Facebook’s pro-BJP lobbyist Ankhi Das has apologised to her Muslim colleagues in the company for an Islamophobic post that she had shared on her page. Das, who faced global condemnation after The Wall Street Journal reported how she had blocked the move to take down the hate speech videos posted by BJP leaders, has also sensationally locked her Facebook profile.
A report by Buzzfeed said that Das wrote to her colleagues in Facebook apologising for sharing an Islamophobic post, written by a little known former Indian police officer. She wrote, “Dear friends – The intent of my personal Facebook post was not to denigrate Islam. It was to reflect my deep belief in celebrating feminism and civic participation. I value all perspectives I have heard over the past days about how the post was received and as a result I have deleted the post. I genuinely regret any hurt it may have caused, including to my Muslim colleagues in the company.”
The Facebook post shared by Das had called India’s Muslims traditionally a ‘degenerate community’ for whom ‘nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter.’ Das had written that the post ‘spoke to me last night’ adding that ‘As it should to (the) rest of India.’
Reacting to Das’s apology for Islamophobia, the Buzzfeed report added, one Facebook employee wrote, “Thank you for acknowledging that the post was hurtful to the Muslim community. It is a first step in the right direction. As a company, we now need to do an honest reflection of hate speech and Islamophobia against Muslims on our platform. In a market where public figures like T. Raja Singh engage in blatant hate speech, as well as incites [sic] violence, against the Muslim community, we need to do more to protect the vulnerable.”
The employee in question reportedly also demanded that Facebook designate the Hindu supremacist organisation Bajrang Dal, and others like it, as ‘dangerous,’ which can lead to organisations and individuals being kicked off Facebook platforms.
Soon after The Wall Street Report revealed Das’s Islamophobia, the India head of Facebook had thrown his weight behind Ankhi Das, the social media giant’s public policy director. But this did not stop a rebellion of sorts from growing in the company’s global team. A group of Facebook employees had written an open letter on the company’s internal platform demanding answers to some tough questions on ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’ promoted by the India team under Ankhi Das. The letter had also demanded diverse representation in Facebook’s ‘policy team in India (and elsewhere).’
Meanwhile, Das has blocked her Facebook profile, meaning that no one other than her friends will be able to see what she posts on her page.
The Indian parliamentary standing committee on Information and Technology led by Shashi Tharoor has summoned Facebook executives to appear before it answer questions of brazen biases in favour of the BJP.