Hindu-Muslim And The Facebook War: Online Communalism #socialmedia


  • Posted on: April 29, 2013, Youth Ki Awaaz

By Nihal Parashar:

I wrote a dissertation titled ‘Building of a Communal State in a Virtual World: Hindu-Muslim relation seen through the lens of YouTube and Facebook. I was trying to interrogate the role of Social Media platforms in the ongoing ‘war’ between the fascists of the two religions. While working on the dissertation I stumbled upon various Facebook pages and YouTube videos which propagated violence. The question which comes to mind is shall we try to ban these pages? But the bigger question is how socially relevant these pages are? If there is a hate page on a certain social media platform, it simply signifies that there is hate in the society as well. The spill over of societal issues could be seen on these platforms. The Facebook pages, with numerous ‘likes’, justify that they are only tip of the iceberg. The problem lies somewhere else. This reminds me of a couplet by renowned Urdu poet Josh Malihabadi which says, ‘Zeb ye deta nahin sarkaar ko, paaliye bimaariyon ko maariye bimaar ko’ (This does not suits government when it kills the people affected with a disease but does nothing to eradicate the disease).

social media

A PHOTO SHARED BY THE PAGE ‘KARZ APNA CHUKANA HAI, BABRI MASJID WAHIN BANANA HAI’

Today I came across another such page. The title of the page is ‘Karz apna chukana hai, Babri Masjid wahin banana hai’, loosely translates in English as ‘We need to pay back by building Babri Mosque at the same place’. It was time to revisit my thesis and add few more notes.

The era in which we live is extremely complex in nature. The extraordinary problems are of varied forms which certainly requires extraordinary answers. We did not inherit a peaceful society from the previous generation. The previous generation was also not fortunate enough to inherit a perfect society from their predecessors. It is less likely that we are going to present a better society to the future generations. But this does not mean that we all must stop looking for better answers to questions of the present era.

The Communal aspect of the Social Media platforms is a result of the dissatisfaction in the society. There are few similarities in the pages which claim to represent different religions. The administrator of most of the pages lack sense of humour (they make you laugh at times although for a different reason altogether) and poses a great sense of anger. The posts are written to stimulate a feeling of hatred for the ‘other’community. They use each and every possible mythological symbol for the purpose. The admin and followers do not hesitate to turn most of the current social and political developments into an occasion to revisit the history and look for reasons to criticize the behaviour of the‘others’. They take solace in the religious past to condemn the act of others.

Apart from these, the most common similarity for such pages in India is Narendra Modi. You will find posts related to him on all the Hindutva pages as well as Islamic fascists pages, with obvious love and hate on the respective pages.

fb

SCREENSHOT FROM THE PAGE ‘INDIA IS A HINDU NATION’ WHICH IS STEREOTYPING ISLAMIC COUNTRIES THROUGH THIS IMAGE AND MANY OTHERS ON THE PAGE

The social media gives a sense of pseudo-anonymity to the person on the front end. You are hero for the moment. And fighting is an extremely honourable job, as per our social and religious norms. Are we living in 10000 B.C? What is the importance of civilization if it is not able to generate the basic understanding that fighting is not going to solve any problem. A good hearted soul said that non- violence is older than the mountains and oceans. Seems our civilization has taken wrong route and a peaceful world seems a distant dream.

Rise of communalism on different social media platforms is going to shape many young individuals, still in early teenage, that may come across certain posts which may plant the seed of prejudice in their fertile minds. The human mind is amazing, especially in the early years. It distinguishes right and wrong in a very young age and for the entire life it only justifies the decision of the tender age. It needs to be extremely elastic to revaluate its decision in a later year. If an individual has a certain point of view on a certain issue it is totally related to his personal journey. Social media may act as a tool for the same. But in no circumstance it can be the culprit.

What must be done to take care of the rise of communalism on the social media platforms? Shall we agree with an Indian minister’s idea of asking Facebook and Google to screen the content on the websites? This does not have a very simple answer as well. Like all extraordinary questions it deserves an extraordinary answer.

‘We need an inclusive society’– Is this an accepted statement? We need to answer this. If it is an accepted statement then we certainly need to look for a community of peace-builders who believe in the humanitarian values. There will be the fascist forces to ridicule this idea. But an inclusive society will also accommodate them. No, I am not talking about utopia. I am talking about my society, which rests its hope on you, O reader.

#India- Films under the knife #censorship


OMAR RASHID, The Hindu

FILMMAKER:Anand Patwardhan.

FILMMAKER:Anand Patwardhan.

 The screening of noted filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s  Ram Ke Naam  (In the Name of God) was persistently protested by the students’ wing of a political party at a recent people’s film festival in Ayodhya, more than two decades after it was documented. The filmmaker talks about the film, censorship of independent opinions and much more in an interview:

How relevant do you think is the film’s initial controversy today?

