IT’S been apparent for a while now that the country’s electronic media will go to extreme lengths to spice things up. But religion is now fair game too. In yet another example of how the industry’s commercial goals trump ethics, open-mindedness and common sense, on Tuesday a television show broadcast an imam leading a Hindu boy through a live conversion to Islam carried out in the studio as part of the show, complete with the audience joining in to suggest Muslim names for the new convert. There is no reason to think the boy was not converting of his own free will, but the whole event had the distinct air of being carried out to give viewers something new and different to watch, even if that meant dragging an intensely personal and spiritual experience into public view.

More disturbingly, what the channel obviously didn’t stop to consider is the message this broadcast would send to the country’s minorities. The joy with which the conversion was greeted, and the congratulations that followed, sent a clear signal that other religions don’t enjoy the same status in Pakistan as Islam does. In a country where minorities are already treated as second-class citizens in many ways, this served to marginalise them even further. After the uproar over her pursuit in a park of innocent couples — who she later claimed were actors, making that episode even more questionable — one would think the host and her management would have been more careful with her programming. But then that is the problem with Pakistani media: it is missing a responsibility chip, hurtling ahead with what seems like exciting content without stopping to consider the ethical implications or appropriateness of its programming, or the message it will send to all Pakistanis, not just those it considers the mainstream.

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Comments (62)

July 27, 2012 6:58 am
Well, that about sums up today's Pakistan, where harvesting souls seems to have become national priority No. 1. Even if all of Pakistan's citizens do not subscribe to this ideology, the deafening silence in response to the marginalization and de-humanization of its minorities, due to either fear or agreement with these views, paint a very dark future for this country at a time when it should be leaping forward in an age when so many nations are pulling themselves out of centuries of poverty, educational and social backwardness. There are right, centrist and left wing political discourses in all countries, where extremes are always balanced out, leaving the core population towards the center. This balance seems to have been totally lost in Pakistan. If the so-called 'silent majority' cannot speak up due to fear, it shows the complete failure of the state, and the signature trends of a fascist society and nation in the making. Pakistanis should fear for their own future, not from foreign agencies, but from their own silence and inaction to the intolerance around them.
July 27, 2012 8:17 am
Though a Hindu by birth and atheist by thoughts, I feel all Hindus and other minorities should convert to Islam in Pakistan. That way, atleast they can survive instead of getting butchered.
July 27, 2012 10:55 am
can you explain what is a 'good devil'?
July 27, 2012 11:23 am
All i can say that every minority citizens should get converted to Islam. As it is they are going to get slaughtered as a minority. On the other hand, they will also die someday being a muslim. As muslims kill muslims than any other religion.
July 28, 2012 7:26 am
shame.... we should respect all religions.
July 27, 2012 11:40 am
It is a shame that whole of the community is answerable for this act of few.
July 27, 2012 10:51 am
How would we have reacted if this would have happened in India and the conversion was the other way round...? Every channel would have made hue and cry about it ... This is just not acceptable ...
July 27, 2012 7:55 am
This lady pollutes every place she visits by her programmes. Public conversion with gleeful spectators is undignified and condemnable.
July 29, 2012 10:10 am
Let Pakistanis remember what was said in 1947 by Mr.Mohammed Ali Jinnah, said: 'You may belong to any religion, caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the state.' Forgetting the words of President of Pakistan will only cause trouble to the country. Religion is a very deep thing and not to be taken easily. What happens if a Muslim get converted to another religion open, I guess, A fatwas will be issued against him right away.
July 27, 2012 11:02 am
Everybody start hating Islam - Can you please explain why more and more accepting Islam all over the world? Can you explain why it's the fastest growing religion in the world?
July 27, 2012 11:02 am
No problem if it's not a forced conversion and the media does it decently.
akhter husain
July 27, 2012 8:05 am
If the boy is above 18 years,the age that qualifies him to vote,then the program shown can be tolerated.But it is not the question of televising the conversion to Islam,rather it is the message ,some one is trying to give.
July 27, 2012 10:44 am
Are you suggesting that the boy was dragged (without his free will) for the conversion? Didn't you see the clip?
July 27, 2012 2:01 pm
Television owners ,please leave the religion alone and do comercialise the religion.please find something else to sell.
July 27, 2012 12:14 pm
Jamal, I'm not sure where you're writing from, but if you've been keeping up with the news in Pakistan you'll know that a new trend is forced conversion of people from other religions to Islam. I share your disbelief, but it is happening, and this story above even if is not about a forced conversion is nevertheless enough to take your appetite away. It is like a person saying their prayers facing right into and looking at a camera. Besides being under a cloud of suspicion of course.
