Sunday, June 13, 2021

Lahore court grants Saba Qamar, Bilal Saeed bail in mosque video case

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A Lahore sessions court on Thursday approved the bail of actress Saba Qamar and singer Bilal Saeed in a case related to the filming of a song at the Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore earlier this year. The duo had caused controversy when videos of the song went viral on social media in which Qamar and Saeed appeared to be dancing inside the mosque.

This led to a civilian-registered FIR under Section 295 (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code. According to the petition filed in the case by the duo, Qamar and Saeed have received several death threats after the incident.

This impending danger delayed their appearance in court, according to their lawyer. However, the accused parties registered their attendance in the courtroom today. During the hearing, Qamar’s lawyer pleaded for his client’s innocence and denied claims of any violation of the mosque’s sanctity.

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Lahore Sessions Court judge Chaudhry Qasim Ali ruled in favour of Qamar and Saeed’s interim petitions, granting them bail. The judge further said that the matter of reward or compensation will be decided at the trial.

The truth of the matter

When stills from the video broke the internet, many social media users from Pakistan had opinions on the matter. This caused the responsible authorities to take certain actions in response. For example, the Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Department had suspended Wazir Khan Mosque’s manager, Ishtiaq Ahmed, on August 9, a day after social media erupted in anger over the video.

Some 17 days post the shoot, complainant Sardar Farhat Manzoor Khan lodged an FIR against the actors, producer Ahmad Waqas and officials of Auqaf department. They contended this case by questioning its unexplained delay; especially when the shoot proceeded as per the terms and conditions permitted by the Auqaf department.

However, the investigating officer revealed that the police had not yet received a video of the song’s shooting in the mosque. This weakened the case as it stood without proof.

Moreover, both the actors denied dancing in the mosque. In fact, Qamar claims that 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”. Bilal Saeed then further coupled this explanation with an unconditional apology on social media.

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