All-Girl Band Forced Into Hiding After Fatwa

The first-ever all-female rock outfit to form in India’s Kashmir region, Pragaash, have been forced to hang up their mics and abandon the band after a high-ranking religious leader publicly shamed the high school girls for making music. Pragaash, which means “light” in Kashmiri, was made up of 3 high school friends who performed their first-ever live performance last December and won third place in a regional band competition, according to NME. But what was a promising project has come to an abrupt hold after Grand Mufti Mohammad Bashiruddin, a government cleric from India’s only majority Muslim state, issued a religious ruling – or Fatwa – effectively blacklisting the young band.

Pragaash saw they had no option but to respect the wishes of the cleric and disband. It was deemed that the group were against “Islamic teachings” and demonstrated behaviour that would contribute to the rising number of sexual assaults in the country. According to The Guardian, a member of the band appeared on a news program but remained unnamed and, with her face blurred, commented, “Muftisaab has said our music is un-Islamic. We respect him and the people of Kashmir…and their opinion. That is why we have quit.”

According to the group’s manager and music teacher Adnan Mattoo, the move follows an online hate campaign set up against the band after their first live performance. It was here that they were labeled ‘prostitutes’ and received threats but, despite that, they had planned to continue. However, according to a statement released by Mattoo, “The girls had decided to quit live performance due to an online hate campaign and concentrate on making an album but, after an edict by the government’s own cleric, these girls are saying goodbye to music.”

Omar Abdullah, the region’s top-ranking official, has vowed to resolve the situation, explaining that police will investigate the threats, adding, “The talented teenagers should not let themselves be silenced by a handful of morons.”

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