For Muslim Photographer Whose Studio Was Burnt Down, An Online Campaign

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For Muslim Photographer Whose Studio Was Burnt Down, An Online Campaign

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32-year-old Rafeeque Taliparamba alleges that he was targeted because he has questioned Islamic practices including the need for women to wear the hijab on a WhatsApp group that includes around 40 people from different backgrounds.

Kerala:  In a week, a photographer in Kerala has experienced both a Christmas tragedy and miracle.

On the 26th, Rafeeque Taliparamba was woken up by the police in the Kannur district of Northern Kerala to find his studio burnt to the ground.

The 32-year-old alleges that he was targeted because he has questioned Islamic practices including the need for women to wear the hijab on a WhatsApp group that includes around 40 people from different backgrounds.

He believes that it's when these messages spread to other groups or outside, that it started taking a communal angle.

Born into a Muslim family, Rafeeque, 32, says he does not believe in any religion.

This stand and others have been professed by him on the WhatsApp group titled "What Is Islam".

A group called "Freethinkers" on Facebook are now crowd-sourcing funds for the photographer to rebuild his studio.

"Since nearly a year, I have upset many in the WhatsApp group. In fact, I have been isolated by many in the group. I am a photographer but many don't even give me assignments because of my opinions... I was expecting their hatred to have a backlash, but the manner in which my studio was burnt down, shook me," Rafeeque told NDTV.

"It looks like his WhatsApp message against Hijab posted around a week before the incident could have triggered the attack on his studio. We have questioned 10-12 people from the WhatsApp group. But we are yet to find any suspects or leads," said police inspector Vinod Kumar K.

Rafeeque is married to a practicing Muslim, they have a young daughter.

A group called "Freethinkers" on Facebook are now crowd-sourcing funds for the photographer to rebuild his studio. They have collected approximately Rs 4.37 lakh so far.

"I haven't received any cash yet, but it's  heartening to see people come forward to help..it reinstates my faith in humanity," said Rafeeque walking through his charred studio.

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