Mahira to Sonam: Celebrities speak truth to power as Palestinian death toll climbs to 2,670
Authorities in Gaza said at least 2,670 Palestinians had so far been killed by Israel’s brutal retaliatory strikes, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 wounded. Another 1,000 people were missing and believed to be under rubble, as per reports by AFP and Reuters. More than one million people have fled their homes in Gaza in scenes of chaos and despair as Israel bombarded the besieged territory and continued massing troops in preparation for a full-blown ground invasion.
In response to the escalating violence, various Pakistani celebrities have taken a stand by participating in or sharing insights about protests held both within Pakistan and on an international scale.
Actor Osman Khalid Butt took to Twitter to criticize world leaders for either maintaining a neutral stance amidst a genocide or speaking passively about what’s happening in Palestine, as though it has self-combust without ever mentioning Israel. Sharing a tweet by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Butt urged, “Can the world leaders stop with the passive voice now that Israel’s lies stand exposed, when there is overwhelming evidence about the genocide and war crimes being committed, when entire Palestinian bloodlines are being wiped out?”
Renowned actor Mahira Khan shared a post offering a visual of a child against the backdrop of bombing and bloodshed in Palestine. The post was captioned, “I wish I could hide you in my heart when the bombs fell.” To this, Mahira, commented, “I wish, I wish, I wish.”
Armeena Khan shared images of a protest for Palestine in Canada. The protest also marked a first for her recently born daughter. She wrote in the caption, “Amelie at her first protest with dada, standing up for all the babies brutalised. Children are innocent, they need to be spared. May I never know it but I’m pretty sure losing a child is the WORST pain in the world that I wish on NO parent.”
Host Anoushey Ashraf held a Q&A session with her fans to inquire about what’s bothering them. When a user wrote, “war in Palestine,” Anoushey commented, “The suffering we’ve witnessed over the past few days is beyond comprehension. Imagine experiencing everything firsthand. What’s more disturbing is the deafening silence of the world ‘leaders’. This will go down in history as the new age holocaust. The oppressed have become the oppressors. They’ve learned nothing. The tide will turn, the dust will settle but only our spirit of resistance will remain. Don’t let the spirit die, carry the cause of the oppressed in your hearts forever. That is the only victory we need. Reminds me of Imam’s Hussayn’s fight in Karbala. Lives were lost, but the fight for what’s right, the truth won. He won. Our cause won. Palestine will win for it will always be alive in the hearts of people.” In a separate Story, she shared a post reading, “The devil works hard but Israel’s propaganda team works harder.” Alongside this, she wrote “Marketing, marketing, marketing.”
Singer Arooj Aftab emphasized the importance of compassion and support for the affected regions. She also called out brands, corporations and music industry giants for letting their malice show. “Great, thank you corporations, brands and music industry giants for letting everyone know what side you’re on,” she wrote in an IG Story. “For everyone else, to effectively not be a genocide monger, please call your representatives and government officials and ask for the immediate halt and de-escalation of all violence and bombings and militant/military activity. Allow entry for humanitarian aid and assistance. Allow for the protection of people across the whole region.”
Actors Ushna Shah and Saba Qamar stood in solidarity with Palestine, showcasing the global support for the Palestinian cause and reiterating the importance of unity in the face of injustice. Actor Adnan Malik shared a video of a protest for Palestine held in London. The post declared, “When we said ‘never again’ after the holocaust, we meant never again for anyone.”
Director Sarmad Khoosat shared a heart-wrenching account of a father in war-torn Gaza about how he exchanged his children with that of his brother’s, in hopes that that one of each of them would survive in case a bomb drops on their houses. Khoosat lamented, “A million piece – my heart.” Actor, model and plastic surgeon Fahad Mirza shared a Story as well. “As we get on with our routine lives today, remember today a whole population of human beings is being exterminated at the same time!”
Indian actor Sonam Kapoor, in a surprising move, shared pro-Palestine posts, despite her home country’s neutral stance. One was a picture with the caption: “Half of the people in Gaza are children.” The other one was a quote from a New York Times article written by Nicholas Kristof which condemned the one-sided apathy towards Palestinian children. “If we owe a moral responsibility to Israeli children, we owe the same moral responsibility to Palestinian children. Their lives have equal weight. If you care about human life only in Israel or Gaza, then you don’t actually care about human life.”
Model Gigi Hadid emphasized the humanitarian aspect of the conflict, pointing out the importance of distinguishing criticism of the Israeli government from antisemitism. She stressed the need for empathy and acknowledgment of the suffering endured by the Palestinian people. “There is nothing Jewish about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. Condemning the Israeli government is not antisemitic and supporting Palestinians is not supporting Hamas.” And another post reading, “How privileged are we to get to sleep tonight while 3 million of our brothers and sisters are being bombed without food, water or electricity.”