The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has fueled anti-Muslim prejudice in India

Marwa Fatfatta has been flooded with references on Twitter.

As violence escalated in Israel and Palestine earlier this month, Fatfata, a Palestinian who works as a political analyst for an online think tank focused on Palestinian human rights in Berlin, was posting pictures of her and stories of families killed in the Gaza Strip. 14,000 followers. In response, she was caught. Some of the hate speech, which called Palestinians like her “terrorists,” came from far-right Israeli calculations. But apparently many are from India – Fatfta said their usernames bear Indian names and the Indian flag.

“It looks like all these ethno-nationalists from India and Israel got together,” Fatfta told BuzzFeed News. It was a wonderful phenomenon. I’ve never been trolled by people from India before.”

As bloody Israeli army violence 248 Palestinians were killed Hamas killed 13 Israelis, ending with a cease-fire and hate speech against Jews on the Internet Has risen, as did anti-Semitism violence.

But the conflict has also sparked an online wave of hate speech and misinformation against Muslims around the world. A full-page advertisement in the New York Times Accused Pop star Dua Lipa and models Gigi and Bella Hadid are anti-Semites. Last week, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group, Manage Facebook Ads The one who imposed the face of Representative Ilhan Omar on Hamas’ missiles with Actually inaccurate Caption: “When Israel targets Hamas, Representative Omar describes it as an act of terrorism.” The official Israeli Twitter account in Arabic angered Muslims by tweeting verses from the Quran with a picture of an Israeli air strike on Gaza (this tweet has since been deleted).

This conflict in the Middle East that could lead to waves of hatred and lies against Muslims is nothing new. But what novel is the source: India. In the world’s largest democracy, hatred against Muslims is steadily becoming prevalent, both online and offline. Just a year ago, politicians from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party as well as dozens of news channels Accused assembly From the Tablighi Jamaat, an international Islamic missionary group, that deliberately spreads Corona Virus In India after more than 4000 cases were linked to her. At the time, #CoronaJihad was one of the top trending topics on Twitter in the region.

On Saturday, First Draft News, a UK-based non-profit organization looking into misinformation, published Analysis of over 300,000 tweets related to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. They found a campaign with thousands of tweets and hashtags that appeared to be set up in India, one of Twitter’s main markets.

“During the analysis of tweets, we noticed that major hashtags always had some Indian references,” Carlotta Dotto, chief data journalist at First Draft, told BuzzFeed News. “It was amazing.”

Dotto focused on #UnitedAgainstJehad, a deliberately misspelled hashtag that was mentioned more than 40,000 times by nearly 6,000 accounts between May 12 and May 17. Analysis showed that the hashtag was at the heart of coordinated campaign intended to make it trend, accompanied by tropes about Muslims that Indian Hindu nationalists have been making for years – like jihad loveIt is an unfounded conspiracy theory accusing Muslim men of converting Hindu women to Islam through marriage. Ten percent of accounts using the hashtag were created in May.

“It was clear that they were using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to promote their own narratives on Twitter in India and around the world given the amount of attention it was getting online,” Duto said.

Although India previously tended to avoid getting involved in the region, relations between India and Israel have improved dramatically under Modi, who became the first Indian prime minister to visit the country in 2017. This is in part because the leaders of both countries are nationalists. conservatives. In addition, right-wingers in India depend on the long-running rivalry between their country and neighboring Pakistan.

“The right wing in India sees Israel as great for multiple reasons,” Jensey Jacob, managing editor of Boom, a leading Indian fact-checking organization, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s a small country surrounded by Muslim neighbors that is fighting it, and it has a strong leader focused on protecting its borders.”

“When there is tension between a Muslim country and any other country, the far-right ecosystem gravitates towards everyone who is on the non-Muslim side,” Jacob added. “For them, it is a natural aggression that highlights all their prejudice toward Muslims in general.”

Members and supporters of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took advantage of the conflict. Tajinder Pal Singh Baga, BJP spokesperson, named Islam is a “virus” that was “breeding terrorism in the world” and said: “Israel is a vaccine for this virus, please support Israel.” he is too claimed Muslims believe that “religion is greater than the nation”. All Baqa’s tweets got thousands of retweets and likes. Hundreds of messages slandering Muslims have also been sent via WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app used by hundreds of millions of Indians.

“Most of the #IndiaStandWithIsrael tweet handles have been verified,” chirp Rana Ayyub is a high-profile Indian journalist who has been frequently targeted by Modi’s far-right supporters. “The common denominator runs through the deep hatred of Muslims and bloodshed to see Muslims slaughtered and show their place.”

As guards inside Israel struggle to keep up With hate and lies brimming, it wasn’t easy for their counterparts outside the country. Bom, for example, almost checked the facts twenty storiesSome painted the Palestinians as falsifying their plight.

“It has become one of our big topics,” Jacob told BuzzFeed News.

One piece of misinformation falsely photographed A mock funeral organized by young Jordanians in 2020 to evade the closure due to the Corona virus as Palestinians fake the funeral of ‘international sympathy’. Another viral clip I tried to pass A 2017 news report from Palestinian makeup artists where Palestinian residents have faked injuries during the current conflict.

“Repression crosses borders,” Fatfata said. “Islamophobia is the common denominator here.”

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo