Shekhar Gupta’s The Print is known to be a master of clickbait, publishing all kinds of articles to get traffic, however, they now seem to be stepping into a dangerous zone where they are aligning themselves with hardcore Islamists. The Print has now turned itself into an authority that brands Muslims as Murtads when they dare to not toe the Islamist line. The Print today published an article by one Dilip Mandal, who was accused of spreading caste divide and discrimination by the students of Makhanlal Chaturvedi University not so long ago, that essentially says that a ‘Muslim’ who criticises Muslims and doesn’t toe the Islamist line is a Murtad, an apostate.
The Print, run by Editors Guild of India’s Chief Shekhar Gupta has often had a complicated relationship with the truth. For the most part, the portal tries to cater to “all opinions” and that comes as no surprise because Shekhar Gupta is nothing if not a good businessman. He knows that memories are short-lived and the 10 articles worth of propaganda spread by him is going to be forgotten as soon as he publishes one article that is remotely pro-India. However, no amount of ‘neutrality’ can truly hide the venom that is spewed from behind that carefully crafted veil.
Article in The Print, written by Dilip Mandal, headlined “Hindi news anchors such as Rubika Liyaquat and Sayeed Ansari are like Muslim leaders of BJP” makes the following assumptions:
- Those who criticise the shameful conduct of a section of Muslims, like the Tablighi Jamaat during the Coronavirus pandemic, are betraying Islam.
- Those Muslims who criticise fellow Muslims for their shameful conduct and don’t toe the Hinduphobic, Islamist line on issues like the CAA and NRC are doing so under some sort of pressure from the ruling dispensation.
- Those Muslims who do all of the above and then quote the Quran are somehow conflicted about their faith.
- The views aired by Muslim anchors on news channels, that don’t toe the Islamist line are merely a performance that they are bound to give due to the largely “majoritarian media”.
- The casteist author says that Muslim anchors tweak their identity on camera because they are catering to a “Hindu audience” and they might be completely different from their relatives. However, Hindu anchors don’t have that burden and can be “equally communal or secular” in their private lives as well.
Firstly, let us address the elephant in the room – here we have a “Dilip Mandal” pronouncing verdicts on what being Muslim is for “Rubika Liyaquat and Sayeed Ansari”. This is precisely what the pro-Muslim activists from the Left stand against. Which is pontification from those who aren’t Muslims themselves about how Muslims should interact with their own faith. As is evident from the article by Dilip Mandal and the reception it has got from several Muslims themselves, those rules only seem to apply to extremists. Only Islamists have the right to choose how they practise their faith, but for those who choose not to toe the hardline stance of the Islamists, that choice seems to be taken away.
On Rubika Liyaquat, Dilip Mandal writes:
“The Twitter timeline of Rubika Liyaquat reads like a paradox. While tweeting about her shows and expressing her views on various topics, she also regularly posts verses from the Quran. In one of her tweets, she says – “Jihad primarily refers to the inner struggle of being a person of virtue and submission to God in all aspects of life….One of the Muslim clergy challenged ABP News anchors over their communal coverage of Tablighi Jamaat. She has publicly announced that she had contributed to the PM Cares Fund after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra nominated her. She retweeted a tweet in which she has been praised – “It’s commendable how being a Muslim she’s bashing those #NizamuddinIdiots who are supporting & defending their Maulana Sahab & the Markaj.””
Here, Dilip Mandal is essentially saying that,
a) Anyone who criticises Islamists should not cite verses of the Quran since they lose the license to be called true Muslims
b) Anyone who criticises the shameful conduct of Tablighi Jamaat is not a true Muslim. Being Muslim demands that one leaves their brain in a container and locks it away, indulging in blind, blanket praise of anything Muslim.
c) Anyone who contributes to the PM Cares Fund is not a true Muslim.
This habit of certifying who is a “true Muslim” and who is a “Murtad” is classic Islamist propaganda and a tool which is not only intrinsic to the religion but also one used to ensure that Muslims adhere to the Ummah and not go wayward. In Kashmir, which is one of the areas of India that is riddled with terrorism and radical Islamism, it is common practice to brand anyone who doesn’t toe the line of the terrorists and Islamists as ‘Mukhbir’. Even if the concerned Muslim is not an “informant”, they are branded such and often executed if they dare to not overtly support the Islamists.
Essentially, the terrorists of Kashmir may brand the concerned person as a “Mukhbir”, but what they really mean is that they strayed from the path of Jihad and are thus to be punished with death for apostasy. In the Quran, the punishment for being a ‘Murtad’ is death and the Islamic practice of Takfiri is used widely to brand anyone not toeing the Islamist line as an apostate.
What Dilip Mandal is doing in his article is essentially branding the anchors as “Murtad” because they refuse to toe the line set by hardline Islamists. They criticise what hardliners like Tablighi Jamaat members did, endangering public health. They criticise their chief Maulana Saad for saying Allah will save Muslims and thus, social distancing is not required. They do not demonise Prime Minister Modi simply because the Islamists would like Muslims to believe that he is against Muslims. And because they oppose the use of loudspeakers for the use of Azaan (Dilip Mandal criticises anchor Romana Isar Khan of ABP News for tweeting on these lines).
This is, of course, not the first time that The Print has published such blatant Islamist propaganda branding those who do not follow hardline Islamists as Murtads. Earlier, they had demonised Muslims associated with the BJP such as Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and others who criticise radical Islam such as Arif Muhammad Khan for their refusal to toe the Islamist stance on issues.
Essentially, while The Print tries to play the centrist by publishing one logical article every once in a while, behind that veneer, they peddle a dangerous agenda that not only demonises Hindus but demonises those Muslims who don’t hate Hindus and believe that all Kaffirs ought to be punished for not being “true believers”. What is interesting is that this blatant hate speech by Dilip Mandal and The Print is not even called out by the so-called “secular” lobby that aims to shield all Muslims. It is evident that the “secular” and “liberal” lobby that tries so hard to shield terrorists and Islamists have absolutely no love for those Muslims who break ranks and don’t cow down to the diktats of the radicals.
Quite clearly, mainstream media outlets such as The Print are working in tandem with the Islamic hardliners aiding the latter’s efforts to maintain strict control over their flock. They are effectively engaging in propaganda on behalf of Islamists, legitimising the worst of their beliefs. Such conduct, of course, threatens communal harmony gravely and has the capacity of plunging India into chaos. The Print, however, does not appear to be least bothered by it and is willing to sacrifice the peace and prosperity of the country for its own narrow benefits.
There is a unanimous consensus among supporters of Donald Trump and those of Bernie Sanders, although they are poles apart on almost every political issue, that the mainstream media in the United States is an enemy of the people. And they are right of course. The situation in India does not appear to be too different either.