Virat Kohli’s defence of his Muslim teammate is crucial in the fight against religious bigotry – By Mihir Bose
The vigorous defence by Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli of his Muslim teammate Mohammed Shami could mark an important moment in the battle against the growing tide of Hindu religious bigotry in the country.
Shami, the lone Muslim in the Indian cricket team, was subjected to vicious social media abuse following India’s defeat by Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, with many suggesting that, as a Muslim, he must have deliberately underperformed so that his fellow Muslims in Pakistan could win. The fact is that his other 10 Hindu team mates also underperformed dreadfully, handing Pakistan their first ever victory over India in limited overs World Cup competitions….
Religion, of course, has always had a very curious role in Indian cricket…. However, in the 1980s, when I was researching my history of Indian cricket, I met many cricketers who had played in the tournament and they insisted it had not encouraged religious bigotry. Now, ironically, while such a tournament would be impossible, religious intolerance has increased, fanned by zealots of Hinduism who have been much encouraged since Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power….