Slapping Gauhar Khan with the ‘Muslim’ card

Published: December 4, 2014
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Gauhar Khan didn’t ‘buy’ the excuse of religion either but thought her choice of attire was personal.

It was interesting to read the incident about Gauhar Khan, the Muslim Bollywood actress, who was slapped during her attendance as a presenter at the reality show ‘India’s Raw Star’ on Sunday.

The matter is thought provoking because Akil Malik, the 24-year-old man who slapped her, claimed that he did so because being a Muslim, she was wearing an inappropriately short and revealing dress. After the incident, Malik did not resist arrest, indicating that he was in no way ashamed of what he had done.

Malik’s reason for the slap changes the entire context of the story, taking it out of the boundaries of ‘assault’ into ‘assault in the name of Islam’. However, either way, the slap cannot be condoned. Needless to say, for those who are disgusted with the way Muslim women flaunt their legs, backs and what not in totally revealing dresses, this incident would have been akin to a spray of cool water on smouldering coals. Their first thoughts probably would have been ‘serves her right’. But sentimentality aside, Malik’s act remains unacceptable because he had no right to correct a ‘wrong’ in such a manner.

Khan evidently didn’t ‘buy’ the excuse of religion either but thought her choice of attire was personal. And even if there was an issue, she said,

“We can resolve issues through dialogue, baat kar lete hain (we can talk), why did he have to hit me?”

In her first press conference since the incident, she recalls being as stunned and shocked by the physical contact as she was by the fact that she could be so vulnerable to any sort of attack from fans in public. She said she reminisced for hours over ‘why me?’.

What should be pointed out, however, is if Malik had been present at that show, it must definitely have been with the knowledge of how any woman, Muslim or otherwise, would have been dressed there. He had also undoubtedly seen Khan’s movies too and I don’t believe she wears a burqa or hijabs in them. So why the sudden burst of surprised anger that brought around the slap? If he knew he’d be so offended, he shouldn’t gone to the show at all. If he had pre-planned the whole thing, he deserves double retribution.

Secondly, with what right, as a total stranger, did he slap Gohar, or any woman, like that? He was not her father, brother or husband. Even they are not awarded the right to slap their relative women, even in private, if they transgress beyond their limits. Islam has prescribed a proper way of dealing with wives, daughters and sisters who refuse to stay within limits. But nowhere is slapping on the face a means of rectifying out of bounds behaviour. Thus, if Malik did in fact use Islam to slap her, perhaps acquiring more knowledge about the religion would have been a better idea first. In any case, his reaction was completely out of bounds.

Let’s assume the women of his own house wear burqas and hijabs, hence, the reason for his extreme anger at a Muslim woman dressed like Khan. But in that case, shouldn’t he, himself, have been pious enough not to go ogling at strange women at reality shows? The mere fact that he was actually at the show reflects that his own household is far from conservative. If so, it further accentuates the absence of his right to go around criticising anyone else’s dress code either. If the dresses of ‘Muslim women’ really do bother him so severely, he needs to think of a more effective way to fix the ‘ills’ within the Muslim society rather than slap all the women he comes across in public.

I disapprove of Veena Malik entirely. But if I ever see her face to face, I won’t slap her. I would talk to her to understand what makes her tick. I will find out what the reason behind her flagrant behaviour is but I certainly will not slap her – because there is a proper way to express disapproval.

The Gauhar Khan case needs to be dealt with as an uncalled for assault on a woman in public. The Islamic perspective used by Malik needs to be set aside completely. He should not be supported as being ‘right’, ‘correct’ or ‘moral’ under the guise of being the Muslim Morality Force. No one should be given the liberty by the public or through the media to use Islam as an excuse of slapping any woman. Acts like this denigrate entirely the spirit of the religion.

aalia.suleman

Aalia Suleman

A freelance writer and poet who is keenly interested in the status of women in 21st century Pakistan. Her writing also zones in on Pakistan's new social and political status on a redefined global chessboard. She has a masters degree in English Literature and blogs and invites debates at 'Socio-politically Pakistani'. She tweets @aaliasuleman (twitter.com/aaliasuleman)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.