Trevor Noah forced to apologise after making controversial joke about war between India and Pakistan
South African comedian Trevor Noah has been forced to apologise after a controversial joke drew immense criticism from people online.
Noah, who took over from Jon Stewart as the host of the Daily Show back in 2015, is known for his occasionally provocative brand of political humour, but he appeared to cross the line last week after making a joke about the growing tensions between India and Pakistan.
India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since gaining independence from Britain back in 1947. The main factor in their dispute is the territorial conflict of Kashmir, and with friction building once again, people are concerned another war could be on the way.
Commenting on the conflict and its potential ramifications on a segment of the Daily Show, Noah joked that the two warring nations would show up in traditional Bollywood clothing and begin to dance.
"If India and Pakistan did go to war, it would probably be the most entertaining war of all time... It would also be the longest war of all time...another dance number?" he said.
The joke was poorly received by people online, who took to social media to vent.
"I am a big fan of your work but this is NOT FUNNY," tweeted Smriti Kiran, Mumbai Film Festival creative director. "Could have used this opportunity to make an astute point with humour that might have warmed the hearts of the people of two countries that are vulnerable & hurting."
Writer Zainab Sikander also took the time to slam Noah for his joke, drawing a parallel between the conflicts in South Asia and Noah's own war-torn past in Apartheid-era South Africa.
"It's sad when someone who's had a violent past mocks war through a Bollywood stereotype. @Trevornoah 's mother was shot in the head by her husband (Trevor's stepfather).Imagine someone making fun of it with a Xhosa stereotype - the tribe his mum belongs to."
In response to Sikander's tweet, Noah apologised for the joke, underlining that his intention was never to cause harm.
"Actually if you watch my stand up you'll see that I did make jokes after my mother was shot in the head," he said. "As a comedian, I use comedy to process pain and discomfort in my world but I am sorry that this hurt you and others, that's not what I was trying to do."
But, in a follow-up post, he also commented on the outrage his joke had caused, comparing it to the crisis at large. "It's amazing to me that my joke about the conflict in India and Pakistan trended more than the story of the actual conflict itself," he said. "Sometimes it seems like people are more offended by the jokes comedians make about an issue than the issue itself."
Around 50 people have lost their lives in the conflict since February 14, with a suicide bombing in India-controlled Kashmir killing more than 40 Indian troops, while eight civilians and two soldiers were killed in an airstrike on the Pakistani-controlled part of the region.