Monday, February 19, 2018

Terrorism: After 17 deaths in Florida school shooting, accept 'White Supremacist Terror' as big threat to society

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Will it now be acknowledged that 'White Supremacist Terror' is one of the biggest threats to the society?

It is a threat to society, not just in United States of America (USA), but outside too [including Europe].

As many a 17 persons including mostly students and staff, were shot dead in the massacre that has shocked the entire world.

Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, entered the school premises, opened fire, killing 17 people and injuring over 14.

Cruz used an AR-15 style rifle for the coldblooded murders on the school campus.

In fact, a month before the shooting, FBI had received a tip that Cruz had made a threat but due to 'error', this information wasn't taken seriously.

Most of the victims in the horrific school shootings were students who were teenagers.

Alyssa, Martin, Nicholas, Jaime, Luke, Cara, Gina, Alaina, Meadow, Helena, Alex, Carmen, Peter--they were all in the age group of 14-17. There were others Chris, Scott and Aaron, from the staff.


There has been a long list of White men involved in shootings, massacres and killings in United States of America (USA).

Gun violence is one of the biggest problems for America. However, these people are often termed 'insane shooter', 'gunman', 'madman', but NOT terrorist.

The list of these 'gunmen' is long:

Anders Breivik killed 77 persons in Norway
Devin Kelley who killed 26 people in a Church
Wade Michael Page who killed devotees in a Sikh Gurdwara
Dylann Roof who killed nine blacks
Timothy McVeigh who killed 168 in Oklahama
James Holmes who killed people in a theatre
Robert James Talbot, Esteban Santiago, Alexandre Bissonette, Chris Harper Mercer, among others.

1. MUST-READ ON THIS SITE: White men not termed Terrorist, called 'shooter' or 'gunman'

2. DOUBLE STANDARDSInsane gunman or shooter: Media must de-link religion from Terror

3. MAJORITARIAN RACISM: Why Dylann Roof was not termed Terrorist in US Media

Links about Florida school terror attack:

Victims of Florida School Shooting, names and photos
Wikipedia page on Stoneman Douglas school shootings in Florida
Florida gunman said he wanted to be a 'professional school shooter' and FBI were warned

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Indian Media's Hall of Shame: TV channels airing fake news to spread propaganda, fan communal hatred, divide society

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi 

It is not easy to describe what is happening in India [and Indian media] right now.

Top media houses that were once considered trustworthy and had set standards of journalism, have fallen into disgrace.

They not only promote fake news, shamelessly, but reward journalists who fan hatred through fake stories based on rumours, morphed photos or tweets of parody accounts.

TV anchors seem to be hell-bent on destroying communal harmony and tearing apart the social fabric of the country. The focus is not on news but on propagating falsehoods and spreading hate.

Ethics have been thrown off the window. Any false claim can be made and any incident can be twisted to suit the agenda. This is happening in the world's biggest democracy, round the clock.

Each and every day, several anchors on half-a-dozen Hindi-English TV channels are trying to outdo each other in how much fake news they can spread and how much they could do to divide Indian society on religious lines.

This is just unbelievable. Till a few years ago, one couldn't even imagine that Indian media would fall to such levels. Journalists who refuse to toe the line are being shown the door. However, those who spread venom day in and day out, are getting rewarded.

These channels have been demonizing Muslims. And the result is that there have been murders all over the country. Right-wing fanatics like Shambhu Bhawani burnt a man dead and shot his video.

Even after dozens of hate crimes and killings like that of Akhlaq, Pahlu Khan and Junaid, these channels continue to spread hate. This is an organised propaganda war that is being run from TV studios.

It all started with Times Now, the news channel of Times of India group. During the UPA tenure, it was known for anti-establishment line. But once BJP government came to power, it stopped questioning the government.

The focus was now on Army, patriotism, Hindu-Muslim issues. Soon, it was playing up non-issues, spreading hatred and focusing on divisive issues.

After Arnab Goswamy's exit, another such channel was born--Republic.

