Aurat March happened exactly 5 days ago. Thousands of women rallied across several Pakistani cities, and (rightfully) asked for gender equality, safety, better working conditions and more. The March was laced with enthusiasm, women spirit and resilience. However, following the March, the social media went haywire.
There were people who loved everything the March represented while there were others who disagreed; some in a rather civil way and still others in unreasonable ways. A lot of things were said, words were exchanged and let’s say, the idea of a peaceful discourse was thrown out of the window, for the most part.
Amidst all the chaos, Shaan Shahid – the acclaimed Lollywood actor – tweeted about how he didn’t think some of the slogans represented our culture and values.
@mangobaaz These slogans do not represent our culture ,our values and the respect we have for our women that was my point .. and you missed it completely.. stop twisting our views just to get more mileage own your responsibility ..🇵🇰 pic.twitter.com/dcdUnlqyjU
— Shaan Shahid (@mshaanshahid) March 11, 2019
The actor, following his tweet, was condemned on Twitter. A lot of arguments were presented. Here is an exhibit:
You can’t comment on actors you aren’t one , what choices they make are needed for the professionalism they represent .. where is our freedom of expression .. ? Who made you the judge jury and a khatmal actors have rights to learn to respect others profession..
— Shaan Shahid (@mshaanshahid) March 12, 2019
Following the social media word-war, Shaan attempted to clarify his position by tweeting the following:
#Ibelieveinauratpower if I didn’t believe in the March I wouldn’t support my wife& daughter going to it. they were at the venue holding play cards ,my fathers song was sung at the March in lhr ,but they left .they also felt that some words could have been written differently .
— Shaan Shahid (@mshaanshahid) March 12, 2019
We, at Galaxy Lollywood, got in touch with Shaan and had a detailed yet candid conversation with him on the issue. Here is how it went down:
In conversation with Shaan Shahid
‘I would like to begin by saying that I am not against Aurat March or the cause of feminism, in any sense. I have always fought for women rights, I have been raised by a woman and even now, I am the only man in the house. I have a wife and four daughters and that’s my legacy. As for my tweets, I have been quoted out of context.”
“There are people who are accusing me of being against Aurat March or feminism but that is not the case. I just had an issue with the language of some of the the posters and I voiced it because whenever I talk about something, I do it with all my heart,” said Shaan.
On why he disagrees with the language on the posters
While talking about why he disagreed with the language of some of the posters, Shaan mentioned, “I am not even on the opposite side so I don’t understand why they’re fighting with me on Twitter. I just want them to understand that in our country, there are people of all sorts. Majority of our population still supports people like Orya Maqbool Jan and the hate they spew. When you are confronted with issues like that, you start with step one. You don’t take the third step first.”
“You get people who disagree with you, on board. This country passed a progressive bill for transgender persons, why do you think it won’t do the same for women? It will but for that, you have to take everyone on board. I am willing to go the Parliament and help all of these demands turned into laws,” said Shaan.
“I will never stop fighting for the rights of women and I would happily want to sit down and talk it out with the people who are misquoting me, if they are willing to have a proper conversation. I am from an older generation, I guess so some of the posters just came to me as a cultural shock. Moreover, I am a very open person; I talk to my daughter about everything very openly but I still feel like there needs to be certain boundaries about these things,” continued Shaan.
On his pictures circulating on social media
Upon being asked what he thinks about his pictures going around on social media and if he thinks they’re hypocritical, Shaan said “As for my pictures that are being circulated around, I just want to say that I am an artist and the characters that I play do not represent my view point. If I am a villain in a movie that doesn’t imply that I believe in what the villain is doing.”
— Faisal Zaman Khan (@FaisalZamanKha5) March 12, 2019
“I just want to say that I am on your side, I just have a different opinion about the language of the posters but the bashing isn’t going to stop me to keep working for women rights, I have to fight for my daughters’ rights, I have to fight for women rights. All I am saying is just don’t lose the cause, amidst all of this,” Shaan further said.
While it is understandable that Shaan’s words may have caused some hurt for the women who were at the Aurat March, it is also imperative to realize that now is probably not the time for blame games. Now is the time for peaceful dialogues so everyone can work towards a mutual goal; the provision of safe and better conditions for the women of this country and Shaan Shahid agrees.