Lady velvet versus Indian fascism

Many in Pakistan may not have known Lady Velvet; a UAE princess, who remains very active on social media and has become a strong voice against fascism. Princess Hend Al Qassemi uses the twitter handle with the name of Lady Velvet and has become a symbol of resistance against Islamophobia, especially the one originating from Modi’s India. Born in 1984 in Sharjah, Sheikha Hend bint Faisal Al Qassemi‎; is an Emirati princess of the Al Qasimi family of Sharjah, a businesswoman and a philanthropist. Al Qassemi studied Architecture at the American University of Sharjah, Entrepreneurship at the American University of Cairo, and studied Management, Marketing, Communications and Media at Celsa-Paris Sorbonne University. Her profile in Wikipedia talks about her as an emerging female star in the conservative Middle East. As a businesswoman, Sheikha Hend is a published journalist within newspapers and international magazines, and an author of the book, the Black Book of Arabia and the Editor-in-Chief of a luxury fashion publication, Velvet Magazine. She sits on the advisory board at CFD Dubai, and International Dubai Fashion Week is under her patronage. Other duties include being a Member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, and she is also an active charity supporter.

Her spat with Indian Islamophobic media and RSS activists has continued since protests against CAA and NRC in India when the Muslim community was targeted by Sangh Parivar; the Muslim community in India became a target of hate mobs during the initial days of the Covid pandemic. Her latest spat with Indian fascists came about recently when Sudhir Chauhdhary, a known Muslim hater and Zee News editor-in-chief, was invited by an Indian corporate entity in the Emirates, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India(ICAI) UAE chapter which uses the twitter handle of @icaiauh. Sudhir Chaudhary wears many hats, he is also CEO of Zee News, WION, Zee Business, Zee 24 Taas and hosts the primetime show Daily News and Analysis on Zee News.

Princess Hend had reminded us that targeting any race or religion with hate speech was a crime in the UAE. She had tweeted, “In the United Arab Emirates hate speech against any religion, caste or race is a crime. She had added, “When a criminal spews venom onto a society, that invites violence causing the burning of homes, businesses and mosques. A #MuslimHolocaust is started, together with the abuse of other minorities- Dalits/Sikhs as well. Police sit & watch. I will not welcome such hate in the UAE.” The row over the issue of inviting Islamophobe Sudhir Chaudhary deepened last month when UAE Princess Hend Al Qassemi publicly shamed CA Neeraj Ritolia, the man responsible for inviting the Zee News anchor Sudhir Chaudhary to the Islamic kingdom. As netizens took to twitter, one activist Mr Ahad remarked ‘Please meet your Islamophobes in UAE from @icaiauh, CA Neeraj Ritola—Chairman, CA Rohit Dayma—Treasurer, CA John George—VC, CA Krishnan Narayan Venkat—Gen Sec, CA Priyanka Birla—Comms and Website.

Unfortunately, Sudhir Chaudhary not only attended the conference but also wrote a scathing attack against Lady Velvet by putting his statement on twitter, he boasted of his defiance against Lady Velvet and called her a wannabe blogger; this is something unprecedented where Indian media influencers and heads of corporate India have become so emboldened that they have started insulting the honorable ladies of the Arab Royal families. Many in Pakistan may not be knowing about Sudhir Chaudhary; he had led a campaign to defame Indian Muslims by blaming them for spreading coronavirus in 2020. Several Indian high courts later concluded that blaming the members of the Tablighi Jamaat for the spread of the virus was part of propaganda.

As reported by Indian media, Sudhir Chaudhary peddled 13 kinds of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ jihad on Zee News to demonize the Muslim community, the list included Love Jihad, Economic Jihad, Media Jihad, Secularism, Population Jihad and Land jihad etc. While the categorization of Jihad may sound unimpressive; each word was chosen with deliberation to target Muslim culture, identity, history and polity. The Print Magazine castigated Sudhir Chaudhary and stated that apart from being called out for his apparent ‘Radio Rwanda levels of dog whistling’, Chaudhary’s show on ‘Zameen jihad’ also invited, aptly, calls for his prosecution under Section 153A, for creating enmity between communities. Did the state or government of India take any action against Mr Sudhir Chaudhary; absolutely not. While the show was apparently about encroachment of government land, the channel joined the dots into a grand Islamic conspiracy to marginalize the majority community—the Hindus. What can the Islamic world in general and Pakistan in particular do about Islamophobic parties like the RSS and fascist regimes like that of Modi? This is a million dollar question. We suggest that the OIC may take a stand based on the initiatives taken by people like Prime Minister Imran Khan and Lady Velvet. Princess Hend al Qassemi has come up with the idea of a digital force called the Angels of Mercy who will expose hate speech and organised Islamophobia, like the one spewed by RSS in India, we need to at least create a force of digital netizens who should pinpoint Islamophobic characters like Sudhir Chaudhary and raise the red flag whenever there are atrocities carried out by RSS and its affiliates in India against any minority community. We will end the article with a tweet from Lady Velvet, “I call on all Arab and Muslim countries to be wary of the Indian extremists who seek to destroy them and divide us. We grew up with the good Indians, but today there is an extremist party that declares its open hatred and its willingness to violence and harm in our faces for no reason”.

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