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Islamist harassment of journalists and entertainers: What the abuse and targeted attacks tell us about online leftist culture

It is an extremely normalised phenomenon, as evidenced by the fact that 4 Muslim celebrities were abused within the first 5 days of November. But despite the prevalence of such radicalism, it is a phenomenon that hardly ever receives attention.

There’s a fairly recent trend that has emerged on social media. Over the past few years, it has extremely normal for entertainers, sportsmen and journalists to be viciously trolled and abused by Islamists for posts they do not approve. And weirdly enough, the online harassment campaign somehow fails to grab media attention and even worse, most of the times it is ignored by the victim themselves.

On Friday, for instance, columnist with ThePrint Zainab Sikander was abused and condemned by Islamists online after she attempted to target ‘Sanghis’ by suggesting that Muslims celebrate Diwali too. The tweet failed to attract any undue attention from ‘Sanghis’, however, it did incite an army of Islamist trolls to condemn her for celebrating Diwali and suggesting that Muslims celebrate the Hindu festival.

Of course, Zainab Sikander was not the first victim nor would she be the last. Journalist Rubika Liyaquat just a couple of days ago was attacked by Islamists because she bowed down and touched the floor to show her respect towards her place of work. It is, of course, fundamentally a Hindu practice and for that, she was targeted by Islamists.

These are not the only individuals who were abused by Islamists in the month of November. Actor Farhan Akhtar was abused for sharing a photograph of himself performing the Diwali puja, wishing everyone a Happy Diwali. Even the captain of the Pakistani cricket team, Babar Azam, was attacked for wishing people a Happy Diwali.

All these celebrities, all of the Muslims, were abused and trolled because they wished people on a Hindu festival. Islamists accused them of being ‘bad Muslims’ for the same. It is an extremely normalised phenomenon, as evidenced by the fact that 4 Muslim celebrities were abused within the first 5 days of November. But despite the prevalence of such radicalism, it is a phenomenon that hardly ever receives attention.

Silence over the abuse Muslim celebrities face has emboldened Islamists

An obvious reason for the culture of online harassment that Islamists practice is that it has not been condemned enough at all by influencers on social media. Such tacit silence over the same has only served to embolden the Islamists further.

Islamists realise that they will never have to face any consequences for the harassment they subject these celebrities too. And as such, they can continue abusing anyone they want with impunity. Of course, they also realise they will always have the support of mainstream celebrities and media. Therefore, there is no reason for them to subject themselves to even a modicum of decency.

And truth be told, global leftist culture has subordinated itself to Islamic extremism. The Left around the world has formed an unspoken alliance with the worst elements of Islamic societies in their bid to capture power. Of course, there is a gross power imbalance as the Left has been taken hostage by the most radical elements within their ‘alliance partners’.

In the real world, the alliance manifests itself in leftist support for violent protests, which we saw during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. When people like Shashi Tharoor attempted to meekly point out the radicalism that was creeping in into the protests, they were immediately shut down by Islamists and even more so by leftists, who feared that the alliance might come under threat.

In the virtual world, the alliance results in stoic silence when Muslim entertainers and journalists are abused and harassed by Islamists online. And consequently, the lack of resistance only serves to embolden the abusers further.

The Silence of the Lambs

Weirdly enough, the victims themselves hardly ever raise a voice when they are attacked by Islamists. In numerous cases, the victims are often Islamist apologist themselves. The Wire ‘journalist’, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, for instance, was viciously attacked by Islamists for the mere act of uploading a photo on Durga Puja.

Of course, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, along expected lines, remained silent over the abuse she received. Take Mohammad Shami for instance, there was a huge controversy recently over abuses he received following the Indian vs Pakistan match. Of course, now there is evidence to suggest that the entire campaign was led by Pakistanis but even the Indian captain Virat Kohli blamed fans in India for it.

The same Kohli has remained silent when Mohammad Shami received abuses from Islamists for bizarre reasons. Once, he was abused for a birthday wish for his daughter. On another occasion, he was abused because he posted a photograph where his wife was wearing a sleeveless gown. But on no occasion did it motivate anyone enough to come to his defense.

To be fair to Shami, he has remained silent on all these instances and maintained a neutral stance. But the same cannot be said for others, such as Sherwani.

The culture of silence that has developed around the whole issue only points toward the fact that celebrities themselves are scared of voicing their opinions against such Islamist abuse, for fear of backlash from their own ranks.

Islamists realise there is no need for the ‘mask of modernity’

The phenomenon, which has gone on unchallenged for long enough, also demonstrates that Islamists have realised that there is no need for them to wear any ‘mask of modernity’. They have realised that they do not need to espouse virtues of tolerance and harmony online. There are no costs they have to pay for refusing to pay even lip service to such ideals.

They realise that they will always have the support of mainstream celebrities and ‘journalists’ regardless of how they behave with them and they can continue to force them to tow their line with torrent of abuses and harassment.

Islamists realise that they continue to be the ‘model victim’ even as they viciously attack anyone who disagree with them, or even do something as mundane as wishing people on Diwali. They realise that they continue attacking others while playing the victim themselves. And no one will ever call them out on it.

 

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

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