Shahrukh Khan controversy: Hype and hypocrisy

Focus on the real problem Khan pointed out; our intolerant attitudes that keep us from achieving better things.

Zainab Imam January 30, 2013
As anything Shahrukh 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.

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Read more by Zainab here or follow her on twitter @zainabimam 
Zainab Imam A journalist, on a hiatus to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at The University of Chicago. Gender parity advocate, urban policy enthusiast. She tweets @zainabimam ( and blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


tambi | 9 years ago | Reply The whole idea of india and pak was; Hindu to stay in india and muslims to stay in pakistan
Sampath | 9 years ago | Reply Well! Shahrukh Khan seems to be hurt bcoz all kinds of people are giving suggestions to him. Surely, there'll be people who will question him as he is a public figure. He should know how to handle pressure, both good and bad with grace and dignity. Surely, whatever he speaks can stir a controversy....but that does not undermine his credentials......should that matter to him? No, bcoz different people interpret things differently. Instead of feeling bad, he should have cleared things upfront. As they say, he is facing the mid-life crisis, when things are not going his way. He is on a decline, both personally and career wise(no star can remain on top forever). This is when he becomes the victim. We all know how he tried to sell his mega-budget blunder 'Ra One' on tv, making it a 24x7 nonsense spectacle. He goes on award shows making unsavory and crass comments on fellow stars from the industry(probably to satisfy is ego). What he doesn't realise is that he is undermining his own status by doing all this. Unfortunately, he seems to be playing the victim card all too well......! His behavior and conduct has become questionable. Unfortunately, he does not realise that his being a muslim is a non-issue in India as he is an idol for millions of indians. It appears that all he can discuss on tv nowdays is how is feels targeted by anyone and everyone.....(from US to India). For God sake, he's just a film star, not GOD. And he better start behaving like one!
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