July 27, 2012 12:45 pm
Hilarious. Why cannot we have a religious stock so that each religion reports how many in and how many out.
July 27, 2012 12:09 pm
it's the fastest growing religion.....NOT IN WORLD...but only in muslim countries.
July 27, 2012 10:10 am
Would you have said the same thing if the guy would have converted out of Islam? Probably you don't have to because I don't think it will be possible to do so in Pakistan.
July 27, 2012 10:49 pm
what about "Freedom of Expression" dear so called liberals? why are you all upset now?
July 27, 2012 10:46 pm
that particular show is a Ramzan show and for your kind information Ramzan belongs to Muslims.
July 27, 2012 11:02 pm
i have no problem whatsoever with the boy converting to islam on TV ... i guess nobody else has a probem either .... the only issue is if the channel can show a muslim converting to e.g hinduism with similar fanfare e.g on a prime time diwali show.
July 27, 2012 10:02 am
Why are you afraid of revealing your actual identity & posting in the fake name as Hindu. Learn to respect all faiths
July 27, 2012 8:13 am
Muslims are not facing problems my friend, they are inviting it.
July 27, 2012 1:01 pm
Pakistan has made Islam a joke and a medium of TV entertainment. The clerics who are opposed to TV & consider it a tool of the devil, should issue a fatwa against this debasement of a great religion. Religious conversion is a private affair and not to be done to titillate a TV audience.
July 27, 2012 11:05 am
A crime if both the parents not present!!! How often you've seen people accompanied by their parents at the time of the change of religion??? He's an adult, not a small child. You wanna see a new trend at the change of religion events, don't you. Highly unlikely am afraid!
July 28, 2012 10:22 am
by conducting this act we have given verdict against ourselves, Pakistan & islam. We have stamped the allegations that our opponents have always levelled against us. But it is well said '' aqal nahi te mojan hi mojan''.
July 27, 2012 7:28 am
What do Muslims get in Pakistan? The boy would get something more than the ordinary people of Muslim faith? It is joke and correct worded as Religion for ratings. Dawn your neutrality is really fantastic. TOI needs to learn from you. Continue the good job.
July 27, 2012 2:25 pm
I think it is best that all Hindus in Pakistan convert. At the bare minimum they and their kids will have a chance to live. I saw the movie Khamosh Paani recently. I hope this newly converted kid will take care of his Hindu parents, unlike the protagonist in the movie..
Komal S
July 27, 2012 7:35 am
Thanks to dawn for this coverage, but hopefully there is outrage expressed for this coverage. What next, may be they could telecast Ahmediya conversion etc....
July 27, 2012 7:34 am
Any idea which muslim he is now? Shia? Sunni? Ahmedi ?
Amar Singh
July 27, 2012 7:33 am
It would be quite interesting to see the reaction of Muslim fanatics if an Indian TV shows the conversion of a Muslim boy to Hinduism!
July 27, 2012 4:08 am
ya! i agree with you but to some extent.
Ajaya K Dutt
July 27, 2012 4:13 am
Was the boy being converted supported by his both parents? If not then it was a crime. Thanks to Dawn for publishing this.
July 27, 2012 4:15 am
I dont have any words to denounce this act. I live in a Christian country. How would I feel if I am dragged on to a tv show and converted to Christianity? Shame on the channel and the Imam and all the participants.
July 27, 2012 4:26 am
July 27, 2012 4:35 am
At this rate, will the religious minorities in Pakistan become 'extinct' soon? In any case, it is good to see 'Dawn' giving this issue the importance it deserves.
July 27, 2012 8:45 am
We Hindus sit at home and enjoy our lunch and dinner. How much do we give for our religion? How much have you donated? Spewing hate and giving empty threats wont solve anything. Think.
July 27, 2012 5:13 am
We are experiencing curial shape of religious fascism in Pakistan, where every religious fanatic has got license to kill in his hand and on his way to kill not only peoples but values of society, religious harmony, humanities and every thing which is good. We want to spread Islam with the help of guns. What a shame for all of us.
July 27, 2012 5:47 am
Iftikhar Husain
July 27, 2012 11:19 am
It is a shameful act on part of the channel please do not glorify faith in such a way it is a very personal choice.
July 27, 2012 7:25 am
I only want to say.....that by these acts, people of Pakistan are digging their own grave....Height of frustration.
