The Muslim Youth League in Kerala has offered a reward of Rs 1 crore to the makers of the film, The Kerala Story, if they can prove that “32,000 girls” from Kerala were forcibly converted and recruited to the militant outfit ISIS. The film’s teaser trailer caused controversy when it claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala had converted to Islam and joined ISIS in Syria and Yemen. The director of the film, Sudipto Sen, has since backtracked on the claim, saying that the focus of the film should be on the stories of the three girls it follows rather than on the statistics.
Blogger and writer Nazeer Hussain Kizhakkedath has also offered a reward of Rs 10 lakh to anyone who can produce evidence that at least 10 women were converted and forced to join ISIS. Actor and lawyer S Shukkur has offered a reward of Rs 11 lakh for information on at least 32 Kerala women who were converted and forced to become ISIS members.
The film’s release has been opposed by Muslim organisations and politicians in Kerala. The Kerala Muslim Jamaat Council has called for a ban on the film, saying that it “creates fear and hatred towards the Muslim community”. The Muslim Youth League has also demanded a ban, calling it “a deliberate attempt to malign the Muslim community and project it as a breeding ground for terrorism”.
The Kerala Story is not the first film to claim that there is a “love jihad” racket in Kerala, in which Muslim men allegedly target and convert Hindu women to Islam. However, such claims have been widely debunked, with the Kerala High Court stating in 2019 that there was no evidence of a “love jihad” conspiracy. The film’s release has sparked fears of communal tensions in the state.