The editor-in-chief of Newsweek Pakistan has issued a series of tweets minimising child sexual abuse and making lewd comments to female critics.
Fasih Ahmed, a former staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, tweeted: “The sexual abuse of children will always exist. You can never eliminate it. Sometimes it leads to great art. So there’s also that.”
The comment was Ahmed’s take on the current furore in Pakistan surrounding the rape and murder of 12 children as young as 6 years old by a serial killer in the city of Kasur.
The 40-year-old’s response to the inevitable backlash was combative, with one female critic being told: “I’m glad you were raised on the healthy cum of your male family members.”
The Newsweek journalist also appeared to think it was a good thing that the killer’s victims were all female, tweeting: “On the bright side, at least he’s straight.”
He explained, “Straight better than not. From an Islamic perspective” in another tweet, adding: “Men are superior than women in Islam. Damaging boys who become men would ruin society as we know it.”
Ahmed also made light of rape more generally, joking,”Rape by, say, Tom Cruise is everyone’s dream come true”, and suggesting that sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein would be rape but sexual assault by cricketer Imran Khan would not be, “because one is ugly and one isn’t.”
Asked if he would make the same comments about child abuse producing “great art” regarding slavery, Ahmed asserted: “Slavery did lead to incredible art. No questions there”.
The tone of Ahmed’s tweets was so extreme that many observers suspected his account had been hacked, but hours after the online tirade began neither Newsweek nor Newsweek Pakistan had put out a statement to that effect.
Breitbart London contacted several senior Newsweek Media Group executives, who could only say that they were “investigating”.
Some time later, the publisher put out a statement distancing itself from Ahmed, and saying that the company would be “reviewing” its licensing agreement with Newsweek Pakistan.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) January 24, 2018
The Lahore Literary Festival with which Ahmed is associated has also distanced itself from him, announcing he “has recused himself from the LLF and the Board has unanimously accepted his resignation” on January 24th.
Shortly afterwards, the journalist attempted to climb down in a public apology, writing of his now-deleted messages: “My tweets of yesterday were coming from anger, were poorly phrased, and misread. I’m sorry to have upset the people who have survived child abuse. I have been angry at the conspiracy of silence around this evil. #MeToo #StopChildAbuse”