Earlier this week, a picture shared on Twitter triggered the anger of many Pakistani users. One look at the controversial image will reveal just why.
The image in question shows a banner with a deeply insensitive and classist message. It is allegedly displayed at Centaurus Mall, a posh shopping mall located in Islamabad.
The picture is reportedly from the resident entrance of the mall. A lawyer and talk show host Abdul Moiz Jaferii posted it online.
In the image, the poster appears that a public service announcement is telling affluent mall visitors how their lower-income counterparts, despite their poverty and lack of status, manage to follow the safety precautions of COVID-19. The poster shows a woman and her child using eaves as face masks.
We find it hard to believe that this poster went through a vetting process before being displayed and no one saw anything wrong with it. Shame people for not wearing masks all you like, but this picture had no business being included.
The implication is, of course, that being poor reduces the likelihood of being responsible. As the Twitter users noticed the poster’s ignorant and dehumanizing message, many voiced their anger at its classist tone. PPP Senator Sherry Rehman called out the “poverty-trashing caption”.
Twittersphere voices its anger
It was rightly pointed out by one user that lessons can be imparted without degrading individuals or entire social groups in the process.
Former finance minister Miftah Ismail was clearly disturbed by what he saw as well, as were many others.
Another Twitter user also closely captured the offensive poster on camera.
The poster is both dehumanizing and classist since it implies that people who see the poster must somehow be “better” than those pictured in it, and with their money, they are obliged to act responsibly and civically.
Centaurus Mall has embroiled itself in controversies previously as well. The mall implemented a fee for entering and shopping within its premises in 2015. In a public notice, the mall administration included an exhaustive list of individuals who would be exempt from paying the fee. Among those excluded were anyone who could easily afford the fee. More so, the mall later decided to increase the entry fee and made it non-refundable.
If the mall’s management wants to make a point, next time they should use their own pictures to do so. There is no need to unfairly criticize other people in an attempt to shame your patrons into acting responsibly.
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