Modi Media: Muslims are dependent on the country’s disasters

Extremists have targeted Muslim women online (Yawar Nazir / Getty)

India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has suspended its spokeswoman Nupur Sharma for her anti-Islam comments, which she said were “opposing views”. However, do not these statements really reflect the far-right party and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

Religious polarization in India has increased since BJP came to power and television channels, newspapers and social media platforms have been flooded with uncontrolled hate speech against Muslims. The issue did not stop there, as the ruling far-right party did not hesitate to persecute Muslim journalists, and especially women, just for doing their job.

Korona Jihadi

Since the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, social media platforms have circulated hashtags like “Corona Jihad” and “Idiots of Nizamuddin”, which accuse Muslims of spreading the virus in the country. In 2020, the Indian government blamed an Islamic preaching meeting for the rise of coronavirus infections, which led to a wave of violence, business boycotts and hate speech against Muslims.

About 8,000 people in the Tablighi Congregation met for three days, in March 2020, at the group’s headquarters in New Delhi’s busy Nizamuddin district, shortly before large gatherings were banned. The group’s spokesman, Mujibur Rahman, said at the time that the group’s headquarters remained open and later offered shelter to people trapped in a 21-day ban imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 of that year. On the second day of the blockade, a government raid on the compound revealed the largest outbreak of the virus in India. Police have filed a lawsuit against some of the group’s leaders for violating the ban, an accusation the group denies. At the time, India recorded more than 24,500 confirmed cases of Corona virus, 20 per cent of which were related to call collection, as well as 775 deaths, according to the Associated Press.

The sectarian divide has widened over allegations against the group in India, which remains tense over deadly riots over a naturalization law that excludes Muslims. Politicians in the ruling Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were quoted as saying on television and in newspapers describing the group’s incident as “Corona terrorism”.

False news targeting Muslims began to spread, including videos allegedly showing group members spitting at authorities. The clips were quickly proven fake, but by April 1, 2020, the hashtag “Corona Jihad” was on trend on Twitter in India. The Joint Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Health, Lav Agarwal, has repeatedly mentioned the named group in daily conferences. On April 5, he said the number of HIV infections had doubled in just 4 days, and would have been slower “if there had not been additional cases due to the Tablighi Congregation meeting”.

On the same day, a Muslim chicken seller was killed and panic, guilt and stigma spread throughout India after neighbors accused him in the village of Bangarh, in the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh, of trying to infect them with the virus. for he drove two members of the Tablighi Congregation to their village on his motorcycle.

During the same period, the Hindu newspaper published a cartoon showing the Corona virus in traditional Muslim attire, holding a gun and pointing it at planet Earth. After the huge criticism faced by the cartoon online, the newspaper deleted it, and then republished it, abandoning the traditional Muslim dress in it.

Journalist Zeinat Iskandar wrote in the Indian online newspaper The Print at the time that the Indian media “do not practice the profession of journalism” but “use the word jihad when talking about an issue, and fanatics use the issue to target Muslims.” what the Indian media is doing as “Jihad against Muslims and Islam in India. Iskandar added that 2014 represented a turning point in India, not only because Narendra Modi became prime minister with an absolute majority, but also because the Indian media” turned from a messenger of truth to a hyena swallowing its living prey “and” got the job done “as a public relations firm whose mission is to whitewash the image of the BJP party and market it as India’s savior . “

This change in the Indian media was also highlighted by journalist Dibaisch Roy Chaudhry, in May 2021, when the country was registering more than 20 million cases with Covid-19, as he said that the subordinate media should also take responsibility for the health crisis in the country. In an article Chaudhry wrote for the American magazine The Time at the time, he noted that the softening of the Indian media began with Modi coming to power in 2014. The editorial leadership of some of India’s leading news organizations, particularly television networks, was reconstituted, and with the exception of senior editors who are seen as more loyal to India’s liberal vision than BJP’s Hindu nationalist view, the new channels were abolished. The journalist reported that the federal and provincial governments of India impose great power on media companies, due to their huge budgets for state and party advertising.

The federal government alone spent about $ 270,000 on ads per day in fiscal years 2019-20. Debaisch Roy Chaudhry said Modi had “transformed some of the biggest names in India’s news sector from guard to submissive dog”. “Over the past year (2020), large sections of the Indian media have relinquished their oversight responsibility. They have refused to hold Modi accountable and have allowed him to use a national disaster to strengthen his image, for consolidate power and suppress dissent.Like Modi, this media failed India when it was most needed.Indians and the world are now blaming the Modi government for taking the ball in the fight against COVID-19. India’s just as responsible. “

persecution of journalists

Indian authorities have adopted a systematic process of intimidation against journalists reporting some of the atrocities and abuses targeting Muslims in the country. She has banned channels giving space to Muslims to express the oppression they are subjected to, and has prosecuted Muslim journalists covering her violations, and sought to limit their social media accounts, including Rana Ayoub. In February, independent UN-appointed human rights experts issued a statement calling on Indian authorities to stop systematically harassing Ayoub.

Target of women and journalists

The target of women has increased in recent years, especially those critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Party Bharatiya Janata. The worst forms of this targeting are those that have occurred over the last two years. Last January, police in two provinces in India recorded cases of more than 100 Muslim women offering for sale and their photos were posted on an app that has since closed. An app and website had promoted information about more than 80 Muslim women in July 2021 and used their photos. No sales took place in either case, and the purpose of the auction was to offend Muslim women. The list included female journalists, including Ayoub and Ismat Ara, award-winning activists and actresses, and the mother of one of the young people who lost track in 2016.

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