A House for Mr Hashmi

July 31, 2009

When you are a Bollywood actor in Mumbai, doors open automatically — or at least so you would think. But as Shabana Azmi, Aamir Ali and now Emraan Hashmi have discovered, there are some doors which remain shut.

Hashmi has complained to the Minorities Commission of Maharashtra that he and members of his family were not allowed to buy a flat in the posh locality of Bandra — because of his religion.

In his complaint, the actor said he was stopped from completing a purchase of a flat in Bandra’s Pali Hill because the society did not want to allow Muslims.

On the face of it, it seems ridiculous. What’s more, it is illegal.

Abraham Mathai, Vice-Chairman of the state minorities’ commission, told Reuters it would recommend legal action against the building secretary and chairperson if what Hashmi said did happen.

This is not the first time Bollywood is talking about discrimination. Someone as senior and well-respected as Shabana Azmi has spoken about it in the past. Television actor Aamir Ali has also said he found it hard to get a flat in Mumbai.

Unfortunately, this is the first time any one has done anything about this kind of discrimination and Mathai vouches for that.

“I have heard of such cases many times, but this is the first time any one has actually approached us.”

Muslims account for about 14 percent of India’s 1.1 billion people, making them the biggest minority group.

India is officially a secular nation but high-profile success stories of some Indian Muslims may mask their real status. Reinforcing stereotypes about the community, Muslims are targeted after most bomb attacks.

But was Hashmi denied a house because he was Muslim?

The city of Mumbai prides itself on its spirit. It prides itself on its secularism and cosmopolitanism and what could be a better example of those qualities than the thriving entertainment industry?

If public figures cannot escape discrimination, what hope do ordinary mortals have? Did you ever face this problem?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I think India is a secular country only in text. The secular bit does not stand true when people walk on the streets and mingle with others from a different caste/creed. Educated and literate individuals have prejudices against not just Muslims, but other communities as well. And these biases stem not from the truth, but from the beliefs and ideologies passed on to them from earlier generations.

It is like saying, and believing, that just because most of the militants caught are from the Muslim community, hence, the same is true for all militants, or vice versa. Muslims, just like every other community, have a very deep rooted culture. Believing blindly in a stereotype that does not exist goes on to show our mind-numbing upbringing.

Some one very close to me once refused to rent out their house to a Muslim bachelor who I knew very well, and was in dire need of a house in Delhi. I was very embarrassed to pass on the message to the man in question. I lied to him and told him that the family didn’t want to rent out their house to a bachelor.

I think it’s high time we let go of these prejudices and live and let live. “Ram” exists in “Ramzan” and “Ali” exists in “Diwali.”

Posted by Tanushree | Report as abusive

Before everyone starts screaming religious discrimination, why not consider other logical explanations? Maybe the other residents of the building didn’t want a hard-partying, loud-music playing movie actor to disturb their peace. What’s wrong with that? Or perhaps, generally only vegetarians live there and they want to keep it that way. Using the religion card at every instance is ridiculous. India has had muslims as presidents, cabinet home ministers, cricket captains, top movie stars, generals, air chief marshalls, etc.

Just because people don’t want some noise-making publicity-loving guy in their building doesn’t make them bigots.

Posted by naeco baks | Report as abusive

I think in India secularim exist only in our constitution. Socially and culturally we are communal. In this matter my experience in no better than Emraan Hashmi. Discrimination against muslims also exist in case selling of property in Hindu Area. One of my friend(muslim) puschased a plot of land in Hindu area but his Hindu neighbours forced him to sell his property.

Posted by M. Hossain | Report as abusive

I grew up in India and moved to America when I was 14. I have a business back in India and here. My brother who is a senior executive at Top 5 Indian IT company and I have had the same issue. We were not able to rent in certain buildings in Hyderabad and in Mumbai.

We are by definition not the partying type nor are we the type to wear religion outwardly. They were happy to rent to us until they found out we were Muslims. India has a lot to be proud of but this is an old habit that needs to be kicked.

Posted by American Muslim Desi 72 | Report as abusive

Time to wake up and smell the coffee..India is a secualr country on paper..We have millions of people Like “naeco baks” who would say things to justify racial profiling…These so called educated people think it is okay to not let a non veg in their society..He is not having an open BBQ…stupid vegetarian natak..I am a vegetarian but have no issues with people eating meat in their house or in a restaurant..or anywhere else…Do not justify people like modi , thackeray or taliban..they are all same teching hatred among people like naeco baks..who might be educated on paper but narrow in their outlook..they would nto hesitate to deny a deserving candidate a place based on his/her religion…Peace

Posted by Mohit | Report as abusive

just because of a Muslim I i was denied many times in Banglore from getting a flat.

