From Sans Serif To Sans Sharif: #Fontgate Leads To Calls For Pakistan's Prime Minister To Resign

from the fun-with-fonts dept

Some people get really worked up about fonts. Here, for example, is a thread on Reddit, spotted by Leigh Beadon, about the appearance of the serif font Cambria on the show "Better Call Saul". The problem is that the show is set in the years 2002 and 2003, while Cambria was designed in 2004. The (mock?) outrage about this slip-up is all good fun, but obviously nothing too serious. Unlike in Pakistan, where another apparent font faux pas is leading to calls for the country's prime minister to resign.

As the Guardian explains, the daughter of Pakistan's prime minister is being investigated by the country's supreme court as a result of revelations in the Panama Papers that linked her to expensive properties in London. Documents produced in her defense had a slight problem, as spotted by font aficionados:

Documents claiming that Mariam Nawaz Sharif was only a trustee of the companies that bought the London flats, are dated February 2006, and appear to be typed in Microsoft Calibri.

But the font was only made commercially available in 2007, leading to suspicions that the documents are forged.

Social media users have derided Sharif for this apparent misstep, coining the hashtag #fontgate.

Such is the interest in #fontgate and the humble sans serif Calibri font, that visits to the relevant Wikipedia page have ballooned from 500 visits per day to 150,000 in just two days. As a result of the intense interest and some dubious editing attempts, Wikipedia has been forced to act:

After users seemingly tried to change the article's content to say the font was available from 2004, Wikipedia suspended editing on its Calibri page "until July 18 2017, or until editing disputes have been resolved".

Although you might think this is pretty much at the level of the Reddit discussion of Cambria, rival politicians in Pakistan see it as much more serious -- and an opportunity they can exploit:

Opposition parties have urged prime minister Nawaz Sharif to step down after the investigation found a "significant disparity" between his family's declared wealth and known sources of income.

However things turn out in Pakistan for the country's prime minister and his daughter -- Nawaz Sharif has denied wrongdoing -- #fontgate has already had one positive outcome. It allowed the Indian newspaper Financial Express to use the memorable headline: "Awesome story of Calibri, the font that may leave Pakistan sans Sharif."

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Jul 2017 @ 4:29pm

    Temporal Discords

    The father of zombies not coming back to life and fonts used in documents prior to the fonts being created. Fontastic!

    Did Techdirt hit a temporal anomaly that missed the rest of the world?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 18 Jul 2017 @ 6:09pm

    We've seen this before

    There have been a LOT of cases that came down to showing one side or the other faked documents with fonts that weren't old enough. You'd think that if people were going to try to fake out the courts, they'd at least double-check their forgeries would withstand SIMPLE scrutiny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 18 Jul 2017 @ 10:57pm

    The Panama Papers are all faked

    The Panama Papers are all fiction. Someone simply created a few tens of thousands of internally consistent financial documents that superficially match the identity and dealings of thousands of people worldwide.. exactly.

    So you shouldn't believe anything contained in them. Because it's really easy to create convincing forgeries.

    Or just look at this story for an example of how difficult it is to create a short, single-topic document that doesn't, well, step on its own dick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bwburke94 (profile), 19 Jul 2017 @ 1:17am

    At the very least...

    Don't credit the "sans-Sharif" pun to Financial Express. A Redditor came up with it first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 19 Jul 2017 @ 3:51am

      Re: At the very least...

      Lies. That pun is self made, I thought it before I got to the inevitable execution in the article. It's the work of nature. So I was laughing of myself and the pun I thought when I reached the materialization of it in the closing paragraph and laughed a bit more. Glyn was just a little bit more aggressive and put the pun in the headline. Ballsy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    SirWired (profile), 19 Jul 2017 @ 5:50am

    Typography jokes are the best jokes

    I think that pun is definitive proof that typography jokes are the best of all possible jokes.

    Now all we need is a font-related bumper sticker of the "Divers do it deeper" variety.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Oblate (profile), 19 Jul 2017 @ 7:06am

      Re: Typography jokes are the best jokes

      I think that pun is definitive proof that typography jokes are the best of all possible jokes.

      It certainly seems their Times have come...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2017 @ 8:29am

      Re: Typography jokes are the best jokes

      I think my favorite is that there's an entire subreddit devoted to poor kerning called /r/keming.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2017 @ 10:19am

    They wouldn't have had any issues if they just used Comic Sans. Just goes to show that Comic Sans is best Sans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 19 Jul 2017 @ 3:49pm

    Excuse my ignorance, but couldn't this be explained by someone changing the font at a later date?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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