Geo lowers profile after blasphemy row
ISLAMABAD: Geo Television station said it was ramping up security on Tuesday after it became the object of dozens of blasphemy accusations for airing allegedly blasphemous song during a morning show with an actress.
The television is scrubbing logos off its vans and limiting staff movements after receiving scores of threats over allegedly blasphemous content, said channel president Imran Aslam.
“This is a well-orchestrated campaign,” he told Reuters. “This could lead to mob violence.” Scores of people accused of blasphemy have been lynched by mobs and Aslam said despite broadcasting apologies, the station had received threats to kill journalists and their families.
The accusations follow Geo’s high-profile tussle with spy agency, whom it accused of shooting one of its most popular anchors last month. The station did not support its accusations with evidence and later back-pedalled. But a national poster campaign was launched proclaiming support for the military and denouncing the station. Cable operators pulled Geo from their content.
That controversy had barely died down when Geo was engulfed by a flood of blasphemy accusations over a show it carried last week. On Monday, Islamabad High Court accepted a petition brought by a lawyer representing a group of clerics affiliated with the Red Mosque in the capital.
Advocate Tariq Asad said his suit named the singers and writers of the song, cable operators, television regulators, a national council of clerics and ARY, a rival television station. ARY repeatedly broadcast clips of the morning show, alleging it was blasphemous, an action that Asad said was blasphemous in itself. Judges frequently do not want to hear evidence in blasphemy cases because the repetition of evidence could be a crime. Judges acquitting those accused of blasphemy have been attacked; a defence lawyer representing a professor accused of blasphemy was killed this month.