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May 16, 2014

Wedding video causes 'blasphemy' controversy in Pakistan

Twitter users slam the country's Geo TV for showing the video, calling for the network to be banned.

'Utho Jago Pakistan - 14 May 2014'. Screenshot via YouTube

Pakistan's Geo TV is taking heat online after airing a video that many say is blasphemous. On Wednesday, the channel's 'Utho Jago Pakistan' morning show aired a video of popular actress Veena Malik's wedding, which was attended by show host Shaista Lodhi. The video featured rituals and celebrations performed to a traditional song about the wedding of Prophet Mohammad's daughter.

After a talk show host on a different network drew attention to Geo TV's segment, anger from both Sunni and Shia Muslims grew. Yesterday, an alliance of Sunni groups called on the Pakistani government to take Geo TV off the air, arguing that the manner in which the song was depicted was forbidden.

Despite apologies from Geo TV and the show's host, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a notice to the channel, seeking an immediate explanation as to why the content was aired. PEMRA said it had received more than 5,000 complaints relating to this segment. 

Online, many used #BlasphemyByGeo and #UnitedAgainstGeo to express anger over the decision of the morning show to air the content: