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Pakistani Senator Threatens Activist With Rape on Live Television

Senator Hamdullah, Barrister Masroor and Marvi Sirmed during the argument. Screenshot from Dawn News video.

Senator Hamdullah, Barrister Masroor, and Marvi Sirmed during the argument. Image: Dawn News

During a TV talk show this Friday, June 10, Pakistani Senator Hafiz Hamdullah verbally abused Marvi Sirmed, an analyst on the program and a human rights activist, even threatening the woman with rape. Hamdullah, a representative of the religious political party Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), has spoken abusively on live television to political opponents before.

Shortly after the program was recorded, Sirmed wrote about the experience on Facebook, triggering an uproar, and leading to a police report and calls for Senator Hamdullah to be prosecuted:

I've just undergone a very traumatic experience at a News One program (Nadia Mirza Show) when Hafiz Hamdullah of JUIF got angry on a comment by Barrister Masroor. When my turn came, I started my comment by saying “I agree with Masroor sahib to the extent that…” and here Hamdullah cut me and went on and on with his arrogance and rudeness. I responded in almost the same coin. And that's when he started abusing me with worst possible expletives. Called me a whore and said “tumhaari shalwaar utaar dooN ga aur tumhaari maaN ki bhi” (I will take off your trousers and your mothers). I returned this to his own family women. And then he tried to beat me. All of this recorded in camera. Fayaz ul Hassan Chauhan held him so his punches don't reach me. He had to be taken away by the News One security.

And this religious merchant was fasting while he did all this.

Ironically, the incident took place while taping a show dedicated to the debate in Pakistan about so-called “honor killings” (the practice killing of a relative, especially a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonor on the family) and the silence on the issue from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)—a 20-member constitutional body, created in 1962, that provides non-binding advice to the government about the religious aspects of the law and society. The CII has also been faulted for failing to acknowledge violence more generally against women.

The Council of Islamic Ideology recently came under criticism for drafting legislation that would permit husbands to “beat their wives lightly.” Hamdullah, incidentally, chairs the Senate’s Religious and Interfaith Harmony Committee.

On the TV show, panelist Barrister Masroor suggested insultingly that CII Chairman Cleric Maulana Sherani and Senator Hamdullah were “pee k soey hue hain’” (sleeping after becoming intoxicated). Masroor went on to criticize the CII for condoning violence against women. The anchor then turned to Sirmed and asked for her opinion about the CII's position on women's rights and its failure to condemn honor killings. Sirmed sided with Masroor, enraging Hamdullah, who began shouting. The argument escalated to such a degree that Hamdullah ultimately threatened Sirmed with rape.

Fight Between Hafiz. Video: Shoaibvideos

The edited video clip omits the rape threat and verbal abuse. Sirmed shared details of the attempted physical assault on her Facebook page and on another TV show, after pressing criminal charges against Hamdullah. While the video footage showing the attempted physical assault hasn't been released yet, Barrister Masroor tweeted in support of Sirmed and corroborated her story:

After Sirmed shared her story, several others came forward to speak about the abuse they've faced from Hamdullah.

Parliamentarian Dr. Arif Alvi spoke out in support of Sirmed and shared his own experience:

Internet user Rana Waleed listed others who have faced abuse from Hamdullah in the past, including several TV anchors:

Sirmed has been on several shows with Hamdullah before, and she's never concealed her many disagreements with his politics. This time, however, he refused outright to let her speak, resorting even to violent threats. Despite the footage from the TV studio, many people online claim that Sirmed provoked the fight. Her supporters, meanwhile, are pushing back:

You responded to him so now why are you pretending to be innocent? aren't men and women equal?

Senator Sherry Rehman condemned the incident and echoed the public's demands for action against Senator Hamdullah:

The renowned women's rights activist Gulalai Ismail has demanded that Senator Hamdullah face legal penalties for threatening Sirmed. In a Facebook post, Ismail shared her anger and frustration about the senator's behavior:

Mullah Hafiz Hamdullah has not just used “derogatory sexist language”, through his statement he has given rape threat to Marvi Sirmed and to her mother. Through is statement, he is reinforcing that being a man having the power of a religious political party at his back, he can rape women and beat women at his disposal. He should not just be banned from media, he should be put in jail for life time because he is a threat to all women.

An earlier version of this post referred to Senator Hamdullah as Hamdani, the error has been fixed and post updated with the correct name.


  • Akbar Mohamadzai

    Yeh to harraamzada suwar ka bacha hey. Isse ulta taang ker kode lagane chahiye

  • denis

    What do you expect? This religion of hate called Islam has no limits to its depravity. On live TV it threatens a woman with rape. In Islam women are to be seen and not heard, have one purpose in life, reproduction, preferably males. I wonder if Muslim men are very fearful of women, especially educated women because they have a superior intellect to idiots like this idiot.

