Cyberbullying has yet again forced a major Indian brand to withdraw an advert featuring a story of communal harmony among Hindus and Muslims.
Jeweller Tanishq met with an online backlash for running an advert showcasing an interfaith marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man.
A representative for the company told a news outlet that the commercial featured a Muslim family celebrating the baby shower of their Hindu daughter in law has now been removed.
The YouTube narrative of the commercial read: “She is married into a family that loves her like their own child. Only for her, they go out of their way to celebrate an occasion that they usually don’t. A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions, and cultures.”
Critics, however, accused the company of promoting ‘love jihad’, a conspiracy theory coined by Hindu right-wing fringe groups believe that Muslim men endeavour to woo Hindu women and marry them, to convert them to Islam.
The advertisement received tremendous backlash from people accusing it of being anti-Hindu, and the sheer magnitude of trolling targeting the company saw #BoycottTanishq sit as one of the top trends on Indian Twitter throughout the whole of Monday – employees and directors of the company were also among those targeted.
Talking to a news outlet, activist Saket Gokhale describes the concept of ‘love jihad’ as an extension of the rising Islamophobia in Indian society.
“If you look at the social media accounts of those outraging (against Tanishq), they are always connected to the BJP (the ruling party of India) in some way or the other.”
He said that with every subsequent boycott campaign they keep pushing the Islamophobic agenda.
It began with people boycotting the brands that (Bollywood) actor Aamir Khan supports, after his wife’s remark about feeling unsafe in India, followed by a campaign against any restaurant offering halal food, to any mention of Hindu-Muslim unity.
Mr Gikhale hailed the withdrawal of the advert disappointing and heartbreaking.
He said that the ad wasn’t making any political statement and that there has to be a basis for taking something back, it can’t just be trolling.
A spokesman for Tanishq said that the idea behind the Ekatvam campaign was to celebrate the coming together of people from various walks of life, local communities and families during these difficult times to celebrate the beauty of oneness, but this film stimulated divergent and extreme reactions, contrary to its very objective.
It seems that humans are always looking for reasons to despise each other. It’s all about imaginary titles and it’s horrible, why can’t people just accept each other?
There are loads of families that are not very accepting of their mixed-race partners, but then parents all over the world disapprove of their children’s choices for all kinds of reasons, but to attack an advert is just insane.
It was just an advertisement and this extreme hostility is indeed disdainful and disgraceful and it’s shameful and sad when love can’t overcome hatred.
A newborn baby has no religion, but contractors of our societies teach us how to behave towards one another, and if people choose to marry each other because of love, why should anyone interfere, it’s their choice.
Religion was invented to divide and control, very much like politics, and the world would be a much better place if we didn’t look down on each other all the time. Unfortunately, women in some countries are looked at mainly as property or chattel, and wouldn’t be permitted to marry outside their religion or caste.