Social media platform Twitter has once again fallen afoul of religious groups, this time after appearing to censor a video depicting a billboard in honor of the Hindu god Ram, which was displayed in New York’s Times Square.
At a ceremony on Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated the start of construction of a major new temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram, at the deity’s birthplace in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.
However, the site sits at the heart of a 500-year dispute between Hindus and Muslims, with the former claiming that Mughal ruler Babur razed the original Ram Temple and built a mosque in its stead in the 16th century. This mosque was itself burned to the ground in 1992, sparking major riots.
Clumsily – and perhaps inadvertently – weighing on the centuries-long conflict, Twitter marked footage of a billboard honoring the event from Times Square in New York, shared by Jagdish Sewhani, president of the American India Public Affairs Committee, as “potentially sensitive content.”
— Jagdish Sewhani (@JagdishSewhani) August 5, 2020
This did not go unnoticed and sparked outrage among the online Hindu community, with some questioning why the video was hidden and marked as “sensitive,” with others calling for legal action to be taken against Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey.
Meanwhile, several commenters decried what they perceived as “Hinduphobia” while others encouraged their fellow Indians to leave the social media platform altogether.
Fanning the flames of pre-existing tensions even further, Twitter apparently opted not to censor any particularly inflammatory images from the counterprotests held by a number of Muslim and civil rights groups.
— South Asia Solidarity Initiative (@SASIinNYC) August 5, 2020
The Indian American Muslin Council shared images comparing India Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Hitler, under the hashtag #StopHindutvaFascism, but this was also not censored.
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