Home Islamophobia OpIndia at it again, uses straw-man fallacy to vilify Zaira Wasim

OpIndia at it again, uses straw-man fallacy to vilify Zaira Wasim

As the locust infestation wreaks havoc in the Indian subcontinent, Zaira Wasim, a former actor posted a tweet of a translation of a Quranic verse.

Locust swarms reminded many of the biblical punishments & many have expressed the same on Twitter.

Twitter’s advanced search on “punishment locust until:2020-05-26“, yields thousands of tweets which have the words “Punishment” & “locust” until 26th of May 2020. Her tweet with Quranic quotation on 27th May could possibly have been a manifestation of an already ongoing Twitter narrative.

However, her tweet drew enormous flak in India. A twitter user who is followed by high profile BJP leader even threatened to rape her.

She had temporarily deactivated her account but reactivated later and  tweeted another Quranic verse – “Narrate unto them the stories (of the men of old), perhaps that they may reflect” -Qur’an 7:176

She has also responded to a query asking why she deactivated the account with “Because I’m just a human, like everyone else, who’s allowed to take a break from everything whenever the noise inside my head or around me reaches it’s peak :)”

OpIndia’s Insinuations:  

Opindia reported it with an unflattering photo of her with the title: Zaira Wasim, who had left acting for Islam, now quotes the Quran to insinuate that locust infestation in Rajasthan is ‘Allah’s wrath’

Zaira Wasim made no reference to the Rajasthan’s locust infestation specifically. OpIndia’s article deliberately sets up a straw-man argument to attack her stance, while actually referencing something she never claimed.

It is worth pointing out that none other than our Prime Minister has referenced divine interventions when it comes to calamities. In 2016, just before the West Bengal elections, a bridge collapsed killing 21 people & injuring 150 others. Mr. Modi claimed that “God has sent a message to the people – that today this bridge has collapsed, tomorrow she will finish off the entire Bengal. God’s message to you all is to save Bengal.

Zaira Wasim also responded to Mr. Tarek Fatah, who  just like OpIndia, insinuated that Zaira mocked “her own countrymen as being victims of Allah’s wrath”, by writing a detailed letter to whom she referred as “Tarek Uncle”. She urged him not to add more hate to an already troubled world.

The context for the Quranic verse:

Religious scriptures such as Quranic verses are often quoted out of context. Both the proponents as well as opponents are guilty of it.

Take the same verse as an example:

“So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood: Signs openly self explained: but they were steeped in arrogance- a people given to sin”

-Qur’an 7:133

Scholars of the Quran would unequivocally testify that ‘We’ here refers to God and ‘They’ refers to the people given to sin. The context can easily be found by reading the previous verses of this chapter. The right wing ecosystem and growing Islamophobia in India deliberately misinterpreted an essentially harmless tweet by a young Indian Muslim woman who chose to relinquish a career in acting for the sake of Islam.

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