Wife of Pakistan Opposition Leader Faces Religious Backlash For Cooking Sausages


Religious conservatives in Pakistan have criticised the new wife of opposition leader and former cricket player Imran Khan after footage emerged of her cooking and selling pork sausages, the Times reports.

Reham Kahn, a Muslim who worked as a television weather presenter for BBC regional news programme ‘South Today’, was filmed as part of a package for the programme’s coverage of the South of England Show in 2011.

As part of the feature filmed at the fair in Ardingly, West Sussex, Mrs Kahn is taught by David Bell, who is twice Britain’s national sausage making champion and owner of Bangers Galore in the nearby town of Horsham.

The film has been circulated and widely viewed in Pakistan in recent days, along with clips of her wearing revealing outfits.

But Mr Bell, who was the main subject of the sausage clip, spoke out against the controversy saying it was ridiculous.

“She didn’t actually eat any of the sausages” he pointed out.

Islam strictly forbids the eating and handling of pork under its religious laws and the footage has caused anger among conservatives who say the film shows her handling the meat, and therefore breaking the law.

The couple have already been criticised for having a lavish wedding ceremony at the beginning of the year, only weeks after 150 children and teachers were slaughtered at the Army Public School in Peshawar. The killings, which were the work of Islamic fundamentalists, took place in December in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of  the country, of which Peshawar is the capital.

Mr Khan is the chairman of the opposition party in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which controls the region where the country’s worst ever terrorist attack took place.

During a disastrous PR trip to the school which has reopened following the deaths of 132 children, the couple were met with cries of ‘Go, Imran, Go’.

One mother at the event explained the response by the local community, saying they felt the wedding was badly timed and insensitive, taking the spotlight away from what had happened at the school.

“For one whole day, the [media] showed [Imran Khan’s] wedding and valima [wedding banquet]” she said.

“They were not showing anything about the children anymore. Nobody cares and he came to visit after a month.”

Others took a more cynical view and accused the former cricketer-turned-politician of using his visit to the grief stricken town ‘to show fake prayers and condolences’.

But Mr Khan told parents that he respected their demonstrations, adding: “I fully understand their grief. They have lost children.”

And his wife was staunch in the face of criticism over her career, saying telling a Pakistani TV channel “Being a woman, you are a target for jealousy.

“To be honest, I never thought I’d come back to Pakistan and I never thought I’d have any contact with Pakistanis. Life has its own force,” she said.