Outrage on preacher’s misogynistic remarks against women

Political, social, human rights activists condemn Maulana Tariq Jameel for insulting 220m people, women and media


High Asia Herald Report

ISLAMABAD: Political, social and rights activists condemn Maulana Tariq Jameel for his misogynistic and hateful comments linking “women’s immodesty” to coronavirus spread in Pakistan.

They sought an unconditional apology from the preacher for his controversial remarks on a TV channel in presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

They also criticised the government and state apparatus for using religion as a tool to spread hate against a weak and vulnerable segment of the population and to suppress dissenting views.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a reaction on the microblogging handler twitter comment against the wordings of the prayers by the cleric said that the “HRCP is appalled at Maulana Tariq Jameel’s recent statement inexplicably correlating women’s modesty to the pandemic.”

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party leaders called the statement [cleric’s] “ignorance about pandemics or a misogynist mindset” and observed that making such a correlation was dangerous when violent crimes against women and girls continued to take place in the country with impunity.

Some critics slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan for staying silent, arguing that in his presence the cleric targeted the media by labelling them ‘liars’ and then linked women’s immodesty for inviting the wrath of Almighty in the form of Covid-19.

While Maulana Jameel apologised to the media a day later, rights activists said he had yet to tender an apology over his controversial statement regarding women during the prayers at the end of Ehsaas telethon headed by the prime minister, a report in Dawn said.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari too slammed the comment. “We will not accept the targeting of women on the pretext of such ludicrous accusations. It is absurd even to suggest that Covid-19 pandemic was the result of women wearing short sleeves, etc.

“This simply reflects either ignorance about pandemics or a misogynist mindset,” she quipped.

Senator Sherry Rehman of PPP said: “Why has Maulana Tariq Jameel not apologised to women yet? He is blaming this pandemic on Pakistani women’s alleged immodesty, this is grossly slanderous on many levels, totally unacceptable.”

She said it was the time for suo motu action by the courts over his statement, as he was encroaching on fundamental rights.

Rights activists regretted that such controversial statements were being normalised in the name of religion, while some women asked for reasons behind the spread of coronavirus in Saudi Arabia.

Women rights’ activist Nighat Dad said: “TJ apologised to media but not to millions of women who he blamed for Covid-19, women who make half of this country’s population, where they are routinely abused, raped, killed and attacked.”


She said media persons were only concerned about themselves being called liar, “but everyone seemed okay what he said about women, not a single objection was raised”.

Awami Workers Party President Yousuf Mustikhan and Secretary-General Akhtar Hussain Advocate in their joint statement said that after the recent tirade of Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Maulana Tariq Jameel and other mullahs, it has become necessary that the state affairs must be separated from religious influence.

They condemned Maulana Jameel’s poisonous statement against the people, women and media persons.

They argued that in the modern scientific era, it is height of ignorance to associate global pandemics like Corona with women’s clothing. Allowing bigots to spew hate and obscurantist view on TV channels, shows the tactics of the ruling classes to maintain the status quo.

They claimed that the maulana had been active in flattering the rulers since 1990. He should tender an apology for insulting the 220 million people including women in the same way as he did to the media.

Leading English language newspaper Dawn in its editorial comment said the “well-known cleric …has made a disturbing assertion that Covid-19 has been unleashed on humanity because of the ‘wrongdoing of women’.

These misogynistic remarks were made during the Ehsaas Telethon fundraising event, in the presence of the prime minister and top broadcast journalists.

In the same prayer, the maulana also cast aspersions on the media for “disseminating lies”, but later apologised for that particular remark on account of having “spoken too much”. No such apology was made for his offensive comments about women.

For the maulana to claim that women should be blamed for a global pandemic is not just ill-informed but also inflammatory. The statements are troubling; not only do they betray deep-rooted misogyny, but they were also aired, unchallenged, from a very high-profile platform.

This mentality is reflective of society’s unfortunate tendency to marginalise women simply because social power structures allow them to be viewed as ‘lesser beings’. The remarks also reinforce a dangerous yet normalised idea that targeting women is permissible.

The reality is that women in Pakistan, and elsewhere, face systemic discrimination and violence. During this pandemic, domestic abuse cases have soared as women are forced to stay home for extended periods with their tormentors. Despite these challenges, women strive to be recognised and shatter glass ceilings — as evidenced by the effective response of global women leaders in this pandemic.

It is a shame that the maulana was not corrected when he made these offensive comments. The maulana must apologise for his unsavoury remarks.


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