Mainstreaming of Islamophobia and role of Indian channels: The Nahid Afrin-fatwa story

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Nahid Afrin, an Assam-based Bollywood playback singer, who recently sang a song in a Sonakshi Sinha-starrer Akira has been in the news lately; however, less for her talent and more for other reasons.

mainstreaming islamophobia

On Wednesday, her name and picture was splashed around in news outlets because of an alleged fatwa that was issued against her by 46 Muslim clerics. While everyone was busy analysing the UP election results suddenly at 11:54 AM Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief minister of Assam, tweeted in support of Nahid and condemned the organisations who had issued the so-called fatwa.

If you think it was all spontaneous then believe me, it was NOT. There was a pattern here and we had seen this before.

A BJP leader tweets in favour of freedom and condemns “the radicalisation of Muslim community” then the usual suspects and BJP leaning news channels and journalists pick up the story and begin to flash it as BREAKING NEWS with some fancy hashtags. Now they attempt to seek opinions from BJP sympathiser ‘guests.’

It usually takes just a Times Now or Zee News to launch what often appears to be an agenda driven piece of ‘journalism’ before other channels too join the bandwagon without verifying facts. Facts and journalism never go hand in hand for Indian TV media. But, in the Nahid controversy, these channels went one step ahead and somehow connected a so called “singing is unIslamic” statement with ISIS/Terrorism.

And when the debate around is as ‘important’ a topic as #IndiaVsISIS, how can the famous Twitter warriors such as Madhu Kishwar, Tarek Fatah, Shazia Ilmi and Taslima Nasreen not join the Twitter debate?

.And if they don’t tweet, news channels approach them without any delay. They know who can speak against it.

Finally with their huge efforts some celebrities and liberals also join them. Just like the right-wing brigade, they too don’t know the facts and some chose to ignore the facts just to make a balance. They directly blamed Islam for this.

Now these statements act as a boon for this campaign and media repeats it again and again.

Later on, when the facts come out that all the breaking news, campaign has no ground, no one apologies or takes his/her words back.

All that doesn’t matter because purpose has been achieved, i.e mainstreaming Islamophobia. Yes, this has been done to demonise the whole community, to spread Islamophobia because it eventually helps the BJP in elections.

They set the narrative “See, they (Muslims) are so regressive, radical and extremists. They are coming for you next. And whoever talks about them is an Islamist, pseudo-secular and supporting radicalisation. Only I can save you so vote for us”.

It is just a step to make Muslims untouchable in 21st century. There is a sequence of incidents and this has happened in the past too. They picked up issues around Zaira Wasim, Triple Talaq etc in order to make it look more real.

It is so predictable now. And this time a cabinet minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad was also involved in this. Those who think Gurmehar’s mind is polluted suddenly start caring about freedom. Those who never talk about physical attacks on Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Yogesh Master are condemning a fatwa that never was.

Now Himanta Biswa Sarma, the minister in Assam government has promised that he will take strong action against Muslim clerics who issued ‘fatwa’ against Nahid Afrin. Strong action for having an opinion that, “singing is un-Islamic”?

The Pamphlet

So what actually happened? A pamphlet came out in which allegedly some members of Jamiat-e-Ulema of Assam requested everyone to not attend the programme, where Nahid Afrin was scheduled to perform. Nahid Afrin was not even mentioned in the pamphlet.

Going through that pamphlet I found that there was no FATWA or threat, it was a request and that pamphlet was unverified.

I made contact with the signatories and they said, “We have no idea about any pamphlet, we have not issued any FATWA”. Even if it would have been verified, it was still just an opinion.

The Supreme Court clearly mentioned that “FATWA is just an interpretation and has no legal binding”. It is just an opinion like mine or yours on any issue. The basic ethics of journalism is to verify the facts but in this post-truth era hardly anyone makes any effort. Clearly, it’s very easy to sell fake, unverified news against Muslims particularly when Islamophobia has a big market even in India.

(Views expressed here are the author’s own and Janta Ka Reporter doesn’t necessarily endorse them)

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2 COMMENTS

  1. It is dangerous game going on, to play hindutav agenda, those who are least concerned for human rights & individual freedom, from exploited communities in Hindu fold, or religious minorities, become champion of protection if some wrong done or going on in Muslim or other minorities community. Who trolled Gurmehar only few days ago, even mainstream media did not came openly in her support, but individual through social media. On learning a pamphlet in present case, on which Who issued fatwa was not mentioned, language it self suggest of advisery not dictate, pounced upon by these fake champions of Liberty & human value.

  2. such a shame. countries like Canada and England are fighting against Islamophobia and see what is happening in my country. they are fighting against Islam. such a shame shame

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