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Hindu-Muslim And The Facebook War: How To Take Care Of Online Communalism

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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.

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  1. Jaai Vipra

    Hi Nihal

    This is commendable. I’ve been noticing particularly hateful comments on social media sites as well, even on pages that do not particularly promote communalism. I’d like to know if you proposed some solutions as well in your dissertation. Clearly stifling freedom of speech is not the answer, because freedom of speech carries no meaning if we only accord it to people we agree with. Thanks.

    1. Nihal Parashar

      Hello Jaai,

      In my dissertation I was able to propose few solution as well. Freedom of speech is much hyped a phenomenon than it is. There needs to be a proper understanding of ‘Freedom’ before claiming it. Freedom cannot be a luxury. But that is a different discussion altogether,
      I shall post more articles related to the topic. And I shall also try to post excerpt from my dissertation with my solutions, which must be discussed and debated.
      There are few more relevant article on my blog http://www.nihalparashar.blogspot.in .

      Thank you 🙂

  2. mohammed haider

    Hey Nihal ….hope you remember me ……..i have read your dissertion…..you are doing great.
    I think we live in a society where justice is only available to the classes who are politically involved in the country …..thats the biggest problem ……i m not saying this bcos i m a muslim ….i know that is not related to muslims or any other religion ..it is just they are backward ….wichhever class or comunity is backward is nt getting justice ……take exanple of sikhs….mindsets are changing gradually …annd we need to be pioneer of that change ….like u r doing ur part ….i m doing my part by commenting and telling my acquaintances what is right or wrong……religion has always created a gap between human and humanity …i have many more things to say ……but time is nt enough ….and even i m nt prepared for that …..okay thank you

    1. Nihal Parashar

      Hello Haider.

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you to a great extent.

  3. Neena Wagh

    Hi Nihal, its heartwarming to know that such a young person like you have the maturity to look straight into such glaring challanges/maladies of our society without getting caught into jingoism and giving knee jerk reactions. We have not inherited fascism, comunalism and such divercive thinking from our immidiate previous generation but if you dig deeper you will find that we the entire human race across the centuries, borders have come from a violent past. The bad thing is we never have learned much from the past and there always has been these negative elements present and have used different mediums in different times. In our times we have these social medias as you have put across doing the same stuff which earlier they did by means of force and coersion. The good thing is that we inspite of such darkness are still a thinking society, and it always need just one person to be that conduit to spread love, kindness, compassion and above all tolerance and understanding.And till the time even one of us is willing to stand strong and take care of the week we will keep going ..seeds of hope sowing and will carry on taking everything in our stride.
    God bless you I am so glad that you thought of writing and sharing this with all of us. A job well done I would say:)
    -neena wagh

    1. Nihal Parashar

      Thank you Neena. Appreciate your kind words 🙂

  4. Adnan Akhtar

    Hey Nihal,

    We all have read the law that when anything is accepted by 15-18% of the masses then it reaches the tipping point and turns into an epidemic.
    Coming back to the topic in focus: I as an Indian feel very very uneasy about whole issue not because people can post something or anything on social media. But I feel concerned because of the participation in promoting such posts by a large number of users.In a comparatively backward country like India where say only less than 20% people will be active on social media, these less than 20% are the influential portion of India and they participate in such things…I dont get disturbed when I just see someone posting something well thats cool but a communal content getting 1,00,000 likes and shares man thats a real horror.

    We have simply decided to put aside logic when it comes to being really logical. The next generation of Indians should be taught and trained into being a more tolerating and respectful about religion rather than being so illogical about it…

    I will be more than glad to read the solutions in your dissertation. Excellent topic great Work

    1. Nihal Parashar

      Hello Adnan,
      I am glad you appreciated the work. I agree with you to a great extent. The spiral of silence is most visible on the social media platforms. I shall try to upload few sections of my thesis as different posts. Hope you will read them in future 🙂

  5. Deepak Venkateswaran

    Great Article Nihal!

    A pretty good analysis of how social media is affecting the tension of communalism today!! Would certainly love to see some solutions from your side. But on the whole a good work!!

    A society where religion does not matter at all, does not interfere in your progress; where you are not given unwanted privileges because you are a minority or you are not seen as a supressor just because you hail from a majority community; a society where equal opportunity for all and progress and success is based on caliber and ideas is the key to a society!! Sad to see the way today the ruling government plays with religions in the name of secularism!!

    Great work anyways!!

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