Twenty-one years ago, the film got a “U” certificate, a Filmfare Award and a National Award for Best Investigative Film. The Doordarshan showed the film following an order by the Bombay High Court who ruled that it was made in national interest. Yet there are groups that oppose it without seeing it. They are told it is “anti- Hindu”. But in fact, in the last 21 years, several  karsevaks  who had actually gone to demolish the Babri Mosque confessed after seeing the film that they felt ashamed for what they had done. They realised that the issue was not religious, but political and financial.

Ram Ke Naam  does not oppose any religion. The voices of ordinary Hindus in and around Ayodhya are testimony to the fact that the communal virus in this country does not originate from the working majority but is largely injected by upper caste urban elements. These “leaders” generally get working class/caste people to do their dirty work, whether this is scavenging or participating in riots and looting.  Ram Ke Naam  interviews Pujari Laldas, head priest of the Ram Janma bhoomi/ Babri Masjid temple/ mosque who believed that Hindus and Muslims should both be allowed to pray at the site as they had done for centuries. Within a year of the Babri demolition, Pujari Laldas was murdered.

The film was incidentally completed in 1991, before the Babri demolition. It was a warning to the nation that communal forces were about to inflict a grievous wound on our secular fabric. The warning went unheeded. By that time the film reached TV, the damage had been done. The Babri Masjid had been demolished, thousands of people in the sub-continent killed and a chain reaction of religious hatred unleashed that continues to wreak havoc to the present day.

The Babri demolition has completed 20 years, why do you think no mainstream film has been made on the issue?  Barring exceptions, I don’t have faith in mainstream Bollywood or for that matter Hollywood. They have the great advantage of mass reach but the very nature of the huge finances involved prevents political, social and cultural risk-taking. There is careful calculation and almost inevitable compromise. Sometimes when its heart is in the right place, a film can shift popular perceptions to a tiny degree but usually this happens only when the filmmakers believes their cause to be popular. So for instance, there may be some good films made against rape now but even here the chances are that the commercial instinct will send double messages while appearing to be pro-woman.

So the silence on Babri Masjid is not surprising. One sensitive fiction film that did touch this issue is Saeed Mirza’s  Naseem  though I won’t call it Bollywood and nor did it enjoy a big release. Incidentally when Saeed wanted to access TV footage of the attack on the mosque he could not find any, such had been the censorship. He ended up using sound clips from Ram Ke Naam .

Kamal Haasan’s 

Vishwaroopam  

was in the news for slightly similar reasons.

I am against censorship, especially of the extra-constitutional variety. I will not talk of the content of Vishwaroopam  as I have not seen the film, but the reviews of people I trust has me worried that the film indulges in stereotyping and sees the U.S. as an ally in the fight against terror. If this is true, I would still not call for censorship but I would find it problematic, because the U.S. is playing a deadly double game. They are both the authors of jihad  and now the victims of it. Bin Laden was their creation. They fought a proxy war in Afghanistan where they preached Islamic jihad against communists. Have they ever apologised? Peace may come to our planet the day the powerful neo-con lobby in America genuinely reveals how it used religion to divide the world. And Islamic  jihad  may realise that not Islam, not the Quran, but their enemy number one is their actual father.

Most human beings are not bigoted by nature. They are victims of manipulation. Just as  Ram Ke Naam  was able to win over  karsevaks . I am sure that even  jihadis  can be won over if they come into genuine and prolonged contact with those who believe in another idea of Islam. But if we merely practice revenge, judicial or otherwise, the cycle of violence will remain unbroken.

How has the film-making landscape changed since you made  Ram Ke Naam ? Are you freer today?

I continue to try and tell the truth as I see it. What is sad is that the real censorship in this country is no longer the censorship of the State. It is the censorship of the marketplace. Our films remain in the margins. Breaking out of this is the fight that must continue.

 

“…real censorship in this country is no longer the censorship of the State. It is the censorship of the marketplace. Our films remain in the margins.”

 

 

 

Sparks fly at IISc over Anand Patwardhan documentary on Babri masjid razing


By Aishhwariya Subramanian | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Proving that communal tension exists even within the hallowed halls of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), a heated argument broke out at IISc on Wednesday after a documentary was screened on the campus about the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

The documentary, Ram Ke Naam, which is Anand Patwardhan’s controversial take on the 20-year-old issue, was screened by a student body that has representatives from both IISc and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).

When the documentary began, some students got into an argument with the organisers over its controversial content. By the time the documentary got over, the two groups erupted into a loud argument that left several members of the audience at loss for words.

Much of the problem arose from the posters used by the organisers. The posters contained a blurb from Patwardhan himself, describing Vishwa Hindu Parishad as a “militant group”.
“They plastered these posters, calling the VHP a ‘militant group’ all across the hostels in the campus. There is already some communal tension because of it and because of these posters, there are also counter posters put up in the hostels. They are just trying to cause trouble by screening this documentary, which is full of lies and does not even want to discuss the facts,” said a PHd student from IISc who did not wish to be named.

The student body group, on the other hand, said they simply wanted to screen the documentary to mark the 20th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.

