NEWS: Religious mockery in the past few weeks has resulted in fierce debate in the recent weeks within the South African Indian community. Now a closed Facebook group has come under fire again for perpetuating hateful commentary. Screenshots from the group surfacing on social media show unfounded statements, unchecked facts and alarmingly hateful comments from social media users. The attacks on religious faiths primarily are directed towards Christianity and followers of Islam. The Facebook group titled SA Hindu’s AGAINST CONversion lies, created two years ago, takes shots at Indian Christian converts with a following of about 2,300 followers.
Various organisations including Hindu religious bodies slammed the Facebook group. The Daily News reported the first uproar against the group in March and according to that news report no religious body intended to report the group for hate speech. In his comment to Daily News, ChristianView Network director Philip Rosenthal said the Bill of Rights protects free speech and religious debate, but “it does not protect the advocacy of hatred”.
“Social media memes are not a good forum for religious debate as they don’t allow space to defend and refute arguments,” Rosenthal said.
“These people have a right to have such a group on Facebook, but the ‘genocidal gods’ meme is slanderous and can lead to hatred. The question is whether the admin is allowing/encouraging such, or if it’s just the work of an angry individual.”
The SA Hindu Dharma Sabha president Ram Maharaj also stated to the Daily News saying “it was unnecessary to undermine another religion to uplift Hinduism. Maharaj said it was divisive and disingenuous of followers of one religion to denigrate facets of another religion.”
Mayville community activist, Shiraz Naroth speaking to the Daily News over the same matter in March said: “the posts were making the tensions worse between the religious groups.” Naroth also said he tried to shut down the group by contacting various religious bodies and also, the South African Human Rights Commission, but never received a response.
Social media users are urged to lodge their complaints with the SAHRC here and report the group to the social media platform, Facebook, should they wish to take action against the group. The administrator of the Facebook group has not responded to a request for comment from Indian Spice.
Source inputs: Daily News