Aurat March organisers demand public apology over doctored video

Meesha Shafi, Osman Khalid Butt call out irresponsible journalism as organisers ask accountability from media houses

Entertainment Desk March 12, 2021

This week women took to the streets for the annual Aurat March in several cities across the country. The march, like every year, received flak for its ‘liberal’ and ‘vulgar’ demands, as many took to social media to condemn it for imposing “western debauchery” on Pakistani society.

However, things took a turn for the worst when a video from the march was doctored and released on social media. The video was edited to give a religious spin to the slogans being chanted at the march. So much so, that several social media users even accused the march of heinous crimes such as blasphemy.

The organisers of the march immediately released the original video that had nothing religious in the slogans being chanted at the event and condemned the deliberate misinformation campaign. Many politicians and celebrities to the march’s rescue and called out the individuals involved in spreading misinformation and promoting extreme ideas.

“Classic, twisted and dark,” Singer Meesha Shafi said on Twitter. “A marginalised, victimised and vulnerable sector of society takes peacefully to the streets on a universally designated single day set aside for them, the usual rabid suspects take it straight into the twilight zone! This place is literally sick!”

She went on to comment, “Ek hee dafaa sari aurton ko hee ban ker do. Kissaa hee khatam (Ban all the women once and for all. Get it done with).”

Osman Khalid Butt bashed the irresponsible coverage by media outlets without taking any names. “How shameful that when you have no credible argument or counter-narrative, you resort to doctoring images and videos to incite hatred and violence.”

He added, “All because you can't stand the fact that women took to the streets to fight for their rights. Where is our integrity?”

Activist Jibran Nasir mirrored the Balu Mahi star’s thoughts and shared, “Media is supposed to be a source of fact-check especially if a matter concerns life or death. A false blasphemy allegation can mean an imminent death threat in Pakistan.”

Recalling the harrowing lynching of Mashal Khan, he commented, “We all remember the case of Mashal Khan. It's sad and worrying to see some well-known media persons becoming a source of the spread of malicious propaganda against Aurat March organisers by sharing edited videos without verification.”

The official statement by the Aurat March was released right after the original, unedited video was shared on social media.

“This year, one of our videos was doctored and heinous allegations are being placed on us as a result. Misinformation is the tool of those individuals and groups who seek to weaken the feminist movement and silence the voices of those who are marginalised.”

It further read, “Their attempts do not and will not deter us. We will continue to organise and speak out against the violence we are subject to. We will continue to build political power and fight back.”

Soon after their statement, #ApologiseToAuratMarch became the top trend on the micro-blogging website. In response to the inflammatory campaign, the organisers have demanded a public apology and immediate retraction by all the journalists and media houses who have shared disinformation. They also demanded individual journalists and media organisations desist from spreading false and malicious information endangering the lives of Aurat March organisers and participants.

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