They also noted that several students from the IISc had written to the Students’ Council prior to the screening to get it canceled. The Students’ Council, in turn, wrote to the registrar and the public relations officer of the institute. While the administration gave the group the green signal to screen the documentary, the PRO was present the entire time.

“I just want to clarify that this documentary was not screened on behalf of the IISc but by the students’ group called Concern,” he said. Overall, the public screening was attended by close to 150 people, most of whom were from the IISc.

While the scuffle between the protesters and the organisers never turned physical, one of the protesters raised the slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai‘.

 

BELOW IS A REACTION FROM RAVI, WHO WAS THERE AT THE SCREENING

 

From: ravi <ra.ravishankar@gmail.com>
Date: 15 December 2012 23:34

I went for the documentary screening and find this report very
problematic, right from the way it is pitched: “communal tension” in
the “hallowed halls” of IISc! The problem wasn’t one of “communal
tension”, it was more a reaction by a small group of rabidly
pro-Hindutva students to a film they feared would expose the Hindutva
movement’s blood-stained past and give the lie to its claim to
represent all Hindus.

The report describes the documentary as Anand Patwardhan’s
“controversial” take on the Ramjanbhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, and
attributes much of the problem to the publicity posters which
described the VHP as “militant”. Is any popular anti-Hindutva work
non-controversial? Why should a work be defined by the ruckus raised
by the Hindutva forces? If an adjective was badly needed, why not
“award-winning” instead of “controversial”? As for describing the VHP
as militant, I too find it problematic since the term has a fairly
neutral meaning; “fascist” would have been more accurate.

Here is my understanding of how the events unfolded. The screening was
organised by a student group called Concern
<http://www.facebook.com/pages/Concern-IISc/142948592461127>. Once the
screening was finalized, and necessary permissions taken from the
appropriate IISc authorities, publicity posters were put up. A motley
group of rabidly pro-Hindutva IISc students swung into action, put up
misleading counter-posters, and persuaded the Students Council
President to write to the IISc public relations officer recommending
cancellation of the film. A petition was also circulated to this
effect, and it apparently got about 100 signatures. However, Concern
folks got wind of this action, and eventually managed to let the
screening go ahead with an important caveat — there was to be no
discussion after the screening, and Concern was responsible for
evacuating the audience out of the venue once the film ended. There
was considerable uncertainty about whether the event will go ahead
until the day of the screening … The pro-Hindutva students also
threatened a legal suit if the posters describing the VHP as
“militant” were not removed, but (I think) Concern didn’t budge.

About 150-200 people came for the screening. I was about five minutes
late, but heard from a friend that when the organisers attempted a
brief intro to the film, the Hindutva group (sanghis) started shouting
and the screening was started hurriedly without an intro. Not that it
kept the sanghis quiet though. They continued to shout once in a
while, either when they were particularly aggrieved (as when none of
the Hindutva supporters interviewed in the film seemed to know exactly
when Rama was born; a sanghi in the audience asserted that Rama was
born 9.5 lakh years ago, and claimed fossil evidence to this effect!)
or to express approval for Narendra Modi or an egregious character on
screen (like when Advani barked “Mandir Wahin Banayenge” — we’ll
build the temple THERE). I think the guy who set Rama’s age at 9.5
lakh years departed midway through the screening, perhaps embarrassed
at his antics and not wanting to be identified in public (much like
the anonymous sanghi quoted in the DNA report). Another one shouted
out a suggestion: invite Subramanian Swamy to know the truth about
Ayodhya!

When the film ended, the sanghis who had stayed back started shouting
immediately. Concern folks tried to get everyone out of the room
immediately, but the sanghis wanted a captive audience. It later
turned out that they haven’t been able to muster such big audiences
for their events, so wanted to have a say then and there. In the words
of one of them, paraphrased as I remember: “When we have some events
to talk about corruption or issues of national interest, no one turns
up. But for this biased documentary, so many have come.” The room was
soon cleared, and a shouting match ensued outside. The Sanghis
departed with cries of “Jai Shri Ram, Bharat Mata ki Jai, Concern is a
Naxalite group, Ban Concern” etc.  For me, this was a good taste of
sanghi thuggery when they lack numbers and don’t have the active
support of the administration. Friends told me that a similar
screening in other campuses, such as Hyderabad Central University
which has a strong ABVP unit, would be more fraught with danger.
Likewise for events outside university campuses.

All in all, this event was an interesting contrast to the previous
screening of Ram Ke Naam that we had organised several years ago at
UIUC. The sanghis at UIUC didn’t want to crawl out of the woodwork and
stand exposed for their politics, but it turns out some of the sanghis
at IISc felt no such restraint. Perhaps they expected some support
from the neutral section of the audience, and when none was
forthcoming their boorishness took over. Such hostility to a
two-decade old documentary makes one wonder how much more rabidly they
would react to an event on contemporary Hindutva, or its practice in
Gujarat.

ravi

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