UK & World News
Indian Girl Rock Band Quit After Fatwa
An Indian high school all-girl rock band have quit after a senior Muslim cleric issued a fatwa against them and branded them "indecent".
The teenagers became victims of an online hate campaign and were called "sluts" and "prostitutes" on social networking sites.
Separatists in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where the band are from, accused them of "Western-style cultural waywardness".
The group's music teacher and manager Adnan Mattoo said the three members of Pragaash, which means First Light in Kashmiri, were so scared by the backlash they had decided to disband.
Mr Mattoo said: "First, the girls had decided to quit live performance due to an online hate campaign and concentrate on making an album. But after an edict by the government's own cleric, these girls are saying goodbye to music."
One of the members has fled to another city.
Her mother, who did not wish to be named, said: "My daughter had been depressed and irritable so we decided to send her away to another city for some time."
Pragaash comprised drummer Farah Deeba, bass guitarist Aneeqa Khalid and singer and guitarist Noma Nazir.
They played in public for the first time in December in Srinagar, the main city in Kashmir.
It won them third place in an annual Battle of the Bands rock show organised by an Indian paramilitary force as part of a campaign to win hearts and minds in the region.
Soon after the show Kashmiri pages on social networking sites like Facebook hotly debated the band.
Some questioned whether the performance was appropriate in the Muslim-dominated region.
Many backed the girls but others were abusive and called for them and their families to be expelled from the region.
At the weekend Omar Abdullah, the region's top elected official, promised a police probe into the threats and wrote on Twitter that "the talented teenagers should not let themselves be silenced by a handful of morons."
On Sunday Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad, Kashmir's state-appointed cleric, issued a fatwa ordering the girls to "stop from these activities and not to get influenced by the support of political leadership".
Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, criticised Abdullah for selectively supporting freedom of expression and said the band's concert was "a step toward diverting young girls toward Westernisation".
The alliance distanced itself from the cleric's edict, however, and denied the girls were under threat.