Hundreds of demonstrators across U.S. protest Facebook’s role in Anti-Muslim Hate Speech, Violence by Hindu extremists in India
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, DC (Nov. 14, 2021) – Hundreds of people of different faiths, professions and backgrounds gathered in eight major U.S. cities Saturday and Sunday to protest Facebook allowing hate speech to be freely posted in India, resulting in persecution, physical attacks and killings of members of non-Hindu minority religions.
The protests, organized by a coalition of Indian diaspora organizations, featured speakers demanding that Facebook’s founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg end his company’s complicity in extreme Hindu rightwing incitement to violence, proliferating on Facebook and WhatsApp, as exposed by whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Protest demonstrations, that also included women and children, were held in Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco’s Menlo Park, where Facebook is headquartered.
Many of the protesters, who can never return to India, have family in India who are targets of state-sanctioned persecution, discrimination and physical violence.
SPEAKERS CONDEMN FACEBOOK INACTION ON HATE SPEECH
“We demand that Facebook designate as dangerous organizations Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, its Nazi-inspired ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh and their armed affiliates, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal,” declared Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of the Indian American Muslim Council.
At a protest at Menlo Park in California, outside the global headquarters of Meta, the new name for Facebook, Inc., Javid Ali of Bay Muslims for Human Rights, said, “Facebook deliberately and knowingly refused to block Islamophobic hate enabling fascist violence against India’s Muslims. Facebook has blood on its hands.” Added Karthic of Ambedkar King Study Circle, “The algorithms used in Facebook are biased against the religious minorities and the socially oppressed. We condemn Facebook for failing to fix these proven issues.”
As protesters braved the rain to march to Facebook’s office in Seattle chanting “Facebook Hatebook,” Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle City Council, said, “Companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are participants… in the state forces of bigotry, hate, religions and caste oppressions.” Added Hira Singh Bhullar of Khalsa Gurmat Center, a Sikh NGO: “This hate is coming from politicians promoting hate. Shame on Facebook.” Said Javed Sikander, a Muslim activist: “The hatred is destroying the fabric of Indian society.”
At Charlotte, North Carolina, protester Elyas Mohammed said, “Facebook provided a platform for the right-wing hate-mongering elements to flourish. Had it taken stringent action on fake accounts things could have been different.”
Shakeib Mashhood, a protester at Houston, Texas, said: “Facebook is becoming a tool to spread hate In India, which is very outrageous. More concerning is that Facebook knew that this was happening but it did not take any action. They did not block it.”
At Chicago, Syed Shoaib Qadri said, “We want accountability from Facebook for its criminal behavior.”
Added Musaddique Thange, a protester at San Diego, California, “Facebook is enabling inflammatory and violent rhetoric against Muslims in India and around the world. Facebook should designate RSS, Bajrang Dal and all its affiliates as dangerous and terrorist organizations.”
Zameer Khan, organizer of the Atlanta protest, declared: “Public protests and demonstrations are needed to begin to galvanize the American people and politicians especially into taking action against Facebook for poor management of its social media platform.”
PROTESTERS’ SLOGANS SEND POWERFUL MESSAGES TO POWER
Some of the posters and placards held up by marchers said:
- FACEBOOK ENABLES RACISM
- FACEBOOK ENABLES FASCISM
- FACEBOOK UNDERMINES DEMOCRACIES
- FACEBOOK PROMOTES ISLAMOPHOBIA
- FACEBOOK HATE SPEECH RULES HELP BJP IN INDIA
- FACEBOOK FAILED ITS USERS
INDIAN POLITICAL PARTIES USING FACEBOOK TO SPREAD HATE SPEECH
As Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and Facebook’s own internal documents have revealed, the vast RSS-BJP network is running fake pages and deliberately spreading misinformation, hate speech and incitement to violence, abetted by Facebook’s algorithms.
India is Facebook’s biggest market, with at least 340 million Facebook accounts and 400 million WhatsApp users. The social media giant has increasingly prioritized business interests in India, failing to act against the tsunami of hate and violence enabled by its platforms.
FACEBOOK ACCUSED OF STALLING INDIA REPORT
An article in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal quoted human rights advocates as accusing Facebook of stalling its report on steps it is taking to identify and delete hate speech. Detailed coverage in Washington Post, New York Times, and Associated Press have quoted extensively from whistleblower Haugen’s submissions to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission and other documents to reveal how Facebook knowingly allowed anti-Muslim hate speech and incitement to violence to proliferate in India.