Aroon Purie's India Today already had anchors who were trying to outdo Arnab.

Soon, they were also given a free hand. Initially, they tried to maintain some balance with one or two anchors trying to be moderate but the mask fell, quickly.

Of course, Zee News was doing for long. In fact, it was the first channel that openly started airing motivated and fictional reports.

Zee News was instrumental in stoking communal passions with its reporting on Kairana.

It falsely claimed that there was a Hindu exodus. This style was later picked up by other 'respected channels' too.

A petition urging Information and Broadcasting Ministry to ban Zee News, was also launched.

Thousands signed the petition, then. In those days, Zee News was the lone channel that was blatantly doing it. LINK 1 and LINK 2

It didn't take much longer. Other channels too followed it, within the next couple of years.

Thanks to AltNews that exposes propaganda and fake reports, we have a compilation, umpteen examples on a regular basis, how hate and propaganda are being peddled in the form of news.

India Today: Gold plated journalism: India Today and fake news
Times Now: A compilation of Times Now’s experiments with untruth
Aaj Tak: One tale, two narratives, reportage on Kasganj violence

Its Hindi version, Aaj Tak, has no dearth of such anchors whose sole job seems to fan hatred between communities, chiefly Hindus and Muslims. Rather than questioning government on its failures, the channels try their best to 'divert attention by setting agenda'.

Subhash Chandra, an icon! In a way, he was an icon. He was the person who set up the first TV channel after the state owned Doordarshan. Zee was a pioneering venture and though Chandra's proximity with BJP was known, the channel has

Their favourite topics are same--Kashmir, Muslims, Love Jihad, Triple Talaq, Patriotism, Army, JNU, Fatwas (even if there is none issued) just to name a few. Those called for debates are also people who can shout the loudest and suit their agenda.

When people may be dying of encephalitis in UP or farmers committing suicide in Central India due to crop loss, they shift focus by setting agenda on the basis of 'fake video clips or tweets' and turn studios on fire.

These TV channels can go to any extent to further their agenda. The aim is take forward the narrative of the right-wing extremists. During the recent communal riot in Kasganj, news agencies and TV channels (their editors) were acting like propagandists.

A person who was not on the spot was claimed to be dead to whip up communal frenzy. Within a few years, Indian media has seen this transformation. Initially, it appeared that certain anchors were doing it, on their own. But soon it was clear that the owners are responsible.

Owners are complicit and this has been proved time and again. An anchor who was arrested on extortion charges and sent to jail, has been promoted and given a free run (to spread propaganda and hatred) for years at Zee News.

When an India Today group journalist tweeted that anchors were allowed to whip up communal frenzy without even naming any person or group, India Today group sacked her.

It is clearly visible that the owners are complicit in this organised campaign. There is no attempt to stop this propaganda. However, in process, they have fallen from grace, lost all respect and ensured the death of credibility of the 'mainstream media' in India.

Media honchos seem to have sold their souls. Media has been reduced to completely take focus off pressing issues and divert attention towards non-existent issues by fanning communal hatred. Perhaps, it suits government. This is all too evil and sinister to say the least.

But one positive thing has come out of it. All masks have fallen. Sab mukhaute utar gaye. Aur sab ki credibility ka kriya-karm ho gaya.

READWorld must Wake Up: Indian TV channels, media houses, anchors involved in Nazi-style propaganda against Muslims

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Stop generalizing, calling Indian Muslims 'backward': Talk on facts, social indicators

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

'You don't look like Muslim'.

Many people have heard this line time and again from their non-Muslim friends.

This is because it is deeply embedded in their mind that Muslims are backward.

It's a bias, they have grown up with. Either at home or through media, the society--it's conditioning.

Backward, on what social indicators? How the entire Muslim community can be termed backward?

And aren't Hindus backward? But many Muslims also keep repeating the line 'Muslims are backward'.

Either its sex ratio or discrimination with women and girl child, infant mortality rate or acute malnutrition, dowry deaths, even other social backwardness parameters like child marriages or other indicators, Muslims don't perform bad.

