Prejudice and double standard were all evident in the mainstream media when it reported two recent incidents; regime change in the neighbouring country of Maldives and attack on the Israeli diplomats car in New Delhi.
* As the result of the change in government of Maldives, its first democratically elected president Mohammad Nasheed tendered his resignation on February 7 amidst public protests later joined by the police and a section of the army. He has been replaced by his vice president Mohammed Waheed Hassan.
The protests erupted after Nasheed ordered the military to arrest Abdulla Mohamed, the chief judge of the Criminal Court accusing him of political bias and corruption. The judge had ordered the release of a government critic he said had been illegally detained. The vice president, Supreme Court, Human Rights Commission, Judicial Services Commission and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights all called for Mohamed to be released.
With an estimated population of 3,28,536 Maldives is a small Islamic country. It would not pose a threat to Indian security, according to the media, even though one of the terrorists responsible for Mumbai attack is said to be Maldivian. But the current regime change in the country is portrayed as the result of rise of Islamism in it. Islam is a peaceful religion and if any radical Islam—a vague term that should mean Islam in its original shape without any manmade addition or deletion—spreads in any country it does not pose security threat to other countries. But a media that always sees Islam negatively does not believe so.
A report in the respected daily Times Of India “Rise of Islamism in Maldives a cause of worry for India” is adamant to declare that Maldives has been dominated by radical Islamists and that this could pose a serious danger to India.
“The growth of Islamic radicalism in Maldives can be traced to the beginning of the last decade. Like in Bangladesh, Pakistani jihadi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba have been making inroads to indoctrinate young men in a conservative Sunni society, that has been bogged down with slow growth, political authoritarianism (until 2008, certainly) and mushrooming madrassas with Arab funds...Most of the Islamic ideology in Maldives is Ahle-Hadith, which is also the school followed by LeT. But Salafist ideologies are now also evident. Nasheed tried to make a deal with them and even had the Adhaalat Party, the Islamist party, as part of his coalition. In his interview with TOI, the new president Mohamed Waheed said, “Our view is the best way of dealing with Islamist ideology is to engage with them and work with them. That, we believe is the right and democratic way to go about it.”
The report adds, “Maldives is particularly crucial because its geographical position situates it right in the middle of major sea routes in the Indian Ocean. But equally, a radicalized section of the tiny population of Maldives could make it so much easier for the ISI-Lashkar combine to use them as a staging ground for terror attacks against India.” The newspaper, however, does not make clear as to how the perceived ISI-Lashkar attacks would be the result of radical Islam. Islam does not teach terrorism.
* The double standard of the media is explicit from the fact that while it ignored the continuous murders of Palestinians by Israel, it created such a hue and cry when an Israeli was injured in Delhi as if the sky had fallen on the earth. Of course, the blood whether of an Israeli or a Palestinian should be given the same respect and anyone shedding it must be condemned and brought to book.
Again in a story related to the attack the TOI exhibits its bias towards Islam.
Out of the wreckages of the attack it again came out with a new kind of threat posed by Islam; that is Sunni Deobandi terrorism. Until now people were aware of Islamic Terrorism; a term widely opposed by the Islamic scholars. Some years back the world hailed the largest Sunni Islamic seminary in Asia, Dar-ul-Uloom at Deoband when its scholars openly condemned any form of terrorism as un-Islamic.
In a report Israeli Establishments In India On Terror Radar the paper unlike in the report above wherein it called LeT the follower of the ideology of Ahle-Hadith it now calls the terror outfit as a Sunni Deobandi group. And so, “Mondays attack on an Israeli diplomat, seen to be sponsored by Iranian groups, adds a new dimension to the threat posed by Sunni Deobandi groups like Lashkar.”
This is but an Islamophobic propaganda emanating out of bias towards the religion, for many reasons. This must be stopped in the interest of peaceful coexistence. The media will lose the hold it has on readers if it continues with its own whims and fancies. Already most of the media reports are not taken seriously anymore. People have begun to read between the lines and belief in printed news is diminishing.
By A H Y