Islamic Terrorism in India

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Flirting with Palin earns Pakistani president a fatwa

Posted by jagoindia on October 3, 2008


When Zardari was asked to keep shaking hands with Palin for the cameras, he said, “If he’s (the aide) insisting, I might hug you.”

Fatwa against Zardari for ‘flirting’ with Palin
NDTV Correspondent

Monday, September 29, 2008, (Islamabad)Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari seems to be heading towards fresh trouble as the prayer leader of the Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad has issued a fatwa against him.

Maulana Abdul Ghafar, the prayer leader, seems to be irked by Zardari’s “you’re gorgeous” compliment to US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin during a meeting.

When Zardari was asked to keep shaking hands with Palin for the cameras, he said, “If he’s (the aide) insisting, I might hug you.”

He said the act was un-Islamic and unbecoming of a head of state of a Muslim country.

Maulana also said that Zardari shamed the entire Pakistani by publicly making indecent gestures towards Palin in Washington last Thursday.

Zardari’s offhand compliment has also created quite a flutter in the virtual world also.

A lot of blogs have been dedicated to the “meeting”. One such blog titled “Zardari flirts with Sarah Palin — calling her gorgeous and offers to hug” gives details of the Zardari-Palin encounter.

Another blogger, called ‘teethmaestro’, said, “I do not mean to suggest that this is in anyway a crime, but being the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan there are some protocols that should be adhered to in an effort to uplift the respect and dignity of Pakistan and to the office he has been assigned.”

He also claimed to have warned about such a faux pas in an earlier post. “As suspected from my earlier post where I shuddered at the thought of what Asif Ali Zardari might serve up to Washington during his trip to attend the UN General Assembly, well the games have begun.”

Several jokes are doing the rounds on the meeting. A leading social networking site Facebook has even dedicated two groups to the encounter. A group called “Zardari should marry Sarah Palin for the sake of world peace!” has enrolled 13 members so far.

“Well critics can go on and on but I feel His Excellency Honourable President of Pakistan should marry Sarah Palin for the greater good of humanity and this matrimony will stop the incursion of US forces in Pakistan,” wrote the creator of the group.

Another member of the group accused Zardari-Palin of colour-coordinating their clothes and said polo races may soon be witnessed in the White House. Another group created on Facebook “just for fun” has dedicated a song on the Zardari-Palin encounter.

Instep magazine dedicated a full page to the high-profile meeting, citing some other such Pakistani encounters. The magazine quoted from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s biographer, Marcus Marby, who wrote about Rice’s meeting with Pakistan’s former prime minister Shaukat Aziz in his book “Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power.”

“Aziz often boasted there wasn’t a woman he could not seduce. But as the story goes, the alleged charm didn’t work on the US Secretary of State,” the Instep report read.

“Yet, when Rice sat down with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who fancies himself as ladies’ man, Aziz puffed himself up and held forth in what he obviously thought was his seductive baritone (He bragged — to western diplomats, no less — that he could conquer any woman in two minutes),” the magazine quoted from Marby’s book.

“There was this test of wills where he was trying to use all his charms on her as a woman, and she just basically stared him down. By the end of the meeting, he was babbling, The Pakistanis were shifting uncomfortably,” a participant at the meeting recalled.

The magazine also wrote about late former premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s alleged legendary affair with Husna Sheikh and General Yahya Khan’s “association” with Pakistan’s nightingale Noor Jehan.

Flirting with Palin earns Pakistani president a fatwa By Issam Ahmed

With some overly friendly comments to Gov. Sarah Palin at the United Nations, Asif Ali Zardari has succeeded in uniting one of Pakistan’s hard-line mosques and its feminists after a few weeks in office.

A radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation for “indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt.”

Feminists charged that once again a male Pakistani leader has embarrassed the country with sexist remarks. And across the board, the Pakistani press has shown disapproval.

What did President Zardari do to draw such scorn? It might have been the “gorgeous” compliment he gave Ms. Palin when the two met at the UN last week during her meet-and-greet with foreign leaders ahead of Thursday’s vice presidential debate with opponent Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

But the comments from Zardari didn’t end there. He went on to tell Palin: “Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you.”

“You are so nice,” replied the Republican vice presidential hopeful, smiling. “Thank you.”

But what may have really caused Pakistan’s radical religious leaders to stew was his comment that he might “hug” Palin if his handler insisted.

Though the fatwa, issued days after the Sept. 24 exchange, carries little weight among most Pakistanis, it’s indicative of the anger felt by Pakistan’s increasingly assertive conservatives who consider physical contact and flattery between a man and woman who aren’t married to each other distasteful. Though fatwas, or religious edicts, can range from advice on daily life to death sentences, this one does not call for any action or violence.

Last year, the mosque that issued the fatwa, Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, condemned the former tourism minister, Nilofar Bahktiar, after she was photographed being hugged by a male parachuting coach in France.

Clerics declared the act a “great sin” and, though less vocal about it, similar sentiments were shared by many among Pakistani’s middle classes. The Red Mosque gained international infamy in July 2007 after becoming the focal point of a Pakistan Army operation.

For the feminists it’s less about cozying up to a non-Muslim woman and more about the sexist remarks by Zardari.

“As a Pakistani and as a woman, it was shameful and unacceptable. He was looking upon her merely as a woman and not as a politician in her own right,” says Tahira Abdullah, a member of the Women’s Action Forum.

Dismissing the mosque’s concerns as “ranting,” she, however, adds: “He should show some decorum – if he loved his wife so much as to press for a United Nations investigation into her death, he should behave like a mourning widower,” in reference to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, a feminist icon for millions of Pakistani women.

The theme of decorum was picked up by English daily Dawn, whose editorial asked: “Why do our presidents always end up embarrassing us internationally by making sexist remarks?”

The incident bears some resemblance to yet another charm offensive by a senior Pakistani politician. Marcus Mabry’s biography of Condoleezza Rice includes a passage in which he relates a meeting between former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Ms. Rice, in which Mr. Aziz was said to have stared deeply into the secretary of State’s eyes and to have told her he could “conquer any woman in two minutes.”

There are some, however, who see things as having been blown out of proportion.

“It was a sweet and innocuous exchange played as an international incident on Pakistani and rascally Indian front-pages with one English daily [writing] it in a scarlet box, half-implying Mrs. Palin would ditch Alaska’s First Dude and become Pakistan’s First Babe. As if,” wrote columnist Fasih Ahmed in the Daily Times.

For most, it will soon be forgotten in a country dealing with terrorism, rising food prices, and a struggling economy. “We don’t care that much how they [politicians] behave – what really matters is keeping prices down,” says Nazeera Bibi, a maid in Lahore.

One Response to “Flirting with Palin earns Pakistani president a fatwa”

  1. Hi.

    IF you are a head of the state, how can you show you like that. and every one know that you flirting but keep in mind that you are the head of state not a single man.

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