There has to be a limit to senselessness. After all, human beings have been gifted with the capacity to reason and think. But we saw this ability vanish completely on Friday, as destruction struck everywhere. It is not known why a decision was made by the mobs to attack cinemas. Two were burnt down in Peshawar, while at least five were set ablaze or attacked in Karachi. There may have been a ‘copycat’ element to the burning of the cinema halls as word of the first such incident from Peshawar made it to various news channels.
The violent scenes seen on Friday were a result of the short video made in the US, but this vitriolic video was never aired in any cinema house anywhere in the world that they were made the target. It exists essentially on YouTube — a video-sharing website that has already been controversially blocked in Pakistan. The owners of the cinemas in both Peshawar and Karachi had nothing to do with the making of this short video; nor, of course, would they ever have considered airing it.
The burning of the cinema halls simply inflicts great damage on those who run them and also threatens the livelihood of the staff employed there. The people of this country cannot afford such mayhem in already difficult economic times. Struggling businesses need to be able to survive. It will take millions to reconstruct some of the cinemas which have been badly damaged.
The action taken by the frenzied hordes, which took to the street against the cinemas, simply shows the lack of sense behind the entire “protest”. All we have seen is mass destruction which hurts only people at home. Cinemas are a vital form of entertainment in any society. Blaming them for a video created by bigoted individuals in the US is nothing less than complete madness. Other wreckage left behind during the rampage proves the same point and demonstrates the extent to which we have lost our ability to use our minds rationally and retain our dignity. We have further become the laughing stock of the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.