Yes, as far as education is concerned, Muslims are a bit behind. But there are Hindus too, large sections who are far behind. Visit rural parts of the country or tribal hamlets, you'll see the poorest of poor--sans proper clothes, malnourished and without bare minimum facilities.

More people who die of hunger or the poor and homeless who die because of natural factors--heat or cold in extreme seasons, while sleeping in the open, are Hindu. Ya, but in that case, it becomes another category--caste or tribe, not 'Hindus'.

Muslims are more urbanized and have a different social system, there are a lot of factors that need not be explained here, but they helps them survive despite all odds. But by parroting the sentence that Muslims are backward, many educated Muslims too fall in this trap.

It is defaming Muslims for no reason. There are tremendously educated people among Muslims, there are actors and sports persons, there are Muslim achievers in all fields just like in Hindus or Sikhs, Christians or Jains.

Yes, benefits of schemes don't reach large section of Muslim masses just like certain other sections. Often, state policies and lack of due representation are among the reasons. But that doesn't make Muslims 'backward'.

Muslims are working hard, also making progress despite the fact that they are under-represented in government jobs, in MNC's management, politics, and don't get reservation. Still, the community members are doing their bit, trying to move ahead despite all odds.

But it is need of the hour to expose this 'backward community' narrative. It is not at all true that Muslims are backward. There is poverty, there are issues, but terming 'Indian Muslims' as a whole is backward, is wrong.

Nasty but cleverly crafted. This propaganda, this vilification campaign has serious affects. It hurt self-belief, confidence of youth, many of whom genuinely believed that, 'there was something wrong with the community', 'we are most backward'. It's a bad joke, terming a huge population--200 million as 'backward'.

We must be realistic, we must be aware, we must know where we lag. But we definitely don't allow ourselves to be branded. We understand how some do get a sadistic pleasure in spreading such lies. You can't generalise and target a community, using falsehoods.

It has no basis. It is just an attempt to sully the image of Muslims.

READ: Myths about Indian Muslims and backwardness among community

Thursday, February 08, 2018

How 'media mischief' ruins lives: Innocent Muslim girl termed 'bomber', her career ruined

That's the real power of pen, or byte, in our times--destroying lives.

Irresponsible reporting and you ruin lives just because you want to create sensation or because of your biases (communal) against certain sections of society.

A girl was wrongly termed 'fidayeen', 'a bomber'. On Republic day, the news flashed on TV screens.

All the major issues were now forgotten, and this 'sensational news' was on all TV channels.

But by next day, there were no follow-ups or any apology for wrong and misleading reporting.

So what happened to the girl? How she was termed a bomber? The fact is that there was not even an FIR registered in this case. She was not even arrested. Yet, it became national news on Republic Day, creating panic and fear.

Some websites reported how the girl returned to Pune. Others mentioned that the news was a hoax. Hoax? And all fell for it?* There, she said that how this incident affected her career.

"The Jammu and Kashmir Police have sent an email to Pune police clearing me of all the falsehoods. Unfortunately, because of the wrong and biased media reports and campaign against me, on 27 January, the college abruptly cancelled my admission for the nursing course".

However, even in these reports, her name was mentioned, which again demonizes her. How irresponsible and shabby, journalism can be in India. It's just a reflection of it. And this has been the norm here for decades.

Why media does it, again and again?

Come Jan 26 and Aug 15, when security is at its peak, such stories appear, year after year same pattern. This year too there was flash on channels 'fidayeen girl from Pune caught', without any confirmation.

All over India hundreds of people are stopped during security check on R-Day or I-Day. Four-wheelers, scooters, all sorts of vehicles are checked. This is routine.

Now when you cleverly write, 'Suspect caught, terror link not ruled out'. Who can deny this? You haven't termed the person terrorist but in a way linked him/her to terrorism.

Those reporters who never get a scoop otherwise, can sell this to their boss in newspaper as page 1 story. Power of pen! Happens in all states, cities.

