Attacks on cinemas

Published: September 23, 2012

Demonstrators attack a burning cinema during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Peshawar on September 21, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

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.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Dr V. C. Bhutani
    Sep 24, 2012 - 5:00AM

    The recent demonstrations beginning Friday were State-sponsored. Losses of private property, including the cinemas, should be compensated by the State. Besides, the State should accept and acknowledge authorship and responsibility for the demonstrations and results. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 24 Sep 2012, 0529 IST

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  • Usman
    Sep 24, 2012 - 5:48AM

    E.T., you are quick to condemn public outrage but where is this condemnation when you talk about the cause of the outrage? It’s no secret the protests had a wider purpose of the public venting their frustrations at the rich or any symbol of the rich.

    When it comes to holding the rich accountable, you fill your pages with words like ‘judicial activisim’ and ‘saving democracy’ and ‘supremacy of parliament’. And you want the general public to just keep suffering as they are?

    Where’s the perspective?

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  • Lord
    Sep 24, 2012 - 1:22PM

    They have burnt cinemas for there love of talibanization.All of them belonged to banned outfits what you expect .

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  • Sep 24, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Blame the govt. They set the stage for the riots by declaring a day for it , they gave signal to hardliner to come out and destroy the country.
    They didnt try to stop it, they didnt arrest or detain the leaders of those mobs a day before. you cannot tell me a bunch of people totally unfamilier to each other decided to destroy properties. good job lords of establishment, you have really taught a lesson to america

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 24, 2012 - 6:52PM

    The cinema owners and employees should thank God that mob did not behead them on their un-Islamic business activity. Don’t they know that such un-Islamic professions are not allowed in a religious state. This destruction was just a trailor of our future. Wait for a real Tsunami.

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  • Obaid
    Sep 24, 2012 - 10:02PM

    @Usman:

    those cinemas were never for the rich.. capri charged as low as rs60 for tickets. if you ever went to one of those cinemas, you would see how many lower class people were there..

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  • Obaid
    Sep 24, 2012 - 10:04PM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:

    thats all that you mullahs are now educated to do right.? behead people, burn property. judge yourself before you judge others

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