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India’s ruling party released a bizarre-looking cartoon video this week in an apparent attempt to quell the fears of Muslims about an anti-Muslim citizenship law that has prompted deadly protests in which thousands of people have been arrested.
The video, released on Twitter by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), features two cartoon Muslim men discrediting so-called “myths” about the citizenship law that has inspired mass protests. The men settle on the idea that India can only move forward with "peace and brotherhood," AFP reported.
“We appeal to all Muslim brothers and sisters to first understand the Citizenship Amendment Act and make the others understand too,” read the translated text of the tweet, via Al Jazeera. “Otherwise, political parties will continue to spread lies and myths in order to make us fight amongst ourselves for their vote banks. Beware of rumours and know the truth.”
Some 20,000 users had like the video by midday Monday. Others have ridiculed the video, which is part of a wider publicity blitz as the BJP tries to downplay fears about the citizenship law.
The citizenship bill provides a path to citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who came to India illegally from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. But it doesn’t afford the same path for Muslims, which has led critics to call it a discriminatory bill.
The bill has sparked deadly nationwide protests. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets despite authorities banning demonstrations against the bill, and at least 22 people have died in the protests over the last two weeks.
Modi, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, has dismissed criticisms of the new law and said his party was right to pass it. In a speech on Sunday, Modi said Muslims "don't need to worry at all" — so long as they can provide proof they are Indian.
"Muslims who are sons of the soil and whose ancestors are the children of mother India need not to worry," he said in the speech.
Cover: Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) shout slogans, during a rally supporting the implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizenship (NRC), in Kolkata, India, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. The rally was organized in the wake of continuing protests against a contentious new citizenship law, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the legislation at a rally in New Delhi and accused the opposition of pushing the country into a “fear psychosis.” (AP Photo/Bikas Das)