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Religion for ratings

Published Jul 27, 2012 02:05am


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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) Closed

Shubs Jul 27, 2012 06:58am
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.
napak Jul 27, 2012 08:17am
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.
citizen Jul 27, 2012 10:55am
can you explain what is a 'good devil'?
sachin Jul 27, 2012 11:23am
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.
shah Jul 28, 2012 07:26am
shame.... we should respect all religions.
hema Jul 27, 2012 11:40am
It is a shame that whole of the community is answerable for this act of few.
Thakkar Jul 27, 2012 10:51am
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 ...
@IAgnikul Jul 27, 2012 07:55am
This lady pollutes every place she visits by her programmes. Public conversion with gleeful spectators is undignified and condemnable.
Dr_Babu Jul 29, 2012 10:10am
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.
Petrolhead Jul 27, 2012 11:02am
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?
Petrolhead Jul 27, 2012 11:02am
No problem if it's not a forced conversion and the media does it decently.
akhter husain Jul 27, 2012 08:05am
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.
Petrolhead Jul 27, 2012 10:44am
Are you suggesting that the boy was dragged (without his free will) for the conversion? Didn't you see the clip?
QASIM Jul 27, 2012 02:01pm
Television owners ,please leave the religion alone and do comercialise the religion.please find something else to sell.
rabia Jul 27, 2012 12:14pm
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.
rags Jul 27, 2012 12:45pm
Hilarious. Why cannot we have a religious stock so that each religion reports how many in and how many out.
KKR Jul 27, 2012 12:09pm
it's the fastest growing religion.....NOT IN WORLD...but only in muslim countries.
Saurabh Jul 27, 2012 10:10am
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.
zeeshan Jul 27, 2012 10:49pm
what about "Freedom of Expression" dear so called liberals? why are you all upset now?
zeeshan Jul 27, 2012 10:46pm
that particular show is a Ramzan show and for your kind information Ramzan belongs to Muslims.
Murtaza Jul 27, 2012 11:02pm
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.
Jayan Jul 27, 2012 10:02am
Why are you afraid of revealing your actual identity & posting in the fake name as Hindu. Learn to respect all faiths
ranga Jul 27, 2012 08:13am
Muslims are not facing problems my friend, they are inviting it.
Vish Jul 27, 2012 01:01pm
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.
Petrolhead Jul 27, 2012 11:05am
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!
bamboo Jul 28, 2012 10:22am
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''.
kaushik Jul 27, 2012 07:28am
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.
ida Jul 27, 2012 02:25pm
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 Jul 27, 2012 07:35am
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....
kaushik Jul 27, 2012 07:34am
Any idea which muslim he is now? Shia? Sunni? Ahmedi ?
Amar Singh Jul 27, 2012 07:33am
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!
roofi Jul 27, 2012 04:08am
ya! i agree with you but to some extent.
Ajaya K Dutt Jul 27, 2012 04:13am
Was the boy being converted supported by his both parents? If not then it was a crime. Thanks to Dawn for publishing this.
ali Jul 27, 2012 04:15am
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.
Pakistani Jul 27, 2012 04:26am
Vineeth Jul 27, 2012 04:35am
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.
Hindu Jul 27, 2012 08:45am
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.
ayaz Jul 27, 2012 05:13am
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.
INDIAN Jul 27, 2012 05:47am
Iftikhar Husain Jul 27, 2012 11:19am
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.
Karan Jul 27, 2012 07:25am
I only want to say.....that by these acts, people of Pakistan are digging their own grave....Height of frustration.
vbi Jul 27, 2012 07:24am
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.
nitish Jul 27, 2012 06:22am
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 Jul 27, 2012 06:37am
No wonder Islam is ridiculed in the world today.
Shakeel Ghouri Jul 27, 2012 07:48am
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.
anon Jul 27, 2012 04:18pm
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 Jul 27, 2012 09:12am
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.
Kesar Jul 27, 2012 09:12am
Muslims are facing problems of their own making. Don't blame others!
feroz gul Jul 27, 2012 09:31am
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 .
Jamal Jul 27, 2012 11:32am
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 ? :)
Petrolhead Jul 27, 2012 02:56pm
Your comments remind me of a few incidents happened in Gujrat, Ayodhia, Kashmir, Golden Temple, Nagaland, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc,...........
sonia Jul 27, 2012 03:11pm
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?
shah Jul 27, 2012 03:15pm
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 Jul 27, 2012 03:57pm
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)
Mudassir Jul 27, 2012 03:59pm
Someone ask her if he is a real convert or also one of her "paid actors".
Muneer Alam Jul 27, 2012 03:51pm
The boy has accepted Islam willingly so whats the problem if its shown live on air
Razzaq Jul 27, 2012 08:00pm
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.
Hasan Jul 27, 2012 09:08pm
I want to know, can he revert back without being killed?
tony Jul 27, 2012 09:43pm
Pakistan got freedom from India and become slave in the hands of their own people. Converts, overheated and shameless society.
External Hand Jul 28, 2012 07:06am
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 Jul 29, 2012 03:03am
The entire episode is obscene
vbi Jul 30, 2012 03:26am
Your comments are reminding me of 100s of terror attacks happenings all across the world everyday in the name of jihad.