Let them fight

Published: March 28, 2016

I suppose the only silver lining is that now the ignoramuses are turning on each other. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

As a feminist, I never thought I’d feel sorry for Junaid Jamshed. Yet here I am, feeling unhappy that he was physically assaulted at Islamabad airport by short bearded men, who comically enough, looked like they should have been carrying the ring to Mordor, instead of shouting at the pop-star-turned-preacher in loud nasally voices,

“Gustakh-e-Rasool!” (blasphemy!)

It is almost as if someone had decided to take up a particularly difficult challenge.

Man 1: “I bet you can’t make the public feel sympathy towards Junaid Jamshed.”

Man 2: “What? Junaid ‘women can’t drive’ Jamshed?”

Man 1: “Yes, no one likes him.”


Let’s be frank. Junaid Jamshed, with his hypocritical sermons where he unleashes a lethal concoction of sexism and misogyny so potent that even the Taliban say, “Find a therapist JJ,” isn’t the most likable man in Pakistan.

But even he didn’t deserve to be beaten and then chased through the airport by a small angry crowd.

I am guessing everyone has seen the video by now:


I suppose the only way this disturbing footage could have been satisfying is if Junaid Jamshed had been rescued by a random person driving a car.

And it turned out to be a woman.

Worryingly, we are completely unprepared for the growing radicalisation in the country. For one, why was this mob allowed to dictate terms at the airport? Where was the security? And why is it so easy for violent miscreants to create chaos at a major airport, especially when our security should be heightened in these dangerous times?

Most troubling, of course, is that we are evolving into an intolerant and violent society, where these guardians of faith are hypocrites.

A quick search on Facebook reveals that Junaid’s assailants were to Salman Taseer’s killer what screaming teenage girls are to Justin Bieber. Pictures of these men also show one of them posing in front of wads of cash and bottles of alcohol.

But while I don’t feel any pleasure at the treatment Junaid received, I can’t help but think that he had been playing with fire.

Although the preacher’s regular rants against women (followed by pictures of him standing intimately close with female celebrities) are a source of exasperation for many, he should have known that the religious right would have been incensed when his misogynistic radar focused towards a revered woman in Islamic history.

It is like reading about a crocodile trainer in Thailand having his head bitten after putting it inside the mouth of the animal.

While you feel sorry for the trainer, you also think,

“Well, he shouldn’t have put his head in the crocodile’s big f****** mouth.”

Similarly, while the attack is inexcusable, it was only a matter of time before Junaid offended the wrong people; the sort who lack the cerebral capacity to respond to inflammatory statements with anything other than fists.

We can all agree that Junaid never preached violence, but by pandering to the same crocodiles that bit him, and staying silent on issues such as religious fanaticism and persecution of minorities, the TV personality was playing a dangerous game.

Some though, have wondered why JJ is getting attacked now, after so much time has passed since his last offensive rant. Well, I guess that’s just evidence of how slowly the collective grey matter of the conservative Pakistanis works.

Sadly, for Junaid and the rest of the country, their numbers are growing. Not enough to grow into a majority, but enough to fracture society.

I suppose the only silver lining is that now the ignoramuses are turning on each other. No, it won’t be long before the streets of the country are flowing red… with paan spit, of course.

A school of thought says we should take Ken Watanabe’s advice from Godzilla:

Of course, this would not only be impractical, but dangerous as well. Though one can fantasise.

In 1987, when Junaid Jamshed’s pop band Vital Signs released Dil Dil Pakistan, the optimistic feel-good patriotic number turned into a sensation overnight. Had the same song debuted today, I doubt it would have been able to win over our cynical public… no, not in these grim times.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

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

  • Sane

    He could be anything, but not an Islamic scholar. Attired like staunch/conventional Muslim does not make him scholar. He should not indulge in activities where scholastic credentials are needed. He could be a good Muslim, but having little knowledge not an scholar to say or comment on religious beliefs and practices.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Mad ideologies are completely immune to the voice of reason or facts.

    Either pakistan will disintegrate into the hands of isis/taliban or they will be disintegrated.

    The only people who can possibly take a u-turn on religion based identity are the generals of the GHQ.

    But, for this to happen they would have to accept the fact that two nation theory has failed and that any state structure built on religion will eventually collapse.

    Saudi, Iran and Pakistan are prime examples of what religion can do to its societies.Recommend

  • Shah Muhammad

    shocking that such blogs are being written for a leading daily. The author needs to think more critically about liberal/conservative binary and the role of empire and colonialism in the hardening of religious identities.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    A hopeless sad bigoted and biased commentary to say the least. I wonder the hind sight when someone sees a silver lining in a fight.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Feeling sorry for J.J ?…….you must have a heart made of mashed potatoes of a standard that even Gordon Ramsay would envy.Recommend

  • Kami

    Shame on this article. Extremely biased with facts or moralRecommend

  • Hameed

    > Let them fight

    Yes pleaseRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    Most mean article I have read in a whileRecommend

  • Cheels

    Well said Noman….Let them fight, that’s the only way to get rid of them.Recommend

  • Cheels

    Well said Noman….Let them fight, that’s the only way to get rid of them.Recommend

  • Hasan

    Good article Noman. Last twwet by ms. tarar (though i don’t know who she is) seems to suggest that Pakistani’s have become intolerant and highly judgmental.
    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. May Allah guide us all.Recommend

  • Kingdom

    I agree that the bearded guy shouldn’t have attacked on him while cursing and abusing him. its a shame for a country. I acknowledge what he said was utterly wrong and then he asked for forgiveness from all of us. However, recently i watched a short clip of him in which he begged all men to not let women drive a car. he made it like women driving is forbidden in islam. he didn’t allow his wife to drive. he doesn’t want women to drive and go outside the house. When nida yasir asked her that in some situations when husband dies and women doesn’t know how to pay bill and have to deal everthing by herself. he replied that such hypothetical scenarios don’t exist. In fact, In Prophet Muhammad PBUP era, women used to ride camel. JJ is bringing sharia law like how we have in saudia. i feel like afterward he would suggest not letting women go to universities. I feel disgusted with his opinion about women. woman are now driving airplane and going to NASA. with such conservative thought, pak will soon go towards stone age. Sigh!!Recommend

  • Kingdom

    I feel like he has not enough knowledge about Islam. most important thing is JJ lacks communication skills. Zakir naik can convey this point clearly. I feel like JJ needs to sit back at home and practice what to say in front of public. it is not easy to become scholar.Recommend