New Delhi: A social media post of two Pakistani artistes dressed in designer clothes and posing before a giant 50-feet tall Jinnah portrait, mounted on a hill overlooking the Islamabad expressway, has created such a storm that authorities are now on the lookout for the musical duo. The hill with Jinnah’s portrait has ‘FAITH’, ‘UNITY’ and ‘DISCIPLINE’ written on it, just like the word ‘HOLLYWOOD’ dots Mount Lee in Los Angeles. The ‘controversial’ post was captioned ‘FAITH UNITY DISCO’, as a play on the original.
Many Pakistani social media users were angry over these pictures that appeared on the Instagram handle ‘mysticalshayari’. The Instagram account has now been deleted. However, screenshots continue to circulate on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
یہ والی obscenity pic.twitter.com/v6po6HunAm
— Nabeela Rizwan (@nabriz_NR) August 2, 2021
The News International columnist Ansar Abbasi was among many who slammed the artistes for “extreme obscenity in public”.
The DC Islamabad @hamzashafqaat is requested to arrest the couple, who displayed extreme obscenity in public in the federal capital.
— Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) August 2, 2021
Meanwhile, some social media users defended the musicians, asking if they had broken any law.
Have they broken any law? Serious question. https://t.co/LPXOAE0Zzz
— Mateen Ul Waheed (@__mateen) August 2, 2021
Others mocked those who were shaming the musicians for allegedly being obscene in “public”.
A Twitter user by the name of Rizwan uploaded a picture of the expressway with the caption: “Can’t see public on the side of one of the busiest roads in Islamabad, the expressway. Hahaha.”
— Rizwan (@Rizwow) August 3, 2021
Before deleting their account, the artistes uploaded a statement on Instagram, addressing the online backlash. ThePrint came across screenshots of the statement uploaded on the Instagram story of a costume stylist who was part of the photo shoot.
“Like flies to honey, we can unfortunately predict that proud, shining femmehood will attract a variety of pests. Today, that came in the form of a twitter hate-storm on our recent promo shoot…” read the statement.
“..we have been subjected to a barrage of hate messages, threats, and raging transphobic ridicule,” added the statement.
ThePrint reached out to one of the costume stylists of the photo shoot but they refused to comment, citing concerns about their safety.
Meant to be a ‘homage’ to Pakistan
In their statement, ‘mysticalshayari’ explained the reason behind shooting their promo near the portrait of Jinnah.
“It is ironic that this shoot, intended as an homage to the values Pakistan was founded on (yet has strayed so far from) has now been twisted into such a vicious, divisive thing,” read the statement.
The artistes also held Pakistani TV anchor Iram Ahmad Khan responsible for initiating the online backlash. Khan is the wife of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s social media lead Farhan Virk, who, in February, admitted to using Twitter trolls to propagate Islamabad’s agenda.
The musical duo also blamed social media news handle Islamabad Today (ISB Today) for “recklessly amplifying” the controversy surrounding the photos.
According to their statement, they asked the news site to take down the post but the latter “repurposed our words to create a new post, this time tagging us, increasing the scale and intensity of threat by at least tenfold”.
“What is actually abominable in this country is not us, nor nudity, nor pop art, but a diseased masculity and patriarchal family system, which infects and oppresses all people and colonises the body, the land and the soul,” read the duo’s statement.