While social media, and especially Twitter, has been a toxic waste dump for over a decade, what is worrying now is just how many Islamophobic campaigns are being run on it by right-wing extremist groups, their supporters, influencers and trolls. Of late several communal hashtags have become popular with a new one trending every other day, peddling hate, spewing venom, and openly calling for violence against minorities.
For example, #Buldozer and its variations including #BulldozerBaba allude to Yogi Adityanath, praising him for his tough stand against “anti-nationals” and demolishing their properties. In wake of the outbreak of violence during Ram Navami processions across India, and the subsequent demolition of Muslim-owned properties in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, these hashtags have regained popularity. Sample this: ((TRIGGER WARNING COMMUNALLY OFFENSIVE CONTENT))
Then there are other communal hashtags, such as #Mulla #Gaddar (the word was made popular by the slogan – Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro s***on ko), #Namaz (often showcasing it as a public nuisance), #Gazwaehind (an allegation that Muslims want to take over India)
This tweet is nothing but hashtags and a video about how women are treated in Islam:
Indeed, a lot of the anti-Muslim conversation surrounds their treatment of women, but the trolls lump together all Muslims with extremist groups and regimes such as the Taliban government in Afghanistan in a bid to paint them with the same brush. The same trolls were the first to support the hijab ban in schools without bothering to delve deeper into nuances like identity politics, body policing and a woman’s agency.
A few activists and civil society groups started an online campaign to share their concerns and alert people about what they feel is an impending genocide of minorities. This led to #IndianMuslimGenocideAlert trending on Twitter
But trolls once again used this opportunity to gaslight people. Leading the way was OpIndia:
And there’s more:
All of this only serves to further a divisive agenda laid down by the regime and now propelled by an increasing number of followers, as influencers and trolls try their best to capture the imagination of ordinary people in a bid to recruit them as pawns in their game. Question is, will ordinary Indians resist and reject this hateful agenda or help spread it further?