Yes, he faced a number of cases from some publicity hungry maniacs and those who chose to compete for the title of bigger fundamentalist. The Supreme Court clubbed them. Being a celebrity has a price. He could afford a hundred lawyers and not be worried.
In any case he has lived abroad for decades, even though he has professed love for his country sometimes. But he is a hugely successful artist and a businessman. I admire everything about him. And, I respect his right to take up any other citizenship. Many of my friends have taken American citizenship and they are still my friends.
So, why the breast-beating, just because MF has taken Qatari citizenship? Some say, he was a national asset and we have lost him. Do we own him? Is it his problem? Many of those who are wailing, will themselves start salivating at the prospect of a green card. Many of us will not think twice before plundering national assets, from electricity to environment.
My friend says, “That is not the issue. He had to take up Qatari citizenship because a secular country could not protect him”. Did he say so, or is it our assumption? And, who said, we are secular? Just because, it is written in the Constitution? Unless secularism means pandering to fringe, obscurantist elements from every section of the society, or giving equal right to followers of all religion to grab public space or vandal public property, we are not. Religions, communities and castes are currencies of power in my ‘secular’ country. One party which was responsible for the genocide of thousands of citizens in the national capital is secular, while the other connected with similar connivance, abetment or dereliction in a state is not.
If there were to be a global index or award for hypocrisy, we will win it hands down year after year, unlike Olympics medals. Perhaps the only competition may come from our neighbour or the US. It is just a manifestation of that the culture with a history of the most liberal ethos, temples like Khajuraho and worship of the ‘lingam’, is supposed to be defiled by an artist of the stature of MF, just because the goddess was not ‘properly dressed’ in the painting. We will claim our culture to be superior’ but will rush to draw parallels with ‘others’ to justify our competitive bigotry. We will host Tasleema (even though in a jail-like condition, remember ‘Atithi Devo Bhav’?) and lose MF, if we did so at all. We will embrace all things western, from dress to Pepsi to MJ, but our millennia-old culture can not sustain the tsunami of Valentine’s Day. We will gloss over widespread incest, but 377 cannot be changed. The list is endless.