Ajoka blames ‘burqa brigade’ for ban, vows to go to court
LAHORE: The Ajoka theatre group in a press conference on Friday denounced the ban on the play Burkavaganza, saying the ban was imposed because of pressure from the ‘burqa brigade’. It also said the ban had proven that the government’s enlightened moderation policies were a farce and that it would challenge it (the ban) in court.
Madiha Gauhar alleged that the ban on the play was another in a series of events encouraging the Talibanisation of the country. “Such moves give extremist elements in society more room to continue their subversive activities,” she said. Madiha called the ban a crude attempt to terrorise artists and writers struggling to highlight social evils.
She said allegations by Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal MNA Razia Aziz were baseless and that her comments reflected the intellectual mediocrity of minds incapable of understanding metaphors and satire. She said creative minds drew inspiration from society and exposed its evils, and in their own way worked to spread tolerance and enlightenment. In light of this, banning the activities of artists was astonishing. She said the act reflected a moment of sudden panic on part of the government, which would embolden extremist elements.
Madiha said Ajoka refuted the misinterpretation of religion projected by extremists. She also vowed to take legal action against the ban and the allegations that the play had infringed upon the Blasphemy Law.
She said extremists had violated constitutional and moral norms of society by taking violent measures to impose their ideology on others. Citing the example of Mullah Omar, who made a getaway by donning a burqa, she said violent and exploitive elements were abusing and denigrating the burqa. “This raises questions in the minds of the masses,” she said, adding, “People are using the burqa as a refuge and weapon to threaten and impose their ideology forcefully.”
Madiha later told Daily Times that if extremists, who were not many but were politically charged, were allowed to impose their narrow-minded views on the people and the ‘enlightened government’ kept retreating and refusing to enforce its writ, the situation would worsen and result in bans on poetry, painting and other art forms.
Samia Mumtaz, Ajoka executive, said the burqa was a non-issue, which had been politicised by extremist elements. The real motive of the play Burkavaganza was to highlight the misuse of the burqa by presenting a satire on the double standards prevalent in society, she said. Rebutting objections that the play failed to portray its real meaning to the audience, she said the aspersions of extremists were baseless, as they had not even seen the play. “Audiences highly praised the play,” she added.