Bangladesh movie star turns Islamic preacher


DHAKA — A Bangladeshi film star who became an Islamic preacher said on Wednesday he wants to use his fame to draw young people in the Muslim-majority nation to the faith.

Ananta Jalil is the latest actor to take up the practice after 22-year-old Naznin Akter Happy, whose decision to become an ultra-conservative Islamic preacher was the subject of a best-selling book.

Thousands of fans turned out late last month to watch 39-year-old Jalil preach in the capital Dhaka. Photos of him wearing an Islamic turban and long robe went viral on social media.

He said he had joined the Tablighi Jamaat — a Sunni Muslim evangelical movement that boasts millions of adherents in Bangladesh — after a pilgrimage to Makkah earlier this year.

“The main reason Allah gave us life... sent us to the earth is to worship Him. I learned it there,” he said by phone on Wednesday.

“If I can preach Islam to the young generation, they’ll abide by Allah and the traditions of the prophet and they’ll say prayers five times a day.”

Unlike Happy, Jalil said he would keep making movies although his next one would be used to “propagate Islam.”

Jalil made his fortune as a textiles entrepreneur and used the money to bankroll films in which he played a starring role.

He has made six movies, starting with “Khoj” (“The Search“) in 2010, in which he played a secret service agent who takes on an international arms syndicate. — AFP