More than a week after a Facebook post triggered communal violence in Baduria and Basirhat areas of North-24 Parganas district, Muslim religious leaders and intellectuals have decided to take to the social media to preach true Islam and counter hatred. Several Imams and Muslim leaders in the state have come together for the initiative and have planned to form a team that will counter religious hatred on social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp — and inform police if they come across derogatory posts.
The initiative is being led by Qari Fazlur Rehman, a senior Imam who leads the Eid prayers on the Red Road in Kolkata. Rehman told The Indian Express, “This is the need of the hour. The social media is a very strong medium and a lot of misinformation and hatred are being spread through it. We have decided to combat this hatred through the social media itself.”
“We are already in the process of forming a team of youths for the task. Their job will be to spread the message of true Islam, which is of peace. Islam does not permit murders. They will also counter misinformation that can misguide and keep a watch on derogatory posts,” he added. Muslim leaders recently floated the Minority Council of Bengal, a platform for the Muslims of the state. Besides religious leaders, doctors and professors are being approached to join the platform, said Rahman, one of the key functionaries of the council.
The council, he said, will play a key role in countering hatred on the Internet. “What happened in Basirhat and Baduria is unfortunate. We do not support them. Islam does not allow the burning of cars, the ransacking of houses or attacks on anyone. It is time we do something about it. The BJP is inciting such violence to get Hindu votes, while other parties are doing the same for Muslim votes. The common people are caught in between,” said Syed Ibrahim Siddiqui, ‘Bara Peer’ at Furfura Sharif shrine and convener of the Council.
Audio-visual messages explaining the tenets of Quran and Islam will be a part of the social media campaign, said the Muslim leaders. The messages will be in Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and English, so that they can reach a wider audience not only in Bengal, but across the country. The initiative would focus on youths. The Muslim leaders have also decided to visit riot-hit villages in Basirhat and Baduria once peace returns. “We want to visit the areas, but we will do so only after the situation becomes normal,” said Siddiqui.