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The Butterfly Effect: How riots in Sweden led to ex-Muslim atheists engaging in a bitter online brawl with Hindus and how their masks fell off

A certain line was crossed and as was to be expected, a response directed at one of them, Armin Navabi, the founder of Atheist Republic, made an obscene comment on his deceased mother.

Social media has been on fire recently, metaphorically of course, after certain ex-Muslims decided to post obscene images of Goddess Kali in order to offend the Hindu community. A certain line was crossed and as was to be expected, a response directed at one of them, Armin Navabi, the founder of Atheist Republic, made an obscene comment on his deceased mother.

To spare our audience of the vulgarity of the whole situation, we shall not post the obscene image of Goddess Kali and neither shall we share the obscene remark directed against Navabi’s mother. Suffice it to say that the ex-Muslim’s mother was insulted in the same manner as he had insulted Goddess Kali, who is regarded and worshipped as a mother by Hindus worldwide.

What proceeded then was grave condemnation from the atheists of the individual who had targeted Navabi’s mother. Concurrently, the user’s tweet was lauded and appreciated by those at the other end of the spectrum. Others believed the response was completely justified and within the acceptable boundaries of freedom of expression. Then there were those who disagreed. And Twitter has been in turmoil ever since.

But how did it all of this begin? Where did the raging debate originate? Here, we shall look into the cascading series of events that led to the situation where ex-Muslims are dishonestly drawing a false equivalence between Hindus and Muslims. And yes, certain ex-Muslims are drawing that equivalence and certain others have gone to the extent of decreeing that Hindus are worse while responding to blasphemy, which is a funny allegation as Hindus merely responded to insult with insults of their own.

Origins: Riots in Malmo, Sweden

It might be hard to believe but the origins of the current controversy do lie in the events of the Scandinavian country miles away. Soon after the rioting, an ex-Muslim, Abdullah Sameer, claimed that the fire was lit by the people who lit fire to the Quran. His argument was, “Yes, the Muslims should not be reacting this way. They are wrong to escalate to burning buildings and rioting. But why spark the match when you know you have crazies who will react this way.”

Abdullah also claimed that the people who burnt the Quran “just want to see the world burn”. As it turns out, the ‘ex-Muslim’ does not really appear to believe in freedom of expression. He also appears to suggest that Muslims would have reacted any differently if the ones burning the Quran had been liberal themselves. And even if they were liberals, they would have been branded far-right anyway.

Robert Spencer, the Director of Jihad Watch, commented on the matter and slammed Abdullah Sameer for his stance on the issue. He said, ““Ex-Muslim” flies into a rage over the burning of the Qur’an. Apparently according to this “ex-Muslim” we should all bow to Sharia blasphemy laws and violent threats, rather than defend the freedom of expression even when we disagree with what is expressed.”

He added, “Of course, this is the same “ex-Muslim” who became an Islamic apologist a few weeks ago when I dared to point out that the material on women in the Qur’an and Sunnah makes for a culture of violence against them. So this is no surprise.” Thus, we have good reason to suspect the motivations of this particular ex-Muslim at the very least.

Abdullah Sameer ties himself in knots

Apart from having a run-in with Robert Spencer for his problematic opinions, Abdullah Sameer had arguments with others as well. And during his arguments, he tied himself up in knots further. He claimed that he did not have an issue with burning the Quran per se, but he only had an issue with it when members of far-right groups indulged in it. “I think its unwise and counterproductive,” he said.

When he was asked whether he would tweet a sexualised image of prophet Mohammed, Abdullah Sameer flatly denied and claimed, “It would undermine the academic friendly approach I am trying to take and everything I worked for thus far.”

Abdullah Sameer vs Robert Spencer: Enter Hindus

The ex-Muslim took a dig at Robert Spencer and claimed that the “Hindu mob” questioning his problematic stance were all followers of the latter. “Robert, when are you going to convert to Hinduism? You’re pretty much already one of them,” he asked. Spencer was obviously displeased with the insinuations made in the comment and called him a “bigoted, hateful creep”. Abdullah responded, “Care to answer why it is you’re primarily followed by Hindus? Whats up with that Robert?”

The ex-Muslim then proceeded to drag Hindus into the squabble and equated the RSS with Taliban. He said of Hindus, “India and the world would be much better without intolerant nasty religious tribal people like yourself.” When it was pointed out to him that India was secular because of Hindus, he responded, “Then why is eating beef illegal in 24 of 29 Indian states? Isnt that a religious injunction?” All of this happened during the last days of August.

Armin Navabi is summoned by his ex-Muslim comrade

Soon enough, Abdullah posted a sexualised image of Goddess Kali, which further earned him the wrath of the Hindus on social media. Along expected lines, he was confronted over the matter which he perceived to be an ‘attack’. Soon after, in the early days of September, he made a tweet where he tagged Armin Navabi.

Abdullah said in his tweet tagging Armin Navabi, “I’m getting attacked by Hindus, Muslims, and the far-right (Spencer types). My blog is being DDOSed and I dont even know which of the three is responsible. Now I know how @ArminNavabi feels.” That tweet is likely to have attracted the attention of Armin Navabi who is the main instigator behind the drama that unfolded.

Soon, Armin Navabi made the sexualised image of Goddess Kali which broke the dam and led to a torrent of fiery exchanges. Atheists in India got involved in the whole matter as well. And that is how, a matter that was initiated by Abdullah Sameer’s reaction to the riots in Sweden came to affect political discourse in India.

Armin Navabi saga: Not an organic development

Thus, quite clearly, the series of events was not entirely organic and ex-Muslims deliberately plotted to target Hindus over the matter. The possibility that the entire thing was organised to deflect attention from the riots in Sweden by Radical Muslims cannot be denied. In the aftermath of the events that occurred, ex-Muslims also drew a false equivalence between Radical Muslims and Hindus and attempted to paint the Hindus in broad brush.

There is no evidence at all that Hindus are anywhere even close to Radical Muslims. Hindus had only responded to offensive tweets with offensive tweets. They had not rioted or engaged in acts of violence against the ex-Muslims. Even so, Hindus were demonized. The whole purpose of it appears to have been to promulgate the narrative that radical Muslims are not a uniquely violent group, even though they clearly are.

In the current saga, what appears to have suffered the most is the credibility of ex-Muslims. Next time onwards, before voicing their support for ex-Muslims, Hindus will think through their decision a thousand times over. Truly, the whole episode does tend to remind one of the Butterfly Effect which theorises that the smallest of changes in one part of the world could end up causing a tornado in the other part of the globe. The concept is imagined as a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a typhoon.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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