Stars accused of misusing top Muslim shrine

Authorities complain Bollywood stars using the site to pray for ‘sinful’ films

Tabloid

The head of one of the most important Muslim shrines in India has complained about Bollywood stars misusing the site to pray for their “sinful” films to be commercially successful.

Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, who leads the organisation in charge of the Ajmer shrine in Rajasthan, said that celebrity pilgrims were appealing for movies that often featured immoral subjects that insulted Islam.

“Many film stars come here with (a) CD or DVD of their work and offer it while praying for the success of the film or serial, whatever it is, which is absolutely against the Islamic law,” Khan told reporters in Ajmer on Sunday.

“They are using the holy place, a prime centre of religious belief, for purely commercial purposes and for degrading moral values among people,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted him as saying.

The shrine to sufi saint Muin-ud-din Chishti, who died in Ajmer in the 13th century, is one of south Asia’s most important pilgrimage sites, attracting millions of Muslim and non-Muslim devotees from around the world every year.

Khan did not name any stars, but glamorous actresses Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor, veteran leading man Amitabh Bachchan and heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan are among many Bollywood personalities to have visited in the past.

“Most of the films today are full of obscenity, double meaning words and expressions,” Khan explained. “It is hateful and sinful.

“I strongly condemn and object to the visit of film actors, actresses, directors and producers to the dargah [shrine] to seek blessings for such things which are taboo.”

Khan also complained that an unnamed male singer-composer visited the shrine wearing a burqa and a leading actress offered prayers while dressed in a skirt.

“This is to attract attention and it is highly objectionable,” he said.