Javed Akhtar's strong views on growing intolerance will make you respect him even more

Javed Akhtar said religion should be confined to museums, and lamented that criticism of PM Narendra Modi's policies are deemed anti-national

Veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar has been quite outspoken on various social and political issues. According to him, religion should be confined to museums. Hinting at growing intolerance in the country, he said that any criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies is deemed as anti-national.

Akhtar, a five-time National Award winning lyricist, spoke at length on various issues related to politics, religion and society during a panel discussion organised by Marathi daily Loksatta in Mumbai. He said:

Faith and belief are two different things. What can be substantiated is belief. Whereas, it is difficult to prove or establish the matters of faith. The premises of religion is founded on faith, which cannot be ascertained or substantiated. And it is a matter of individual’s faith. Therefore, we must have religion. But it should be confined to a museum.

Adding further, he expressed concerns on how religion was acting as a cover up for intolerance.

Atrocities against women are often defined as ‘family honour’. When nations engage in war for oil, we describe it as ‘war on terror’. We undermine the pains of privatisation by calling it liberalisation. Similarly, religion often plays a significant role in covering up many intolerant aspects of the society.

On this occasion, Akhtar cited the famous Mahabharat scene in Kundan Shah’s critically acclaimed film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, saying if it was enacted in the present scenario, protests would have erupted. Akhtar had retired from the Rajya Sabha after serving as an MP for six years. In his farewell speech, he not only targetted the right-wing extremists for their anti-Muslim rants but also carried out a veiled attack on AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi at the same time.