Posted by rafyq | Report as abusive

Lets stop playing this religious card always. We all know india is very much a seculear country but in this great country there are many discremination and lets face it. Even South Indians face same kind of discrimination if not worst.But no one to take it up because media does not find it sensational enough. I know in own country in my own state in north kerala where there is Muslim majority, non Muslims are forced to sell their land and evicted out from our own ancesteral land. Will any one listen to this story?

Posted by gopi | Report as abusive

I think its the wish of the owner, he has right choose the buyer after all it is his house.

Posted by Suncoldman | Report as abusive

Mr. Salma Khursheed, where is that DIVERSITY INDEX that you propmised adn the equal oppurtunity comission.

We need these to fix this problems soon!!!

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive

It is also true in the other direction. Try as a Hindu getting a house in a Bandra West Muslim society. Or try to get a housue in a Gujju or Jain society if you are a meat eating Hindu.
Discriminations exist and it is not only for religion but for other narrow views also.

Posted by Alok | Report as abusive

Yes it seems to be highly offensive for minorities. Since the person is from Muslim comminities, they dont them to get into there societies. But my question is what precisely the society wants, they like to watch movies which has been played by Muslim hero and probably composed by Muslim writer. Every body wants to watch movies irrespective of the cast into it, but nobody wants to make them as the part of there society. Now this is foolish practice. If we accept them as a super hero, why cant we accept them as part of society. I am sure, if Mr Sharukh or Mr Amir would have tried the same flat in Bandra , nobody would have demured.

Posted by Mukesh Singh | Report as abusive

And What about the security of the teenage daughters around this heart throb.. the owner could have a couple too.. We can all make excuses.. but the bottomline is.. everyone needs a fair go..and Hashmi needs one too.

Posted by Vinny | Report as abusive

I think this is not fare enough to stop anyone,just because of his religion…he is not a criminal or a any thing like that..he should get the flat.

Posted by parul | Report as abusive

Its not good to show such discriminations to muslims.they are also part of our country and they should also be given an equilant respect as others.

Posted by Sumanth Jannapureddy | Report as abusive

Some vegetarians cannot stand the smell of Non veg food being cooked,and after Shiney case and murders where Bollywood actors are involved, house owners will be obviously scared to sell.

Posted by Raghu | Report as abusive

This issue has been blown out of proportion. How many of you, the same minorities commission the same media and the same shabana azmis and hashmis spared a thought for the lakhs of pundits driven out of kashmir because they were a minority. No one seems to notice the fact that being a hindu majority, this country has always tolerated all religions. Where did the syrian chriastians go when they were driven out by the jihadis, you guessed right… they came and prospered here. Is there any merit in all this hype ‘against’ the hindus. I’ll give you a personal example, I wanted to buy my neighbour’s house and the guy, a roman catholic, did not sell me the house because he wanted to sell it to his own bretheren. Did I have a ‘minorities commission’ to go to to fight for my rights?

Posted by Sandeep | Report as abusive

bollywood actors are involved with dawood ibrahim’s underworld. so nobody will be willing to have them around.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

All this is a publicity stunt of an unemployed filmstars.
Its the seller How has every right to choose the buyer
Why did he wanted in that posh colony why not other places in mumbai?

Never critise india’s secularism, Never play a religion card on personel dealings.that thehypocatic acts of so called ….

Did any non-muslim dares to buy a home/flats in OLD CITY of hyderabad?

Posted by mangesh | Report as abusive

I feel things said here are going out of proportion since, no one knows what is the true story. as someone pointed about the hard partying nature of the actor, what is wrong in preventing him.if i do not like noise, i would certainly keep out the person irrespective of his religion, out of my society. there could be other reasons as well, but commenting without knowing the truth behind the curtains is utter foolishness.

Posted by Parag | Report as abusive

It is very diffucult for a Sanatan Dharm community to have a muslim or a non reformed christian because of their style of living, beliefs, practices. How can sanatan dharmis think of having to closely interact with someone who eats beef, has non justifiable belief in eating non veg and killing of animals, and has practices which are in exactly opposite to Sanatan Dharmis belief? Interactng such persons in public place like train, bus, market is different matter. Only muslims/ backward christians complain about such practices… Sanatan dharmis do not complain that they didn’t get property in area like Jama Masjid due to sickularism… Why one sided sickularism?