    • brez brez

      Denis , Hamdullah is no example of a common Muslim man but infact the opposite who has allowed himself to be swamped by entirely false and distortions of Islam, because they play into the weak ego of man. Christian and Hindu fundamentalists beliefs as regards the (their degraded) concept on the status of women are no different, if not much worse. I will point out to you that the eminent literary scholar Allama Iqbal remarked that had he not known the Quran to be written by God(ALLAH) SWT he would have thought it was written by a WOMAN such is the revolutionary respect it grants towards women(provided it is read and interpreted correctly and with an intention to abide by PURE TRUTH).

      • AbbyAtheist

        My problem is when the “common” Muslim man does nothing when the extremists like Hafiz Hamdullah act out. The same as when the extremists bomb and kill it is the moderates that do nothing to control these members of their own religion. Because, I think, any Muslim would rather side with another Muslim than someone of another faith or of no faith. Even at the expense of a life or many lives.

        • Amur El Bey

          Did you not just see all the Twitter posts of people condemning it, with one of them asking him to be prison for life.

          I mean shit what else do you want them to do? Storm into his house and put his head on a spike?

          Also with that logic, one could argue about all the “common” Christians that do nothing while Western governments tortures and bombs civilians and who aren’t guilty of any crime. I mean shit the torture programs conducted by the US is public knowledge at this point and still nothing has been done.

          With that logic, I could say “Americans will side with Americans, even at the expensive of a life or many lives”. If your statement is true, then my statement is even more so. Don’t forget about the millions of civilians that were killed in Iraq (a war under false pretenses) and the various drone strikes that kill hundreds to thousands of civilians every year just so we can get rid of a handful of terrorist targets.

          Also before you start throwing out the “Muslim apologist!” assertions, you need to know that I’m staunchly an Atheist. However, I greatly dislike the fact that you’re getting on your self-righteous pedestal and acting as all Muslims are to blame for the actions of a few. Because one you start turning that logic on ourselves, you won’t like the implications it has for us.

          • USAMNESIA

            I think by Thoreau’s wisdom, the majority of Americans..with their anesthetized complicity towards illegal wars… would be incarcerated.

            “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place
            for a just man is also in prison.”

          • AbbyAtheist

            So the only two options for you are to bitch on twitter or storm his house and put his head on a spike? Complaining on twitter is the same as praying, they do nothing. If there are so many Muslims against the extremists then why are the extremists still in power in so many Muslim countries, or running their mosques?

          • What further proof do we need that Islamophobes don’t even read? The article clearly shows that outrage followed the man’s threats. This happens in the West as well. There have been enough scandals in the past few years to speak for themselves. That bigots want to make this about Islam vs West rather than a GLOBAL tolerance of rape is why these men – and they’re usually men – are no allies to any women’s cause.

            I grew up Catholic and the nuns who taught me at school used to tell me that sometimes honor killings is justified.

            And I’m an Atheist as well. I’m just sick of self-righteous atheists who think they’re so much better than everyone else. Last time I checked, Atheist men rape as well.

            If you want to be an ally of the cause, you shut the f- up and listen to what people are actually saying about their problems. You’re not their savior. In fact, men are more often than not a huge part of the problem. So some basic modesty is required here to dilute the massive amount of bullshit that comes out of the vast majority of Islam-related topics, and I say ‘Islam-related topics’ with as much sarcasm as possible since this is a male problem, not a Muslim male problem exclusively.

          • AbbyAtheist

            Outrage doesn’t mean action. And as I said above. Bitching on twitter is like praying, it does nothing.

          • surj

            Amur El Bey …Ever heard of ”al-taqiyya ” ?

        • troglodave

          You appear to have a conformation bias that is preventing you from seeing that regular Muslims are speaking out against people like Hamdullah.

          That’s exactly what Marvi Sirmed was doing, yet you conveniently choose to ignore this, as it doesn’t fit your agenda.

        • Sam Weintraub

          No, your problem is that you make judgments on the basis of your thoughts and your feelings without regard for facts. And it is a fact that Muslims aren’t doing nothing in response to extremism. Do you know why? Because
          “common” Muslims are the ones who suffer the most from it.

          Exponentially more Muslims die at the hands of terrorists than any other demographic group. I’ll include a link at the bottom but Google “Muslims against terrorism” or “Muslims against ISIS” and do your own research. The reason you don’t see this is because it doesn’t garner mainstream headlines, and you obviously don’t look for the information. And although many Muslims do condemn terrorism, which contrary to your belief does happen in American media and elsewhere, they are neither in control of nor responsible for the actions of other Muslims. What you think about the matter is inconsequential because you blatantly lack objectivity on the subject.

        • brez brez

          I would have to say that you are evidently wrong. All Muslim majority countries have anti-terrorism policies in place which they have enacted. The problem is that the lack of safeguards and deterrents in place against the hypocritical leadership in some of these countries and their obscene ties with the extreme terrorist countries such as Israel and/or foriegn policies of European states which have been sucked bloodless and spineless by a cowardly Israel that cannot fight its own dirty wars on its own.

          • AbbyAtheist

            See my other replies please. I just don’t think the Muslim people are doing enough. I believe they love their religion more than they do their fellow humans.

      • lemmie40

        Mohammed was 53 years old when he consummated his marriage to AIsha. She was ten. I can’t think of any