India’s Fake News Assault on Rohingya Muslims
What the heck is up with India’s new media?
A big, broad thesis question I know, but over the course of the past decade or so, India’s major media outlets have seemingly coalesced to support both the policies and narrative of the country’s far right wing political entities in much the same way Fox News, Breitbart, and Rush Limbaugh have locked arms with disseminated pro-Russia generated fake news to prop the candidacy and presidency of Donald J. Trump.
More specifically, fake news is being deployed to fuel both Hindu nationalism and anti-Muslim discrimination on the Indian sub-continent.
Most of these fake news stories are generated to advance the hyper-nationalist political agenda of both Narendra Modi and the far right BJP political party, weaponizing the demonization of India’s 189 million Muslim population.
These India generated fake news stories have produced a sustained wave of violence against Muslims — with lynchings reaching epidemic proportions.
In July, news sites that are sympathetic to the Hindu nationalist agenda ran a story claiming the renowned novelist Arundhati Roy criticized the Indian military’s brutal occupation of Kashmir. The story went viral. A well-known BJP politician responded by saying Roy should be tied to the front of a military jeep and used as a “human shield.” But there’s one major problem: Roy never made such a statement.
Now India’s anti-Muslim fake news assault is being targeted towards the Rohingya in the midst of the genocide taking place against them in Myanmar. Using photographs stolen from irrelevant stories, India is generating fake news to depict Rohingya Muslims as either the aggressor or as terrorists — when there is absolutely zero evidence for neither.
This fake news assault against Rohingya Muslims permeates all levels of society. From the Prime Minister’s claim India is supporting “counterterrorism” operations in Myanmar to Bollywood film celebrities, like Paresh Racal, who falsely and cruely assert Rohingya Muslims are killing Hindus in Myanmar.
These fake claims and stories serve not only to ratchet up anti-Muslim discrimination in India and Kashmir, but also to undermine any effort the international community might muster in putting an end to Myanmar’s program of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.
Moreover, and given India is the world’s biggest consumer of social media with more than 240 million Facebook users alone, these anti-Muslim fake news stories are being shared across the world. These fake news stories have enourmous political ramifications as seen with Russia’s successful and coordinated campaign to help elect Trump and the UK to withdraw from Brexit.
The problem has gotten so out of hand that Facebook has launched a campaign to spread and create awareness in India for how to spot fake news. “From doctored photos and videos to false and incendiary claims about particular communities or religious groups, sensationalist predictions of natural calamities, death rumors, and bogus medical advice, fake news stories and memes are shared rampantly via these platforms in India every day,” observes Forbes magazine.
These fake news stories created to demonize the world’s most perspectued minority — Rohingya Muslims — are also providing the Indian goverment the political cover to deport 40,000 Rohngya refugees who face almost certain extermination should they return to Myanmar.
More than 400,000 Rohingya have now been displaced, alongside thousands who have been killed by Myanmar’s military. You can help combat India’s fake news assault on Rohingya Muslims by sharing this article.
Published by CJ Werleman Independent, a crowdfunded investigative journalism project that seeks to expose and end Western injustices against Muslims
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