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Why doesn’t Arundhati Roy give up Man Booker, asks Anupam Kher

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News Delhi: Barely a week after spearheading a ‘March for India’ against writers returning awards, actor Anupam Kher launched an attack on writer Arundhati Roy, saying that she should give up her Booker Prize rather than returning the National Award she received.

“Why doesn’t Arundhati Roy give up her Man Booker Prize instead of the award for her best screenplay? Booker Prize is an international prize and as an ambassador of world peace, she should have given up that award citing Syrian crisis,” Kher asked a news agency.

Kher is in Delhi with his play “Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha” which will be staged on Saturday.

Kher, who was at the forefront of protest against ‘Award Wapsi’ by writers and filmmakers, also charged them with sullying the image of the country.

“The intolerance campaign has tarnished the image of the country. Writers like Arundhati Roy are unfathomable to layman/woman and we shouldn’t forget that she made statements like Kashmir should go with Pakistan,” Kher said.

Referring to one of his interviews in Singapore, Kher said that even foreign media is biased in reporting about India and they posed queries only on intolerance.

“The interview was a selective one about intolerance. Foreign media chooses what suits them. I raised my concern in the interview and I think it’s not aired,” Kher said, adding that the New York Times and The Economist have highlighted intolerance instead of the development aspects of India.

“International media has headlines like ‘India no more a tolerant country’. The intolerance level in those countries may be higher than India,” he added.

On the raging controversy over Tipu Sultan in Karnataka, Kher said actor Girish Karnad shouldn’t have made comments about renaming Bangalore airport, replacing the name of 16th-century city founder Kempe Gowda with Tipu.

“Karnad is a senior actor and I feel that he shouldn’t have made comments (for) which he had to apologise later,” the actor said.

Kher’s ‘March for India’ also kicked up a controversy after journalist Barkha Dutt was allegedly heckled by the protesters. Though Kher extended an apology, he said there was no documentary evidence of such an incident.

“There is no footage showing abuse or name calling of the journalist. I think that it could be a planted one,” he said.

Calling those returning their awards as pseudo-intellectuals, Kher also alleged that they have never asked an audience with the prime minister on the issue.

“I met the prime minister after the march. The writers, who returned the awards, never asked for an audience with the PM. Poet Munnawar Rana who returned the award said on TV that he wanted to meet the PM. The PMO got in touch with him, but he never responded,” said Kher.

Hitting out at film director Dibakar Banerjee, who returned his National Award, Kher said that Banerjee has misled people.

“Though Dibakar got National Award for two films, he returned the award for ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ which belonged to the producer. He never returned the one for ‘Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye’, because the producer was Walt Disney. And he said that ‘Maine apne hisse ka award wapas kiya hai’.”

Kher also felt that it’s a campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “All these people never wanted Modi as prime minister. Suddenly, India has become intolerant for them. Emergency was the worst India ever witnessed, so was the Sikh massacre. Why didn’t they respond when the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of the state?”

Refuting charges that his moves are politically motivated, Kher said he has never minced words on issues. “I haven’t gained anything politically. I marched for my country. I have spoken against Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment in FTII and also against attacks on Shah Rukh Khan,” said Kher.

The actor is unfazed about any backlash on his acting projects.

“I have millions to support me. The tickets for my play are sold out a month before. The common man doesn’t listen to the intellectual nonsense by a section of people,” he said.

(Preetha Nair, 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)