A Saudi family of Indian origin has reacted with anger to a News18 India programme that wrongly demonised their child by projecting him as a young Abubakar al-Baghdadi, the dreaded terrorist who heads the ISIS.
News18 India, the Hindi channel and part of the Network 18 media group, on Friday ran a special broadcast focussing on the life of al-Baghdadi.
The channel in its 17-odd minutes long programme, (WATCH THE FULL PROGRAMME HERE) claimed to have finally got hold of every detail of Baghdadi’s hidden past, that had been unreported by media so far. At least that’s what the anchor claimed in order to further increase the hysteria around his show.
In the crime show, Haadsa (accident), the anchor Digvijay Singh, made a dramatic introduction promising to expose every hidden secret of Baghdadi in the programme. The said programme, was posted on the channel’s website on 1 April with a Hindi headline, which is loosely translated as ‘How this youth turned into the ISIS chief from a lecturer.”
12 minutes into the programme, the anchor goes on to dwell on Baghdadi’s childhood with a young boy in Islamic attire and Islamic cap briskly walking somewhere in a Gulf country. From the voice-over, it was clear that attempts were being made to project the boy in the video as young Baghdadi.
However, one family is not very impressed with the channel’s programming because the child in the video happens to be their son, who’s now a student of International Indian School in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The clip of the boy used by News 18 has been taken from a short film, shot in 2015. The video was made as part of their educational project by a group of students from International Indian School in Jeddah.
The channel has clearly lifted a part of the video to project him as young Baghdadi, when in reality that child is an innocent student of Indian origin studying in Saudi Arabia. (Watch the video below)
Daud Arif, who too studied from the IIS, took to Facebook to highlight the issue accusing the channel of indulging in unethical means to demonise an innocent child.
In his Facebook post, Arif wrote, “News 18 India used Clips from a short film produced by my juniors in Saudi. They used it to portray the childhood of the ISIS founder Baghdadi.
The kid in this clip is a junior of mine playing the role of a normal Indian Muslim. It worries me as to how disastrous has Indian media become these days.”
Since his Facebook post, a campaign of sorts has started with users registering their anger using hashtag #News18learnethics.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, Arif said that he had been in touch with the child’s family in Jeddah and they were in the process of writing to the channel and the regulatory body, the NBSA.
He said, “We are writing to the channel to immediately correct their mistake by first removing the video from all internet platforms and issue unconditional apology on the channel. We will write to the NBSA if we are not satisfied with the channel’s response. We are also exploring legal options to mount a defamation claim seeking significant financial compensation.”
We made several attempts to contact the News18 channel for their response, but we weren’t successful. We will update this story with their response as and when we get them.