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Muslim organisation 'bans' burqa- clad women from seeing movies!

If one takes the Tahreek Muslim Shabban argument to its logical conclusion, men wearing trousers should not be permitted into movie halls in Hyderabad.

For why? Because men wearing trousers indulge in blackmarketing, and such other nefarious practises, and therefore the solution is to ban men wearing trousers from movie halls.


Or should that read 'silly'?

Muslim women in the southern city tend to the latter view -- that the TMS diktat, conveyed by wall posters that have overnight been plastered across Hyderabad's walls, is ridiculous in the extreme.

Briefly put, the TMS posters forbid burqa-clad women from going to movies from August 1. "One is forced to take this step because one finds burqa-clad women selling movie tickets in black, and even indulging in prostitution, and this results in the burqa losing its sanctity," says Mohammad Mushtaq Malik, president of the six-year-old organisation. "In any case, Islam does not permit women to attend theatres for entertainment."

"Who is the TMS to tell us we cannot go to the movies?" demands Qamar Jahan Begum, who works in a local college.

"Why only women?" demands Mohammad Amanullah Khan, leader of the Majlist Bachao Tahreek. "Islam does not permit males to visit movie houses, so let us extend the prohibition to the men also!"

A controversy in the making? Or a storm in the proverbial teacup?

Analysts indicate that the diktat is part of efforts in recent years by the TMS to set itself up as a third force in the city; an intensifying of rivalry with the established Majlis e Ittehadul Musalmeen and the MBT.

The TBS in fact claims to have unstinted support within the community -- but other Muslim leaders take these claims with a pinch of salt. "Malik is only trying to get publicity by issuing such a diktat, and the media by putting it in the headlines is playing into his hands," says the leader of one of the leading Muslim organisations in Hyderabad. "Malik's only interest is to emerge as a leader of the Muslim masses."

Another Muslim leader takes a practical view of the matter when he says, "It is easy to talk of a ban, but you should also have the capability to enforce it. And that is possible only in Islamic countries, where Islamic law prevails."

If the police mindset is any indication, such an edict can definitely not be imposed in Hyderabad. "If the Shabban volunteers try to stop the women against their wishes, the police will not hesitate to book charges of attempt to outrage the modesty of women," says city police commissioner R P Singh.

And there, for now, the matter rests.

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