The Shah Rukh Khan controversy: Hype and hypocrisy

As anything Shah Rukh Khan would, the Bollywood megastar’s recent article in an Indian magazine, where he admits to having felt discriminated against in constitutionally-secular India for his Muslim identity, has gone viral.

Everyone and their khala has read the interview, sympathising and basing their entire critique of India’s treatment of ‘minorities’ on this one man’s one statement that’s hardly any different from his previous statements on the matter.

Enter our very own Hafiz Saeed, the noble chief of UN-blacklisted charity organisation Jamaatud Dawa. Unable to bear the injustice being meted out to a Muslim brother in (horror of horrors) India, he jumped in with a hospitable suggestion to Khan: move to Pakistan where he will be secure.

As hilarious as that suggestion is, given the kind of security we provide to our own people and how we have historically treated immigrants from India, it points to deep hypocrisy and confusion among the ranks of proponents of anti-India rhetoric in Pakistan.

Before this article, if you had asked these same people about Khan’s Muslim credentials, they would have launched into a diatribe about how he is a shame to the Muslim ummah and destined for hell for his ‘irreligious actions’.

Invariably, his perfectly harmonious marriage to a Hindu woman would have been cited as un-Islamic and a “gunah-e-kabira” (the greatest sin). His children, whose safety they now care for more than that of at-risk Pakistani children, would have been christened as illegitimate progeny. His work and entire career, from which he derives his rozi, would have been termed haraam because his films have music and women in revealing clothing.

So what has changed now? Have his secular beliefs and choices suddenly become acceptable to pious people like Hafiz Saeed? If it really is all about his Muslim identity, why wasn’t Khan hailed as a hero for his work when he co-produced and acted in a film which spoke out against stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists? Didn’t the film give a voice to Muslim men and women, the world over, who are regularly seen with suspicion simply on the basis of faith?

My hope is that in the middle of all this hysteria, somebody will pay attention to the real problem that Khan was trying to point to in his article: our intolerant and jingoistic attitudes that keep us from achieving bigger and better things in life, as people, as a society and as a country.

And that is something that people like Hafiz Saeed can never, ever let nations achieve.

This blog post also appeared on The Express Tribune Blogs’ website here: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/15859/shahrukh-khan-controversy-hype-and-hypocrisy/

 

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