Hyderabad: Kerala witnesses a steep rise in Islamophobia taking a toll on minority-owned businesses and the society at large in the state.
The state of Kerala seems to be the new ground for stoking Islamophobia as evident from the recent statements made by Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangat who alleged that the Muslim community is involved in drug peddling in the state. The bishop also used the term “narcotic jihad” in the same vein.
The social and economic implications of the allegations are now being felt by the Muslim community. One such person is K.A. Rashid, a 33-year-old businessman, who owns Ajmi Foods, a packaged food brand.
Last week, Rashid received a number of calls from stakeholders and customers, who enquired about his role in organizing a protest on September 10. According to The Print, the protest was staged against the Bishop’s remarks.
The incident has led to a social media outrage, as netizens called for the boycott of Ajmi Foods. Upon coming across certain derogatory posts, Rashid filed a complaint against those who began the hate campaign.
Expressing his concerns over the social media campaign, Rashid said “It was really disappointing to see this happen in a state like Kerala where we have all co-existed peacefully. It was a hate campaign, specially meant to target the two companies run by Muslims”
A similar campaign was launched in 2010 against KKMF, another popular food brand alleged to have been involved in the assault on a professor named TM Joseph whose hand was chopped off. Later it was revealed that the Popular Front of India (PFI) was responsible for the offense.
“That was the most ridiculous bit. We have absolutely nothing to do with those who assaulted the professor,” said Fayas Mohammed, KKMF’s marketing manager.
Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt who belongs to the Syro-Malabar Church — one of the largest Christian denominations in Kerala had made a statement earlier this month saying, “It’s not just love that ‘jihadi terrorists are resorting to, but narcotics too are being used to “trap” non-Muslims”.
Earlier, reacting to the Bishop’s remarks, the Kerala chief minister released a statement “This is Kerala, the cradle of secularism. Don’t think that the harmony here can be sabotaged. Such moves from anyone would be dealt with sternly by our society”.
It is said that in July this year the Bishop urged Christian families to have at least five children. Speaking of the statement, activist and General Secretary of the All India Christian Council said that the statement reflected the insecurities of the Church.
He further stated that “The Christian population is decreasing due to the simple fact that members of the community are increasingly having fewer children. And when that happens, a donation to the church decreases, the Christian voter population decreases. It is seen as both an economic and a political loss by the Church.”