Allegations of mistreatment of ‘women-of-colour’ at the sets of the ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’ have now surfaced on social media. The women who had previously worked on the show have decided to come forward with their stories of mistreatment. Sangeetha Thanapal, activist and writer, has documented the allegations in an article on her account at Medium.
Sheila V Kumar, a former producer on the show, had to protect her account on Twitter after narrating her experience. Sangeetha says, “That is understandable. After all, Minhaj is beloved by the “woke” Desis, and the social justice crowd in general. She was making herself a target by telling the truth.”
“I’ve never been more unhappy than when I was working at Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” Sheila V Kumar wrote narrating her experience. She concluded with the words, “My tolerance for this industry is very, very high. I’ve worked at some difficult places. I’ve never experienced a work environment like Patriot Act.”
Pakistani news producer and writer Nur Nasreen echoed similar sentiments as Sheila V Kumar. According to Nasreen, she was “humiliated and gaslit, targeted and ignored” and she falls into depression every time she recounts the experience of working at the Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.
“I am proud of my work there to this day. I am also grateful for the opportunities it gave me. But I wonder if it was worth the mental anguish I went through over my last few months there,” she stated. “I wish we still had Patriot Act. I also wish they truly practiced the progressive ethos they cultivated on screen. Then they would really deserve all your love,” added Nasreen.
New York Times writer Iva Dixit came forward to reveal the ordeal her friends were forced through. She said, “The people whose labor made it what it was were treated horribly, and I’ve watched my friends break down in real time from what they went through while working there,” before going on to add, “all I’ll say is please interrogate your beacons of representation and how they behave once they acquire power and authority”.
Pointing towards the hypocrisy of how Hasan Minhaj has been treated thus far, Sangeetha said, “Where are all the progressive Desi organisations that lauded his episode on Modi but had nothing to say about women leaving his show in tears?” She went on to further criticise who she calls ‘Woke Desis’.
“Woke Desis seem to be really selective in the types of Brown people they target. They will attack Tamil women but are silent about light-skinned North Indian men. Minhaj’s power and reach have made it so that he is near-untouchable, so much so that women openly talking about how they were treated did not get even one article in any of the many Desi mags that abound on the internet,” wrote Sangeetha.
Shireen Ahmed, activist and writer, commenting on the article by Sangeetha, said, “Patriot Act was the first show that I watched and felt seen as a journalist and as a Brown Muslim woman. Sadly, the tweets that came out in the summer did not surprise me. I am thankful to the women who spoke up. I hear you, and I appreciate what you did. I believe you.”
People have also come out and said that Hasan Minhaj needs to address the issue in public. As Shireen Ahmed pointed out, “Dismissing and disregarding these women is not a great look.”
Hasan Minhaj postures himself as a progressive in public life. His show Patriot Act was cancelled by Netflix recently for unknown reasons. Minhaj has also claimed that he was not allowed at the Howdy Modi event last year in September because of his ‘critical’ views on PM Modi. But later, it was revealed that he had not registered himself for the event as a media person and hence he could not enter the venue with a camera. Minhaj was offered a seat in the audience but he refused.