Of course, security agencies feel good, it shows their alacrity on important days, that they are working hard, no blame either, journos doing it for them. Communal bias is another aspect.

The 'other' is always a suspect and while putting pen to paper, this is reflected. So what if lives are ruined! As far as victim is concerned, once the ordeal is over, they are so exhausted and relieved that they don't even think of taking legal steps.

Besides, when there are dozens of media houses, agencies, newspapers, channels. How many can you drag to courts? And once again it requires resources--money, links and power. If you don't have it, you can't do it.

Besides, it affects the person's own life. Hence, the victim also tries to rorget and forgive. That's how the world goes. This is how journalism works in the country.

Hate speeches in India: BJP leader Vinay Katiyar wants Muslims to leave India, party takes no action

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

A member of parliament (MP) says that Muslims should leave India and yet there is no action taken against him by his party.

Forget, even the talk of disciplinary action, there is no need to even dissociate or distance itself from his statement (by the party).

In any mature democracy, a responsible political party would be ashamed that its leader made such a fascist, communal and racist comment but NOT in India.

It's normal here, unfortunately.

Vinay Katiyar doesn't have any qualms in making hate speeches or outrageous comments because speeches that seem to rival Nazi hate propaganda and threats against minorities, are considered normal in India.

Katiyar has been an MP for several terms. Besides, he has been national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claims to be the biggest political party in the world on account of its membership.

Just days ago, he made another vicious remark during Kasganj violence. He said that pro-Pakistanis were involved in violence. The word 'Pakistani' is directed at Muslims time and again to show him/her their place because of being a religious minority and doubt the Muslims' patriotism.

If, in the world's biggest democracy, the senior leader of the main party can make such statements and get away, you can have an understanding about the manner in which democracy functions in the country.

Katiyar, 63, hails from Kanpur. He has been a member of Lok Sabha from Faizabad, several times in the past. Right now, he is a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the parliament. There are specific laws against hate speech in India.

The privileges-clout enjoyed by politicians ensure that they can get away with anything--spreading hate or even instigating communal riots. Media hasn't been too harsh on him for the 'outrageous' statement.

It is commonly said that such people should be ignored but the problem is that he is no 'fringe voice' and ignoring has brought us to the situation where there are dozens of hate-mongers, as no one has fear of law. Besides, abusing or threatening Muslims is a sure-shot way to succeed in right-wing politics.

1. BJP's Vinay Katiyar continues his hate-mongering, says Muslims should leave India
2. Katiyar demand for Muslims to leave India shows BJP is cranking up hate machine for 2019
3. Outrageous statements shouldn’t be taken lightly: Katiyar said Taj Mahal would be turned into temple

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Soldiers keep dying at the border but political class fails: Does government have no strategy to stop firing at LoC?

Ram Avtar was killed in firing at Line of Control.

The soldier, has left behind a son and a 3-month-old daughter apart from a five-year-old son.

That's tragic. Unfortunately, there seems no let up in such incidents.

Compensation is no substitute to the tragedy--the fact that kids will grow up without father.

How to deal with Pakistan?

What sort of power are we when we can't stop these deaths. India is strong, aren't we? We are a 'maha-shakti', arent' we?

But what use when can't stop deaths of soldiers. Is there any strategy!!!

The deaths of armymen makes headlines, rouses patriotic feelings, anger but what about families, these kids? TV channels continue to exploit the feelings, fuel rage. Deaths continue.

But that's no solution. Government is unable to stop it and seems it has no way to deal with it. It's not that they can't but they are clearly not interested.

One thing is clear--dialogues can reduce it. But who will accept it? This needs statesmanship, leadership. 

The rhetoric of war can't solve this. Political class and constant war-mongering by section of media have brought us here, that any suggestion for peace talks is considered blasphemy. We are caught up in this circle.

LoC, Army, Jawans' deaths: These issues keep public mind off real issues

There is another aspect. 'Army, deaths of jawans, firing at LoC' helps divert focus from other major issues--unemployment, poverty, failure to deal with crumbling infrastructure in health-education sectors.

