Supporters of the radical Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena attacked theaters in Mumbai (Bombay) with rocks and debris Tuesday, smashing windows and tearing up signs for the upcoming film My Name Is Khan , which is due to open in India on Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported today (Wednesday) that more than 50 members of the party were "detained" by police, but some Indian publications put the figure at more than 1,000. The protests were touched off by comments by the film's star, Shah Rukh Khan, that, as a co-owner of an Indian cricket club, he felt "humiliated" that top Pakistani and Australian cricket players were passed over in recent bidding by the Indian Premiere League. Following the remarks by Khan, regarded as Bollywood's top star, Shiv Sena, which supports Hindu nationalism and the dominance of Maharashtrians (those living in the state in which Mumbai is the capital), demanded an apology. Khan, who is Moslem, refused. (Ironically, My Name Is Khan , deals in part with the difficulties Moslems living in the U.S. have encountered since 9/11.) One Shiv Sena supporter told the Wall Street Journal "If we protest peacefully no one listens. ... We first try to make people understand, but if they don't, then we have to slap them." Mumbai police are reportedly providing increased security at the theaters showing My Name Is Khan, and to distributor Fox Searchlight, but Indian reports indicated that some theater owners remain fearful and are refusing to show the film. It is due to be screened next week at the Berlin Film Festival.

10/02/2010