Senior editor at The Wire, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, took to Twitter to wish people a Happy Holi. In her tweet, Sherwani says that she will play Holi saying bismillah.
— Arfa Khanum Sherwani (@khanumarfa) March 20, 2019
The tweet didn’t go down well with Muslims who commented on her tweet and even wished for her death.
डूब मर तू शर्म बची है तो तेरी होली ये आखिरी हो दुआ है मेरी शिर्क करती है https://t.co/KcII22fEa7
— nisar raina (@nisarraina16) March 20, 2019
Others said that Sherwani was insulting Islam by playing Holi.
अरे यही लोग तो इस्लाम को बदनाम कर रही हैं
— Mohammad Aakif محمد عاکف (@mdaakif999) March 21, 2019
Muslims were extremely offended that she had used the word bismillah while playing Holi.
Kehlo holi mana kon kar raha hai but bismillah kio likh rhi ho
— Uvaish Ahmad (@UvaishAhmad19) March 20, 2019
Bismilla words kaha pr use karna hai ye bhi pata nhi tumhe
— Salim Shaikh (@SalimSh26050581) March 21, 2019
Aap holi kheliye holi mnaiye holi ki mubarakbadi dijiye… Achhi bat hai
Lekin aisi bat likhni ki kya zrurat hai jisse vivad paida ho aur bekar me ek bekar ka bahas shuru ho…
in sab baton se bache
— Mohammad S Hussain (@MohammadSHusain) March 21, 2019
Some suggested that Sherwani should consume alcohol and insinuated that she utter bismillah before engaging in prostitution as well.
बिसिमिल्ला केहके मुजरा भी करना शुरू करदे,
बोले तो धंदा भी शुरू करदे, बिसिमिल्ला केहने से ये गुनाह से बच जायेगा शायद,#HappyHoli2019
— Suhail (@suhail935) March 21, 2019
“बिस्मिल्ला” करके शराब भी पिलो….
“हलाल” हो जाएगा….!! https://t.co/IXS3gLlyQP
— काकावाणी کاکاوانی (@AliSohrab007) March 20, 2019
The response to the tweet highlights the menace of intolerance towards Hindu festivals by a specific section of the Indian population. While liberals dedicate their overwhelming resources towards combating nonexistent radicalization among Hindus, they turn a blind eye towards the radicalization that has gripped the minority community. Wishing death upon a fellow member of the same community for celebrating a Hindu festival is symptomatic of dangerous levels of radicalization.
The tweet by the journalist was presumably aimed at displaying her apparent commitment towards secularism. While her efforts were encouraged by members of the majority community, she fell prey to abusive tweets from her own brethren for brandishing her secular credentials.
Shahrukh Khan, too, has been a victim of trolling on social media after he had tweeted a picture of his son celebrating Ganesh Puja. Muslims had called it a ‘sin’. Abuses and condemnation had flowed like water. Popular Bengali actress and a TMC candidate from West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Nusrat Jahan, was insulted on Facebook for celebrating Durga Puja as it was ‘inappropriate’. Cricketer Mohammad Kaif was trolled by Muslim fundamentalists for celebrating Christmas and condemned for performing the Surya Namaskar. Kaif’s comrade, Irfan Pathan, was told by fundamentalists that Raksha Bandhan is ‘against Islam’ and abused when he wished everyone on the special day.
Celebrating Hindu religious festivals is not the only that triggers abuses and threats from Muslim radicals. In the past, another Muslim ‘intellectual’ from JNU, Shehla Rashid, was forced to deactivate her Facebook account as well after receiving rape threats from Muslims. The rape threats were in response to Rashid asking Muslims whether they would let their sisters and daughters marry a non-Muslim man of their choice.
On another occasion, Arshad Mansuri, a Muslim doctor from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, had claimed that he was receiving threats due to his pledge to donate his organs after death. His pledge had angered a section of his community who were angered by his committing an “anti-Islamic” act.
In December 2017, a popular Radio Jockey from Kerala, RJ Sooraj, had attracted the wrath of Muslim hardliners. He had received death threats after coming out in support of three Burkha-clad girls who had angered radicals by performing an innocuous street dance as part of a flash mob to create awareness on AIDS Day.
Despite the growing intolerance, it has become normative for liberals to embrace a sacred vow of silence whenever Islamic radicalism rears its ugly head. Sherwani, herself, who condemns ‘trolling’ when people from the majority community mock her tweets or articles, hasn’t yet spoken a word on the abusive comments she has been receiving from people of her own community. She had tweeted later that Holi and bismillah are not in contradiction with each other to defend herself but she is yet to offer any condemnation on the abusive comments she received.