Indian Bowler Mohammed Shami Ahmed has been receiving racial abuse online after India’s humiliating loss to Pakistan in a cricket match. Both met on 24th October 2021 in their first Super 12 match for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 happening in Dubai. It was the 18th over and Shami was bowling as Pakistan easily chased India’s score of 151 runs with all wickets intact. Although the supporters were bashing the entire Indian team on social media, extremists and bigots targeted their only Muslim player with racist remarks. It was India’s first defeat against Pakistan in the history of World Cup matches.
Calls to Support Mohammed Shami after Islamophobic Abuse
The fast bowler was not able to perform as usual as he let Pakistan smash 43 runs at an Economy Rate of 11.2. Some Indian cricket fans took to Twitter and abused Shami in a way that the country’s infamous brazen Islamophobia was visible. As absurd it was, the Hindutva extremists accused Mohammed Shami of letting Pakistan win intentionally. They alleged that Shami shared similar religious faith with the Pakistanis so probably he was more empathetic towards his opponents. Some even accused him of taking bribes from Pakistan to perform badly in the match.
Cricket fans have been urging India’s captain Virat Kohli to publicly express solidarity in support of Shami as other teams do for their players. For example, when England lost to Italy in Euro 2020, 3 black players received similar racist abuse from British extremists as Shami was getting after India vs Pakistan match on Sunday.
The Role of India’s Right Wing
Ironically, Team India had just supported the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee, as the pictures were circling the social media before the match. That’s why the fans and celebrities asked the team to stand up and show their support in reality for Mohammed Shami. However, it seemed impossible because of the ruling party, BJP’s narrative against the Muslim community of India. Besides the nationalist bigots who questioned Shami’s integrity due to his Muslim identity, the right-wing politicians were also seen trolling the player. Some called him a traitor and expressed that he should be thrown out of the Indian cricket team. In Muslim-majority Kashmir, celebrations were going on with fireworks on which ex-Indian cricketer and MP Gautam Gambhir said that it was shameful to celebrate Pakistan’s victory. Some right-wing politicians were also seen mocking Pakistan when it won the toss. Multiple accounts posted identical tweets saying that Pakistan should take that coin home to improve its economy.
Anti-Muslim Drive in India
The development came while the concerns against the treatment of Muslims in India were already growing. After many reports of pogroms and forced evictions of Muslims, something new has been going on in India. Some supporters linked the case of Mohammed Shami with India’s eternal hate for Muslims.
As per recent reports, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has targeted actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, in a drug-related case, in which his bail plea has been rejected multiple times. Many felt that Khan was being targeted for his Muslim identity and accused NCB of extortion.
In Indian cricket’s case, there were 11 players in a team yet only one was being targeted for his religion. Even though other players also did not perform well in many previous matches. Some fans highlighted that at least Shami was performing better than them in the recent past.
Here are some funny memes to relive the exciting match between India and Pakistan.