Yesterday, both Andrew Stuttaford of National Review Online and Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard made a point of drawing our attention to a video (courtesy of MEMRI) of a Pakistani actress named Veena Malik standing up to a Pakistani Muslim cleric who had called her immoral for appearing last year on a reality show called in India called Big Boss (based on Big Brother.)
In Big Boss, Malik was physically affectionate with a Bollywood actor named Ashmit Patel. Malik drew anger in Pakistan not only because she embraced Patel but because Patel is Hindu. Relations between Muslims and non-Muslims are forbidden (unless, of course, the non-Muslim converts to Islam.) For these actions, Malik has been accused of humiliating “the whole country and also the good name of her motherland.”
The confrontation took place on Pakistani television in January. Malik’s willingness to stand up to a Muslim cleric is no small feat. Pakistanis who speak out for religious tolerance have been assassinated or under threat of assassination. Indeed, on January 4th, Punjabi Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards for his opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Shortly after Taseer’s assassination Sherry Rehman, another Pakistani politician, went into hiding for her efforts to amend the blasphemy laws. Earlier this month, Shahbaz Bhatti was also assassinated for his opposition to the blasphemy laws. Bhatti was Pakistan’s only non-Muslim cabinet minister.
Suffice it to say that Veena Malik is one very brave woman.