Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

India bids to bust citizenship law 'myths' with cartoon Muslims

The short video clip shows two bearded men in traditional Muslim clothing discussing the legislation

Indians hold placards and shout slogans during a protest organized by several Muslim organisations against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Bangalore, India, Monday, December 23, 2019. AP
Indians hold placards and shout slogans during a protest organized by several Muslim organisations against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Bangalore, India, Monday, December 23, 2019. AP

India's ruling party launched a video with animated Muslim characters on social media Monday as part of a publicity blitz to try to bust "myths" around a new citizenship law that has sparked deadly protests.

The law has stoked concerns that Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government wants to marginalise India's Muslim minority.

The short video clip shows two bearded men in traditional Muslim clothing discussing the legislation before concluding that the country can only progress if there is "peace and brotherhood".

The video, which was released by Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party on its Twitter handle, has garnered thousands of "likes", but also some ridicule.

Meanwhile, India's main opposition party was set to stage a silent protest in the capital on Monday against the contentious new citizenship law, a day after Mr Modi defended the legislation at a rally in New Delhi and accused the opposition of pushing the country into a "fear psychosis".

The protest, led by Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, comes at a time when tens and thousands of demonstrators have taken to India's streets to call for the revocation of the law, which critics say is the latest effort by Mr Modi's government to marginalise the country's 200 million Muslims.

The new law allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.

Addressing party supporters in New Delhi - who cried "Modi! Modi!" at the mention of the law - the prime minister said Muslims "don't need to worry at all" provided they are genuine Indians.

"Muslims who are sons of the soil and whose ancestors are the children of mother India need not to worry," Modi, 69, told the crowd of thousands.

The party's former president Rahul Gandhi urged young people in New Delhi to join the silent protest at Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.

"It's not good enough just to feel Indian. At times like these it's critical to show that you're Indian & won't allow to be destroyed by hatred," Mr Gandhi tweeted.

Twenty-five people have been killed nationwide since the citizenship law was passed in parliament earlier this month in protests that represent the first major roadblock for Mr Modi's Hindu nationalist agenda since his party's landslide reelection last spring.

Most of the deaths have occurred in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where 20 per cent of the state's 200 million people are Muslim.

Updated: December 23, 2019 05:36 PM

Editor's Picks
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email