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How The Media Is To Blame For Our Fear Of India’s Muslims

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By Asaf Ali Lone:

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Source: YouTube.

In the recent past, videos of ISIS members allegedly of Indian origin were seen circulating on the digital platforms threatening India for its treatment of its Muslim population. It is a message to the ‘infidels’ of India by a few ‘believers’ of Indian-origin from a far-off land. What is remarkable in this entire saga is the way in which these videos have been interpreted and mediated by the ‘hypernationalist’ Indian media. The love-hate relationship between Indian mainstream media and ISIS is interesting and at the same time bizarre. Indian media has gone hyper with the videos of ISIS trying to provoke the audiences. Indian media left no stone unturned to imagine the scenario depicting what can possibly happen to this nation if these bloody people come here.

It is interesting to assess the way mainstream Indian media has tried to sensitise people about the danger of ISIS. From the Indian media’s point of view, it seems ISIS is ready with their Bazookas and AK-47s and can attack at any time the vulnerable people of this nation. In this treatment of the ISIS story, the Muslims of India appear as traitors who will welcome and garland every ISIS member similar to the way damaads are treated in the ‘pro-masculine’ Indian society.

ISIS has been involved in violence across various nations of Europe and Asia. There is something cooking up in their minds but is ISIS a real threat to India? Going by the logic of geopolitics, ISIS is a bigger threat to Iran, Israel, Turkey, the Gulf kingdoms; even Afghanistan and Pakistan are much nearer to them in terms of physical proximity. These countries seem to be less worried than the hyper-reaction we see in India. Indian security agencies need not worry as India has won Iran and Saudi Arabia as its new allies and these new friends will hopefully check this ‘badass’ devil for India.

It seems the worry is much more than that. Damn this internet and its global outreach! It is wicked and vicarious, it is pernicious and invincible, and it is vast and fearful. From the inputs of the media, it seems ISIS has an easy access to the potential ‘Indian Jihadis’ through this medium. The paradox is that every Muslim seems like a potential Jihadi these days according to the fatwa-mongering ‘Sheikh Media’. The internet is the medium and according to Marshall McLuhan, The medium is the message. It will be in the best interests of this nation if the defense ministry bombs this wicked thing known as internet. The medium dies and so does the message. As a very old, wise woman once said, “Nip the evil in the bud.”

The important question is what has made Indian media and security agencies lose their sleep? What is that they fear? Let me tell something that can be of immense value to the security agencies here; an intelligence tip. I am a Muslim myself. I was born with this identity. My name is a Muslim-sounding-name and later I was turned into a katua. Hence, I am a Muslim till eternity. All this happened without my will that’s why I think free will is a delusion.

Anyways, let me confess something today. I have been lucky to be in the company and parties of Muslims of all orientations and types such as the radical-morons, liberal-retards, orthodox-fools, fundamentalist-junoonis, secular-scumbags, progressive-unthinkers. There are some other kinds also like dal khor, halwa khor, gosht khor and also gau mans (cow meat) eaters. I also know some Muslims who drink alcohol and eat everything including pork-eating-Muslims. These are different kinds of Muslims one can find in India. The most interesting part about them is, according to the present media analyses, all of them appear are dangerous, primitive, backward, and potential Jihadis including these porky-Muslims.

To protect ISIS influence I also suggest to the Indian government to ban all mainstream media and put all these talk-show anchors like Goswami et al. and politicians behind bars. The reasons are very apparent if one uses a bit of ‘logic’. I am borrowing here from the logic of the great modern Indian logician ‘Goswami the great’, who brands every other person with beautiful labels in his talk-show which ‘The Nation never Wants to Know’. He is a new modern avatar of ‘Indian logic’. Since most of the Muslims appear to be primitive and blah blah according to these media narratives, you will be surprised to know how the ISIS propaganda is being propagated in India.

Chomsky
Chomsky. Source: Wikipedia.

