Peshawar cinemas in bad shape after Friday riots -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Peshawar cinemas in bad shape after Friday riots

By: Sadia Qasim Shah

PESHAWAR: Friday’s riots sparked by production of an anti-Islam film in the US came as a serious blow to the provincial capital’s moribund cinemas. Violent mobs stormed Shabistan, Shama and Naz cinemas and tried to set them on fire.

Capital Cinema, which was set up shortly after the country’s independence, too, was not spared. Protesters caused considerable damage to it. Capital Cinema owner Khalid Saeed, who has been running the business of his forefathers, complained of huge damage to his property and business.

“We pay tax to the government and it is its responsibility to provide us and our businesses with protection. But on Friday, the government and its law-enforcement agencies miserably failed to do their duty,” he said.

According to him, his cinema pays around Rs5,000 tax to the government for a show and that is in addition to lots of other taxes.

Cinemas in the provincial capital have been a victim of technological advancement, especially availability of films on low-priced CDs and DVDs. Screening of indecent films has also kept people, especially families, away from cinemas.

Dwindling business has forced many to demolish cinemas, especially those on prime location, and build commercial plazas for fat profits. Until now, Falak Sair, Metro, Palwasha and Ishrat cinemas have been demolished, while the rest are struggling to survive.

Mr Saeed said, “Our Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) never hurt anyone, so I don’t understand why these people (who stepped out for voicing their love for him) were so violent that they destroyed businesses adversely affecting the livelihood of scores of people.”

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Traders Association secretary general Shaukat Ali said almost 16 shops in the city were looted on Friday. He said protesters tried to break into jewelry shop but timely intervention by police blocked them.

“Some miscreants joined protesters to loot shops. It’s a sad thing as it sent a negative message about us all to the world,” he said. Mr Ali said his association was assessing losses caused by Friday’s riots in the province.