Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Fear of Minorities: Rise of majoritarianism and Hindutva in India, need for introspection among Muslims as well



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Often it happens, that some Muslims in India rue, 'we are not snatching their jobs, we don't have adequate representation, we are being demonized, we are being lynched, still why the majority doesn't understand us or feels sympathy'. Why there is hate or anger?

A lot of it is valid and as a person belong to minority community, it would seem so that they we are wronged. We want justice but are we doing justice? Just after the Ayodhya verdict, I saw posts in FB groups about pictures of RSS leaders with Muslim Ulema. On pix of Shia leader with Sangh-BJP leaders, there were comments that would disgust you.

After all, when we don't trust own minority, always suspect-accuse them, and forget how many of mainstream Sunni leaders go-meet, involved all sorts of parleys but still target 'own minority'. Many of us publicly act suave but we too are like a 'mob'. We want our minorities too to 'behave'. It is so easy to term any sect 'Kharijite' in normal conversation.

I don't generally talk about Pakistan. But see, when you don't consider Ahmadiyyas as 'Muslim', leave them alone or give them the rights for a non-Muslim minority but you are angry, as they are not on your path, so the less than 0.5% minority is always an eyesore.

So much energy is spent on conferences, morchas on the issue, as if Ahmadiyyas are a huge sect. No, they are not but the moment you have a leader or politician behaving against norm, you start whisper campaigns that he is 'Qadiani'. Why do you feel so insecure, so threatened?

Clearly, a minority has to abide by certain rules. So when you have a huge minority, not 0.2-.4% but 15% around in India, here too majority will feels 'threatened', that they were 'own people' who got converted and now creating trouble, similar feelings.

The majority may get upset if you retort or even if you talk like equals. So that's how mindset of majority works. The reality is that not everyone will get a good job or earn well. Rather than looking for reasons behind our failure, it's very easy to blame the 'other', the minority, believing that things would have been better without them.

And also 'hate' as a passion, drives people, gives them the 'jeene ka maqsad', the kick many need.
Just sometime ago, I got message (from Muslims) calling for boycott of Mulla (Bohra) businesses. Now imagine, in a country where we face it--calls for boycott of Muslims, and we feel so hurt, many of us do it so casually and no one is bothered.

We don't even 'see' or talk about this blatant badmashi. That's majoritarian privilege within the community. When leaders of Barelvi or Deobandi school go to meet right-wing leaders, whose boycott are you going to call for?

Anyway, the levels of majoritarianism also depends on how 1-2 leaders may succeed in a society or by misuse of mass media. All this needs to be analyzed and tackled. But we must also keep introspecting, when we expect justice, we should also do justice.

Sometimes we have to get out of the 'complaining mode' or tackle the media-created image of minority. It needs an effort but it is not impossible. There are several successful examples. But we must be ready to accept our own failures, our drawbacks and must not lose our cool the moment we hear a contradictory opinion or hear our criticism.

Right now, we are facing injustice, a lot has happened that depresses us, that takes us to negativity. But we are facing a group that worked hard for eighty years, the right-wingers who have democratically got power, worked extremely hard to achieve the objective. We need to improve ourselves, learn, introspect and work.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Twitter faces backlash for allowing 'hate' on its platform in India, users ask it to act against hate, Islamophobia


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Social media giant Twitter is facing a huge backlash in India.

It is because of the company's perceived failure to stop hateful messages and even allowing users who give 'calls for boycott and open discrimination' to remain on Twitter.

The accounts that trended in support of boycott of an entire community [Indian Muslims] were not blocked & even the objectionable trend was not removed, though trends inconvenient for Twitter are removed suddenly.

On the other hand, several accounts were suspended or blocked on flimsy grounds--like posting a phone number seeking help or for seeking blood for a patient. Senior lawyer Sanjay Hedge's account was suspended for reasons best known to Twitter.

But those abusing people freely, issuing threats or posting fake news remain active and there is no one stopping them from carrying on misinformation. Many of them even have 'verified' status. Already, Twitter is facing flak for its strange social media policy.

Bahujan activists have demanded transparency in its verification process. Today, Bhim Army members reached Twitter office to seek clarification over its policies and that why Backward, Tribal and Dalit leaders don't get 'verified'.

The reality is that over a period of two years, Twitter has said that its 'verification' process is on hold. However, people with little or no following and even those who have tweeted fake news repeatedly, keep getting the blue tick (verified), though there is no contact or email on Twitter's website.

No criterion or parameter is known. Mostly, the PR agencies or middle-men are engaged in the job to get people verified. However, allowing hate and fake news is a much more serious issue. Users who have repeatedly shared fake news that had the potential to disrupt communal harmony are not suspended or blocked.

Instead, if a person who is not aware of Twitter's policy that someone's phone number can't be shared, gets suspended even for trying to help someone who needs blood in emergency. Twitter hasn't said it openly and clearly about it and most users aren't aware.

STOP HATE: Citizens' statement against Twitter for failing to stop offensive content, hate

This has been a long-standing problem with Twitter in India. Users who have been sending messages that disrupt social harmony or abuse religious figures or go to the extent of call for complete boycott of an entire community, are not punished.

Isn't it shocking that people who say that Muslims ought to be economically insulated in India--clear incitement (that is against the law of the land too), and violates constitutional provisions, face no action on Twitter.

READ: How Twitter gives free run to fake news, serial hate peddlers on its platform

In the past, such propaganda, demonizing minorities and hate has led to Rwanda genocide. In recent years, we saw killings in Myanmar. Yet, Twitter fails to even act despite hundreds of people reporting these tweets.

Independent fact-checkers have repeatedly exposed the people who are misusing the platform. These tweets make way to people's phones through screenshots, in WhatsApp, and go to rural areas where there is no system to debunk them or find their veracity.

PETITION: Twitter must stop hate, Nazi style propaganda on its platform in India