How is it that religious leaders are ready to hurl accusations and profanities at celebrities on camera but are fearful of shunning terrorists or corrupt leaders in the same way? Perhaps because celebrities neither possess weapons and nor a public office, hence they remain easy targets.
This question has been asked several times on numerous public forums and television shows but time and time again we see actors, models and singers bearing the brunt of Muftis in a fix.
On Sunday night, the Indian reality show Bigg Boss was under discussion on a local television show where Mufti Abdul Qawi was forgetting his manners arguing with former Bigg Boss contender and television personality, Ali Saleem. The talk show host stirred the discussion in the direction of Veena Malik, who is still a contender on the Indian show. Apparently, Mufti sahib was very angry because Veena seems to be disrespecting Islam by behaving so irresponsibly in India on public television. What I don’t seem to understand is that how did this woman who got famous mimicking politicians and dancing between trees in Lollywood movies, become a representative of Islam?
She certainly did not enter the show as a Muslim contender. She was chosen for the show as a Pakistani celebrity (if you may) who became popular recently for playing an active role in making the cricket scandal further scandalous. I suppose it is okay for Veena to show her body in scanty silky saris and dance provocatively on local screens but the minute she starts showing that ‘immoral’ behviour in India, oh no, Islam is in danger!!
Ali Saleem, famous for his television persona Begum Nawazish Ali, mentioned the Hajj Scam, the corruption of our leaders, the silence of police on the face of torture and the unjustified killings which have become commonplace in our country but somehow all of that does not hold any weight to Veena getting comfy with an Indian (read: Hindu). Hats off to him for keeping his cool while the Mufti sahab accused him of “bay ghairthi, bay sharmi and bay hayai”. What a “mujrim” he is in this day and age, dressing up as a woman on screen.
So basically, Islam is under threat because of people like Veena who have joined the ranks of culprits such as suicide bombers who kill dozens by the day in the name of religion. But wait – while being put on the spot upon the insistence of Ali Saleem, the Mufti did condemn suicide bombers – so I suppose the religious leaders have done their duty.
I don’t think I’m giving enough credit to the show’s host here. By inviting a conservative Mufti and a controversially liberal celebrity to debate, the host already knew what the outcome would be: a mockery of both the guests. How would the show get its ratings and popularity without an angry religious scholar and a controversial celebrity attacking each other on screen?
Farzana Bari, a human rights activist, who was also invited to the debate, pointed out that neither has she nor Mufti Abdul Qawi seen the programme, and nor could they see the scandalous clips playing on the screen at the time of the debate. And the clips that were playing on screen were carefully chosen to show Veena at her best, or worst – but then again, nothing sensationalises better than the same clips shown over and over again.
But all of that didn’t seem to be important. What was important was that a Pakistani actress was causing the nation to hang its head in shame! As if being in the limelight for terrorism, honour killings, fake degrees, corrupt leaders and Baitullah Mehsud wasn’t enough, now we have Veena Malik who also wants to destroy the identity of Pakistan. The charged-up youth and ever-ready-to-protest religious parties must get their placards ready now – this is after all a matter of national and religious identity and Veena’s agenda must be destroyed!
Shyema Sajjad is the Deputy Editor at Dawn.com