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Pakistan preacher issues apology for 'hurtful' comments

Maulana Tariq Jameel clarifies remarks blaming coronavirus outbreak on immodest women

Pakistan preacher issues apology for 'hurtful' comments

Maulana Tariq Jameel has apologized over remarks that angered Pakistan’s women and rights groups. (Photo: YouTube)

Pakistan’s widely followed Islamic preacher Maulana Tariq Jameel has tendered an apology over remarks that angered the country’s women and rights groups.

In a message on microblogging website Twitter early on April 28, the 67-year-old member of Tablighi Jamaat, a missionary group, admitted that there was no excuse for making any hurtful comments.

“Recently I made some comments that I wish to clarify. My aim was to point out that WE are all to blame for our current state. It was meant to be a general remark not targeting any specific men, women, persons or gender, but as a reminder to get closer to what Allah teaches us,” Jameel wrote.

“My goal was to remind us all to focus on the spiritual and away from our desires and the materialistic.

“I am the first to admit, as I have taught over the years, that there is no excuse for making any hurtful comments about anyone or making anyone feel uncomfortable. For which I sincerely apologize to anyone who may been inadvertently hurt. I pray that Allah accepts our good deeds and forgives our shortcomings.”

His apology came after women’s rights campaigners and media called for the televangelist to apologize for suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic was God’s wrath upon people because of "immodest" women. He made the controversial remarks in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan during a live telethon held to raise funds for coronavirus victims on April 24.

The cleric condemned women for dancing and dressing indecently, claiming these immoral actions had brought the Almighty’s wrath upon the country. He also accused the media of disseminating lies, for which he later apologized during a talk show.

Shireen Mazari, Pakistan's human rights minister, welcomed Jameel’s apology in a reply on Twitter.

“Thank you for the clarification. Really appreciate it. You have many followers and this will send a clear message to any who seek to misinterpret your words to target women,” she tweeted.

“In the same spirit, even though my tweet on the issue of women being targeted did not mention you, I would like to apologize if it caused you hurt. The intent was, and is, to clarify that the Covid-19 pandemic's cause was not women. Women are victimized on many pretexts and we need to ensure that their rights enshrined in the constitution are not violated.” 

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