Saturday 3 May 2014

Molly is no Malala

Did you see Gavin Esler’s interview with the real life mother and daughter as well as the author  of a play based on the alleged kidnapping of ‘Molly Campbell’ aka ‘Misbah Rana’ by her Pakistani father?

Gavin Esler announced it with such glee that one immediately knew that any dubious and negative Islam-related aspersions from the past were about to be dispelled.

In 2006, the story was all about the alleged kidnapping by the father of 12-year-old Molly, with ominous mutterings about forced marriages and such. The mother gave tearful interviews from Scotland, and Molly was shown in Pakistan wearing a headscarf, denouncing her mother, disowning the name ‘Molly’ and insisting that she was now to be known as Misbah. 

Well, it seems that Pakistan was less of a paradise than expected and Misbah has since reverted to Scotland, her mother and her old name. 

The play, “My name is.....” (Not Rachel Corrie) was written by playwright Sudha Bhuchar. It was based on interviews with the people involved and it has gone down rather well with the real life characters it portrays.

Gavin Esler spent the bulk of the interview fawning over Ms Bhuchar, who was almost as as eager to promote her play as was Gav. 

To a disinterested onlooker, the whole lot comes across as an embarrassing media muddle.
Molly is no Malala. Embracing Islam was not part of her agenda, nor was feminism, Islamism, Scottish  independence, or the price of cabbages. She was ‘just a little girl’. 

In 2006 the media turned a small-scale cultural clash into a mini circus, and it’s probably being exacerbated at this very moment by being romanticised, dramatised and promoted by the likes of Gavin Esler.

I have not seen the play nor do I have any intention of doing so. Glossing over the troubling elements of this tale and railroading the protagonists into faux celebrityhood might generate publicity for Sudha Bhuchar and commercially or politically interested parties, but I doubt whether the hapless individuals at the heart of the matter will be the beneficiaries in the long run, and I hope this threesome isn’t about to do the rounds because I’ve seen enough of them already.

Anyway the whole affair was and is exploited and no doubt misinterpreted by everyone including myself. I only started thinking about it because of Gavin Esler’s exaggerated attempts to make life in Pakistan sound like a bed of roses.

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