Sep 11, 2012 - rant, Samina Khawar Hayat    13 Comments

Defining obscenity and warped logic of one Ansar Abbasi

At the behest of country’s superior court, PEMRA has taken on the onerous task of defining what constitutes … wait for it … obscenity. I have previously written about the stupidity of defining obscenity because it is almost impossible to define it. It varies from one culture to another, from one class to another, from one ethnic group to another and from one member of the family to another. I personally think Borat was an obscene film and every time Borat asked a woman ‘How much?’ (That character believed that every woman in USA was for sale) I wanted to go and punch the living daylights out of him. My very religious cousin, on the other hand, thought Borat was hilarious, however he has issues with every girl who appears on local TV channels and TV commercials wearing fitted T shirts and wants to drown them – collectively – in the nearest ocean. I wonder whose version of obscenity would be acceptable to those who are defining what obscenity is. 
As expected and directed by the most August Chief Justice of Pakistan, the paragon of virtue, Qibla Mufti-e-Azam Hazrat Maulana Ansar Abbasi sahib has also been invited to the PEMRA deliberations on obscenity. Qibla Ansar Abbasi who is the upholder of morality of millions of his countrymen and women, the mainstay of the sanctity of the family values of misguided Pakistanis and the defender of the piety of all the citizens initially agreed to lend his very virtuous services for the great cause of defining morality but later refused to be part of the proceedings because some women who he think do not represent majority of women were also invited to be define obscenity. His recent abomination that tries to pass as an op-ed berates the inclusion of some women in the PEMRA discussions on obscenity and thinks that inviting liberal women who support Hindu culture (his words, not mine) is tantamount to a joke or a conspiracy (seriously, a journalist who uses the word joke and conspiracy interchangeably should be fired on spot for this offence alone). The women who he thinks do not represent the majority of women in Pakistan are Marvi Sirmed, Farzana Bari, Samina Peerzada, Atiqa Odho, Kishwar Naheed, and Sheema Kirmani among others. The reasons he cited for the unsuitability of their inclusion included their liberal and secular ideology and their preference for Western civilization. He also berated the fact that one of them is a dance teacher while another is the champion of the cause of LGBT people.
He then lists the women who should have been called to represent the women of Pakistan and includes names such as Bano Qudsia, right wing politicians such as Maryam Nawaz Sharif (who does not even tweet without daddy’s permission), Samiya Rahil Qazi of JI, Ghazala Saad Rafiq (whose claim to fame I believe is matrimony to one Khwaja Saad Rafiq), Samina Khawar Hayat (She once supported a bill which encouraged affluent men into polygamy), Justice Nasra Iqbal (CJP’s fangurl) and Dr Farhat Hashmi (who now resides in Mississauga and sports a Canadian passport). If Ansar Abbasi’s logic is followed, women who make a name for themselves by hard work in their respective fields for long cannot represent women of Pakistan and women who are famous because they are married or related to famous and powerful men should represent women of Pakistan. If his logic is followed, then people like Marvi Sirmed or Kishwar Naheed, taxpaying and law abiding citizens of the country cannot represent its women because of their ideological preferences but Dr Farhat Hashmi, a Canadian who lives in the state of Ontario, has every right to represent the women of Pakistan because she dons a burqa.
As if that was not all, he lists the criteria for the women who should represent Pakistan and it includes their views on Namoos-e-Risalat and their acceptance of Ahmadis as non Muslims. For starters, the whole exercise of defining obscenity is stupid, but if it is taking place and the government officials actually wanted some female representation then what has definition of obscenity got anything to do with either Namoos-e-Risalat or Ahmadis being non Muslims? I was quite livid at this idiocy but then I told myself to calm down. After all, it is a column published in Jang, written by Ansar Abbasi and it need neither be coherent nor is it required to make any sense at all. 
In the end he endorses Qazi Hussain Ahmed’s suggestion that Council of Islamic Ideology should define what constitute obscenity. I thought the council was supposed to work only on matters related to Islam. As obscenity, astagfirullah, is not at all Islamic, they should be spared the indignity of associating with something like obscenity and stick to things pure and gentle. 

PS: Those who want to read Ansar Abbasi in all his glory can read the original text in Urdu below. 

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  • Bonjour Tazeen,

    The strange thing is that all those issues are well known in Europe, too
    (obcenity, blasphemy etc).

    But we struggled with this during the 19th century and before, not now.

    So one can have a medieval set of mind and still own an android cell phone, a tab let computer etc. etc.