Hence, public focus is off the failure of politicians. Is this the reason that there is lack of initiative or statesmanship on part of the leadership to improve the situation at the border and deal with these regular incidents of firing and deaths?

Sunday, February 04, 2018

43 year jail to man for attack at London mosque: India should have given stern punishment to those who demolished Babri Masjid

A man who drove into a mosque in United Kingdom, killing one and injuring nearly a dozen others, has been given a jail term of 43 years.

The man, Darren Osborne, had plowed into the crowd of devotees at mosque, killing a man--Mukaram Ali.

This incident had occurred in London. Osborne, 48, has been jailed for 43 years, with no chance of parole. Osborne had driven a rented van into devotees who were leaving the evening prayers during the Ramzan.

"The prosecutors said Osborne was motivated by a hatred of Muslims and was radicalized by online far-right and Islamophobic propaganda", reports NY Post.

The judge said that Osborne's mind had been poisoned by far-right extremist ideas and he showed no signs of remorse. Your mindset became one of the malevolent hatred, the judge said, adding that, 'this was a terrorist attack. you intended to kill'.

This is indeed exemplary. This is justice. Swift trial and sentence within a short time. The incident had occurred on June 18, 2017. The judgment came in less than a year. When the prosecution intends to get the accused, due sentence, and the courts deliver judgments timely, it leads to order in the society.

In India, we must learn from it. In 1992, Babri Masjid was demolished in full public view. The chief minister of UP, Kalyan Singh, had given oath to the Apex court, didn't honour it. Top BJP leaders had brought the 'Kar Sevaks'.

It was indeed attack on India's values, India's religious freedom, India's secular ethos, India's law-and-order, yet, Congress government and CBI remained indifferent. The criminal case wasn't pursued. The courts apparently didn't consider it a serious crime.

Those who were responsible became ministers and chief ministers and reached posts of Governors and Deputy Prime Minister. So, that's the difference, between a society governed by law and a society where law collapses or can be subverted.

If only, exemplary punishment was given to those who planned and were involved in destruction of the Babri Mosque or leaders involved in communal riots, inflammatory speeches, things won't have deteriorated in later years

Friday, February 02, 2018

No action, No FIR, No outrage over Rakesh Sinha's open threat during live TV debate

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) 'thinker' Prof Rakesh Sinha made a highly objectionable statement on TV.

During a debate, he alleged issued the threat. He clearly gave the warning that, 'you won't be able to survive for more than 15 seconds'.

Surprisingly, this didn't lead to much outrage. Media largely ignored it. A few websites did cover it, for example, Janta Ka Reporter. There was no action, no FIR and not even any attempt to make him apologise.

"Sinha told the panelist representing the AIMIM, “I am not even talking about Asim Waqar (from AIMIM) whose leader (Akbaruddin Owaisi) wanted police removed for 15 minutes. I am saying that if there’s a retaliation against them, forget 15 minutes, you wouldn’t even survive 15 seconds", reports the website.

"Sinha later told Janta Ka Reporter that his comments were not intended towards Muslims adding that he was merely referring to the AIMIM leaders", the website further mentions. Still, wasn't it a threat? Didn't he make the comments? The video is quite clear that he gave the threat.

This is in sharp contrast to AIMIM leader Akbar Owaisi's statement when he faced multiple FIRs and had led to debate on national TV channels, which continued for days.

Akbar Owaisi was arrested and had to go to jail. Surprisingly, Rakesh Sinha's comments--not in a rally but in TV studio and telecast live, caused little outrage.

This was during a debate on News24 channel. Sinha talked about AIMIM and then said that not 15 minutes, they would not be able to stand even for 15 seconds in case of retaliation. The line was
'.... 15 second nahi tik payenge......'

Clearly, there are double standards. Not only media ignored it and paid little attention, the authorities had no interest in such an open display of bigotry and warning. Else, we find people getting booked for sedition even when there is little evidence.

Watch him utter the lines after 17.45 minutes in this video below:

VIDEO: Rakesh Sinha's chilling warning on TV channel