Blaming women for rise in rape, calling Bin Laden martyr: A look back at Imran Khan’s most controversial comments

From calling Osama Bin Laden a 'martyr', to comparing himself to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler; here is a look back at some of the controversial comments Pakistani PM Imran Khan has made over the years.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan courted controversy after he blamed how women dress for a rise in rape cases. In an interview this weekend, Khan alleged that the increase in rapes and sexual violence was the result of a rise in “vulgarity”, which he described as a Western import.

“The incidents of rape of women… (have) actually very rapidly increased in society,” he said. To prevent temptation, he advised women to cover up. His comments sparked a storm on social media, with hundreds signing an online petition calling his statements, “factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous”, AFP reported.

Khan also said that similar things are happening in India after the film industry started taking inspiration from Hollywood. “Delhi has now become a rape capital,” he added.

His comments drew a sharp reaction from activists and human rights groups in Pakistan. Filmmaker and Khan’s former wife, Jemima Goldsmith tweeted: “I’m hoping this is a misquote/mistranslation. The Imran I knew used to say, ‘Put a veil on the man’s eyes not on the woman’.”

This is not the first time Khan has come under fire for his controversial comments.

Here is a look back at some of his statements that have sparked a backlash over the years:

Imran Khan criticised after calling Osama Bin Laden a ‘martyr’

Last year, the Pakistani Prime Minister faced backlash from opposition MPs after he said that the US had “martyred” Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist behind the 9/11 attacks, who was killed by US special forces in Abbottabad in 2011.

“I will never forget how we Pakistanis were embarrassed when the Americans came into Abbottabad and killed Osama Bin Laden, martyred him,” Khan said in parliament. He was immediately slammed by Opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, who called Bin Laden an “ultimate terrorist”.

To defend his policies, Khan compares himself to Hitler and Napoleon

Criticised for taking constant U-turns on a number of issues, Prime Minister Khan once compared himself with Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and French leader Napolean Bonaparte, claiming that he was much smarter than the two leaders.

“Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte would not have suffered losses in wars in Russia if they had taken U-turns. Leaders should always be ready to take U-turns according to the requirement of their duties and best interests of the nation. One who doesn’t take decisions according to the demand of the situation is not a true leader,” he said in 2018. Critics in Pakistan attacked Khan for the comment.

“Hitler was a dictator. By giving his example, Khan has proved that he is inspired by Hitler and wants to be a dictator like him,” senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Syed Khurshed Shah said.

Cleric blames women for Covid-19 outbreak, Imran refuses to step in

At a live telethon to raise funds for Pakistan’s battle against Covid last year, influential cleric Maulana Tariq Jameel blamed the shamelessness of women for the debilitating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. PM Khan, who was hosting the telethon, faced criticism when he refused to refute the cleric’s claims.

‘No mention of Jesus in history,’ says Khan

Prime Minister Khan stirred up a storm on social media when a video of him surfaced in which he stated that there was no mention of Jesus Christ in recorded history. “There is no mention of Jesus Christ (Hazrat Eesa) in any books of history,” he said at an event in Lahore.

“Moses got some mention, but Jesus Christ has no mention in history,” he added.

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