A week after a man’s photo studio was burned down by alleged fundamentalists in north Kerala for what was perceived as his questioning of some of Islam’s traditions, friends and well-wishers have started a crowdfunding campaign to help rebuild the studio, his only source of income.
On December 26, Rafeeq was rudely woken to the news that his studio had been torched by miscreants in Kannur district’s Thaliparambha.
The 32-year-old said the act was in retaliation to his questioning of some of Islam’s traditions, including the need for hijab, the veil that covers a woman’s head. Rafeeq had shared his views on a WhatsApp group that was circulated.
However, the discourse soon turned into a communal issue, with Rafeeq receiving threatening calls.
“I never thought it will take such a turn. Being a democratic country, I feel everyone has a right to air his/her opinion. You can’t stifle one’s voice like this,” he said, adding such bullying techniques would not deter him.
A Facebook group called ‘Freethinkers’ has now taken up Rafeeq’s case and is attempting to raise funds to help him rebuild his studio. The group has so far collected around Rs 5 lakh.
“I was literally on the road. Then came the good news that some people are collecting money to help me. I was really bowled over by their magnanimity,” he said, citing this would be a fitting response to those who destroyed his ` 20 lakhworth studio.
Now looking ahead, Rafeeq whose wife is in fact a devout Muslim, says he will continue to voice his opinions against what he sees as blind faith and customs.
“Personally I believe religion should help one become a good human being. But it is sad that some religions are dictating terms for believers,” Rafeeq stated.