Prominent Muslims from the fields of cinema, theatre and media have strongly endorsed the clergy's call for a black-ribbon protest on
Bakr Eid against the Mumbai terror attacks. They point to a larger purpose behind the 26/11 strikes seeing in them an attempt to trigger communal violence. To that end, the symbolic protest is a call to evoke the spirit of India's secular values and ensure harmony among an agitated citizenry.
"Terrorists expect to polarize communities here, and hope the people will take the violence to the next level. The conflict is between a civil, secular democracy and barbaric forces that want to drag us back to medieval times," says theatre personality Feroz Khan. But he's clear Indians will not allow that. For him, the protest is an important milestone. "You've felt it in your heart, now it's time to show it on the streets," says Khan, who has directed well-known plays such as Tumhari Amrita.
The protest becomes more relevant because it cuts across all communities and sects within Islam. "The coming together of the clergy is momentous because religion is their life and terrorism is an attack on their faith," says actor Jaaved Jaffrey.
"This is no mourning. This is a protest against using terms from Islam for acts of terror."
The protest is also a call to nationalism. The Mumbai terror strikes were aimed at the country, says Qari Muhammad Mian Mazhari, editor of Urdu daily Secular Qayadat. "We are first Indians and then anything else.
The attack was on India, on India's systems. We must convert them into a foundation for the creation of a strong nationality spirit, sadly missing today," he says. He adds: "And for this, it is religious organizations which have to come forward and forge the spirit."