‘Tuneless’ Bangladeshi internet sensation Hero Alam asked by police to stop singing

An out-of-tune Bangladeshi singer with a huge internet following was arrested by police early in the morning and asked to stop performing painful renditions of classical songs, sparking an uproar on social media. “Hero” Alam, as he styles himself, has amassed nearly two million Facebook followers and nearly 1.5 million on YouTube with his unique crooning style and raunchy videos.

One of his numbers, “Arabic Song”, in which he is seen in traditional Arab dress with camels on a sand dune in the background, has received 17 million views.

But he has also drawn the scorn of critics, especially for his versions of classic songs by two beloved national treasures—Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and Bangladesh’s national poet Qazi Nazrul Islam.

On Wednesday, Alam told AFP that he had been “mentally tortured” by police last week who told him to stop playing classical music, to be a singer and to sign an “amnesty” bond. Too ugly for “The police picked me up at 6 am and kept me there for eight hours. They asked me why I was singing Rabindranath and Nasar songs,” he said.

Dhaka Chief Detective Haroon Al Rasheed told reporters that Alam had apologized for wearing police uniform and singing catchy songs in his videos without permission.

Haroon said that we have received many complaints against him.

Haroon added, “(He) completely changed the (traditional) style (of the song)… He assured us that he would not repeat it.”

Dhaka Deputy Police Commissioner Farooq Hussain rejected the 37-year-old scholar’s claim that he was pressured to change his name.

“They are making these comments just to go viral on social media,” he told AFP. After his ordeal, Allum released a new video showing himself behind bars in prison garb, and grieving that he was about to be hanged.

The alum’s behavior sparked outrage on social media, with commentators and activists calling it an attack on individual rights—even if her song was good.

“I am not a fan of your songs or your acting. But if there is an attempt to suppress your voice, I stand against it,” journalist Aditya Arafat posted.

“Don’t break down. You are a hero. It doesn’t matter what others say, you are a true hero,” serious woman Rakhi wrote on Alam’s Facebook page.

Alam says he has acted in several films and contested the 2018 Bangladesh parliamentary elections as an independent candidate – securing 638 votes.

He started using the moniker “Hero” after becoming popular in his home district of Bogra, 150 kilometers (95 miles) north of Dhaka, he told AFP in his Dhaka studio.

“I felt like I was a hero. So I took the name Hero Alam. I will not give up that name no matter what,” he said.

“At the moment it seems you can’t even sing freely in Bangladesh.”

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