Actress Lakshmi Priya, born Sabeena Abdul Lateef to Muslim parents in Alappuzha of Kerala, got her name changed and published in the latest gazette, officially notifying her Hindu identity. She announced the same on her social media pages and ‘thanked’ her critics (Islamists/communists) for speeding up things. Currently, she has over 7 lakh followers on Facebook.
She added that their (Islamist) stoning, howling and jeering and questions regarding caste and religion prompted her to officially change her name from Sabeena to Lakshmi Priya. She married P. Jayesh, son of musician Pattanakkad Purushothaman in 2005 and had converted to Hindu Dharma back then when she was 19.
Angry Islamists have been stalking her ever since she became a practicing Hindu. It is not known whether angry Islamist mobs have threatened violence against Lakshmi Priya but she has been abused and bullied on her social media pages, aplenty.
She thanked her husband Jayesh for taking her out of a single-room house and unhappy life to give her sanctuary. They fell in love and got married. She has a daughter named Matangi Jai and she draws strength from her family. Lakshmi Priya admitted that it was only after Jayesh came into her life that the public got to see the free and vibrant lady that they see now.
The tight hold that the Jihadis have on the Malayalam film industry became evident though and she started losing deserved roles.
Born to Kabir and Ramlath at Kayamkulam, she has two sisters. Her parents divorced when she was just two-and-a-half years old and she was raised by her paternal uncle Latheef at her father’s ancestral home. She met her estranged parents much later in life.
She met her father Kabir when she was barely 5 and then again 8 years later when she was 13. By then, Kabir had married afresh and had another family. Lakshmi Priya met her mother for the first time when she was 14 and was under the illusion that she was dead even though Ramlath was still alive. Even that meeting did not go as expected and Lakhsmi says that there was no love or care showered or exchanged.
Though she was surrounded by relatives and lived amongst 5 uncles she felt the pangs of not having her parents’ love and protection. She enjoyed more freedom than the rest but felt lonely and that led to extreme distress. She sought solace in acting and by 16 started working as an artist.
During the assembly elections earlier this year, she openly admitted that she will vote for the BJP till her death and this incensed both the communists and the Islamists. Some had earlier foolishly dug up her past without checking her Muslim ancestry and claimed that she was the ABVP (BJP student wing) candidate at school when she was 10! Political outfits were banned from schools back then and candidates were elected independently. She was a class leader of sorts winning the approval of 45 of the 55 in her class.
Incidentally, last year Kerala HC was forced to yet again ban politics in both school and college campuses as regular strikes, rallies and gheraos were affecting studies.
Her position on the BJP rout during the assemblies was inspirational. She said that only our personality has been defeated and not our position. She said that she was drawn towards the ABVP at a young age and that she has remained a volunteer and daughter of the Sangh.
She declared that the BJP winning or losing seats does not matter and that she would vote for them till her death. She added that “I will be with the movement no matter who leaves it for victory or defeat. Although I do not have a single seat like the one I did, I am one of the tens of thousands who will definitely vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party. “
Conversion from Islam aka ‘Apostasy‘
While conversions into Islam are widely advertised and many illegal conversion rings are operating in Bharat as we have recently seen, conversions out of Islam are generally kept hidden for fear of retaliation. Keeping in mind the protection of themselves and their families, such ex-Muslims often lead double lives under their old name or migrate to safer areas to stay anonymous.
A 2013 survey of Muslim nations conducted by Pew Research Center found a high degree of support among ordinary Muslims for executing apostates in the Bharatiya subcontinent – Afghanistan (78%), Pakistan (64%), Bangladesh (36%). The survey did not include Bharat.
The Muslim holy book, the Quran, discusses apostasy in many of its verses, the most prominent being Quran 4:89 –
They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah . But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.
Sahih Hadiths (accounts from the life of the Islamic prophet), the most trusted books in Sunni Islam after Quran, describe the following punishments for apostasy –
Sahih al-Bukhari 52:260: Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’
So many clerics and schools of Islamic jurisprudence consider apostasy a crime punishable with death. They usually give a grace period of 10 days for the converts to ‘repent’ and come back to Islam, after which punishment is meted out. While a nation like Pakistan doesn’t have any specific law for apostasy, it gives death penalty for blasphemy (speaking against Islam or its prophet), and the charge of blasphemy can be easily applied to an apostate.
There are 13 Muslim countries which maintain the death penalty for blasphemy or apostasy: Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Many other nations give out harsh jail sentences or other punishment for these ‘crimes’. Sharia courts in some countries use civil code to void the Muslim apostate’s marriage and deny child custody and inheritance rights.
In Bharat, we have seen how ‘blasphemy’ allegations result in violence (Prof. TJ Joseph), rioting, brutal murders (Kamlesh Tiwari) or sustained hounding (Shireen Dalvi). Some apostates like M Farook have been butchered, while others are on hit lists.
Clearly, major reforms and a strong state are needed to make Islamic society compatible with a modern nation state. In Bharat, Muslim women rarely formally convert to Hindu Dharma, although there is no legal penalty for apostasy. Muslims are governed by their own personal law, so this is a sort of grey area as is the issue of girl child marriage which sharia allows. The soft Indian state has shirked from making the hard decisions it needs to, for the betterment of its Muslim citizens.
The likes of Lakshmi Priya must be applauded for bravely coming forward and exercising their freedom of religion. It is up to the majority Hindus and the state to provide protection for those who leave Islam of their own free will.