Thursday, October 7, 2021

An Indian Muslim’s Rebuttal to the Twitter Storm #Boycott_India By Some Arab ‘Parodies’ and Pak Propagandists

White News Is Running An Aggressive Pakistani Propaganda In The Arabic Language. Main Points: 1. Several issues in India facing Muslims as minorities, Dalits, farmers, labourers, women and so on are common issues around the world. 2. Arab and Pakistan would do better if they seriously introspect on how they treat their own weaker sections. 3. Arab Parodies and Pakistanis will never show an iota of doubt against China, let alone boycotting the Chinese goods. 4. Problems faced by Muslims and other minorities in India are not of the same degree as in various territories across the world. ----- By Ram-iz-Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam 7 October 2021 “Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.” ― Vladimir Nabokov, Strong Opinions. With an obvious imitation of an Arab style, some Arabic-knowing English writers and content creators from across the borders, are parroting vitriolic stories on social media against India and Indian products, especially against the Indian films, medicine and Yoga, with a deliberate exaggeration for a comic effect. But as they say, "this film is a parody of the horror genre". Social Media across the Arab world has been trending hashtags such as, #مقاطعة _الهند (#Boycott_India), #مقاطعة_المنتجات_الهندية (#Boycott_Indian_Products), and #الهند_تقتل_المسلمين (India Kills Muslims), etc. from the last week of September until the first week of October. The narratives of these hashtags purport to tarnish the image of India, portraying it as ‘Islamophobic’ in the Arabic media. Before we dig deeper into this social-media ‘dis-info war’ clearly waged by the dubious Arabic-knowing elements bred by Pakistani interests, let us take a look at this recent bizarre incident: In the first week of September, a 3-month old YouTube channel which calls itself ‘White News’ [the name itself seems a spoof with very suspicious content] parroted a distorted narrative on Danish Siddiqui, the photojournalist killed in Afghanistan. The propaganda was that "Danish had information on Indian Black-ops in Afghanistan. He was sent photos, evidence, and his phone was tapped.... Then he went to Afghanistan.... etc." Ironically, the 'White News' was never ever heard of, earlier. But now it is not only actively spreading rumours on social media but also running an aggressive Pakistani propaganda in the Arabic language. It subtitles, translates and transcribes some cherry-picked videos and audio-visuals against the national interests of India. Many Arabs would find the contents of the White News hard to believe. But anyone who doesn’t dig deeper will easily fall victim to this methodical pro-Pakistan propaganda. Some of the egregious Twitter posts and propaganda that have trended over a period of time are being reproduced here as illustration: An Arabic Twitter handle titled, مقاطعة الهند i.e. @Boycotteindia which joined Twitter in September 2021, started this storm with 1,278 Followers. It tweeted this post on October 4: English translation: “We have to continue this campaign in support of our brothers in India. Hindus kill Muslims, will you boycott their products? Boycott tourism and every commodity that says ‘Made in India’. Boycott them culturally. Their films, yoga and all is Shirk (polytheism) #BoycottIndianProducts”. Significantly, this post not only declares Indian products and productions like the Bollywood and Yoga as Shirkiyat—various forms of polytheism—but also quotes Taqī ad-Dīn ʾAḥmad, famously known as Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Tamiyya, the founder-ideologue of Salafism who championed the anti-Shirk movement in the Arabian Peninsula in the 13th century. He wrote in his book Sirat al-Mustaqeem (The Straight Path): “A believer loves only a believer and helps him from the back in an unseen manner, even if their homes are far from each other and even if their times are far away”. The above is just one illustration. There is no dearth of such unrestrained Tweets and anti-India dis-info propaganda with highly exaggerated accounts of ‘Islamophobic atrocities’ or actions against Islam and Muslims in India. Along with these posts, egregious videos and articles from the Arabic press, Facebook posts, Tweets, and misplaced screen shots are embedded to show the gravity of the situation. Major issues which were discussed in the hashtags include: (1) Boycott of Indian products, (2) Accusing India of grave Human Rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir, which is now a Union Territory (3) Seeking the ‘global unity of Ummah’ to fight against the alleged anti-Muslim atrocities in India, (4) Expulsion of Indian citizens from the Middle East, (5) Accusing the Prime Minister of India for alleged ‘anti-Muslim actions and atrocities’ in India, etc. Thus, there have been methodically deliberate attempts in the Arab media to damage the reputation of India and