Yousuf Saeed wrote in Kafila on 13 August how fake images of violence against Muslim Rohingyas in Burma – images that were in fact, of, say, earthquake victims. In his post he mentioned how even some Urdu papers in India were fooled by the images,which provoked violent protests in Mumbai,and recently, Lucknow.
Now, CM Naim describes in detail how Sahafat, an Urdu newspaper published from Delhi, fell for these fake images. Naim translates large parts of two charged-up articles in Sahafat, one of which calls for the boycott of Buddhists in Delhi. One article was published on 10 August and one on 16 August. As Naim says, it’s time for the Press Council of India to take note. One excerpt:
“What fight did the children start? What guns did the women fire? What sticks did the old and the decrepit use to strike? But look at the sheer shamelessness of the Buddhists. They first herded together all the people of the locality—male and female, old and young—then threatened and abused them. Cast aspersions on Islam. Created an air of terror. And then, after slashing their victims threw them alive into fire to burn to ashes.” [Read the full article.]
Rohingyas did indeed face violence in Burma recently, but the events mentioned above never happened. While the fake images did spread through Facebook, I thought traditional newspapers with editors had checks and balances, published information after verification and so on? Why aren’t news channels calling over the editor of Sahafat instead of furthering the government’s agea of increasing internet censorship in India. Naim’s answer to that: “Because this sort of thing has been going on in much of the Urdu press in Delhi and Hyderabad for a long time, and has always been ignored by the Anglophone media and its participants and patrons. They alone matter in their own eyes.”