  • first of all u need to decide that whether you believe in a muslim society or not
    if your answer is ‘NOT’
    than you are fully permitted to present and argue each and every
    person’s view about obscenity, cultures , society matters
    and by that the only consequence which gonna happen is
    ‘he came out while scratching his balls’

    but on other hand if u do believe in a theocratic society
    no matter is it in America or Uganda
    you need to obey they sacred message
    and luckily it has every think from dress code to
    social manners

    @george: i have been visited few European countries , i don’t think that you succeed in cope with these issues , they just have introduced a secular policy where it doesn’t matter that one is a monotheist or worshiping a genitalia and 2ndly what would u call it when a person killed about 70 people in Norway while planned that all using all those modern gadgets u just have mentioned .

    probably u would would disapprove it and call an act of individual

    you need to learn the difference between democracy and theocracy

  • I think we have well established code of conduct as far as modesty is concerned. From Qoran and Sunnah, limits of “satar” are well defined. Obscenity begins where satar is ignored.
    you are right in that in practice people of ‘higher’ ‘class’,have diferent ideas and they should be left alone, as thy have every right to their views. They are, however, a minuscule minority and the norms, on the TV etc should be for what the vast majority of Pakistanis consider an practise, which is ‘cover up’ and also losely so.
    Some Indian films deibrately show offensive language (Delhi belly) and women in action and in dress (Ek tha Tiger) and should be cited as obscene and should be discouraged/ banned.

  • Women In action and in dress should be cited as obscene, Be discouraged and Banned!
    Hell ya!
    For you know I’m all for being non-active and the dress is constricting

  • This may sound a bit harsh, but our morals in Pakistan are not derived from the Quran and Sunnah. Read them, you’ll find that only a very tiny proportion of the Islamic moral code has found its way into our everyday life. We have our own traditional culture, Islam is just one part of it. Over the course of history it has been local culture that has absorbed Islam, retained some elements of it, and discarded the rest. Idiots like psuedonym and Shakil Akhtar mislead when they insist on a purely Islamic moral code. That can only be enforced through coercive government action because it’s not part of our culture.

  • @malek:
    it is an acclaimed satement by world philosphers and social scintists that ‘an idial’ is a condition or state which can not be achive anyhow but one should always struggle to get it
    and yes offcourse pakistan is not an ideal islamic state but yet its an islamic state
    as you just have siad that local culture that has absorbed Islam ,it doubt me that if you ever have something to do with history because its not a weakness of islam it’s a weakness of peaolple who claimed to be muslims and what would you say about those Arabs who have wine in thie blood
    what was their reaction when it decalred forbidden in Quran ?
    their culture blew away with a sec .

    and BTW in all over the world, its Govt who is responsible to impose laws wheather it’s a common law , american or islamic (islamic laws have nothing speacial to do with this) . moral values can’t be impose they just can be preach or developed in society by providing such environmnet .
    and what if you call an unknown person idiot ? Govt should punish you?
    No , it need to teach you some basic moral codes which are same across all civilisations
    Infact its not their duty ,
    its ur mama papa’s

  • You seem confused. On one hand, you say that the government needs to *impose* Islamic law in the country. On the other hand, you say that moral values *cannot* be imposed, only preached. Do you see the contradiction here? I doubt you do.

    Anyhow, do you know what we call a government that tells us how to act and behave every minute of the day? To blockheads like yourself, that may be an ‘ideal’ state, but to me that’s slavery. I like my government small, my culture local, and my morals adaptable.

  • @Malik: Hear hear — on local culture and adaptable morals.
    @ everyone else: I find it quite disturbing–disgusting almost–that we, with all our issues and tragedies and wars and poverty and illiteracy choose to focus on declaring people immoral, obscene, unislamic. Who made Ansar Abbasi the keeper of our morality or even our faith?
    There’s more to say: but Tazeen already did a fab job of doing that.

  • Whatever Ansar Abbasi writes is obscene in my opinion. However he can do nothing more than writing op-eds and CJP can do nothing more than passing verdicts against obscenity that will have no effect at all. Technology will bypass all of them. Deluge of science will crush them all. I challenge Ansar Abbasi and CJP “Himmat hai to pabandi laga ke dikhao. Phir us pabandi ka hashr nashr dekho”. Time is approaching when Bikini will be called Hijab.

  • Just a simple question for Tazeen:

    As you have said, “it is almost impossible to define it. It varies from one culture to another, from one class to another, from one ethnic group to another and from one member of the family to another.”
    So my question is that how do Censor Boards make film ratings PG, 13, 15, 18, 18+ ?? And more specifically in a country or in an extremely diversified cultural society where people from more than 100 nationalities live together ? How they decide content of a movie if it is appropriate or not ? Why there is a need of Censor board ?

    Appreciate your response.

    • “Of all the strange ‘crimes’ that human binegs have legislated out of nothing, blasphemy is the most amazing — with obscenity and indecent exposure fighting it out for second and third place.” – Robert Heinlein

  • I knew that I will not get any answers.
    Stop misleading and misguiding people.

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