Sunday November 18, 2018
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Congress to stage protest march to Rashtrapati Bhavan against ‘rising intolerance’

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New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi will lead her party’s protest march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday against “rising intolerance” under the BJP-led regime, but the government dismissed the talk of intolerance as a “perception being manufactured by certain sections” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress leaders said the march on Tuesday would include party vice president Rahul Gandhi, members of the Congress Working committee, party office-bearers and party MPs. The party also slammed Modi for his barbs at the Congress over the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

The march will start from Parliament House and party leaders are expected to give a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee to convey their concern on “rising intolerance”.

Sonia Gandhi met the president on Monday evening, but party sources termed it as “personal” meeting. The meeting came on a day Modi targeted her, saying Congress leaders had no right to talk about tolerance when they were involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

“Madam Soniaji, do you remember 1984? What happened in Delhi? Sikhs were killed. Serious charges were made against the Congress. Ironically, now the Congress talks of tolerance,” Modi said at an election rally in Purnea in Bihar.

He said after two Sikh bodyguards assassinated then prime minister Indira Gandhi, innocent Sikhs “were killed in broad daylight… And the Congress is giving lectures on tolerance”.

Congress leader Anand Sharma reacted sharply to Modi’s remarks, saying his comments were “politically motivated” and “a mischievous attempt to reopen the wounds of 31 years”.

He said riots followed the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi were “tragic” and “a sad chapter”, adding that successive governments have explored every possibility to provide a healing touch.

Sharma charged Modi with making the latest remarks to “divert attention from the rising concerns and fears in the country over orchestrated campaigns to create atmosphere of fear and intimidation”.

“Prime minister has chosen even now not to respond to the concerns expressed by eminent Indians who have made rich and notable contributions – scientists, authors, film producers, poets and others,” he said.

“He should not even think and act as a BJP leader or as an RSS pracharak (preacher) but fulfil and honor his constitutional duties and his moral duty as India’s prime minister,” he said.

Noting then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had immediately gone out on the streets of Delhi to diffuse communal sentiments and calm people after reaching the capital of West Bengal in the wake of the assassination of his mother Indira Gandhi, he alleged Modi did not “utter a single word for three days” after the Gujarat riots of 2002 and “did not take effective measures to control the situation”.

Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu hit back at the Congress.

“They are meeting the president to talk about rising intolerance. The Congress talking about intolerance is the joke of the century. It is like the devil quoting the scriptures,” Naidu told reporters here, claiming the Congress was “intolerant to the people’s mandate” that chose Modi as the prime minister.

Asked about concerns business leaders expressed last week over the vitiated atmosphere, Naidu said: “That’s not the words and phraseology they used. Some of them are misleading; others are misread.” He, however, conceded that some voices were “well-meaning” and were “naturally concerned”. “Our objection is to all these incidents being linked to PM Modi.”

He also cited “atrocities” committed in Congress ruled-states and in states ruled by “Congress-friendly parties”, noting the Dadri incident happened in Uttar Pradesh where the Samajwadi Party is in power, M.M. Kalburgi’s killing happened in Karnataka that is Congress-ruled, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Maharashtra in August 2013 when the Congress was in power in the state.

Hitting out at writers, artistes, and other intellectuals protesting the sudden rise in communal attacks in the country, Naidu asked where these “conscience-keepers” were after the 1984 riots and also referred to “their silence” during the mass exodus and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir Valley.

(IANS)

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Curb Racism And Semitic Intolerance In The U.S: UN Human Rights Expert

She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space.

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Pittsburgh, Hate, shooting
Monks pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn. VOA

Following the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at a synagogue in the eastern United States, a U.N. human rights expert urged governments on Monday to do more to curb racist and anti-Semitic intolerance, especially online.

“That event should be a catalyst for urgent action against hate crimes, but also a reminder to fight harder against the current climate of intolerance that has made racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs more acceptable,” U.N. Special Rapporteur Tendayi Achiume said of Saturday’s attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Achiume, whose mandate is the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, noted in her annual report that “Jews remain especially vulnerable to anti-Semitic attacks online.”

racist
A mother and her child arrive to place flowers at a spontaneous memorial of flowers and sidewalk writing a block from the Tree of Life Synagogue. VOA

She said that Nazi and neo-Nazi groups exploit the internet to spread and incite hate because it is “largely unregulated, decentralized, cheap” and anonymous.

Achiume, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, said neo-Nazi groups are increasingly relying on the internet and social media platforms to recruit new members.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among their favorites.

Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
A person pauses in front of Stars of David with the names of those killed in a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh. VOA

On Facebook, for example, hate groups connect with sympathetic supporters and use the platform to recruit new members, organize events and raise money for their activities. YouTube, which has over 1.5 billion viewers each month, is another critical communications tool for propaganda videos and even neo-Nazi music videos. On Twitter, according to one 2012 study cited in the special rapporteur’s report, the presence of white nationalist movements on that platform has increased by more than 600 percent.

The special rapporteur noted that while digital technology has become an integral and positive part of most people’s lives, “these developments have also aided the spread of hateful movements.”

She said in the past year, platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have banned individual users who have contributed to hate movements or threatened violence, but ensuring the removal of racist content online remains difficult.

The Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
One man pays his respect in front of a Star of David memorial for one of the 11 victims killed in the Oct. 27, 2018, synagogue shooting. VOA

Some hate groups try to get around raising red flags by using racially coded messaging, which makes it harder for social media platforms to recognize their hate speech and shut down their presence.

Achiume cited as an example the use of a cartoon character “Pepe the Frog,” which was appropriated by members of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups and was widely displayed during a white supremacist rally in the southern U.S. city of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Also Read: U.N. Reports Global Cocaine, Opium Production At Heights

 

The special rapporteur welcomed actions in several states to counter intolerance online, but cautioned it must not be used as a pretext for censorship and other abuses. She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space. (VOA)