Saba Qamar, Bilal Saeed booked for ‘violating sanctity’ of Lahore’s Wazir Khan Mosque

LAHORE: Actress Saba Qamar and singer Bilal Saeed were among a group of people booked on Friday in a case for allegedly “violating the sanctity” of the city’s Wazir Khan Mosque by shooting a music video there after a sessions court ordered the station house officer (SHO) to proceed in accordance with the law.

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In what comes as the latest update in the controversy surrounding a short video shot at the glorious historical site, Additional District and Sessions Judge Attiqur Rehman presided over a hearing Thursday of a petition filed by Advocate Sardar Farhat Manzoor Khan against the duo, as well as the team behind the music video, for trampling upon the sanctity of the mosque — an act that led to protests in Lahore.

The advocate had pleaded the court to order Lahore police to file the case against the suspects, which include the production company’s team and officials of the Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Department for letting the shoot go ahead.

The first information report (FIR) registered at the Akbari Gate police station was based on Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), pertaining to “offences relating to religion”, “injuring or defiling place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class”, and “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs”.

Earlier, media had reported that the counsels of the Punjab Auqaf Department and the actors argued that no offence had been committed, that prior permission had been granted against a payment of Rs30,000, and that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had directed for a probe into the matter.

Furthermore, Saba Qamar had said the clip was a “prologue to the music video featuring a Nikah scene” and “was neither shot with any sort of playback music nor has it been edited to the music track”, while Bilal Saeed had issued an unconditional apology on social media.

‘Apologise to you all with all our heart’

Saeed, in a lengthy apology on Instagram, had said both he and Qamar “realise what has happened over the past few days has hurt your sentiments deeply”.

“We as Muslims, as decent human beings and as artists will never, ever trivialise or condone disrespect to Islam or any other religion, race, caste, colour or creed.

“If we have unknowingly hurt anyone’s sentiments we apologise to you all with all our heart,” he had said.

In addition, the Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Department had suspended Wazir Khan Mosque’s manager Ishtiaq Ahmed was on August 9, a mere day after social media erupted in anger over the duo shooting a music video inside the mosque premises.

The department had said it had assigned its deputy director of finance to lead a probe into who allowed the shooting to be carried out inside the mosque and ascertain where the mosque’s administration was when the shoot took place.

Speaking to media, Punjab Auqaf Minister Sahibzada Saeedul Hassan had said the video shoot raised a lot of questions and vowed strict action against those who gave the permission “no matter how high a position they held”.

Ahmed, the manager, had told a private news channel that no dance actually took place inside the mosque but that the video on social media was the wonder of post-shoot editing.

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