Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Arrests Follow Online Abuse of Kashmiri Band ; Lawyer Plans to Sue Leader Who Issued Fatwa Aimed at Teenage Girls

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Arrests Follow Online Abuse of Kashmiri Band ; Lawyer Plans to Sue Leader Who Issued Fatwa Aimed at Teenage Girls

Article excerpt

A human rights lawyer is planning a lawsuit over a fatwa aimed at stopping the teenage girls.

Online abuse and a fatwa aimed at a rock band of Muslim teenage girls in Kashmir have led to arrests and the threat of a lawsuit.

Three men were arrested this past week for posting threatening messages on the Facebook page of Praagaash, an amateur rock band in Indian-occupied Kashmir made of up teenage Muslim girls. "The investigation is ongoing," said Manoj Pandita, a spokesman for the Jammu and Kashmir State police, indicating that more arrests might follow.

A prominent human rights lawyer, Parvez Imroz, is planning to sue the top religious leader in Kashmir, who called for the fatwa, for "demonizing Kashmir before the international community" and for "running a parallel judicial system in the valley."

Mr. Imroz said that human rights organizations like his, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, needed support from the international community to highlight their concerns and that such fatwas reflected badly on their society.

"He is diverting attention away from real issues of human rights to nonissues like music and purdah," Mr. Imroz said of the religious leader, Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad.

After the band's first live performance in December last year, Aneeqa Khalid, Noma Nazir and Farah Deeba, 10th-grade students who are 15 and 16 years old, became the target of abuse and threats on Facebook accusing them of being un-Islamic because they had performed in public especially before men. Some commenters called them "sluts" and "prostitutes," while other suggested they should be raped.

Praagaash, which means Darkness into Light, disbanded amid a national controversy surrounding these threatening messages. The threats were condemned by many, including the state's chief minister, but also led to the fatwa issued by the grand mufti. …

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