Hindu nationalists block movie screening out of anger at Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan

By Rajesh Shah, AP
Friday, February 12, 2010

Angry Hindu party blocks Bollywood star’s premiere

MUMBAI, India — Hindu nationalists tore up posters and stoned movie theaters to block Friday’s premiere of a movie starring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan because he recently spoke in support of Pakistani cricketers, police said.

More than 21,000 police guarded more than 60 theaters in Mumbai, India’s entertainment capital, but only two multiplexes screened the first shows of the movie. The rest responded to a boycott called by Shiv Sena, a Mumbai-centered political party known for regional chauvinism and Hindu fundamentalism.

Nearly 150 Shiv Sena workers hurled stones and even tried to force their way inside theaters, but police beat back the protesters, an officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Police detained at least 40 protesters, said television news channel, CNN-IBN.

Shiv Sena — which means Shiva’s Amy — has branded Khan a traitor for expressing regret that no cricketers from India’s archrival Pakistan were chosen to participate in next month’s Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.

The party will allow screenings only after Khan apologizes, said Manohar Joshi, a senior Shiv Sena leader who led a group of supporters to a movie theater.

Khan, who is Muslim, has refused to apologize.

“My Name is Khan,” which opened across India on Friday, is set in the United States against the backdrop of the 9/11 attacks and traces the journey of a Muslim man who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.

Senior police officer Himanshu Roy said more than 1,100 Hindu nationalists were detained this week in Mumbai in an attempt to prevent disruption of the film’s screenings.

Fearing violence, several theaters stopped advance ticket sales.

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