Three more Indians face action in the United Arab Emirates over alleged anti-Muslim hate speech on social media, Gulf News reported on Saturday.
The three Indians facing action in the UAE have been identified as chef Rohit Rawat, storekeeper Sachin Kinnigoli and a cashier whose name has been withheld by the firm he works for. Gulf News said it had refrained from publishing the posts as they were “offensive”.
On April 22, Indian embassies in the Gulf had urged citizens to remain vigilant against a spate of derogatory posts on social media linking the coronavirus pandemic to the Muslim community in India. On April 30, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that posts by certain Twitter handles from Arab countries alleging discrimination against Muslim citizens were “propaganda”.
A spokesperson for Azadea Group, which operates Eataly, a chain of high-end Italian restaurants in Dubai, confirmed that the chain had suspended Rawat. He said the chef is facing an investigation.
Sharjah-based Pneumics Automation Fzc, on the other hand, have suspended Kinnigoli until further notice. “We have withheld his salary and told him not to come to work,” one of the firm’s owners said. “The matter is under investigation. We have a zero tolerance policy. Anyone found guilty of insulting or showing contempt for someone’s religion will have to bear the consequences.”
Dubai-based Transguard Group said that they have taken action against an employee who posted several anti-Islamic messages on his Facebook account under the name of Vishal Thakur. However, the company did not reveal his real name.
“Following an internal investigation, the actual identify of this employee was verified and he was stripped of his security credentials, terminated from our employment and handed over to the relevant authorities as per company policy and UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012,” the company said. “As of this statement, he is in the custody of Dubai Police.”
The company also clarified that an individual who posted allegedly hateful content under the name of Prakash Kumar does not work with it. The firm said Kumar has falsely claimed he works with Transguard Group, and the matter is being examined by the authorities in Dubai.
India is facing backlash from Arab countries over instances of discrimination against Muslims amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had urged the Indian government to take urgent steps to protect Muslims who are being “negatively profiled” and facing “discrimination and violence” in India.
Sharjah-based businessman and filmmaker Sohan Roy was forced to apologise on April 18 for posting a video that depicted Islamic clerics leading blindfolded men in skull caps. Between April 6 and April 15, technician Rakesh B Kitturmath, chief accountant Bala Krishna Nakka and finance analyst Mitesh Udeshi were fired from their jobs for allegedly derogatory social media posts.
Around the same time, a police complaint was filed against Sameer Bhandari, chief executive officer of Future Vision Events & Weddings, after he asked an Indian Muslim to “Go back to Pakistan” to search for a job, in a text message.
On Monday, India and Kuwait had rushed to do damage control after a Cabinet note from Kuwait criticising the targeting of Indian Muslims amid the coronavirus crisis was leaked over the weekend. The note, dated March 2, had called on global leaders and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to stop attacks on Muslims in India.
Muslims in India have been targeted ever since news broke that a convention held by the Tablighi Jamaat was a coronavirus hotspot. Videos circulating on social media platforms appeared to show Muslim men spitting on food, licking plates and sneezing in unison to spread the virus – all of these have been debunked as fake news. Even certain television channels and organisations like the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT Cell blamed Muslims for spreading Covid-19.
There have also been instances of attacks on Muslim vendors. On April 14, a group of people in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district had allegedly misbehaved with some Muslim vegetable vendors and stopped them from selling their goods. The mob claimed that the Muslims were members of the Tablighi Jamaat. A BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh even told people to not purchase vegetables from Muslim vendors.