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Was Sonu Nigam Really Expressing His Honest Views Or Trying to Gain Attention?

Thursday 20th April 2017

Written by Usman Ahmed, Twitter: @TVLovesMe

Sonu Nigam, after a few years in the musical wilderness, recently started trending throughout desi social media and Indian news reports. The reason? He tweeted his dislike for being awoken by the sounds of the Azaan, the Islamic call to prayer, saying he was being forcibly subjected to religiousness.

@SonuNigam Tweeted:

"God bless everyone. I'm not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the Azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India".

This led to a huge social media outpouring. Tweets ranged from anti-Muslim comments to fans upset that the celebrity had ventured into the murky waters of religious rhetoric.

India promotes itself as a secular country, where patriotism is viewed as being more important than the religion you follow. Many celebrities in India are Muslim, especially within the media, so for someone within that circle to air views which can be deemed sensetive on such a public forum was rather strange. What makes the matter more interesting is that Sonu Nigam is famous for singing songs originally sang by the Legend Mohammed Rafi, a Muslim. In 2011, he he even toured the world with a Mohammed Rafi tribute concert.

India treads a fine line between patriotism and religion and it's not the first time a celebrity has made headlines for comments about religion. In 2016, singer Abhijeet sparked controversy by branding a the murder of a techie in Chennai as a "Love Jihad" to which he was accused of stoking communal hatred. In 2015, Amir Khan was subjected to Anti-Muslim abuse after commenting that his wife wanted to leave India due to rising religious intolerance after a Muslim man was murdered for allegedly butchering a cow and storing beef in his house.

In recent developments a fatwa was put out for Nigam in which 10 lakh rupees was offered for Sonu Nigam's head to be shaved, which he himself obliged to, stating to the Mulla to have the money ready.

The most recent high profile response to Sonu Nigam was from fellow singer Mika Singh

Mika Singh quote retweeted Nigam:

"Big bro I respect u lot as a singer .. I think you should change your house and stay somewhere else instead of changing loud speakers".

Nigam has recently back tracked on his comments, stating it was merely a rant about loud speakers present in any religious building, rather than about the Azaan in particular. Some people have questioned whether his outburst was merely a ploy to gain favour and to push himself back into the public eye.

The question is, do celebrities have a responsibility to stay away from controversy or should they practice free speech on social media like everyone else?