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Pakistan

Pakistan star sorry for mosque shoot after blasphemy protests

Saba Qamar takes to social media to respond to criticisms by Muslim hardliners

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Pakistan star sorry for mosque shoot after blasphemy protests

The poster for 'Qubool' featuring Pakistani actress Saba Qamar. The star apologized for filming a music video at a historic mosque in Lahore. (Photo supplied)

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Pakistan’s top-rated TV and film star Saba Qamar has apologized after a clip of her shooting a music video at a historic mosque in Lahore drew the ire of Muslim hardliners.

The apology came shortly after protests by Islamist groups and social media users who demanded that a blasphemy case be registered against the star and music director Bilal Saeed for disrespecting the sanctity of Masjid Wazir Khan.

The 36-year-old actress took to social media to respond to the criticism.

Sharing the clip, she wrote: “This is also the only sequence that was shot at the historical Wazir Khan Mosque. It’s a prologue to the music video featuring a Nikah scene. It was neither shot with any sort of playback music nor has it been edited to the music track.

“The BTS video that's been circulated on social media was just a circular movement to click stills for the poster of Qubool depicting a happily married couple right after their Nikah. Despite this, if we have unknowingly hurt anyone’s sentiments, we apologise to you all with all our heart. Love & Peace!.” 

The song titled Qubool is due for release on Aug. 11.

Separately, Bilal Saeed also issued a lengthy apology on his Instagram account.

“We as Muslims, as decent human beings and as artists, will never, ever trivialize or condone disrespect to Islam or any other religion, race, caste, color or creed. If we have unknowingly hurt anyone’s sentiments, we apologise to you all with all our heart,” Saeed said.

“I and Saba Qamar shot a Nikah video at Masjid Wazir Khan. This led to a big misunderstanding and many people felt emotionally hurt. A wrong impression was created that we danced inside the mosque and that we played music. By the Grace of God, I am a Muslim. I cannot even think about disrespecting mosque even in my imagination.” 

Meanwhile, the manager of the mosque has been suspended, a notification from the Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Department said on Aug. 9.

The government also ordered a probe into who allowed the shooting to be carried out inside the mosque.

Sahibzada Saeedul Hassan, Punjab's minister of Auqaf and religious affairs, told local cable channel Geo News that the video shoot had raised a lot of questions. He promised strict action against those who gave the permission "no matter how high a position they hold."

This is not the first time that Pakistan’s entertainment industry has become the target of hardliners using blasphemy laws.

In January, Pakistan suspended the release of an award-winning film after Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, an Islamist political party known for its strong stance against blasphemy, threatened to hold protests. The group said the film’s content was blasphemous.

Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life) portrays the life of a man after a video of him dancing at a wedding goes viral.

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