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Erased from history

A documentary about Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate captures his multifaceted nature as well as his struggles and contradictions, says Ehsan Masood.

After Abdus Salam died in Oxford in 1996, his body was returned to Pakistan, where he was buried with the epitaph “First Muslim Nobel laureate”. However, the word ‘Muslim’ was later rubbed out, a consequence of a 1974 law that placed Salam’s Ahmadiyya community outside the country’s approved list of Islamic sects.

That erasure gives the documentary Salam: The first ****** Nobel laureate its title. It is a story of the physicist’s unrequited love for his country, which he left for the UK in the 1950s, driven by rising religious intolerance and in search of better working conditions.

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