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


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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