Let them fight

Published: March 28, 2016
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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.”

Man 2: “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!”

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkRahBlBJ-4

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.