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Bigotry in 'Secular' India: It's 2018 and Our Social Media Timeline is Flooded With Islamophobia

Bigotry in 'Secular' India: It's 2018 and Our Social Media Timeline is Flooded With Islamophobia

How much of everyday hate-speech do we blindly oversee?

India touts itself as a secular state, one where all religions are recognized and can peacefully co-exist. Secularism, in fact, is considered the bedrock of Indian democracy. But how often does it exist in reality?

In 2017, Pew Research Center released analysis of 198 countries ranking India as fourth worst in the world for religious intolerance.

But you don't even have to go as far as a research report. A look at your own social media timeline pretty sums up how bigotry has been on the rise in our country. And the worse part is, too often, no one blinks an eye.

Only last evening, Pooja Singh, an Airtel DTH customer took to Twitter to complain about an executive. When Shoiab, a customer care executive from Airtel responded, she was more furious. Pooja demanded a "Hindu representative" from Airtel because she said she had "no faith" in a Muslim man's "working ethics".

Pooja Singh’s comment may be receiving a lot of flak from both the public and the popular, including stars like Gauhar Khan, but Singh’s comment is just one in many of a series of thinly-veiled hate statements from people who very vocal on social media about their hate-infused opinions.

In April, a man had posted a screenshot on Twitter showing how he had cancelled his ride because he did not want a Muslim cab driver.

Ola had responded to the incident stating that they did not discriminate between their drivers or passengers based on religion.

Similarly, Airtel has also issued a statement saying how they “do not differentiate between customers, employees and partners on the basis of caste or religion. We would urge you to do the same.”

Only recently Michelin star chef Atul Kocchar learnt bigotry is bad for business after he was sacked following a dig he took at actor Priyanka Chopra for her tweet over a Quantico episode that portrayed Hindu nationalists as terrorists.

“It's sad to see that you have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorised by Islam over 2,000 years. Shame on You (sic),” the chef had tweeted on June 10.

Often, this bigotry extends to innocuous things like the name of a movie.

In rise of these Islamophobic tweets, there is always a section of people trying to back it up, by sharing situations they claim to be similar in nature.

But more than the bigotry, what is (no longer) surprising in all of this is that-- many often justify it, instead of condemning it.

So here's a question for all of us: Is it really 2018?

first published:June 19, 2018, 15:05 IST