There are some things that you read and you are not sure whether to be concerned or just laugh it off. This is one such story from Kerala’s Muslim and Football heartland.
Exactly how mad is Mallapuram, Kerala about football?
“Cutouts of soccer greats look down on the din of victory jathas and the pungent flavours of free-to-join streetside biryani parties, after a Brazil, Argentina, England, Italy or France win, in its many villages. This is where movie halls switch to screening soccer matches live, and where even the bride’s and groom’s sides come solemnly dressed up in Brazil and Argentina jerseys respectively, as in a recent marriage in town.”
This is what Sunni cleric and leader Cheroor Abdullah Musaliar says, in the outfit’s official website (sorry no url provided in the news report) : ‘‘The young men who cut their hair in ugly imitation of a Jewish footballer (read Beckham) and those who come for Friday’s jumaa prayers to the mosques tying British and American flags around their head… have they not read about the cruelties of the Jewish-American partnership in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib and in Guantanamo jails, and in Palestine?’’ he asks.
This country, the Musaliar’s exhortation reminds, spends ‘‘crores of Rupees for sports, but what good has these (sports) heroes done for this country, or its human beings?’’ Therefore, he affirms, ‘‘It is time to take confident decisions based on our Islamic values, for which Islam holds us responsible.’’
Saqafi asserts that the local Muslim youth should not idolise the Beckhams, Figos, Ronaldos and Kloses anyway. ‘‘We are not against their sitting and watching football matches on TV. But they have enough local Muslim heroes of the past like Varikkunnathu Kunhahmed Haji and Ali Musaliar (both leaders of the 1921 Muslim uprising in Malabar), and we want to get them back to that focus,’’ he says.