Journalist Mehdi Hasan who interviewed two intellectuals from India shared a video in which Akhtar was asked if he thought Modi was fascist, to which he replied: “Of course, he is. I mean, fascists don’t have horns on their heads. Fascist is thinking. And thinking that ‘we are better than others and whatever problems we have, it is because of these people’… the moment you hate people in wholesale, you’re a fascist.”
When Bhatt was asked about rising hatred against Muslims and whether he thinks India was Islamophobic, he told Hasan: “I think the wind of Islamophobia blew through the world after 9/11 and I think the phobia here is manufactured because I don’t think the average Indian is so frightened of a Muslim.”
Bhatt continued, “I mean that kind of fear has been crafted and structured day in and day out. Media persons go out, pliable (TV) channels are working around the clock to create ‘the other.’ They need ‘the other’ to stay in power. And to hate the Muslims is the lifeline of the BJP. Let’s not mince our words.”
Akhtar and Bhatt are among the eminent celebrities, journalists and politicians who have come out strongly against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which has sparked massive protests in India.
The duo also condemned incidents of brutal police action against un-armed anti-CAA protesters, especially students of Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Aligarh Muslim University.