With the Islamophobia Machine Back at Work, Even Mom WhatsApp Groups Aren’t Safe

I’m from Hyderabad, and a school group that I am a part of has been repeatedly targeting me by sending videos (in the WhatsApp group) of men in skullcaps talking, acting and behaving in an utterly abominable way.

Now there is no other Muslim in the group other than me – my daughter, who is almost three, is the only Muslim in her playgroup class. This had never quite bothered me. Till now.

On seeing the first video, it was infuriating to see a man wiping his nose on currency notes and committing blasphemy by saying that Allah has sent coronavirus as a punishment to non-Muslims. As a Muslim, I felt enraged that because of one such fool, an entire community would yet again be blamed and maligned.

All the effort put in by those who have been following the rules when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus even way before the government declared the janta curfew would now be negated and degraded due to the acts of such fiends.

It started with comments such as this ‘group of idiots’ have no shame, they should be encountered, thrown out of the country; ‘our doctors’ are working so hard and this ‘group of people; are doing this and that, etc.

I condemned this disgusting man and rightly said that such a man cannot be a representative of the community. Immediately after my message, others in the group started sending in a barrage of videos, all of bearded men in skull caps engaging in abhorrent acts.

The video and the condemnation that followed.

They pounced on me and started sloganeering ‘Jai Hind, Jai Modi’ and proclaimed that humanity is dead. One of the women said that she would “go mad with the foolishness” and that she knows it hurts but educated and civilised people must educate such people – indicating that the onus of ‘educating’ such people lies on me as I am the only Muslim in the group.

Also read: Jamia Millia Islamia: My Professor’s Sarcastic Tweet Was Not ‘Anti-Hindu’

Despite my obvious condemnation, by repeatedly sending me videos showing only Muslims engaging in such acts shows that they were clearly in the mood to spread hatred and provoke me. Once they have a response, they eagerly send more videos to ‘make their point’ and the endless and filthy cycle of blaming the entire community continues.

The text putting the onus on me to ‘educate’ people.

I deemed it fit to not dignify them with a response and left the group the next day when I saw that they were clearly not going to stop. The worst part was that nobody had the guts to stand up and say that cornering a person from a particular community and attacking her despite her clear stand was wrong.

It is rightly said that being silent when an injustice is being done means choosing the side of injustice. It truly makes cowards of men, or in this case, women.

This clearly shows the larger picture of sectarianism in India today. They have been so brainwashed that they would never bother to understand any other perspective other than what the sold out media shows them. They will demonise an entire community because they desperately need somebody to blame.

It’s tiresome to see people vilifying our name and even more tiresome to see other people take the name of our entire ‘group’ of Muslims and unjustly claim that all of us are one and the same. My own sister is a doctor and we have a lot of doctors in our family – Hindus as well as Muslims. It goes without saying what we feel about such behaviour.

We knew that COVID-19 would result in a full-blown pandemic; that a narcissistic government which gives two hoots would leave it up to the public to fend for themselves. Hence, we had been taking precautions from much before the first Sunday curfew was announced.

But it is incongruous to drag an entire community and degrade it for the actions of some – as such many of these videos have also been fact-checked and been found to have been videos from year ago other countries.

When Kanika Kapoor behaved recklessly, did anyone go around blaming Hindus as a whole? When pujas were organised and congregations were organised, who blamed the entire Hindu population for the open disregard of the lockdown? How can it be okay to go out in droves during a declared curfew without protective gear with children and without physical distancing, and sing and dance in the street telling ‘corona’ to ‘go’?

When the ‘goli maaro’ slogans happened, I did not send any videos in the group. Nor did I send anything when the Delhi pogrom happened or when fellow Indians were bathing in cow dung and drinking cow urine.

Because when we find some Hindu brethren doing something disgusting or committing terrorist acts, we don’t share it with our Hindu acquaintances to shame them; we kind of tiptoe around it so that their feelings aren’t hurt.

I understand that not all Hindus are the same. I understand that Hinduism is not Hindutva.

But the deliberate, blatant insensitivity and open and obvious discrimination I’ve been witness to shows that their hearts have been hardened towards one community. They need an “other” to vilify so that they can justify their own behaviour.

This will never end unless and until people open their eyes and rise above pettiness to communicate their misgivings and mistrust. Needless to say, certain sections of media have managed to use the COVID-19 pandemic to further communalise our already polarised country – the repercussions of which will be felt for generations to come.

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