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Kerala, green land of literacy, progressive thought and harmony, is caught in a tide today. In a tide of Islamic fundamentalism.
Awash in this rising tide are its northern parts. Mainly Malappuram, a predominantly Muslim district. It is here that a Muslim was hacked to death for practising a traditional Hindu form of medicine.
It is here that a maulana was killed for progressive religious teachings.
It is here that a Muslim couple lives under a cloud of threats for 'defying' Islam.
And it is here that a Muslim Kathakali student faces economic ruin for learning a
There are more such incidents. All manifestations of how fundamentalism has taken rich roots in Kerala. Of how a section of Islamic community is persecuting its own.
To capture this human tragedy Senior Feature Writer Chindu Sreedharan and Illustrator Dominic Xavier visited Malappuram.
Palathody Abdul Rasheed, ostracised for learning a 'Hindu' dance form, believes "Kathakali doesn't have religion. It isn't Hindu or Muslim or Christian."
Tasni Banu, abandoned by neighbours and family for marrying outside the nikah ceremony, is still angry. "I haven't abused Islam. It's they who did that."
V P Suhara is feminist and crusader for the rights of Muslim women. Completely bereft of ideology and dogma, she only has personal conviction. "Can you show me where the Quran allows a man to divorce his wife at will?" she demands.
Fousiya, married at 13 and forsaken after a month, has only one grievance. "I don't mind him remarrying. But I wish he would send me some money every month."
E M Abdul Rahman is the new chairman of the National Development Front. The police will tell you that the Front is the most dreaded Islamic extremist organisation in Kerala. But Rahman defends his organisation. "We are not fundamentalists. We are a secular party."
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