Televangelist

A Superstar Televangelist in Pakistan

The audience erupted as Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Pakistan’s premier televangelist, darted around the television studio, firing off questions about Islam. Children leapt from their seats, their mothers yelled answers, fathers strained forward, all hoping to catch the eye of Mr. Hussain, who worked the crowd like a circus ringmaster — cajoling, teasing, rewarding. The online TV show joins hug audience. Most of them belong to the low class

Mr. Hussain, 41, is a broadcasting sensation in Pakistan. His marathon transmissions during the recent holy month of Ramadan — 11 hours a day, for 30 days straight — offered viewers a kaleidoscopic mix of prayer, preaching, game shows and cookery, and won record ratings for his channel, Geo Entertainment.

Yet Mr. Hussain is also a deeply contentious figure, accused of using his television pulpit to promote hate speech and crackpot conspiracy theories.

In 2008 he hosted a show in which Muslim clerics declared that members of the Ahmadi community, a vulnerable religious minority, were “deserving of death.” Forty-eight hours later, two Ahmadi leaders, one of them an American citizen, had been shot dead in Punjab and Sindh Provinces.

Diego Ibarra Sánchez For THE NEW YORK TIMES 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/08/31/world/20120901-HUSSAIN.html