July 27, 2012 7:24 am
It is indeed a sad story. Thanks for dawn for publishing this. Its an irony that the same channels point at India's godhra riots complaining that minorities were massacred but at the same time they celebrate the conversion of a hindu boy to Islam. This shows the plight of minorities in Pakistan. Either they have to convert to Islam or get treated like second class citizens. Probably Pakistan is the only country that treats the minorities like this. No surprise that the minorities have diminished in this country over a period of time.
July 27, 2012 6:22 am
That is the reason why every body start hating islam in the world.islam has created very different picture for humanity.No wonder,every muslim is a devil(either good or bad) for the world now.
Shanti Madlani
July 27, 2012 6:37 am
No wonder Islam is ridiculed in the world today.
Shakeel Ghouri
July 27, 2012 7:48 am
Islam is a natural religion which has a magnetic quality of attracting the people. Allah Almighty says that to accept truth is a potential attribute in human beings, even though if they don't profess verbally, they acknowledge it in their hearts. What we all Muslim need is to follow Islam in its true spirit which in turn automatically will lead the others to have faith in its veracity. Creating doubts and speculations in the minds of others about Islam is not a fairplay, especially in the circumstances when Muslims are facing the problems of intense and diverse natures.
July 27, 2012 4:18 pm
amar singh dnt blame them, this is pakistan here anything can happen. i am pakistani pathan nd i wud say we havnt grown up yet, there is no rule for anything neither punishment, the only thing whch was left was religion to be used so here we go we have done this as well.. i can bet this was all planted seriously to get the channel ranking up ,, shame shame on this such a pathetic act..
Karachi Wala
July 27, 2012 9:12 am
Where is Cheif Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry? He must take action against this immoral and currupt TV, the Mulla and the host of the show. He should also investigate the issue himself and bring all culprits to justice. I really feel ashamed.
July 27, 2012 9:12 am
Muslims are facing problems of their own making. Don't blame others!
feroz gul
July 27, 2012 9:31 am
today we are living in the age is like global village we should not condemn one another for showing himself superior from others.we should live in pluralism .
July 27, 2012 11:32 am
Strange it is Mr Ali. Do u think the guy was forced ? Like! is it possible to force u to convert unless n untill u have some temptation ? :)
July 27, 2012 2:56 pm
Your comments remind me of a few incidents happened in Gujrat, Ayodhia, Kashmir, Golden Temple, Nagaland, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc,...........
July 27, 2012 3:11 pm
Thank you Dawn for bringing this issue. Living in Pakistan as a religious minority is really jeopardizing the very basic sense of being considered as equal. What is this host trying to convey? will this host give the same coverage if a Muslim converting to other religion? This show should be denounced in highest possible terms. These shows are insensitive to the Non Muslims. Does it explain the reason for gratification of one religion in a society where people of other religions also live?
July 27, 2012 3:15 pm
I dont understand that why people are trying to portray that the person who accepted Islam out of his own free will on television screen live, was actually dragged on to the stage against his free will. If freedom of expression is so sacred then this boy should also be allowed to do what he wants be it accepting Islam on screen or off screen. There are a thousand things airing on television, which are wrong and dangerous for our future generations, but we never get time to focus on those >>>>why is that ?
Gerry D'Cunha
July 27, 2012 3:57 pm
Karach Wala - your comment 'Where is the Chief Justice' - my friend, the chief justice's eye will be closed on this matter because conversion (anyhow) is good for islam. It would have opened only if it was the other way round (impossible in Pakistan)
July 27, 2012 3:59 pm
Someone ask her if he is a real convert or also one of her "paid actors".
Muneer Alam
July 27, 2012 3:51 pm
The boy has accepted Islam willingly so whats the problem if its shown live on air
July 27, 2012 8:00 pm
The lady anchor have now become expert in conducting pathetic programmes and my suggestion is she should be promoted and join TEAM PAKISTAN lead by Malik and Zardari.
July 27, 2012 9:08 pm
I want to know, can he revert back without being killed?
July 27, 2012 9:43 pm
Pakistan got freedom from India and become slave in the hands of their own people. Converts, overheated and shameless society.
External Hand
July 28, 2012 7:06 am
The fastest growing religion claim is actually a result of demographics. There is runaway population growth in areas that profess allegiance to Islam.
Anwar Ahmed
July 29, 2012 3:03 am
The entire episode is obscene
July 30, 2012 3:26 am
Your comments are reminding me of 100s of terror attacks happenings all across the world everyday in the name of jihad.
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