In a latest incident of irresponsible social media usage, an Indian youth was beaten up by a mob at Safari Mall in Doha, for allegedly posting anti-Muslim comments on Facebook.
Video clips of the incident are being circulated through social media and has caused shock and concern in the Indian community in Qatar. This is the third such incident in which communal incitement has caused ripples in social media among Indians in Qatar.
The suspect and his attackers are both from the southern Indian state of Kerala, which sends the largest number of Indians to Qatar.
The man is alleged to be having posted comments on Facebook in Malayalam that offended Muslims. Screenshots of the post are being circulated on Whatsapp and FB, however his Facebook account has been deleted. The language used in the post is of highly abusive in nature and threatens to kill the Muslims in India.
Interior Ministry calls for meeting
Reacting to the seriousness of the incident, Qatar’s Interior Ministry convened a meeting of representatives of Indian organisations yesterday and impressed upon them the need to abide by local laws, reports The Peninsula.
All Indian community organisations affiliated to the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), which functions under the aegis of the Indian embassy, were represented in the interior ministry meeting.
ICC President Girish Kumar and two senior officials of the Indian embassy attended the meeting along with some 80 to 90 representatives of community organisations.
The head of public relations at the interior ministry, expressing concern over the violent incident, said that no one will be allowed to take the law into their hands. “Such incidents should be immediately intimated to the community policing department of the interior ministry,” the official reportedly said.
Prominent Qatari lawyer Yusuf Al Zaman said that it was the first time such an incident had happened in Qatar. “People have no right to take the law into their hands. Insulting Islam or the Prophet is a crime in Qatar. As per Qatari law, insulting any religion by any means, including Hinduism, is an act of crime in Qatar,” Al Zaman told The Peninsula.
There is a department in the interior ministry that should have been informed about the Facebook comment he said. “The attackers were not protecting Islam or Muslims. Back in India, Hindus can retaliate,” the lawyer said. “There is a law here and there is a government to protect the rights of people.”
Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre official S A M Basheer said that if the situation slipped out of control, they would convene a meeting of all Muslim organisations of Keralites here, estimated to number 20 to 25, to help create awareness in the community against such unwanted reactions to communal incitements.
“We are behaving in the same way as some irresponsible elements in the other community,” he said. “This is a dangerous situation. Self-control is needed in the use of social media,” said Basheer.
Another prominent Indian, Pradeep Menon, described the Facebook posting and the violent incident as unfortunate. “The language used in the comment is very harsh, insulting and inhuman,” he said.
Some commentators on social media, while expressing concern, said Indians in Qatar should avoid getting into such controversies on social media. “We are here to work and save something for our families, so why get into such things,” said one commentator.
“There is already a shortage of visas for Indians. I am afraid such incidents would lead to further visa restrictions on Indians,” said another.
Meanwhile, vernacular Malayalam newspapers published from here carried extensive reports of the incident yesterday, calling for communal amity. The headline in one of the newspapers said: “Is this why we have come here?”
Some sources in the community claimed that the assault was a case of mistaken identity. “This was not the man who had posted the Facebook comment. He might have had a resemblance to the real culprit who, we are told, has already left Qatar,” said a source.