THIS is with reference to the report “Indian bowler Mohammed Shami ‘horribly abused’ online after Pakistan humiliation” (Dawn.Com, Oct 25). Pakistan cricket team made history after conveniently defeating its biggest cricketing rival, India, in its opening game in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

The victory looked as if Pakistan had won the Cup after winning this very match. I liked the spirit of the players as they shook hands and greeted each other, especially when Virat Kohli graciously hugged Pakistani openers who made it all happen.

However, while Indian cricketers displayed sportsmanship on the field, there is a grim side, too, as we saw the ugly face of the Indian society which has been plagued by communal bias for long under the extremist and anti-Muslim Modi government.

It was most disturbing to notice that a Muslim Indian player, Mohammed Shami, was made the scapegoat for the defeat against Pakistan, for he had to face all the blame for the team’s collective loss.

The vitriolic Indian abusers on social media trolled and made memes of his ‘siding with the opponent’, and called him a ‘traitor’, ‘a Pakistani’, who should be ‘thrown out of the Indian team’, which was in bad taste, to say the least.

While, according to the report, there was Islamophobic abuse and inflammatory rhetoric on social media against Shami, the only Muslim player in the Indian side, violence against Muslims was also reported in India after the defeat. This also showed to the world the gloomy picture of the Indian society which has once again been exposed as rabidly biased and anti-Muslim.

If Pakistan won, it was due to collective team efforts, and if India lost, it was owing to collective team failure. Those in India who see things with a biased lens should not make this a communal issue. What do these bigots in India teach their children when they lose a race in school? Do their children abuse their school fellows if they lose?

Surprisingly, the Indian cricket team, which had earlier supported Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee, does not seem to be disturbed on their teammate being trolled and abused only because of his faith, and, instead, has opted to stay silent on the bigoted online attacks against Shami.

This communalism and Islamophobic hate is a norm in today’s India, and Muslim players are feeling insecure and unsafe. This needs to stop, and stop forthwith.

Nasir Soomro

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2021



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