Christian Betzmann says Pakistan needs to accept constructive criticism in his non-apology

Published 24 May, 2021 02:15pm

Images Staff

He also says he left Zoya Nasir, not the other way around.

German vlogger Christian Betzmann came under fire last week when he shared his opinions on the Palestinian crisis and Pakistanis protesting for deescalation and an immediate resolution to the crisis. When criticism against him reached its peak, his fiancée, actor Zoya Nasir, called off their engagement. Betzmann has finally responded to the controversy.

"First of all, this is not an apology," he said, calling it funny how people twist words for clout. "Pakistan has welcomed me with open arms," he said, echoing most white vloggers who have visited here, "and I'm forever grateful for that."

Betzmann said Pakistanis will adapt to his culture of honest criticism the way he had to adapt to theirs. He said the country is a third world country and that's where is criticism is rooted. Stating that he wants to see a better Pakistan, he argued that in order to do that "we have to accept the mistakes and find a way to fix them."

The recent Muslim convert also clarified that he never insulted any religion or its prayers. His point was to say that prayers are only as effective as the actions that go into their fruition, "especially when there's a war."

"When I had my shahada, I had learnt that Islam is the religion of peace, [but] when I see the social media comments from Pakistanis, I don't see peace, I see hate and violence," Betzmann said.

At the end he urged "we have to make sure we represent the religion in a positive way across the world."

He also spoke about the effort that goes into making YouTube videos; videos he makes because he cares for the country and wants to contribute to the improvement of its image globally.

"For my new video, I went to Orangi Town in Karachi, which is the biggest slum in the world. I was shooting in extreme pollution [and] heat to show you that even people in the slums are good people," Betzmann said.

Some might argue at it is not his responsibility to reveal to us how "good" our own people are, but then its also important to consider that the gap he's recognising is real.

The result of his efforts were, according to him, being bedridden for two days with food poisoning and fever. "If I didn't care about Pakistan, I would be sitting at home doing reaction videos," he said.

The German influencer's criticism of Pakistanis protesting and praying for Palestine was, quite obviously, not well received. It was viewed as a deeply problematic remark. Popular opinion maintained that it is indeed the people's responsibility, in light of a global information network tilted too much to one side, to speak up on the matter and highlight the plight of innocent Palestinians. Pakistanis also felt his criticism of Pakistan's poor infrastructure was unwarranted, though true, and fully known. TikTok star Romaisa Khan had a popular take on this.

This user also echoed public sentiment.

The comments didn't just affect his relationship with fiancée, but also his close friend fellow YouTuber Shahveer Jafry. Jafry came out in support of Nasir following her decision to call off their engagement.

"We're all with you, Zoya!" he proclaimed.

In a separate remark, replying to a YouTube comment, Betzmann addressed his parting with Nasir. When told that time will heal the hurt caused by his friends and fiancée cancelling him, he responded with a laughing emoji, claiming he had left her.

While there is an element of truth in Betzmann's words, there also lie several problems. His take on matters of a political nature are, of course, very different from those of average Pakistanis and are coloured by the fact that he isn't from here. But while for most people that means he doesn't have a right to comment on Pakistan, for others it means he brings a fresh take on issues we have been living with for decades.

One could argue that Betzmann — a content creator pandering to Pakistani audiences, residents and diaspora — should have a better understanding of our people's threshold for criticism, which is painstakingly low. This episode also serves as a reminder for other foreign content creators hoping to explore the Pakistani vlog industry — know your audience.