Delving deeper into the misery and murder of ‘Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian’- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Feminist. Disgrace. Martyr. Joke. Qandeel Baloch was called “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian”, the country’s first social media star – a figure of intense fascination and outrage, adored and reviled for posting videos of herself half undressed in bed, mocking mullahs and promising to perform a striptease for her viewers if Pakistan’s cricket team won a match. In 2016, the youngest of her six brothers, Waseem Azeem, strangled her while she slept, in a so-called honour killing. She was 26. Azeem was nonchalant when arrested. “You know what she was doing on Facebook,” he told the press.
In the book A Woman Like Her, an exemplary work of investigative journalism, Sanam Maher delves into the story of a woman as misunderstood in death as in life. Maher conducted hundreds of interviews – with Baloch’s family, the media, mullahs, feminist activists, experts in cybercrime – to indict the society that enabled and applauded Baloch’s murder.

Waseem Azeem (right) and his cousin are escorted by police as they arrive at a local court in Multan (AFP/Getty)

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Waseem Azeem and his associates killed Qandeel Baloch, Maher argues, but they did not act alone.

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In her videos, Baloch often affected an American accent. She claimed to be the pampered daughter of a rich landlord. In the days before her death, however, her real identity was revealed, and a starkly different reality emerged.

Baloch was born Fauzia Azeem, one of nine children raised in a poor village in Pakistan’s Punjab province. At 17, she was married off to her mother’s cousin. He beat and tortured her, and she fled with her young son to a women’s shelter. Her parents pleaded for her to return to her husband. Only when Baloch’s mother was preparing her daughter’s body for the funeral shroud did she see the cigarette burns on her arms.

Anwar Bibi, right, and Mohammad Azeem, left, mother and father of Baloch (AFP/Getty)

While in the shelter, Baloch relinquished her baby to her husband’s family. “I need to make my own life,” she told the supervisor. “Whatever I want to do, I cannot do it with a child hanging on to me. I’ll become helpless.” Her first brush with celebrity came when she auditioned for Pakistan Idol in 2013 and clips of her hysterics after being rejected from the show went viral. She began posting online in a persona that combined playfulness, a daffy, almost campy sexuality, intense vulnerability and plain oddness. “Guys, who want to watch my next nasty clip?” she might post, followed the next day by a video of herself crying, trying to twerk or complaining of a bad headache.

If you love me, I will always be in your heart. If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind
Qandeel Baloch

Her comment sections were horrifying places, filled with abuse and death threats: “If I find this woman alone, I would kill her right on spot”; “Finding a gun send me her address LOL.” Baloch would often dismiss the vitriol. “Love me or hate me, both are in my favour,” she posted on Facebook. “If you love me, I will always be in your heart. If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.” She could zero in on the hypocrisy of her viewers. (“You’re going to miss me when I’m gone,” she once posted. “You like to watch me, and then you like to say, ‘Why don’t you just die?’ ”) Other times she wept and wondered why her followers hated her.

Baloch’s 2013 ‘Pakistan Idol’ audition went viral and served as the launch for her online presence (Pakistani Idol)

In the spring of 2016, Baloch appeared on a comedy show with the cleric Abdul Qavi. A few months later, she posted photographs of them together in a hotel room, her wearing his cap. “Yayyyy,” she posted on Twitter. “Having memorable time with #mufti Abdul Qavi.” A media furor erupted, and Baloch’s real identity was discovered and publicised. There were rumors of a fatwa. Baloch spoke fearfully of her brothers and worried she might have to go underground. A month later, she was dead.

 ‘What kind of place created a woman like Qandeel?’

There’s every temptation to sentimentalise and simplify Baloch. Maher notes how easily her story slotted into certain news narratives, like the way international media lauded Baloch for giving “voice to a generation of Pakistani women”. But the more the author followed the story, the less appealing, ethical and useful such projections and generalisations seemed.

Supporters shower rose petals on Islamic cleric mufti Abdul Qavi (right) after he is acquitted by the court of involvement in Baloch’s murder (AFP/Getty)

Baloch cannot speak for herself, and Maher allows her to remain elusive, a figure who fashioned her public face out of truth, yearning and exaggeration, and who possessed a dogged insistence on living her life on her own terms. Her book attempts to tell a broader story exploring the fractures opened in Pakistan by social media, which offers and even encourages a kind of freedom and daring of self-presentation that exist in deep conflict with a conservative society. “What kind of place created a woman like Qandeel?” Maher asks. “Why did her story receive such great attention? Why are we still so fascinated by her, and when we watched her videos or saw her latest photograph, what was her image reflecting back to us?”

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In the wake of Baloch’s murder, the loophole in the honour-killing law allowing family members to pardon killers (often relatives) has been closed. In September, Waseem Azeem was sentenced to life in prison, and one of Baloch’s older brothers has now been extradited from Saudi Arabia for his involvement in the crime. Others accused of being conspirators have been released, however, as was Abdul Qavi, who was accused of inciting the murder. Supporters showered him with rose petals as he left the court.
In 2017, it was announced that Pakistani actress Saba Qamar would star in a television special about Baloch’s life. A trailer was posted online; the comments that followed were swift and chilling: “Saba Qamar should also be murdered in the same way.”
© New York Times

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Amazon’s ‘Carnival Row’ mixes fairies, politics and murder – gpgmail


“Carnival Row” offers an unlikely mix of genres, laying out a murder mystery in a world of fairies and other mythical creatures, while also delivering a healthy dose of allegorical politics.

And as we explain in the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, the show (recently released on Amazon Prime Video) does take some getting used to. There’s a certain clumsiness in the way the opening episode insists on its grittiness and adult themes — and most viewers will probably need some time before they stop gawking at the fairy sex and focus instead on the story and characters.

Once they do, though, “Carnival Row” offers plenty of rewards. Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star as Philo and Vignette — a police investigator and a “fae” refugee, respectively, who have a complicated romantic past together. Bloom and Delevingne may not be entirely up to the task of creating complex and memorable characters, but the world that creators Travis Beacham and René Echavarria have built around them is rich, detailed and strange.

The pair is also surrounded by a strong supporting cast that includes Jared Harris (“The Crown”) and Indira Varma (“Game of Thrones”) — and ultimately, the fantasy, the politics and the mystery do come together in satisfying ways.

In addition to reviewing “Carnival Row,” we also discuss YouTube’s settlement with the FTC and listener response to last week’s review of “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.”

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Introduction
2:11 “Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” listener response
15:03 “Carnival Row” review (minor spoilers for the first episode)
33:47 “Carnival Row” spoiler discussion


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