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Pakistan's Geo TV accused of blasphemy

Islamic council says it disrespected Muhammud's daughter

Pakistan's Geo TV accused of blasphemy

Picture: Geo TV website reporter, Karachi

May 16, 2014

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An Islamic religious group in Pakistan on Thursday declared watching the popular entertainment channel Geo TV as forbidden after it was accused of disrespecting Islamic historical figures.

"Geo TV has hurt the religious sentiments of millions of people by disrespecting Islam's holy figures and therefore, the channel must be taken off air," Sahibzada Hamid Raza, chairman of the Sunni Ittehad Council, said at a press conference after issuing the fatwa, or religious decree.

Raza said the channel ridiculed Islamic beliefs by disrespecting the daughter of Muhammad, prophet and founder of the Islamic religion.

The council, an alliance of moderate Islamic scholars, said 30 scholars unanimously declared Geo TV forbidden to Pakistani Muslims for airing blasphemous content.

Raza said the council would observe a day of condemnation against Geo TV on Friday. "We are also considering a sit-in outside the office of Geo TV in Karachi if the government fails to act against the channel," he said.

The Pakistani Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said it received more than 5,000 complaints against the station and would seek an explanation from the station's management about the airing of the conrtroversial content.

Meanwhile, Geo TV said it suspended the morning show, Utho Jago Pakistan - Wake Up Pakistan - and launched an inquiry into Wednesday's show.

In a video statement, Shaista Lodhi, the host of the show, also apologized for the show's content, which had actors dancing to a traditional Sufi song while the host waved a pair of shoes,  considered a grave sign of disrespect in Pakistan. The skit was a re-enactment of the wedding of controversial Pakistani actress Veena Malik, who has appeared semi-nude in several publications.

Some Islamic scholars believe Sufi music relates directly to Muhammad and his family. Sufism is a branch of Islam, defined by adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of the religion.

Geo TV is under fire from opposition parties and rival media groups since it accused the country's spy agency chief of plotting the murder of its leading anchor person Hamid Mir.

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