Marwa Fatafta’s Twitter posts were flooded.
As Israeli-Palestinian violence escalated earlier this month, Fatafta, who is Palestinian and works as a policy analyst for an online think tank focusing on Palestinian human rights in Berlin, posted photos and stories about families killed in the Gaza Strip to him. 14,000 followers. In response, he was beaten. Some of the hate speech, calling Palestinians like his “terrorists,” comes from right -wing Israeli accounts. But many are so from India – Fatafta says they have Indian names and the Indian flag in their usernames.
“It’s like it’s all ethno-nationalists from India and Israel coming together,” Fatafta told BuzzFeed News. “It’s an interesting event. I have never trolled people from India before. ”
But the conflict has also sparked an online wave of hate speech and misinformation against Muslims around the world. A full page ad in the New York Times accused Pop star Dua Lipa and models Gigi and Bella Hadid are in antisemitism. Last week, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, runs Facebook ads highlighting the face of Rep. Identify Omar with Hamas rockets, along with actually not right caption: “If Israel targets Hamas, Rep. Omar calls it terrorism.” The official Arabic -speaking Twitter account in Israel the Muslims were angry by tweeting verses from the Qur’an along with an image of an Israeli airstrike on Gaza (that tweet is over).
That conflict in the Middle East could drive hatred and lies against Muslims is not new. But what does the novel come from: India. In most democracies around the world, anti-Muslim hatred continues to prevail, both online and offline. Just last year, politicians from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party as well as several news channels accused of an assembly of the Tablighi Jamaat, an international group of Islam missionaries, who deliberately spread coronavirus in India after more than 4,000 cases link it At the time, #CoronaJihad was one of the top topics of Twitter interest in the region.
On Saturday, First Draft News, a UK -based nonprofit that investigates misinformation, published an analysis of more than 300,000 tweets related to the Israeli -Palestinian crisis. They found a campaign containing thousands of tweets and hashtags that seemed to be made in India, one of Twitter’s key markets.
“While reviewing the tweets, we noticed that the top hashtags always have some Indian references,” Carlotta Dotto, senior data journalist at First Draft, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s inspiring.”
Dotto pointed to #UnitedAgainstJehad, a deliberately misspelled hashtag that was mentioned more than 40,000 times on nearly 6,000 accounts between May 12 and May 17. Analysis showed that the hashtag was at the heart of a coordinated campaign aimed to make this trend, accompanied by tropes about Muslims infiltrated by Indian nationalists over the years – such as love jihad, an unfounded conspiracy theory that accuses Muslim men of converting Hindu women to Islam through marriage. Ten percent of accounts using the hashtag were created in May.
“They are clearly using the Israel-Palestine conflict to launch their own Twitter accounts in India and around the world that are getting the attention it is getting online,” Dotto said.
Even if India had previously avoided joining the region, relations between India and Israel have improved further under Modi, who became the first Indian prime minister to visit the country in 2017. In part that is because the led both conservative nationalist countries. In addition, India’s right -wingers are seeking long -standing rivalry with their country’s neighboring Pakistan.
“India’s right wing finds Israel interesting for a number of reasons,” Jency Jacob, managing editor of Boom, a leading organization that investigates India’s reality, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s a small country surrounded by Muslim neighbors who are fighting, it has a strong leader focused on protecting its borders.
“Whenever there is tension between an Islamic country and any other country, the right ecosystem surrounds anyone who is on the non-Muslim side,” Jacob added. “For them, it was a natural attack that brought out all their prejudices about Muslims in general.”
Members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its supporters have been caught up in the conflict. Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, a BJP spokesman, called Islam is a “Virus” that “creates Terrorism all over the world” and says, “Israel Vaccines this Virus, please support Israel.” He is too claimed that Muslims believe “Religion is Superior to the Nation.” Each of Bagga’s tweets garnered thousands of retweets and likes. Hundreds of messages insulting Muslims were also transmitted through WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app used by hundreds of millions of Indians.
“Checked most of the #IndiaStandWithIsrael tweet handles,” tweet Rana Ayyub, a high-profile Indian journalist who has always been targeted by most right-wing Modi supporters. “A common problem that goes through is the hatred of Muslims and bloodshed to see Muslims killed and their place shown.”
As guardians of the interior of Israel difficult to keep up with much hatred and lies, their counterparts abroad are also not so quick. Boom, for example, has checked the truth almost two dozen stories, some of which paint the Palestinians as causing their hardship.
“It’s become one of our many topics,” Jacob told BuzzFeed News.
One of the pieces of misinformation incorrectly described a mock funeral organized in 2020 by young Jordanians to avoid a coronavirus lockdown while Palestinians held a funeral for “international sympathy.” Another viral clip tried to throw a 2017 news story about Palestinian makeup artists as Palestinian residents are doing damage in the current conflict.
“Transnational restraint,” Fatafta said. “Islamophobia is the common denominator here.”