Anti-Muslim rhetoric linked to rise in mental health issues: experts (Maktoob Media)

By Bharat Nayak

On September 21, 2023, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ramesh Bhaduri abused his parliamentarian colleague Danish Ali, calling him a terrorist, bharwa (pimp), and katwa (circumcised). Some 1200 km away from Parliament, in a Jharkhand village WhatsApp group, a Hindu villager shared the offensive video, expressing support for the derogatory remarks. Some Muslim members of the WhatsApp group felt that they were being labelled terrorists merely due to their faith, whilst others felt their loyalty towards the country was being challenged.

“These times are especially taxing for hard-working and honest Muslims,” says Taiyab who was a member of that WhatsApp group. The slurs apart, the lack of opposition to these derogatory comments is making him reconsider his relationships with Hindu friends.

Naim Sawar, a 33-year-old friend of Taiyab, adds that the Bhaduri forward is just one of many WhatsApp posts that spread hate against his religion and community. “People have already been brainwashed, the brotherhood is now lost forever. In some aspects, it exists but not as deep as before,” he said

‘Ghuspaithiyon’ (infiltrators), ‘those with more children’, katwa (circumcised), terrorists…These are just a few of the many terms which politicians have used about Muslims in India. The first two terms have been used by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a controversial election campaign speech in April.

This communal rhetoric is not new; it’s almost expected during campaigning. However, things seem to have become worse since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. That attack has been used to justify a wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric across India, with some right-wing BJP leaders conflating support for Palestine with the backing for Hamas, painting all Muslims as “terrorists” or “terror sympathizers.”

Anant Kamath, author and assistant professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bengaluru, said that platforms like WhatsApp amplify the impact of Islamophobic messages through sheer repetition.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.

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