Fact-check: Ansar Abbasi and the Aurat March disinformation campaignAbdul Gh Lone 11 March 2021 0 COMMENTS
Journalist Ansar Abbasi has posted a series of tweets against slogans and placards at Aurat March 2021. His comments emerged shortly after a disinformation campaign was carried out against the Aurat March organisers on Twitter.
Here are his tweets:
Screenshot: Ansar AbbasiAbbasi made the claim that some “very dangerous” content has come out of Aurat March, and he asked the government to take action against those responsible for creating it. He did not, however, clarify what exactly was the dangerous content, but he quoted some tweets that have been accusing the march of blasphemy.
We fact-checked claims by some anti-march people, and found them to be incorrect.
Participants didn’t hold the French flag
Some people claimed on Twitter that Aurat March participants were holding a French flag, and accused them of subscribing to what they described as a “foreign agenda”.
The French flag has blue, white and red stripes. The participants at Aurat March were holding a flag with red, white and purple stripes. This is the flag of the Women Democratic Front, the main organisers of the marches in various cities.
The WDF flag represents grassroots feminism in Pakistan and has nothing to do with the French flag. We, at WDF, stand against all forms of imperialism and the accusation that we would ever wave the flag of a former colonial power is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/oZIjDB8XGu
— Women Democratic Front #AuratAzadiMarch2021 (@wdf_pk) March 10, 2021
Related: Fact-check: No, Aurat Marchers were not holding a French flag
There was no blasphemy
A photo of a placard about child abuse has gone viral. But in no time some people on Twitter labelled it as blasphemous. Aurat March has clarified that it was a placard that described the ordeal of a child survivor of rape questioning the lack of justice. It said, in Urdu, ‘I was 9, he was 50. I was silenced. But his voice is still heard as he delivers the call to prayer’.
Statement by Aurat March Lahore condemning slander against the march.#AuratMarch2021 #AuratMarchLahore pic.twitter.com/Mq0IFNTe6I
— عورت مارچ لاہور – Aurat March Lahore (@AuratMarch) March 10, 2021
There were no blasphemous slogans
A video with doctored audio has been doing the rounds on Twitter. Aurat March organisers were quick to share the original video, which asked for azadi from all forces oppressing women. The audio was doctored to make “Ansar” and “Orya” sound like something else. Ansar and Orya Maqbool Jan, who is a columnist and a guest on TV shows, routinely face criticism that they give sexist views on TV. Every year, they criticise this and accuse organisers of working on a foreign and anti-Islam agenda. They have provided no proof of their accusations yet.
To clarify, Aurat March wrote down the exact slogans.
جب آزادی کے نعرے گونجے:
ماہی گیر کا نعرہ، ڈاکٹر کا نعرہ سندھی کا نعرہ، بلوچ کا نعرہپشتون کا نعرہ، گلگت کا نعرہ پنجاب بھی مانگے، یہ سندھی مانگے آزادیبلوچ بھی مانگے آزادیپشتون بھی مانگے آزادیہر عورت مانگے ہر مزدور مانگے آزادیکسان مانگے آزادیہر بچہ مانگے آزادی pic.twitter.com/dWPNA2CZJR
— Aurat March – عورت مارچ (@AuratMarchKHI) March 10, 2021
Ansar Abbasi, based on tweets making these accusations, has asked for a ban on Aurat March. But the Lahore High Court dismissed a petition for exactly this last year.
Just to add, you cannot ban Aurat March. They tried to ban it last year through petitions, the Lahore and Islamabad High Courts DISMISSED THEM and said that it is our constitutional right to march. Are you against the constitution? https://t.co/RojPVAaJle
— main aap ki behan nahin (@shmyla) March 11, 2021
Abbasi asked for the government to ask the FIA to investigate the march. Digital rights expert Farieha Aziz asked what authority the federal government had to tell the FIA to investigate something.
With what authority should Fed Govt “hand over” this issue to the FIA, which at least on paper is supposed to operate as an indepedent investigation agency designated under PECA’16, dutybound to act in accordance with law & procedures laid down in Act, not directions of Fed Govt.
— Farieha Aziz (@FariehaAziz) March 11, 2021
What’s the FIA’s responsibility as per law? To entertain complaints from govt/others against march organisers & participants or act on complaints against those doctoring videos, circulating them to mislead about march, resulting in rape & death threats & blasphemy accusations?
— Farieha Aziz (@FariehaAziz) March 11, 2021
Previous criticism and reactions
Ansar Abbasi has repeatedly flagged to the government information or phenomena which he deems to be vulgar. Last year, for example, he asked the prime minister to take notice of a show on PTV in which a male fitness coach guided or coached a woman on the correct way to lift weights.
Mr PM @ImranKhanPTI this is PTV. @AsimSBajwa @shiblifaraz pic.twitter.com/hpoTxEF4TJ
— Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) September 21, 2020
In 2019, he accused Aurat March of encouraging women to rebel against the family system in Pakistan, in response to a placard which read,”How would I know where your socks are”.
عورتوں کے حقوق کی نام پر گھروں کو اُجاڑنے کی مہم چلائی جا رہی ہے۔ مغرب کے نہیں بلکہ اسلامی اصولوں کے مطابق معاشرہ کی تربیت کی ضرورت ہے۔ https://t.co/XB4ce2Cje4
— Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) March 8, 2019
Activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir asked Abbasi how he could share unverified videos when otherwise he, being an investigative journalist, can report on “whispers in closed rooms”.
اور اگر یہ جھوٹ ہے تو کیا کیا جائے؟ آپ سینئر صحافی ہیں بند کمروں کی سرگوشیاں بھی رپورٹ کر دیتے ہیں مگر یہاں کھلے میدان میں لگنے والے نعروں کی تحقیق کئے بغیر آپ نے گرفتاری اور پابندی کے مطالبات کرنا شروع کردیئے۔ اسی لئے عورتیں ایسی صحافت اور ایسے صحافیوں سے آزاری مانگ رہی ہیں۔ https://t.co/CO7MTVvRmX
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) March 11, 2021