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

Now a days, it has become fashion in india to play minority card….Easiest way to get fame and favourble result.

Posted by Pritesh | Report as abusive

Why can he not be normal person ? like

“”” as presidents, cabinet home ministers, cricket captains, top movie stars, generals, air chief marshalls, etc. ALL Muslims in India “””””

It is getting reidiculious every time some of these guys in the world can not get what they want they pull the card MUSLIM. No wonder some of them are treated like that all over the world and spoiling the life of some true belivers in their own religious teachings.

Be normal and leave like human beings instead of pulling the CARD M .

Every human is some time some where rejected — THAT is human nature, same applies to animal kingdom —

so HAsmi & the media stop it and look for another flat in another good area.

Posted by Shawn | Report as abusive

I think India’s most of population is very tolerant of Muslims, sikhs etc. Again and again, Muslims and Sikhs have hurt the majority of hindu population.

What sikhs did to hindus in punjab and what muslims did in J&K. After all this hindus are very tolerant.

Usually religions which are closed and radical will have tremendous obstacles, and face challenges in 21st century. For instance muslims complaint about Sania Mirza,a world class athlete etc

Religion should propel one in future and embrace others and new world.

Western religions have helped it’s people tremendous growth in very sector; tech., science…imagine how many lives are saved with their technology. It is open and flexible and embrace changes over time.

After all this I still have hope for India.

Posted by alvin | Report as abusive

I was trying to think of reasons why normal, educated people would indulge in religious discrimination. As humans we like to eliminate risks. The first thing that springs to my mind is the multitude of cases in aftermath of bomb blasts when suspects/perpetrators were normal looking educated Muslims who were indoctrinated by extremists. Like the software engineer (from Pune?)who was suspected of involvement in blasts. Would Ajmal Kasab have looked any different than your usual IT professional had he not been carrying a Kalashnikov? I am not trying to equate or compare Emraan Haashmi with any terrorist. Irrespective of my opnion on his acting skills and his choice in movies he is a professional, a respectable citizen of this country and deserves his rights. The point I am trying to make is that people try and avoid anything that remotely carries the risk of association with an undesirable possibility.

Posted by Jaspreet Swaich | Report as abusive

Emran Hashmi was discriminated because he is from noisy bollywood crowd and not because he is a muslim.Unfortunately it is narrow minded people like him that blow up the religious discrimination bit and use it for their own personal gain. Azaruddin, when he was pulled up for match fixing, to cover up his guilt, cried hoarse that he was being targetted because he was a muslim. When Jadeja was pulled up did he cry out that he was being targetted because he was a hindu? There are umpteen examples of paranoid and selfish people who take advantage of the eagerness of the sensation loving media and opputunistic politicos and cry ‘religious discrimination’ at the drop of a hat. Wake up Mr.Hashmi, unfortunately you are a celebrity and any thing you say can sow the seeds of suspiscion and hatred even in the most harmonious and secular communities. As it is we have enough problems and dont need you to pour oil on the embers.

Posted by raju,alluri | Report as abusive


Posted by raju | Report as abusive

Believe me, this kind of mentality exists. Forget religion, even people who eat non-veggs are not allowed in some societies in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, unless they agree not to eat non-veg. This is mostly seen in Jain dominated society. So discrimination on religious-bascis is nothing new, it exists at least in some parts of Ahmedabad especially if the society is predominantly held by Jains. If such things are not reported it is because most people keep away from such societies, as there is no point in living in a society who do not want you. Further, we take all this in our strides and move off and do not make a huge cry about it the way Hashmi did. I do not think Hashmi said any lie, i do believe he was not given the NOC because of his religion.

Posted by jose | Report as abusive

It is true that muslims are discriminated when it comes to buying flats or property or even renting accomodation. Nobody says it, but it exists. I have Muslim friends who have had difficulty in getting accomodation in New Delhi/Mumbai. However South India is much more tolerant and a muslim can easily get accomodation.SAD but TRUE.

Posted by Babandra Tata | Report as abusive

Did Hashmi ever think what relegion his fans belong to? Why is he so eager to play his religion card? There are thousands of people in this country who are discriminated against for various reasons, including many hindus, but they do not start cribbing about their religion for nothing. It is too low and cheap, who knows what the truth is, we only hear what people like Hashmi want to potray.

