After the Jaranwala riots, where a Christian neighborhood was burned down by a violent mob because of blasphemy allegations, many Pakistani celebrities and public figures were quick to condemn the authorities that failed to control the violence , and called for swift action to be taken against the perpetuators. Ashok Swain, the chairperson of the UNESCO International Water Cooperation and professor at Uppsala University, pointed out how Pakistani celebrities were quick to condemn communal riots and ethnic violence against minorities, while in Bollywood the silence of public figures is deafening when it comes to speaking out against the rising hate crimes against minorities.

“Pakistani film stars have spine. Indian film stars only know how to count money,” Swain tweeted.

Since Wednesday, prominent public figures like Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Mahira Khan and Azekah Daniels have all spoken against the brutal act of injustice against the Christian community in Pakistan. Taking to her Instagram stories, Chinoy, a two- time Oscar winner, slammed ‘hypocritical’ Pakistanis who are quick to react when the Holy Quran was burned but were silent when churches were demolished yesterday by a lynch mob.

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“Two faced: That word best describes Pakistanis who are quick to point out the state of Muslims in India but who turn the other way when someone says look at the state of minorities within your own borders.”

‘Pasoori’ singer Shae Gill, who is a Christian, described how the incident made her completely speechless, and expressed hopes that the masses are educated so that these atrocities can come to an end.

Meanwhile, celebrities in Bollywood have been called out publicly in the past for promoting communal violence and Islamophobia through their films. Akshay Kumar was publicly criticised when his film ‘Sooryavashni’ promoted Islamophobia. During an interview when he was asked about the anti-Pakistani themes of his film ‘Bell Bottom’ to which the A-list actor had responded: “It’s just a film.”

Recently, Shah Rukh Khan was targeted by BJP politicians as a ‘terrorist’ and in January, the music video for his film ‘Besharam Rang’ was targeted because of the baseless ‘Love Jihad’ theory- that claims Hindu women are seduced by Muslim men and then converted into Islam- by conservatives who threatened to burn down the theaters where the movie would play.

This obviously doesn’t mean that cinema in Pakistan is more progressive and open to accepting minorities, but we cannot deny the power of public figures who use their platforms to educate masses about sensitive topics, is far more important in today’s troubling issues in order to help fight against the growing communal violence and hatred.