The politics of ISIS is similar to a theatrical performance. The ISIS have corrupted these journalists and media houses to further their propaganda. How come these primitive, backward and illiterate Muslims come to know about ISIS if not for these media channels? It is the result of these corporate media (hate) campaigns that these innocent Muslim ‘savages’ are getting hypnotised by the propaganda of ISIS. Noam Chomsky also argues how these media houses manufacture consent and propaganda. See his book Manufacturing Consent.

Why are the security agencies not arresting all these hate-mongering politicians? They make vampires out of innocents. Every rite (riot) they perform, some mantras are chanted which bewitch people and turn them into bloodthirsty vampires. Just like these young ISIS Indian recruits tried to do but failed miserably. Until we don’t get rid of these people who are ruling the people like morons, the cycle of violence will not stop. Have a look at the history of violence in this country, every time they perform their theatrical dramas, the land was turned red by the blood of innocents. They also work-in-collaboration with the hyper-nationalist media houses. The world is a ‘global village’, again Marshall McLuhan comes to my rescue.

What is it that makes young Muslim men vulnerable targets of ISIS? Isn’t it illiteracy, joblessness, poverty and lack of avenues that is very rampant among young Muslims in India? Even Sachar saab mentioned it in his report. But who gives a damn about these wise men these days. Educate and give a life of dignity to all the ‘Sinners of the Partition‘. They will become the best sons of the soil of this nation.

It’s very hard to be a Muslim these days. But it does not mean that Muslims have lost their senses and can be manipulated so easily by a few persons seen ranting in the video. What is important is that the stigmatisation of Muslims has to stop; the generalisations and stereotypes that are built about Muslims have to be questioned. Muslims in India are as diverse as any other community here. As a Muslim, I don’t have to prove myself to anybody just like a person belonging to majority community doesn’t need to prove himself/herself to me. The time has come to end our hypocrisies. There is so much of violence around that is killing this nation; sexual violence, caste violence, the violence of the inequality, hunger and poverty, the violence of the state against the oppressed minorities. These threats are much more real and dangerous than the threats coming from an imagined enemy in a far-off land. The overzealous imagination of making one community as the ‘threatening other’ is based on frivolous, baseless arguments. This spread of misinformation is the root of all evil.

Piketty_in_Cambridge
Thomas Piketty. Source: Wikipedia.

The misrepresentation of the Muslim community as a homogenised community is a political (ill) design to hide the diversity of this community and make them a scapegoat for all their failures. This has been a historical process especially after 1980; to push this homogenising discourse of Muslims as a communal minority and as the ‘threatening other’. It silences and hides the problems and issues faced by this community, constructs a negative image of the Muslims as ‘other’ who feed on the fear and vulnerabilities of the so-called majority community. This process has led to vilification and stigmatisation of Muslims in pop culture representations which include cinema and media. To end this process of vilification and othering, the struggles, differences and diversities of and within Muslims have to be acknowledged.

Muslims in India haven’t taken the course of violence to redress their grievances. Even Thomas Piketty reiterated the same concerns about India’s 180 million strong Muslim population who have so far been a ‘moderate population’. My experience with young Muslims in India informs me that these young people are much more involved in the vikas of their community and this nation. They are socially and politically conscious; they want to lead this nation by asserting their presence in the public sphere. The majority of them come from spaces that are ghettoised and marginalised. They are assertive and have a strong political will, both young Muslim men, and especially women. They are diverse and assertive. These voices are to be recognised, their struggles must make it to the front pages and their differences acknowledged.

A young Muslim like me is much concerned about what happens around me in India rather than in a far-off land. We are more interested in Bollywood, cricket, and the welfare of our neighborhoods rather than some ‘Jihadi John’, a name many have never even heard of. Muslims are also citizens of India; they are not the ‘other’ of this nation, they make up this nation like any other citizen.

P.S. The intention of this article is not meant to trivialise anyone but to reveal something that is the hard reality of our times.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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