Dubai-based Gulf News, a leading daily newspaper, printed an editorial yesterday saying that "toxic" Indian TV news channels should not be allowed to "spread Islamophobia and vitiate atmosphere".
Headlined "Stop Indian media from exporting hate to Gulf", the piece said there have been several instances of Indian expats in the UAE being "terminated by employers after they posted abusive content on social media" or "called out for hatred and religious discrimination".
Last month, prominent Arab personalities had reacted to racism and bigotry displayed by Indians living in the Middle East.
The piece continued: "But the bigger question is why long-term residents who are familiar with local laws and sensitivities are posting such abusive content on social media? The culprit is Indian media, specifically some news channels which are exporting the narrative of hate against Muslims from India to the Gulf countries."
The piece said it's "well-known" that "popular channels twist news and build fake narratives to target Muslims in India". For example, "media watchdogs have pointed out fake news of Muslims spitting on fruits to spread Coronavirus. This fake news was repeated on some news channels until people actually started believing it...This hateful content on prime time reaches Gulf countries, including the UAE where these channels are widely available."
Newslaundry had reported on this specific form of prejudice, of the coronavirus-positive Muslim fruit vendor. Channels like TV9 Bharatvarsh lent legitimacy to such rumours by broadcasting misleading segments, coining terms like “corona criminals” for Muslim vendors.
Gulf News urged authorities in the UAE to "take action" against channels that are "preachers of hate", specifically Republic TV, Zee News, India TV, Aaj Tak, ABP and Times Now. "They must not be allowed to vitiate the social atmosphere of Gulf countries where tens of millions of diverse ethnicities and religious background work and live peacefully."
Following the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi, and the subsequent spike in coronavirus cases, sections of the India media lost no time in spreading communal hatred, conspiracy theories, and fake news. It's part of how several TV news channels participate in a cycle of misinformation and hate.
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