Kozhikode: Several protests were held across Kozhikode district, Kerala, after a group of students enacted a play in which a girl performs azaan. The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) marched on the streets, in protest against the play.

Azaan is an Islamic ritual prayer call, generally performed by a male priest (mukri or muezzin). As the girls perform azaan in the play ‘Kithab’, the protesters say that the play "insults the Muslim way of life".

Memunda Higher Secondary School students had performed the play based on a story by R Unni. The story of the play describes the daughter of a mukri asking to perform azaan like her father.

In the play, at first, the father refuses to allow his daughter to perform azaan, but later he allows her. The play was presented at the district school arts festival at Vadakara, Kozhikode, on Wednesday.

SDPI’s local leader Salim P Azhiyur has submitted a complaint to the deputy director of education regarding the issue and the protest. He said, “CPM manages Memunda School and the party’s agenda is clear in this play.  It will send a wrong message about the Muslim community.”

The play does criticise the dispute over women's entry into Sabarimala. The girl in the play says every woman in this land dreams of entering the 'palli' (mosque) and 'mala' (indirect reference to Sabarimala). This play is seen as CPM's attempt to gain publicity by highlighting Supreme Court's verdict on Sabarimala under the 'gender equality' cloak. 

A teacher at the same school, PK Sreedharan countered by saying that the play is actually asking many valid questions about gender equality to the society. He also said that they don’t understand why there are protests against the play. He added that even theatre often raises sensitive religious issues.

While the Sabarimala angle was endured by Ayyappa devotees, who are targeted by the ruling government and the police, the Islamic prayer seems to have triggered a ruckus. In fact, women are barred by entering mosques run by Sunni Muslims. They form the majority of the Muslim population in Kerala. 

SDPI has often courted controversy for being the political front of PFI, an organisation that has often been on the brink of getting banned by the NDA for its alleged connections with terrorist organisations.  In fact, the Islamist party has raised yet another storm by stating that Ram idols at Ayodhya are illegal and want them taken down from Babri site.