France and fake news


Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) leader Khadam Rizvi could live hardly two days after a sit-in at Faizabad. It was his last show that lasted about 24 hours, concluding in a handwritten agreement last Monday. On the face of it, their demand to remove the French ambassador and sever ties with France was agreed upon. However, neither Faizabad was a relevant forum to post this demand, nor were those relevant people who signed it. It was followed by a surge in fake news about France and Human Rights Minister Shereen Mazaari also jumped the bandwagon. In a recent tweet, she equated the French government with Hitler claiming that Muslim kids will tagged due to their religion and so on. The embassy of France refuted her claim, dubbing it false and fake. The minister, then, had to take down her tweet but the damage was done. State representatives, elected or otherwise, need not to be carried away by street politics. If facts are to be evaluated, it will transpire that the entire Europe and the US has drowned in Islamophobia. Same is the story of the great powers of Asia, including those in our neighborhood.
It has virtually become an industry to defame Muslims and Islam on some dubious grounds. The things that have been attributed to Muslims have nothing to do with major portions of Muslim populations around the world. Prime Minister Imran Khan is among those Muslim leaders who have raised voice against this trend. But when we condemn Islamophobia, we must keep it in mind that hate speech cannot be countered with hate speech. Fake news and misinformation has to be fact-checked and stopped from further spread. It goes without saying that when ministers are seen walking into the trap of fake-news makers, we have some cool heads like Islamabad Chief Commissioner Amer Ahmed Ali who can instill order in chaos. He led the efforts to bring the TLP protest to a peaceful settlement from the front. Time and again, different parties come to Islamabad stirring up emotions of their zealots and it is his job to maintain order in the city in such situations. The city owes him its tranquility and peace. Government dignitaries should also learn the art of public management so that the volume of hate and fake news comes down in the society.