Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed, renowned names of our showbiz industry have been booked for shooting a video in Wazir Khan Mosque. To clue up the audience about the matter, let me put why Bilal Saeed and Saba Qamar are the new targets of zealots? It all started with a video making the rounds on social media. A week ago, Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed announcing their directorial debut, shot a Nikah scene holding a prologue of twirling in the Mosque. Hardly had the video made to social media then we were to witness a ferocious backlash, impeaching the actors of an unpardonable offence. As per the indictments, Saba and Bilal have tarnished and disrespected the sanctity of mosque what amounts to blasphemy. The advocate Manzoor who registered FIR maintained that the actors hurt the sentiments of Muslims so along with the management person of Mosque who allowed them the shooting, they ought to be given condign punishment.
The shooting of a video in the place of worship indeed is not the right thing to be done. We are Muslims and we definitely have some boundaries to stay under but it was not a crime, — right?
At the same or next day, another video of a child named A* being molested by his teacher in mosque went viral. The child was clearly be seen being molested beside his Sipara, from what he was learning Qur’anic verses. Another child who filmed the video also confessed to have been a persistent victim of sexual assault, even told his parents but they instead beat him, demanding not to speak wrong of the teacher. However, he stopped going for his quranic learning. According to the parents of A*, they wanted their child to become a Hafiz-e-Quran but little they knew about the assault he was being made to face. Even having ample evidence of the crime, the influential status of the culprit-molvi discouraged the people and the police to register an FIR against him. Though the video made circulation on social media, it didn’t grab the same attention, that Saba Qamar’s twirling received.
Not to draw any comparison here. The shooting of a video in the place of worship indeed is not the right thing to be done. We are Muslims and we definitely have some boundaries to stay under but it was not a crime, — right? It was against morality, ethically offensive but not a crime in the first place. Yet, the backlash was so intense that Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed had to come fore, apologising for their behaviour besides pledging assurance of their faith. They apologised what even some of the people appreciated but then a mob of fanatics, led by Khadim Rizvi, took to the street demanding the annihilation of Saba Qamar and alike. Why? I am yet to decipher the degree of wrong between the two deeds.
The illogical behaviour of our people that I often decry, is the fluidity of the boundary between crime and immorality. We focus morality beyond the usual, what is great to a certain extent but then we forget centring the felonies.
Raping a child is a crime from every angle while twirling in the mosque is deemed to be an offensive action. Both are not equal, they should not be drawn parallel, to begin with. Nevertheless, the action of Saba enticed scrutiny more than the latter. The response was so towering that it actually dwarfed the crime of that rapist. Why and how? Well, in “Who rules the world” Noam Chomsky described the two kinds of intellectuals; Conformist intellectuals and Value-oriented intellectuals. According to Chomsky, conformist intellectuals pretermit the violation of human rights in their own city/state whereas condemning their opponents for the same or less course of actions. The value-oriented who dare to condemn human rights violations in their home turn soar in the eyes of the power that be. To mention this example was to point out the different attitudes towards the very modus operandi. In the above example, human rights violations transpire equally- in and outside of the country but critics happen to ignore or undermine their own lacking and exaggerate the wrong of their opponents, bringing to spotlight another important aspect, SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY.
Social identity theory, formulated by social psychologist Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s, interprets the circumstances under which social identity becomes more important than one’s identity as an individual. The theory also stipulates the manners in which social identity can impact on intergroup behaviours. According to this theory, placing ourselves and others in us-vs-them category shapes our beliefs and attitudes to a great extent. Having categorised our identity, we tend to display favouritism, prejudice and discrimination against any person falling outside of “us-category”. It’s the outcome of this us-vs-them psyche, that people often ignore their own blunders and exaggerate the similar transgression of others not from their group. It’s conspicuous how this “Us vs. Them” mentality can be disastrous to both ourselves and society as a whole. Definitely, if your priorities are to win against “Them” you will be more prone to conform and act irrationally.
It’s the outcome of this us-vs-them psyche, that people often ignore their own blunders and exaggerate the similar transgression of others not from their group.
In the above-mentioned cases, Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed were “them”; actors, having the identity of morally-degraded and not so virtuous making them a better target to take a shot at. However, the rapist, heavy-beared, a reverend, under the roof of the mosque appealing to the exact group cut him enough slack. Calls for Saba Qamar to be destroyed were harsher than putting the rapist behind the bars. Though Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed came forward seeking an apology, and the rapist was yet playing his clout upon the family of the child to take charges back, the reaction from our people didn’t detect any difference. For them, nothing did change. Saba goes on to be a criminal.
Another psychological aspect explaining this specific behaviour is the Normalisation of Deviance. A MAN RAPING CHILD IN THE MOSQUE warrants a radical backlash. Raping a child is a crime, but raping him in the mosque becomes more startling yet it didn’t attract the due hype, why? How a crime of such extreme nature managed to fall through the cracks? Normalization. Normalization is the process through which ideas and behaviours that may fall outside of social norms come to be deemed as “normal”. Normalization is normal and productive when it benefits society, for instance, women voting was not so normal in the past and considered to be immoral, today it’s normal. However, normalising maladaptive behaviour leaves us indifferent towards felonies.
Though Saba and Bilal came forward seeking an apology, and the rapist was yet playing his clout upon the family of the child to take charges back, the reaction from our people didn’t detect any difference.
In the past years, we have seen a surge in the reports of children being raped in mosques or outside mosque what in turn ameliorated the alarm in the attitude and behaviour of our society. Now people have begun taking them regular. “it happens everywhere, so what”? The twirl of Saba Qamar, however, was shocking enough to entice umbrage.
Last and not least the illogical behaviour of our people that I often decry, is the fluidity of the boundary between crime and immorality. We focus morality beyond the usual, what is great to a certain extent but then we forget centring the felonies. People are equating twirl of Saba to the rape of a child, which is totally absurd. They are not, they should not be recognised as equal.
We need to realise our propensity to put people into “Us vs. Them” mentality if we want to create a friendly society striving for the rights of people. We need to end the divisions that creating unnecessary antagonism.
The second to reverse the normalization of maladaptive behaviours. We can not normalize seeing children being raped, we will have to react more active and harsher every time such things make to media. Undoubtedly, our response defines and perpetrates/decline the nature of the crime. It’s a high time to change our priorities.