Who would have thought shaving was considered blasphemy in some Islamic circles, but apparently it is. At least in Pakistan, where Gillette (a leading global manufacturer of shaving gear) learned the hard way. Gillette Pakistan had organized a promotional event to see how many men could shave at the same time, which apparently did not go over too well with the Islamic fundamentalist faction in that country. I suppose they didn’t expect too much controversy since Gillette had just sponsored a similar competition in Mumbai where 1,700 people took part. A rather silly idea, in my opinion but who am I to judge. Marketing mavens have their various creative ideas on how to market products and they felt this probably was a great way of promoting their razors.
So, the Pakistan competition looked as if it would outdo the Mumbai event, since more than 2,600 people had showed up at the venue where the competition was to have take place. All the men at the Expo Centre had their shaving kits in hand, and were poised to begin when the event was suddenly cancelled because of protests and threats.
It seems the Jamaat-ut Dawah (JuD) organisation, although banned, in addition to various other religious parties, decided it was unIslamic to shave so they managed to forcefully stop the competition.
Just as the event was about to get underway, JuD activists forcibly entered the Expo Centre and disrupted the proceedings. They then staged a protest outside the Expo Centre and shouted slogans against the company.
“Anything contradictory to the principles of Islam would not be accepted in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” Qari Muhammad Usman told men who started converging at the centre. “It is blasphemous and the criminals should be punished.”
He also called on people to boycott the MNC and its products. According to the organisers more than 2,600 participants had entered the hall and the shaving kits had been distributed when some police officials and expo centre administration first switched off the lights of the hall and then informed the organisers that they could not be allowed to carry on with their work as the centres administrators had been constantly receiving threats from some unknown people.
Gillette and the organizers of the event, probably should have done some research before they went ahead with it in Karachi, given the prevailing conservatism in most of Pakistan. They will probably think twice before they ever try anything similar again.