A privately operated children’s grammar school in Karachi was scheduled to allow a student performance of the 1971 John Lennon song ‘Imagine’. The song which was both beloved and controversial at the time of its release offers a simplified version of a Marxist world view in which earthly equality is matched by a collective rejection of religion.
The atheistic content of the lyrics proved too controversial for many religious parents of children at the school. After a peaceful campaign to remove the song from the student performance, the school announced that the song would not be performed.
The campaign against the song of the slain peace activist and former Beatle was led by journalist Ansar Abbasi.
Pakistani conservatives so offended by lyrics of John Lennon's Imagine, its only a matter of time before someone gets lynched for singing it pic.twitter.com/R2XksiL4jx
— Fahad Desmukh (@desmukh) August 25, 2017
Ansar Abbasi Tweeted the news of the song’s cancellation to his followers as a celebration of the power of peaceful protest, something which he as a religious Muslim and Lennon as an atheist had in common.
Good news. Following protest from students, school has dropped controversial lyrics of the song. Peaceful protest matters. https://t.co/hzfa96Zxdh
— Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) August 24, 2017
Although many parents supported Ansar Abbasi’s campaign, a former student of the school, Daanika Kama had a different take. She stated,
“We were introduced to (‘Imagine’) by the school. It was always a song of peace, that’s why it resonated with us. When you live in a country like Pakistan and are constantly hearing about attacks it is really soothing to hear a song that unites us”.
The head of the school in Pakistan is a British citizen, Dr. C.E. Wall. In the UK, secular and even anti-religious music has often replaced religious music during major public events as well as in schools.
Below is the original version of the controversial song.