The big bra brouhaha

Published: March 25, 2011

According to the Roznama Jawani story a protest was held against "offensive" underwear.

Working in the online news world helps you develop a certain knack for determining viral stories. Words like sex, death, rape, religion and blast call out to you from the screen.

So, when a headline like “Padded Bras are Devil’s Cushions says Council of Islamic Ideology” pops up in the wires I can understand why a bored sub-editor would sit up and take notice. Here’s a story about extremist mullahs from terror infested Pakistan cracking down on a symbol of women’s sexual liberation – it’s so perfectly cliché, it’s almost funny.

The small story soon found its way to international websites, newspapers and channels.

In their eagerness to publish the oh-so-revealing story that Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology was ‘protesting the use of padded bras’ Fox News, Times of India, Hindustan Times and Zee News all missed one key fact – the story was fake.

The original story appeared on a satirical news site, Rozanama Jawani known for its absurd and unlikely stories which are humorous because they are so ridiculously impossible. The website has been known to produce gems such as:

Peshawar celebrates Valentine’s Day with Saudi Arabia

Hakimullah Mehsud admits father never hugged him as a child

Sindhi music sensation ‘Malal Chandio’ releases album “Adi Quit Playing Game” – covers Backstreet Boys

Eventually, these mainstream websites realised their mistake, but considering how stupid this mistake was it is understandable that there has been no overt retraction and admittance of the error. In fact, Zee News has yet to remove the story from their website.

Do they stand by it then?

If we look at this incident through the eyes of a conspiracy theorist, the international media jumped at the perfect opportunity to bash Pakistan. Either that, or everyone collectively decided to be stupid together. Did someone fail to do a check on the source? The website clearly states that the news published on the page is not true. Or did someone miss the ridiculous looking picture that is clearly photoshopped?

In any case it is amusing to see the media can make mistakes of this magnitude in its eagerness for a “Pakistan extremist” story.  But then again, I cannot blame them entirely.  After all, in Pakistan the ridiculous and reality are becoming increasing similar.

Shaheryar Popalzai

Shaheryar Popalzai

A sub-editor on the web desk of The Express Tribune.

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