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Pakistan prepares for Aurat Azadi March but Lal Masjid clerics call it obscene

A group of goons and clerics vandalised a mural painted by a few women on the walls of a house in Islamabad, claiming it was 'obscene'.

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New Delhi: Preparations are on in several Pakistani cities for the upcoming Aurat Azadi March (women’s liberation march) — a peaceful procession calling for women’s right to public spaces, voicing their opinions and fighting gender discrimination — which is scheduled to be held on 8 March to mark the International Women’s Day.

On Tuesday, a group of goons and clerics from Lal Masjid allegedly vandalised a mural painted by a few women on the walls of a house in Islamabad. The miscreants later alleged that the mural was obscene because the women pictured on it were “not covered” by a hijab.

The incident led to an uproar, with many on social media condemning the vandalism.

Tooba Syed, one of the organisers of the march, wrote on Twitter: “Our existence,our politics, our art, our labour will not be rendered invisible by a handful of right-wing goons. We will fight back with our slogans, our creativity and our resolve to continue fighting the system! Before & after of mural.”


Also read: At Lahore ThinkFest, Pakistan science minister Fawad Chaudhry justifies slapping TV anchor


#MeraJismMeraMarzi goes viral in Pakistan

The hashtag #MeraJismMeraMarzi went viral on social media Wednesday after writer and director Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar lashed out at activist and writer Marvi Sirmed on live television.

He was heard saying: “What’s in your body? who the hell are you…go look at your body and face; no one even wants to spit on it. Don’t talk in the middle, don’t talk in between the lines. What is your body, bibi? Don’t talk no bloody nonsense. You bloody shut up. B**ch.”

Qamar and Sirmed were taking part on a discussion about the Aurat Azadi March at a prime time show on Neo News channel. While Qamar spoke to Sirmed, she was heard coolly repeating the phrase “mera jism, mera marzi” (my body, my choice) through the tirade.

 

Sirmed later alleged that the news channel censored her when she repeated the line over and over again.

Executive Director of Neo News, however, put out a public apology condemning Qamar’s behaviour and said “strict action” would be taken.

 

Pakistan among worst-ranked nations on internet freedom

The Inclusive Internet Index 2020, a report commissioned by Facebook, has found that Pakistan ranked 76th out of 100 countries when it came to internet inclusivity, bench-marked by the internet’s availability, affordability, relevance and the readiness of people to use it.

Out of all the Asian countries, Pakistan fared poorly, ranking 24 out of 26 countries included.

“Notable among its weaknesses is by far the largest gender gaps in the index, in both mobile and internet access. Low levels of digital literacy and relatively poor network quality are major impediments to internet inclusion,” said the Economist Intelligence Unit that had released the report.

Sindh govt cracking down on fake coronavirus news

Pakistan has registered five positive cases of coronavirus and authorities said they were doing everything to curb the disease’s spread. But that’s not all they’re worried about.

The virus’s spread has also led to a rampant proliferation of fake news. The country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been called in by the Sindh government to track those spreading “fake and unsubstantial news” on coronavirus.

The Sindh government has claimed that fake news has caused mass panic, even though only two of the five cases were in the province. On Tuesday, a fake circular claiming to be from the interior ministry also made the rounds on social media. It said that all government and private institutions would be closed for two weeks as a precautionary measure in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.


Also read: Modi govt wants to give Pakistani Hindus Indian citizenship, but not visa for last rites


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