the Mob mentality
With the plethora of Pakistani blogs focused on politics and current affairs that stream into my inbox and down my twitter timeline increasing as I speak, I reinforced my decision to keep that all out of my Blog. Not because I don’t agree with them. Quite the contrary actually. I believe speaking out and being heard is the only channel that’s left to us in these hard and trying times. But I deliberately kept them out because I decided this is only going to be about Art and the good, the bad and the ugly within. A small little corner for us artists. It seems like the ugly has followed me till here.
A few days ago a press release from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan HRCP popped out at me in my inbox. I opened it to find the organization taking a sharp stance against a Police attack on a young female curator at the Nairang Gallery, Lahore. The press release can be read here. It outlined that the young woman was attacked for fahashi or indecent behaviour. I googled it and searched through local news sites but found no mention. Apparently this had just happened and thus not gone to press. I tweeted the news and it immediately spread like wildfire.
The articles report that the woman was allegedly attacked “for wearing a sleeveless dress and interacting with men“! (UPDATE Aug7: Attacked Nairang Curator has briefly explained the incident in the comments below. Read for clarification)
The comments written below several of these articles are quite appalling with several suggesting that this was appropriate action against growing ‘westernization’, while others state that this is a ‘rare’ event and should not be blown out of proportion. Others yet have added accusations of Hashish being smoked on-site and said that anyone supporting the gallery/curator also support drug use.
I, like many others, have no idea what the real story is and what actually happened. But even so, if one were to take into account that ‘something wrong’ were going on, one must step back and realize that there is a system, a set of laws and a procedure that can be followed to make sure justice is served. Violence, harassment and physical attacks by the very protectors of our society is unacceptable by any and all standards.
The fact that the country is in a state of complete lawlessness and that the policing agencies are abusing their powers (remember the rangers incident) should be enough for people to be clamouring for their rights and peace. But it seems that the poison always filters down and the people are beginning to think in the same maddening way. It’s the Mob Mentality that is spreading across the country, where people frustrated by the government, the economy and the political wars want justice in Blood. Anyone’s blood. In the same vein, they have begun to enjoy the suffering of others, terming them justifiable.
To accept an attack like this on a fellow human, a Pakistani, and a member of the artist community is to accept that no one will be spared whether they come in peace or not. It accepts unprovoked attacks on a person and drags their freedoms to the ground. It also reasserts that Pakistan is currently going through an accelerated radicalization that has nothing to do with humanity and even lesser with Islam. At the end it establishes the Government’s complete ineffectuality and in a perverse way their own support of such behaviour. The riot at the Shanakht Festival art exhibiton in 2009 has not yet been forgotten.
I’m already bracing myself for the negative feedback this post will get from the ‘perpetual finger pointers and blamers’ that are found lurking on all Pakistani blogs and news sites. Those who will inevitably find an error in judgment of mine in supporting this and accuse me of ‘not standing for the hundreds who die everyday in heat and hunger’. To save you the trouble I condone that too, so back off, before I cut your nuts off.