OPINION: Lessons from the horrendous media campaign against India’s Tablighi Jamaat
by Shoeb Ahmed Siddiqui
The horrendous campaign against the Indian Muslims, particularly the members of Tablighi Jamaat at a time when the nation was supposed to fight the pandemic of Coronovirus has several lessons in it.
When Media, the fourth pillar of democracy shifts its focus from the main issues towards the demonizing of Muslims, falsely ascribing stories to them, then you should know that there is a bias and politically motivated vile movement against a particular community. The Media which shouldn’t be biased toward a particular race, community, or religion, while it must work beyond the political system, has lost all its credibility when it has purportedly been feeding the propaganda — driven by bias and by blowing the issues out of proportion.
All sorts of stories from Muslim vendors spitting to Jamatis running naked in hospitals were bust, at a point, even an institute like All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) of Raipur clarified that the reports of Tablighi Jamat members spitting and misbehaving with the doctors were false. Videos of Muslims preacher as old as 2017 were used as a reference to accuse Muslims of intentionally spreading the virus.
Unfortunately, some of the Indian Muslims who own wealth, resources, and voice, stood silent against this vilification campaign, and threw their own people under the bus, in order to please some opportunistic liberals. They wished that by doing so, they will be “accepted” by the majority. They even went on the extent of declaring “Our community is backwards and uneducated. Hence, they might have done all these things”.
Their silence resulted in a surge of discrimination and an increased crime against the poor Muslim vegetable vendors, who were boycotted and were not allowed to sell essentials to make their livelihood. At many places politicians reportedly distributed the saffron flags to the vendors, in order to identify themselves as Hindus, which eventually caused terror in the hearts of Muslim vendors.
When Muslims couldn’t help themselves, various fact-checking websites and influencers were standing up for the underprivileged community. They not only busted the print media propaganda but also the electronic and social media propaganda. Sadly, the community that keeps silent, others could only help them to a limit, and then they become reluctant.
The Bombay High Court judgement has taught a lesson and has come as a relief. The HC not only quashed FIRs against the Jamatis but has condemned the vilification campaign and media trails. Referring to the plea the court said, “There was a big propaganda in the print and electronic media against the foreigners who have come to Delhi Markaz”. The 58-page judgement also slammed State Governments and Police.
The judgement is an eye-opener for the privileged ones amongst us who did not speak. It is the duty of every privilege individual to use all the available resources to fight misinformation and stop the wicked reporters from tormenting us, instead of being embarrassed by our own community. If you cannot speak up then at least be silent, and never support the fascists when you very well know that the stories are all planted and false.
Help the sufferer, not the propagandist.
There was a lot of other Muslims who were also part of this hate campaign, just due to the difference in the schools of thought, or to represent themselves as a modern community, or to satisfy others or perhaps to save themselves.
If you are part of a community and a section of it is demonized, and you were taken by the propaganda than you have aligned with those who hatched the propaganda. These demons will not chase you based on your organizational affiliations rather based on your Muslim identity.
Shoeb Ahmed is a contributor at The Milli Chronicle and hold Masters in Construction Technology.