Posted by Kusum | Report as abusive

Mr Hashmi is trying to use his faith and “ishtaarrr” status to muscle his way into a community where he is unwelcome. The fact he belongs to the motley crowd of bollywood bozos and bimbos is his trump card to show who is boss. He uses the complaint of discrimination and it is all hyped up because of the BBB origin of Mr H.

If Mr H has the right to decide where his abode should be, do the members of the building where Mr Hasmi wants to go NOT have the right to decide what kind of neighborhood they want to live in?

As one of the posters has mentioned in his message ordinary people want a life of peace and security. They want to curtail risks in these times of strife. Has this fact crossed Mr Hashmi’s mind? Or like a spoilt brat denied his current pet desire he started crying foul and used the “D” word? If he was a reasonable man he would have given due weightage to the desire of the community he wants to be a part of (yes a building is a small community of neighbors) instead of trying to use his “ishtaarrrr” status to muscle his way into this community where he is not welcome.

Mr Hashmi and his apologists can easily label us right wing hindu fundamentalists and so be it. I for one am more comfortable with the judiciary of India taking to task an inept/incompetent administration in Gujarat for the genocide(in which muslims were the victims which please note) that occurred on it’s watch, than see a self proclaimed “ishtarr” who wants to live in a posh locality use his faith and ishtaarr status to muscle his way into a community where he is not welcome.

Posted by Rakesh | Report as abusive

Don’t know about the other two cases (Shabana Azmi, Aamir Ali) but looking at Mr Hashmi’s picture accompanying this story I’d say even I wouldn’t want him in my neighborhood.

Posted by aMuslim | Report as abusive

Surely Mr Hashmi has been denied the opportunity to buy a house in the area in question, because of his screen image as played in Murder,Train etc and also because of his own admissions about his playboyish pranks.The locality is inhabited by families believing in traditional values and they are perhaps scared to let a man with his ultra modern life style live with them.It is a private property and the society has the right to choose its would- be buyer.There are other muslim families who were allowed to buy flats in that area so it can not be the relegious ground on which he has been turned down as a purchaser.Mr Hashmi should reconcile to the fact and try elsewhere. He can not eat the cake and have it too!!

Posted by B.IYER | Report as abusive

If there is a difference, Discrimination exists!!!

Its not like Muslims specifically are discriminated against.
I am a meat eating Hindu. I was looking for accommodation and I was scornfully turned down on a door I had knocked post confessing that I do meat. Now do I go and raise a storm abt the incident?
Its just perspectives … Understand, if possible respect and move on…. just dont make a big issue out of it….
I have heard firecrackers go off when Pakistan won a match against India in Hyderabad….
now thats a concern!!!! a priority that needs to be addressed…..

P.S . I with a group ( call it a mob if u want to) set out to find the culprits…. no luck though

Posted by Raja | Report as abusive

The way sickularists like Jose and Babandra Tata are gunning for muslimization and christianization, they would also like that meat shops should be set up in the house of a jain or inside a temple only. Every small group of people who come together to exists look for a similarity in beliefs that govern our everyday life… Afterall they have to stick toghether for lifetime. Why advocate making life of small groups miserable in name of sickularism?

If Hashmi’s life is so difficult in India, he can go abroad to Iran or UAE… Similarly, Tata and Jose can go whereever they want… Why spend life amongst Sanatan Dharmis and make everyday of your life a hell?

Posted by rohit | Report as abusive

I too wanted to rent a place in Andheri with my mother as she needs urgent medical treatments and we wanted the house to be close to the hospital just in case there was an emergency.

We were denied any flat and were told that muslims not allowed.

Anyways, now that is past.
My mom is no more and I share room with a parsi friend of mine.

Guess that’s life!

Posted by Usman | Report as abusive

Come on you call this bad. Non Muslims in Muslim countries like Dubai, Jordan, UAE and many others are not allowed to cook food or eat in public place during fasting period on the month of Ramadan. Now it is the month of Ramzan, Ask the non-muslims if they are allowed to cook food during fast period. They can even be arrested for that “crime”. Also in places like Mecca and Media there is a sign clearly saying Only Muslims allowed. This is how muslims treat non-muslims in their countries. At least here in India or USA or Europe they don’t do it by law against Muslims, it is the person who does that. Illegally.

Posted by Ajay | Report as abusive

Iam not agree wid the peoples they talk abt he act bad character so there is no many actor even actress so pls use ur,s sence,i guess he is right thats discrimination.

Posted by NADIA KHAN | Report as abusive