Kalamasery Blast In Kerala Betrayed The Ugly Face of Islamophobia in Newsrooms

kalamasery blast

On Sunday, October 29, three people were killed and several others injured after an explosion occurred during a Jehovah’s Witnesses conference in Kalamasery. This incident shocked Kerala terribly. But we have seen different news narratives coming out moments after the incident. Even before there was a clear statement from the police, the media rushed to the scene, calling it a terrorist attack, and blaming Muslims.

Palestine, Hamas, Israel, and the Jews all jumped in and out of the speculation-filled live headlines. News channel News 18 reported with a photo that the man wearing the type of cap used by Muslims was detained by the police on suspicion. News agency ANI also reported that the day after the Hamas leader attended the event online, a series of explosions occurred at a prayer meeting in Kerala.

As many major news organizations accept the ANI service, they also reported on the Hamas leader’s online program and the subsequent blast. Most of the news blamed the Muslim community by dragging the issue of Palestine into it. In short, until the police arrested the real suspect, a former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, all the blame was undoubtedly on the Muslim community through the media.

Soon a man called Martin Dominic who was part of the same congregation went to a police station an confessed that he committed the crime.

‘Mapping Islamophobia: The Indian Media Environment’ by Muhibul Haque and Abdullah Khan is a study that finds the media to be the main cause of hatred, hatred, enmity and jealousy in Indian society. It can be asserted that electronic media and social media are playing a major role in communalizing religious groups and society through baseless accusations and destroying harmony and equality in Indian society. These scholars also point out that in the last few years in India, media organizations are leading the hate campaign against Muslims in the country. Whether it is marriage, divorce, polygamy, population growth or even propaganda against the spread of Covid, the first target of the Indian media is the Muslim community.

Incidents of blaming Muslims do not necessarily take place in India itself. Whatever happens in any part of the world, the Indian media is trying round the clock to put the blame on the Muslims of India. Even if the supply of oil from Saudi Arabia to India decreases, the Indian Muslims will be blamed for it. When Turkish President Rajab Tayyib Urdu Khan talked about Muslim unity, Indian Muslims were also sceptical. Why, when the Taliban came back to power in Afghanistan, communal extremists in India unleashed a storm of Islamophobia against the Muslim community. Muslims in India were put on the dock for no fault of theirs.

On that day, anti-Muslim and hatred was rife throughout the discussions on Indian television around Afghanistan, the Taliban, Muslims and terrorism. Also, another fact is that the communal groups here and their leaders are very keen to spread Islamophobia against Indian Muslims. For this, the main weapon is the electronic media. Meanwhile, social media such as blogs, personal Facebook profiles, Instagram and WhatsApp are all running this type of hate campaign. Social media is full of anti-Muslim content.

It goes without saying that another serious truth is that those who are doing such hate campaigns are increasing day by day. The cyber-attacks against Muslims by the press and social media have deeply scarred the community.

Not only newspapers and social media, but even films have been used as anti-Muslim weapons. Movies like Kashmir Files, Kerala Story and 72 Hourin portrayed the Muslim community as uncivilized and brutal religious followers.

It is easy to understand that India has a media environment where the hate speeches of communal group leaders get a lot of media attention. It is very common to extract parts of such speeches and spread them in unrelated social contexts just to spread Muslim hatred.

The media’s emphasis on hate speech shows that there is an unholy nexus between hate-mongering leaders and the media. If you want to understand this clearly, just watch the discussion sessions of the leading news channel. It is important to note that the media is again giving huge prominence to the comments of sections arguing that Indian Muslims are a threat to the country’s social and political environment and should be viewed with suspicion.

The activities that spew venom against Muslims and Islam should be stopped first. In this way, we need to strengthen the status of India as a religiously tolerant country in front of the world by controlling fake news.

It is the responsibility of the government to take action against those who spread fake news and hate propaganda. Because the Indians must protect the secular values of this country. There should be action on the part of the government to ensure that leading news anchors in the Indian media do not abuse their freedom of expression and thereby create an atmosphere of hatred. Otherwise, the world will judge India as a country where minorities do not get freedom or rights.

The Constitution guarantees equal rights and freedom to citizens irrespective of religion, caste, gender, and class. Muslims here should also get all such freedom and rights. For the Indian Muslim, India is bigger than any other country in the world. The country’s democracy, cultural diversity, religious harmony, and national unity demand an immediate end to such hateful and false propaganda by the media. Otherwise, this jealousy and hatred will affect every citizen of the country. If that happens, the arguments and conflicts seen on social media and news channels will be seen on Indian streets. Whichever side wins the conflict, India will lose there. The Kalamasery blast and the reports that followed it unfortunately make it clear that Kerala too has an Islamophobic culture and atmosphere.

Mubashir VP is a research scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

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