In a statement signed by 128 people, including lyricist Javed Akhtar and veteran actors Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah, the Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) called for the rejection of the ‘Islamic Emirate’ that the Taliban seek to impose in Afghanistan.

Stressing that the IMSD rejects the “very idea of a theocratic state anywhere in the world,” the statement said, “We are deeply disturbed by the euphoria evident among a section of Indian Muslims, including religious leaders such as the office bearers of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Maulana Umrain Mahfuz Rahmani and Maulana Sajjad Nomani, and the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind, over the Taliban’s capture of power.”

“It is nothing but sheer opportunism and hypocrisy to stand in support of a secular state in a country like India, where Muslims are in a minority, and applaud the imposition of Shariah rule wherever they are in a majority. Such rank double-standard gives legitimacy to the Sangh Parivar’s (RSS) agenda for a Hindu Rashtra,” it added.

Azmi, who is one of the signatories, shared the statement on Twitter. She also wrote, “Strong statement by Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy rejecting the call for Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under Taliban rule.”

Akhtar also took to Twitter and wrote, “It is shocking that two members of Muslim personal law board have expressed their extreme happiness at the takeover of Afghanistan by the barbarian Taliban. Although the board has distanced itself, it is not enough.”

Among the 128 signatories are journalists, lawyers, students, academicians, civil society activists, and members of the film industry, including filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Yousuf Saeed.

The statement also urged the Indian government to sign the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and act in consonance with that convention. “India must open its doors to all Afghan refugees, irrespective of religion,” the IMSD said.

This comes a week after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. After the capture of Kabul, the civilian government fled the war-torn country. Several Afghan citizens and foreign nationals subsequently attempted to flee the country resulting in chaos at the capital. Afghan filmmakers such as Shahrbanoo Sadat and Sahraa Karimi, who had earlier put out a plea seeking help from the international film community, are among those who have successfully left Afghanistan.