Friday, January 20, 2012

Rediff's report on 'Deoband' fatwas: Wrong facts, irresponsible journalism

Rediff article that links Deoband to Surya Namaskar fatwa
It is perfectly understandable if a religious institution is criticised for issuing frivolous or controversial fatwas, just like a post written on this blog sometime back, but it is unfair if you criticise someone by attributing decrees which they didn't issue at all.

One of the most popular sites, surprisingly posted an article that surprisingly has not just factual error but also wrongly accuses Deoband for fatwas which they didn't at all issue. Strangely, even after it was brought to their notice, they didn't bother to correct it.

There was no quote. Of course, no effort to get version and the institution was wrongly accused. I noticed the report as I had written a post 'Fatwa Factory...' sometime back on this blog. This recent Rediff article had similar headline.

The article blamed Deoband for issuing fatwa against Surya Namaskar. The seminary never issued any such fatwa. The particular religious 'opinion' was issued by Darul Ifta Bhopal. The Rediff report that doesn't carry writer's name goes ahead to say that, 'seminary has issued fatwa against Surya Namaskar....'.

It then falsely mentions the diktat against Veena Malik. Again, this was the call of All India Muslim Tehwar Committee.

They had termed that she was now 'biradari-baahar' [to be ex-communicated, huh! who is listening and who is bothered?], a sort of call that khap panchayats issue. Of course, condemn-able but why accuse Deoband.

Cleverly, the article says 'Majlis-e-Shoora' but doesn't tell reader that this 'Majlis' was that of Tehwar Committee, not Deoband.

By any journalistic or ethical standards, this is unusual. If Rahul Gandhi makes a statement, how can simply attribute it to Nitin Gadkari and then accuse the latter again and again through similar other misrepresentations? This is not just shoddy reporting, it is unethical and gives bad name to media. 

The article further says that in defence the seminary says it's opinion that is not binding. When the writer didn't contact the seminary for version, they themselves wrote this line to support the article. Had they spoken to Ulema, they'd have been told that the above mentioned diktats were not issued by Deoband.

Rediff article that links the Veena Malik 'diktat' to Deoband
Deoband has issued several controversial fatwas in the past. If Rediff reporters made a slight effort, they could have made a good case against Deoband but they sullied journalism through such a false story. It is such news reports that create impression among citizens that journalists are irresponsible guys.

In which other profession, you can make such blunders. In print media also, you can lose job for such errors. Of course, it's easy to make changes on the internet. Still, even after being informed in comment section by readers and through other media, they haven't bothered to cross-check the facts or rectify mistakes in the last two weeks.

Even the most careless person would make such errors. Journalists can't generally get away with such factual inaccuracies. Then, how could the site that grabs millions of eye balls act with such carelessness? They could have either done groundwork to mention the really controversial fatwas of Deoband or simply written on the trend of fatwas issued from the seminaries [and such so-called moral guardians].

Why they got so irresponsible? Any answers

[My article that was critical of such fatwas in the past. Read it here]