With Around 9 lac Islamophobic Tweets, India Surpasses US, UK: Study

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Out of a total of 3,759, 180 Islamopbobic tweets, 871,379 originated from India while 289,248 and 196,376 originated from the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – A latest study found that India has topped in the highest number of tweets put out to spread hatred against Islam and Muslims in the world. The dubious distinction placed the country far ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom which ranked second and third in the Islamophobic tweets, respectively.

The report titled “Islamophobia in the Digital Age: A Study of Anti-Muslim Tweets” has been conducted by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) between 28 August 2019 and 27 August 2021.

Out of a total of 3,759, 180 Islamopbobic tweets, 871,379 originated from India while 289,248 and 196,376 originated from the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively.

“We found that over 85% of all anti-Muslim posts originated in just three places: India, the US and the UK,” the study noted.

The most common themes observed in Islamophobic tweets were the association of Islam with terrorism, depiction of Muslim men as perpetrators of sexual violence, the fear that Muslims wish to impose the Shariah on others, the conspiracy theory that Muslims are being sent as migrants to out-reproduce non-Muslim communities (known as the ‘Great Replacement’ in the West and ‘population jihad’ in India), the targeted harassment of Muslim public figures; and the characterisation of halal slaughter as an inhumane practice that reflects the barbarity of Islam.

It observed that the spike in Islamophoba is reported when the issues related to Muslims and Islam are covered in the media.

“Spikes in hate strongly correlated with newsworthy events related to Islam, particularly protests, terrorist attacks and eruptions of conflict in the Muslim world,” stated the report.

For example, there was a spike in Islamophobic tweets in India at the time of the protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Delhi riots, media coverage of Covid involving Tablighi Jamaat, Kashmiri protests and Bangalore riots.

“In analysing the daily frequency of Islamophobic tweets, we observed a strong correlation between spikes in hate and newsworthy events related to Islam, particularly protests, terrorist attacks and eruptions of conflict in the Muslim world,” said the study.

 “We also observe that the response of politicians to current events connected to Islam can have a considerable impact on the prevalence of Islamophobia,” it added.

The study noted that the rise in anti-Muslim tweets on 26 October 2020 stands out as a clear example of this. Most of the posts reviewed from that day were linked in some way or another to French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial assertion that Islam ‘is in crisis all over the world’.18 Likewise, the third-largest spike in Islamophobic tweets on 25 February 2020, was found to be the result of hateful remarks made by leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against Muslim protesters of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

With regard to the US,  the study stated that “although Islamophobia has long been a problem, we find that it was dramatically exacerbated by the racist, conspiratorial and inflammatory rhetoric employed by Donald Trump. We note, for instance, that Trump’s response to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani triggered a massive spike in hate on 3 January 2020, with some 9,302 anti-Muslim tweets being made that day. We also observe that Trump ranked as the third most frequently mentioned user in Islamophobic posts, a great many of which were focused on defending his ban on Muslim immigration, in addition to forwarding his theorythat the Democrats were collaborating with ‘the Islamists’ to take over the West ”.

When it comes to the UK, the study attributed “the prevalence of anti-Muslim tweets to a multitude of factors, including the global reach of Trump’s hatred, the country’s long standing issues with anti-migrant sentiment and, most importantly, the casual racism of former PM Boris Johnson, who once said of women who wear the niqab, ‘It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes”.

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