Indian nationalists accused the “Love Jihad” company that an Indian jewelery brand withdrew an advertisement featuring an interracial couple after it was used to describe marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women in India.
The forty-seven-second ad released last week featured a pregnant woman in a sari walking through a glittering house to a garden ready for her baby shower. The ad, after being removed from Facebook and YouTube, was described by the jeweler, Tanishq, as “a beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions and cultures”, the BBC reported. This was done to promote a new jewelry collection called “Ekatvam”, which is a Sanskrit word translated “Onesti”.
“Beautiful things happen when people come together,” reads a description on the company’s website, including the slogan: “The beauty of beauty. As a humanity. As a nation.”
But on social media, the ad accidentally created lines, and #BoycottTanishq soon topped the Twitter trend. Khemchand Sharma, a member of the country’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said, “Why are you showing a Muslim family a Hindu ‘daughter-in-law’ and glorifying it.” Asked on twitter. Mr. Sharma accused the company of love jihad, and favored trusting each other. “Why don’t you show Muslim daughters-in-law with a Hindu family in your advertisements?”
“Love Jihad” is a term coined by right-wing Hindu nationalists, who have converted Hinduism to Islam by accusing India’s Muslim minority of persuading Hindu women to marry. The term was first used by Yogi Adityanath, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who was later reprimanded for indecent language.
One of the country’s most influential opposition politicians, Shashi Tharoor pitted against critics of the advertisement. “If Hindu-Muslim ‘Ektavam’ bothers them a lot, why don’t they boycott the symbol of the longest living Hindu-Muslim unity in the world – India?” Mr. Tharoor Wrote on twitter.
Others said it was “FoolishA description of the company’s “to bend” online trolls, and to remove ads “Very sad situation. “Chetan Bhagat, an Indian writer, Tweeted “Place Advertisements” for Tanishq. Stay strong Be Indian “
in a statement Posted on Twitter on Tuesday, The company said that the advertisement was meant to “celebrate the coming together of people from different fields”, and serious reactions to it were “contrary to its very purpose.” According to the company’s statement, the advertisement was removed to protect “the wellbeing of our employees, partners and store employees”.
Interfaith relations are very few in India, and when they exist, they create additional social pressure, said Amit Thorat, assistant professor at the Center for Regional Development Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. A survey that helped Mr. Thorat find that only 5 percent of marriages in India are interracial. A 2016 poll found that the majority of people opposed marriage, both in caste and religion.
“Society is not ready, the social security that is needed from the state is not there yet,” Mr. Thorat said. “And the environment that we have right now is a kind of Hindu religious fundamentalist government. It is much more difficult.” Critics argue that the policies implemented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have promoted religious hatred.
Muslims constitute around 14 percent of the population in India, while 74 percent of the country’s 1.3 billion people are Hindus. The age-old practice of centuries-old marriages is still common and interracial couples often face threats and violence.
India’s Muslim minority is growing rapidly in the epidemic. The Ministry of Health has blamed Muslims for spreading the virus across the country, which now has more than seven million cases. After a crack in Kashmir and a new, contested citizenship law, Muslims have also faced a wave of violence in recent months.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of India upheld the right of citizens to choose their husbands and convert to another religion. The ruling was considered a setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party, which prompted right-wing Hindu nationalists to embrace the term “love jihad”.