New Delhi: After over a year, an Indian embassy in the Gulf again issued a warning about “false propaganda” against India after an Arabic Twitter hashtag trended calling for a boycott of Indian products.
On Tuesday, the Indian embassy in Qatar posted a tweet at around 9 pm local time stating that there was a “malicious attempt on social media to spread hatred and disharmony through false propaganda about India”.
“We urge everyone to exercise caution and not become a victim of fake handle, propaganda, doctored videos. All Indian nationals are advised to maintain unity and harmony,” it said.
A quarter of an hour later, the embassy posted the same message in Arabic.
يوجد محاولة خبيثة على وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي لنشر كراهية وخلق اختلافات بين دولتين صديقتين الهند وقطر من خلال الدعاية الكاذبة عن الهند فنحث الجميع على ممارسة الحذر وعدم الوقوع ضحايا للحسابات المزيفة والدعاية والفيديوهات المفبركة. يُنصح جميع الهنود بالحفاظ على الوحدة والوئام
— India in Qatar (@IndEmbDoha) September 28, 2021
The reason for the twin tweets seemingly was one of the top Twitter trends in Qatar. Translated from Arabic, it meant “Boycott Indian products”.
In April 2020, a number of Indian missions in the Gulf had to also post on social media urging the Indian community to remain vigilant against attempts to sow religious divisions. There had been a social media backlash after some prominent Arab Twitteratis highlighted Islamophobic posts by a couple of Indians based in the Gulf. Screenshots of an older tweet of a BJP member of parliament were also circulated.
With the negative posts against India increasing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted then that COVID-19 “does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking”.
The Indian envoy to UAE had first issued a statement. It was followed by Indian missions in Oman and Qatar claiming that some of the accounts being cited were probably fake.
The social media outrage in the Gulf in 2020 had been in the backdrop of the Indian government and a section of the media’s description of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi as being on the main clusters for COVID-19. Most of the Jamaatis, including hundreds of foreign nationals, were arrested. They have since all been freed, with courts declaring that they were wrongfully hounded.
The latest Twitter trend was largely related to the shooting by Assam police firing during an eviction drive in Darrang, which led to the death of at least one person. The video of the shooting had gone viral.
At the time of Indian embassy in Qatar posting the tweet, the hashtag, “#مقاطعه_المنتجات_الهنديه” was at number 2 on Tuesday night. It remains in the top five of Twitter trends in the Gulf state on Wednesday. Most of the posts with the trend claimed that the Indian government has been persecuting Indian Muslims and called for a boycott of products from Indian companies.