Indian bowler Mohammed Shami 'horribly abused' online after Pakistan humiliation

Published October 25, 2021
India's Mohammed Shami reacts after he was hit by three consecutive boundaries during the Twenty20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan in Dubai, UAE, Sunday, Oct 24. — AP
India's Mohammed Shami reacts after he was hit by three consecutive boundaries during the Twenty20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan in Dubai, UAE, Sunday, Oct 24. — AP

A torrent of social media abuse was aimed at India's only Muslim player, the bowler Mohammed Shami, after his side were thrashed by Pakistan at the T20 World Cup.

Violence against Muslims in India was also reported after the emphatic 10-wicket win on Sunday, Pakistan's first against India at any World Cup.

The 31-year-old Shami became the main target after the defeat in Dubai, even though India captain Virat Kohli acknowledged that his side had been “outplayed”.

Hundreds of messages were left on Shami's Instagram account saying he was a “traitor” and should be thrown out of the Indian team.

But many fans and politicians also urged support for him, calling on Indian players to reject the hate messages just as they had backed the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee.

“Team India your BLM knee-taking counts for nothing if you can't stand up for your teammate who is being horribly abused and trolled on social media,” Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister in the Muslim-majority Indian-occupied Kashmir, said on Twitter.

Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan, also a Muslim, also spoke out in support of Shami, saying he had been part of India vs Pakistan matches where India lost but had "never been told to go to Pakistan".

"THIS CRAP NEEDS TO STOP," he wrote.

Ex-Indian opener Virender Sehwag termed the online attack on Shami as "shocking".

"He is a champion and anyone who wears the India cap has India in their hearts far more than any online mob. With you Shami," he tweeted.

“Ignore the haters, most of India's grateful for your effort,” said another supporter on Instagram.

People on the Pakistani side of the border also expressed solidarity with Shami.

Author Fatima Bhutto noted that "even when we lose matches, Pakistani fans have a sense of humour about things and a kind of elan".

"I'm horrified by the vile abuse heaped on Mohammed Shami by his compatriots. The rot of hatred seems to have infected everywhere there," she said on Twitter.

People set off celebratory gunfire in Islamabad and Karachi after the famous win, while hundreds ignited firecrackers in occupied Kashmir, where troops are fighting an insurgency.

Gautam Gambhir, a former India Test cricketer who has become an MP for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said it was “shameful” that people were celebrating Pakistan's win.

In Punjab state, students from Kashmir said they were beaten up.

A student at an engineering and technology institute said dozens of men armed with hockey sticks and batons attacked them as they watched the closing stages of the game.

“They entered our room, switched off the lights and beat us. They destroyed our laptops,” the student told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears of more trouble.

“We are safe now and we have support from our college. But we didn't expect this at all. We are Indians.”

The match also sparked violence in neighbouring Bangladesh. Two Pakistan supporters were beaten by India fans as they celebrated the win in one southern district, media reports said.

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