Instead of interrogating Sania on her weak second serve or poor backhand, we quiz her on intricate theological matters. Soon, we will be asking her to pronounce on the Rushdie fatwa, or whether archangel Gabriel was a Muslim or Jewish saint, or if the Sharia permits divorces through sms. For god's sake, she plays tennis, she is not an imam at Deoband. If the media and sane sections of Muslim society wish to take on 7th century clerics, and I wish them godspeed in the confrontation, they must have the decency not to fire their gun from Sania's shoulders. By pitting her frontally against some of the most reactionary and regressive forces in her own community, Sania is being ruined both as a tennis star and as a human being. It is abominable that an innocent 19-year-old girl is being used to fight a much larger social battle.
I understand the Mirza family living in Hyderabad is having a torrid time. They have to constantly issue denials each time Sania says something rational or banal and announce that their daughter is a devout Muslim who says her namaaz five times a day. All of us owe an apology to Sania's parents for the agony they are going through. And why do I not read or hear the usual suspects denouncing the Maulvi torture of a girl who has brought only fame and honour to Indian Muslims in particular and to the country in general? Terrorising Sania must cease if she is to get on with her game, and her life.