded a video on the Tamil Dawah Media channel, asserting that his intention was not to offend Hindus but to quote Hindu scholars regarding Bharatanatyam. He expressed regret if his comments had caused offense to the Hindu community.