Indian Envoy condemns hate-speech by Indians in the UAE

Indian Envoy condemns hate-speech by Indians in the UAE

India’s envoy in UAE reminds diaspora of rule of law amidst outrage over ‘Islamophobic’ slurs

Cautioning Indians in the United Arab Emirates against a spate of religiously derogatory posts, India’s Ambassador to the UAE said any discrimination would not be tolerated.

“India and UAE share the value of non-discrimination on any grounds. Discrimination is against our moral fabric and the Rule of law. Indian nationals in the UAE should always remember this,” Ambassador Pavan Kapoor said in a tweet on Monday, indicating how strongly the government has taken many such cases that have come into prominence recently. The tweet also referred to PM Modi’s earlier statement that said the Coronavirus “does not see race or religion”.

In the past month, at least six Indians have lost jobs or face charges over social media posts linking the coronavirus pandemic to the Muslim community in India.

The issue, according to at least two sources aware of the discussions, is creating a greater diplomatic strain for New Delhi, even as it negotiates with UAE officials who have been pushing for India to repatriate thousands of citizens who have lost jobs with companies in the Emirates due to COVID-19.

An estimated 3.3 million Indians live and work in the UAE.

On April 18, Sharjah businessman and filmmaker Sohan Roy was forced to apologise publicly after a complaint against him for a video which depicted Islamic clerics leading blindfolded men in skull caps in an adaptation of his poem on religious bigotry. Earlier in April, Dubai resident Rakesh B. Kitturmath, who worked at a services company, an accountant Bala Krishna Nakka, and Abu Dhabi resident Mitesh Udeshi were terminated for similarly derogatory posts on social media that contravened UAE law.

In March, a Dubai-based Chef Trilok Singh was sacked for an online rape threat against a student for opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. A complaint was also filed against the CEO of an events management company Sameer Bhandari, who, in a written response to an Indian Muslim job applicant, told him to “Go to Pakistan”.

Posts on social media by a number of Indian expatriates have been widely reported in UAE media, inviting censure from one member of the Royal family, Sharjah Princess Hend Faisal Al Qassemi, who publicly threatened Indians working in the UAE with deportation.

“The ruling family is a friend of Indians, but as a royal, your rudeness is not welcome. [] You make your bread and butter from this land, which you scorn and your ridicule will not go unnoticed. Anyone that is openly ‘racist and discriminatory’ in the UAE will be fined and made to leave,” Ms. Hend wrote in response of a series of tweets from in reply Saurabh Upadhyay, the CEO of an event management company based in Dubai. Over the past few weeks, many of Mr. Upadhyay’s tweets calling for the “social and economic boycott” of the Muslim community and referring to members of the Tablighi Jamaat as “radical terrorists”, have been flagged by various activists against hate speech online. Mr. Upadhyay has subsequently shut down his social media accounts, and his company website was shut down as well.

Former Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Suri says the Emirates has cracked down on hate speech against all religions, especially after it enacted the 2015 Anti-Discrimination Law, punishing “any form of discrimination against people and religion”. “The UAE has been working actively to promote an image of tolerance and have targeted religious extremism,” he said.

He added that derogatory posts by some Indians “feed into the propaganda that hostile countries like Pakistan try to amplify to mould public perception about India, and that adds to the diplomatic challenges the government faces.”

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