BJP weaponising Gaza conflict to further Hindu-Muslim divide in India

Islamabad: Narendra Modi-led Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters are venting their hatred against Muslims under the guise of supporting Israel in its war on Gaza by flooding social media with misinformation and false and out of context images and videos.

French state-owned international news television network France 24 in a report said, since the October 7 Hamas attack, India has become a hub of fake news and Islamophobic content on social media as well as on 24-hour news channels. It said that for the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party and its supporters, backing the Netanyahu government has become a way to promote their own Islamophobic agenda.

In this regard, France 24 shared a video on X wherein it is said that every day since October 7, BJP’s social media strategists have been working to flood social media with fake narratives including videos to promote Modi, adding ever since the war began India has been seeing an explosion of misinformation and hate speech.

India-based software expert Pratik Sinha, who runs a fact checking website called Alt News has debunked several such videos which have been widely shared in India by Hindu rightwing activists. Thanks to online digital forensic tools, such as key framing and reverse image searching, Partik figured out that many such videos were not filmed during the current conflict in the Gaza strip.

Reportedly, one such video, which was viewed nearly 4 million times, was called out for being a planned attempt by the BJP to use a conflict in a foreign country to stir up emotions for domestic political gains.

Partik said that the spread of such misinformation is part of a well-choreographed narrative by the BJP and their supporters. He said, “As soon as the extreme rightwing Hindu ecosystem are able to find a Muslim angle, they will go on an overdrive and try to villainize the Indian Muslim community”.

France 24 in its video further said, “Since the [Gaza] war broke out, hashtags such as ‘I Stand With Israel’ were widely used by extremists in India. In this way supporting the Netanyahu govt became a way to promote their own Islamophobic agenda. A few of them even offer to volunteer for fighting with the IDF [Israeli Defence forces”.

In the end, France 24 said, “……… domestically the [Gaza] conflict has taken a different turn. It is being weaponized to further the Hindu-Muslim divide as a strategy for the upcoming 2024 elections”.

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