Coming soon! The Right to Laugh: a virtual comedy show

South Asian American comedians stand up for jailed Indian comedian Munawar Faruqui, who remains in jail, to hold online show on February 6


It has been a month since comedian Munawar Faruqui has been arrested, he is still in jail. On January 28, 2021, Justice Rohit Arya of Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed the bail pleas of Faruqui and his co performer Nalin Yadav. Justice Arya had reserved orders on their bail applications after noting that people who take undue advantage of others’ religious sentiments and emotions must not be spared.

The court had observed, “This Court refrains from commenting upon contentions of the parties touching on merits but, regard being had to the material seized and the statements of the witnesses and that the investigation is in progress, no case is made out for grant of bail.” The court added, “The evidence/material collected so far, suggest that in an organized public show under the garb of stand-up comedy at a public place on commercial lines, prima facie; scurrilous, disparaging utterances, outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment, were made by the applicant.”

The court highlighted that, “It is the constitutional duty of every citizen of the country and also of the States to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India irrespective of religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities and to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture (Article 15A (e) and (f) of the Constitution of India.” The HC had also rejected the contention of Faruqui that he had not uttered any statements as alleged in the criminal complaint. Considering the video footage of the show and witness statements, Justice Rohit Arya opined, “ It is not a case of no evidence. More so, the investigation is in progress.”

As reported in Indian and international media, Faruqui’s arrest is being seen as a part of the crackdown on artists, activists, and religious minorities. In response, and in solidarity, a group of young South Asian American comedians have come together to perform a virtual comedy show titled “The Right to Laugh.” This solidarity show is being organized by Reclaiming India, a joint initiative of the global Indian diaspora, representing diverse voices, issues, identities, and their intersections. “We have strong roots in the country of our origin and stand by the Constitution of India,” said the members in a statement released. The core members of Reclaiming India are Dalit Solidarity Forum, Global Indian Progressive Alliance, Hindus for Human Rights, India Civil Watch International, Indian American Muslim Council, and Students Against Hindutva Ideology. The Philadelphia-based Progressive India Collective is cosponsoring this event.

According to the pre-event information, “United by their belief in human rights and freedom of speech, these rising comedians will showcase their talents while also calling attention to the injustice that Faruqui has been facing for the past month.” The performers include artists Myesha Chowdury, Sai D, Abby Govindan, Pallavi Gunalan, Apoorva Gundeti, Masood Haque, Rishi Mahesh, Yamini Nambimadom, and Amar Risbud. Award-winning poet, filmmaker, educator and performer Fatimah Asghar will be the master of ceremonies.

This show will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2021, at 10:30 PM, IST and will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.


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