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Trevor Noah jokes Imran Khan is Pakistan’s Donald Trump as Daily Show host sparks online backlash

The Daily Show host compares the two world leaders in a satirical segment on US television show, but causes uproar among Pakistani social media users

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 6:01pm

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah has sparked an angry backlash on social media after satirically comparing Pakistan’s new prime minister, Imran Khan, to Donald Trump.

South African comedian Noah joked on the late night US television show this week that the Pakistani cricket legend has plenty in common with the US President.

“The more you look, the more you realise these similarities have spanned their entire lives,” Noah said. “When Trump was doing Pizza Hut ads, Khan was in ads for Pepsi. Trump had three marriages in the tabloids, so did Khan.

“Trump thinks Islam is bad, Khan lives in Islamabad – I should have stopped while I was ahead but the rhythm kept me going,” Noah added to laughter from his live studio audience.

“In fact, these guys are so alike that shortly before he was elected, Khan was also embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. And just like Trump, he got through it.”

Noah is known for speaking out on global politics, and does not shy away when it comes to sport. He caused controversy last month by joking that “Africa won the World Cup” after France lifted the trophy at Russia 2018.

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He’s certainly not bashful when it comes to criticising Trump, either, and the clip comparing the former reality television star to Pakistan’s new leader went viral on social media. There was a serious element to Noah’s argument, too.

The Apprentice was a successful format that Trump pioneered, which then spread around the world. And it seems like the same thing is starting to happen with his presidency,” Noah said.

“People have taken what Trump did in the US, and they’re rebooting it in different countries. Take Pakistan.”

Noah also used television clips to illustrate his point, including an old interview segment of Khan talking about his bedroom – the design of which is mainly gold-coloured.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Tell me that’s not the Pakistani Trump Tower,” Noah joked, referencing Trump’s own penchant for golden furniture at his former New York penthouse.

“Look, I’m not saying Imran Khan is the brown Trump,” Noah added. “Imran Khan is one of many leaders around the world following the successful format of the hit show called ‘The Trump Presidency’, including apparently using the same writers.”

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Noah then showed clips of Trump and Khan on the campaign trail railing against crooked politicians, and boasting of their individual success and fame before becoming leaders.

“I don’t know if Prime Minister Khan will turn out like President Trump, but if you were moving to

Pakistan to escape Trump, you might want to pick someplace else,” Noah said at the end of his segment.

Former cricket captain Khan is revered as an icon for his feats on the pitch, which included leading his country to World Cup glory in 1992.

Khan scored 3,807 runs and took 362 wickets in 88 tests, and Noah’s criticism of him hasn’t gone down well in Pakistan.

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“Very poor taste,” wrote one Pakistani user on Twitter, in reply to a tweet from The Daily Show’s official account.

“Expected better. Imran is larger than life and has some serious accomplishments for humanity in large, cancer hospitals, free educational institutions to name [a] few. I doubt Trump has done good for any human being on earth.”

Another Twitter user wrote: “Being a Pakistani American I took a great deal of offence by you comparing Imran Khan to Trump.

“Khan is the only hope left for that country! He is not impulsive, immature or a liar. Your team worked really hard on the clips but they painted a picture far from reality.”

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The tweet from The Daily Show account also spoke of Khan’s “self-aggrandising displays of wealth” and “hardline nationalism”.

“Hello? Do you realise who you’re talking about?” another Twitter user replied. “Imran Khan is the opposite of a materialist and you look really silly comparing him with @realDonaldTrump on this @TrevorNoah.”

“This piece misses the mark,” said another netizen. “Imran Khan is the kind of leader the Pakistani population needs. A country where every civilian government had been overthrown and the last prime minister is currently in prison.

“He has been a hero to his people as a cricketer. His conservative politics also align with the beliefs of the country. So, in my humble opinion, he is nothing like Trump and brings hope to the region.”

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After his joke about the France World Cup football team drew strong criticism from French fans, as well as the French Ambassador to the US, Noah defended himself in a poignant statement to his audience.

But the comedian has yet to comment on the controversy stirred up in Pakistan by his comments on Khan.

“I am a big fan of your comedy show but you made a very uninformed and unrealistic statement about Imran Khan,” a Twitter user said. “He is nowhere near or like Trump … Do your research.”

“Comparing Trump with Imran Khan was plain stupid,” another said.