Fundamentalists issue fatwa against Women's football match in West Bengal

Locals in West Bengal were said to have been bitterly disappointed as a women's football match was cancelled by hardliners, who promised to agitate if the match went forward....

With a lot of impetuous put on Women’s football in today’s day and age, observers and organizers in Harishchandrapur, in the Malda district West Bengal, were left bitterly disappointed as a match was cancelled on account of an alleged issuance of a ‘Fatwa’ by fundamentalists against the tie, which was to be attended and participated by several national level players from across the country.

A ‘Fatwa’ is a generally considered to be a ruling on a point of Islamic Law, or even a decree, expressed by an authority or scholar on the matter.

‘Progressive Youth Club’, who had organized the match as part of their golden jubilee commemorations, had to call the event off, as administrators of the block backtracked on their permission for the conduct of the match, citing law and order hindrances.

Expressing disappointment at the turn of fortunes, Club President Reja Razi elucidated, “The women's football match was to be played between Kolkata XI and North Bengal XI. National-level players such as Krishna Das, Sujata Kar, Arjuna-awardee Santi Mallik, Fifa referee Anamika Sen, captain of national handball team Anita Roy and many others were supposed to be present on the occasion. There was great enthusiasm about the event among local people,” to The Times of India.

He further lamented, "But last week, some moulavis (Muslim clerics) raised their objection to the women's football match. We had approached the block administration and the sub-divisional officer for help. On March 11, a meeting was also held in the presence of BDO (Block Development Officer) between us and the fundamentalists who were against the match. The next day, many more clerics said a women's match would be against Islam. They also threatened to make a stronger agitation if the match was held. The BDO then ordered to stop the match." 

Block Development Officer (BDO) Biplab Roy explained, "We had to cancel the football match because of a possible deterioration in law and order situation." 

Meanwhile, Imam Maqsud Alam, a local cleric, denied issuance of any such fatwa, stating, “When some people sought my opinion, I just said Islam does not permit us to watch women playing in the field wearing short dresses." 

The cancellation of the match hasn’t gone down too well with the locals of the region though, with some openly dissenting the ruling that caused the disruption. “Are we going backward? When the government is inspiring women to come forward, such a dictum is disappointing,” opined a village resident.