its treatment with the Muslim citizens. On a daily basis, blogs, vlogs, videos of highly exaggerated reports of anti-Muslim ‘atrocities’ are being translated into Arabic with a palpable traction and proliferation in the Middle East. A content analysis of the hashtags indicates that some of the influencers also come from the Arab Media and Academia, besides those with Pak linkages. Now what is or should be the collective responsibility of the Indian Muslims in response to these calls for boycott of the Indian products? In what ways will they benefit from these mischievous calls and their ulterior motives? We must be seen to be taking issue with the Arabs and Pakistanis flagging these issues on part of us Indian Muslims. Who gives the right and what legitimises them to speak on behalf of us? Are we Indian Muslims that incapable or hapless that we now need Pakistani Twitter handlers to voice our concerns? As a matter of fact, there are many Pakistanis working in senior positions in the Arab media outlets like Qatar-based Al-Jazeerah who pitch the stories being forged by Pakistani agencies and the Pak establishment. Of course, a few stories do emanate from the angry Indian youths, farmers, women's rights activists etc, but that too, in some ways, points to the degree of freedom that the Indian thinkers, protestors, social activists and above all, the media has enjoyed. It clearly suggests that the Indian media is far more independent and ‘free’ that the Pak journalists and even the propagandists who cannot write a single paragraph without it being endorsed or okayed by their Aaqas. Nevertheless, while the Pakistani propagandists sense an opportunity in this anti-India Arab storm on Twitter and Facebook, at every such incident, the Indian Muslim community must act very cautiously. They must not forget that they too will suffer along with other Indians—Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, etc.— if the Indian products, films, Ayurvedic and Yunani medicine face boycott and more so if the Indian workers are thrown out of the Middle East or Gulf countries. Just take a look at the estimate: Indian workers in the UAE comprise a majority of Muslims (50%), followed by Christians (25%) and Hindus (25%). These estimates suggest that Hindu population is hardly anywhere from 6-10% in the UAE. In Saudi Arabia as per an estimate in 2001, there were 1,500,000 Indian nationals as workers, and most of them were Muslims. Only a few Hindus were there but in affluent positions and lucrative jobs like as medical doctors, engineers and professionals which the Saudis cannot afford to throw out. Also consider that in Saudi Arabia, Hindus are hardly permitted to worship publicly, like other non-Muslim Indians. So, what will the Saudis achieve by expelling them now from their peninsula when they already deny them their basic human right to practice their religion? Before Muhammad Bin Salman, the previous Saudi Arabian authorities have destructed scores of Hindu religious items along with the Islamic heritage sites and mausoleums highly revered in Sufism. Indian Muslims must not forget: Arabs, especially the Saudis, have never shown any solidarity with the Muslims around the world, not even Arab Muslims facing persecution, atrocities and civil war. How long will we bury our head in the sand and not see that they support China on the issue of horrendous atrocities against Xinjiang Muslims? In the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, how many Muslim or Arab countries and their diplomats attend the meetings organised by US or European countries on Xinjiang's so-called ‘re-education camps’ in which their true tales are narrated by eye witnesses? The Arabs rather attend and heed the meetings organised by China which convey that ‘all is well’ with the Uyghur Muslims and thus do an image-correction exercise for China. Of course, there are several issues in India facing Muslims as minorities, Dalits, farmers, labourers, women and so on. But these are common issues around the world. Are the weaker sections not facing problems in the US or China, or any other super power, for that matter? Then why are all eyes just on India? And what have these Arab ‘parodies’ and Pakistanis to do with these? They would do better if they seriously introspect on how they treat their own weaker sections in their own and occupied lands. But the Arab Parodies and Pakistanis will never show an iota of doubt against China, let alone boycotting the Chinese goods. They will not lift even a finger against Burma, no matter how horrendous atrocities are committed against them. In short, there is no denying that there are problems in our country too. But we have to sort those out among ourselves. Also, these problems are not of the same degree as facing Muslims and other minorities in various territories across the world. ---- Ram-iz-Rasool Dehlvi, is a columnist with the URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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