Kozhikode, Kerala – January 6, 2024 : An FIR has been registered against Mukkam Umar Faizi, the leader of Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama, over senseless remarks made during a television debate. Faizi allegedly stated that Muslim women who do not wear hijab are of “questionable character.” The complaint leading to the FIR was filed by VP Zuhara, the president of NISA, a progressive Muslim women’s forum, on October 9, 2023.
The FIR, registered on January 4, 2024, by the Kozhikode city police, charges Faizi under sections 295A (outraging religious sentiments) and 298 (uttering words to insult religious feelings). The controversy arose during a television debate on October 7, 2023, where Faizi responded to a comment by CPM leader K Anilkumar, defending the freedom of Muslim women to choose whether or not to wear a headscarf.
Faizi’s response drew criticism from various women leaders and activists in the state. The Samastha leader asserted that Muslim women should wear a headscarf and should not exhibit their bodies in front of other men. He deemed leading a “debauched life” without adhering to traditional values as regressive.
VP Zuhara promptly filed a complaint against Faizi, but reports suggest that the police commissionerate initially sought legal advice on the matter. Zuhara, a women’s rights activist, faced alleged abuse for taking a stand against Faizi’s comments.
During the inaugural session of Kudumbashree’s “Thirike Schoolil” campaign in October, Zuhara criticized Faizi’s remarks, emphasizing that a woman’s choice to cover her head is personal. This led to a protest by some attendees, including parent-teacher association (PTA) members, who removed their hijabs in disagreement.
On January 5, 2024, Zuhara welcomed the filing of the FIR against Faizi, stating, “Faizi has insulted all the women who do not wear the headscarf. They want to create tension in the community by dividing the women into those wearing veils and those not wearing it.”
This incident highlights the ongoing debate on personal choices and traditional beliefs within the Muslim community, with legal actions now being taken to address the alleged religiously insensitive remarks made by the Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama leader.