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HomeBlogsArgentinian Saba Qamar, Spanish Bilal Saeed, and an apologetic archbishop

Argentinian Saba Qamar, Spanish Bilal Saeed, and an apologetic archbishop

The archbishop of a Spanish city apologised to Roman Catholics in the western European country after one of the country’s famed cathedrals became the site of a video showing a couple dancing in a risqué manner.

The archbishop found himself in this mess after Spanish rapper C Tangana and Argentinian singer Nathy Peluso filmed a racy video for one of their songs within the four walls of the holy place. The effect the video had on the religious populace wasn’t unexpected, and the cathedral authorities were, on the same day, on the receiving end of questions about how such a video could be shot in a holy place, that too with a title ‘Ateo’ (Atheist).

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Religious authorities of Toledo issued a statement, saying that the archbishop had expressed deep regret over the happening, and was unaware about the project and its contents. Sincere forgiveness from the faithful, who had been wounded by the inappropriate use of a sacred place, was sought.

Go east thousands of kilometres, and two months back, and you find one Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed creating a similar situation with clips of their song ‘Qubool’. A slow motion clip of a twirl in Lahore’s Masjid Wazir Khan led to outrage, suspensions, blasphemy allegations, followed by an apology for ‘hurting sentiments’. The mosque’s manager was suspended, an investigation was launched, and a blasphemy case was registered against the duo.

If one were to draw parallels between the incidents, and if one were to compare the content of the two videos, one would see, from the lens of a religious person, that the ‘crime’ in Spain was much worse than it was in Pakistan. After all, an ‘innocent’ twirl, that too in a song revolving around legal marriage in Islam, received a much worse response than a song involving what Toledo Cathedral’s dean described as ‘provocative visual language’. Yet, there were no extremists in Spain calling for C Tangana’s and Nathy Peluso’s funerals to be held, no Roman Catholics gave any death threats to the artists, and no cathedral official got fired. And the archbishop was the one to issue the apology instead of the artists.

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Why such an intense reaction here? And why such a mild reaction there? Are Roman Catholics less religious? Do they find their places of worship less holy? Is there less reverence in their hearts for their religion? What is it here that has people baying for blood at something even the religious in the west would be content with through just an apology?

Is the reason that we love our religion more than anyone else? Is our love and respect for our religion unmatched? Is it the case that Christians in the west have no respect for their religion, unlike us? They have lost their ways, some would say. Our religion is more dear to us than them, others would opine. Certainly not; they have as much respect for their religion and holy places as we do.

But many would cite their mild reactions to argue that there is no match for our religious fervour. Sure, our love and respect for our religion may be unmatched. But as a change, let us not make the propensity to shed blood and put people’s head on a spike the sole criterion for proving our religiosity and exhibiting our religious fervour. Wouldn’t it be a welcome change if we were to exhibit as much forgiveness as our desire to scream bloody murder?

Is this to say that we should look the other way when people use holy places for art or music? Certainly not. But let us also try and reserve our calls for justice, minus the blood, for times when the sanctity of human bodies is violated within the same sacred places.

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