Following the 10-wicket loss to Pakistan in the group stage match of the T20 World Cup 2021, Indian cricketers were subjected to vicious abuse on social media. Although all players were trolled, left-liberal journalists and activists singled out the attacks on Mohammad Shami and presented it as an attack on a ‘Muslim player’ in a Hindu majority India.
While support poured in for the ace Indian pacer from all corners, Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Rizwan ‘extended his support’ to Mohammad Shami. In a tweet on October 26, he wrote, “The kind of pressure, struggles & sacrifices a player has to go through for his country & his people is immeasurable. Shami is a star & indeed of the best bowlers in the world. Please respect your stars. This game should bring people together & not divide them.”
The last tweet on Rizwan’s Twitter account is one asking cricket fans to remain optimistic about the future.
Pakistani propaganda behind the targeting of Mohammad Shami
Earlier, a Twitter user ‘Counter-Propaganda Division’ had done detailed research on how Pakistan’s propaganda against India was pushed by coordinated social media posts abusing Shami. It said the whole “Shami is getting abused” propaganda started around the time when a Twitter user ‘vaikivannavan’ published screenshots of people allegedly abusing Shami. The group further pointed out who and how the thread on ‘Shami getting shamed’ was promoted on social media including a thread by Aj Jazeera’s host Sana Saeed.
Apparently the handle had somehow “PREDICTED” that Md Shami would be subject to abuse after the match.— Counter Propaganda Division (@CounterDivision) October 26, 2021
As per predictions, 16 Abusive Insta posts were made under Shami’s recent Insta update. Out of which 8 were targeted at his Nationality/ Religion. The remaining being generic..
The reality is, Shami is one of the most loved Indian cricketers and his fans will keep loving him for his performance. Moreover, the Indian team lost to Pakistan by a massive 10-wickets. Most Indians, who are cricket fans by default, know well that it was a multi-level failure by the team and blaming one bowler for it is non-sensical.
Moreover, on multiple occasions, cricketer Mohammad Shami has been at the receiving end of hateful, hurtful comments for sharing images of his family. Islamists on social media had shamed Shami for ‘not making his wife wear hijab’ and allowing his daughter to wear ‘Hindu’ dresses’. The concern and outrage that the ‘liberals’ are showing for Shami now was strangely absent on those occasions.
No support from Mohammad Rizwan for teammate Hassan Ali
Opindia had earlier reported how Hassan Ali was vilified for being a Shia Muslim by many in Pakistan. He was subjected to a flurry of personal comments, charges of match-fixing, derogatory remarks about his mother and Indian-born wife. Given that Pakistan is a Sunni-majority country, Islamists do not leave any chance to abuse the Shia community for any misfortune that befalls the country. Following Pakistan’s humiliating loss to Australia, conspiracy theories about Hassan Ali being a Shia (and hence losing the match deliberately) began floating on social media.
Soon after the match loss, Pakistani cricket fans had flooded social media with hateful and abusive remarks against Hassan Ali. Even team skipper Babar Azam, who had initially blamed Hassan Ali for dropping the catch of Matthew Wade and conceding the semi-final match to Australia, had later tried to do damage control. However, Mohammad Rizwan, who put out a tweet in favour of Mohammad Shami, failed to do so in the case of Ali.
Quite clearly, the tweet about Shami was to further aid the propaganda against India. Since it was the opposite with regards to Ali, no such comment was to be found.