Geopolitics

Indian Rumors Go Viral, Fuel Mass Exodus

OUTLOOK, TIMES OF INDIA, INDIAN EXPRESS, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES (India)

Worldcrunch

BANGALORE - Thousands of people from India’s northeastern states have fled the southern city of Bangalore amid fears that they will be targeted in attacks.

On Thursday the situation at the Bangalore railway station was chaotic, says the Times of India, as thousands of people from the northeastern states, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet nationals thronged to get tickets and leave the city.

Bangalore safe for northeast people: Cops shoot rumours read.ht/Qtq #Bangalore #ht yfrog.com/h2kvfgwkj

— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) August 16, 2012

On Wednesday, according to the Indian Express, more than 6,000 people fled Bangalore in a panic following rumors that they could be attacked in the aftermath of clashes between Bodo tribes and Muslim migrants in the northeastern state of Assam in July.

Most of the people trying to leave the city said they had heard news from word of mouth that there was a threat to their lives. “We got calls from our families in Assam that there is violence against northeast residents in Bangalore and south India,” Nirol Nagajhari told the Times of India. The Bangalore panic, adds the Indian Express, came a day after a 22-year-old Tibetan college student was stabbed in neighboring Mysore.

The rumors started circulating through SMS texts, which carried threatening messages about attacks on northeast Indians by a section of society, says the International Business Times. Reports said that attacks were to take place after Eid.

According to Outlook, Home Secretary RK Singh tried to quell the rumors, saying: “There is no threat to the people of the northeast in any part of the country.” Bangalore is safe, don't believe in rumours, don't leave Bangalore," Home Minister R Ashoka also said.

People from northeast flee Bangalore despite government's assurances toi.in/uXWvkb

— Times of India (@timesofindia) August 16, 2012

"The feeling of insecurity is so high that repeated attempts by the state government and the police to assure them of their safety haven’t reduced the number of migrants wanting to leave. The crowds on Thursday at the railway station were higher than on Wednesday," wrote Asha Rai on her Times of India blog. "It’s shocking that years, indeed, decades of social harmony has been upended by rumours, scary chain mails and smses," she added.

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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