How Muslim Spaces on Twitter is giving a voice to India’s marginalized Muslims

How Muslim Spaces on Twitter is giving a voice to India’s marginalized Muslims
Since coming to power, BJP has been pushing a Hindutva agenda in what analysts believe has led to a heighted anti-Muslim sentiment. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 August 2021

How Muslim Spaces on Twitter is giving a voice to India’s marginalized Muslims

How Muslim Spaces on Twitter is giving a voice to India’s marginalized Muslims
  • Muslim Spaces offers India’s Muslims a platform to discuss topical issues
  • Since its inception Muslim Spaces has hosted a range of discussions

BANGALORE, India: Last month, 80 Muslim Indian women – activists, journalists, and researchers vocal on Twitter – found their profile pictures and identities doxxed on GitHub, an open-source app. In the hate crime, meant to defame and intimidate the minority group, the targeted women were “auctioned” as the “Sulli Deal of the Day.”
Sulli is a derogatory term used by right-wing Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) groups for Muslim women.
GitHub has since suspended the account, called Sulli Deals, but the event garnered national and international press coverage. One of the first places where victims came together was on Muslim Spaces, a discussion forum hosted on Twitter Spaces.
Twitter Spaces is an audio feature that allows real-time discussions. Twitter users with a following of more than 600 people can host a Space, and anyone following them can join by clicking on a purple bubble that will appear at the top of their home feed. Participants can co-host the Space, request the mic to share their view or simply listen to the discussion.
Founded by five pro-community people (who requested anonymity), Muslim Spaces offers India’s Muslims a platform to discuss topical issues. Since its inception in May, Muslim Spaces has hosted a range of discussions – from Bollywood’s role in spreading an anti-Muslim narrative and rising hate crimes against Muslims in India to Q&A sessions on specialized topics with Islamic scholars.
The team hosts a Space every day from 10:30 p.m. onward, with discussions sometimes going on for six hours.
Muslims make up 15 percent of India’s population, the largest minority group in the nation. Since coming to power in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been pushing a Hindutva agenda in what analysts believe has led to a heighted anti-Muslim sentiment.
Aasif Mujtaba, a research scholar at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi said that last year’s nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act were indicative of the lack of Muslim voices. He and several activists noticed that their concerns about the marginalization of Muslims were drowned out by media houses who claimed the movement as “anti-national.”
Mujtaba said: “Since these platforms are owned and managed by the majority, we didn’t have a space to counter arguments against us.”
Muslim Spaces provides a platform that lets the minority group express its thoughts on issues that affect the community and the social cohesion of the country.
“While political leaders and media personalities (on Twitter) have a large audience and traction, the common Muslim doesn’t have a platform to express their views,” the Muslim Spaces team said. “We noticed that smaller Twitter handles had interesting perspectives on pressing issues, but their voices were simply lost.”
With Spaces available on both iOS and Android, people from different segments of society and backgrounds can access the platform.
“We have succeeded in the first aim of starting a conversation. Now, as a way forward, we have to see, ‘Will this conversation result in any positive action?’” the Muslim Spaces team said.
As details of the Sulli Deals incident unfolded, agitated Muslim women spoke of their harrowing experiences on Muslim Spaces. Nearly 300 people – including victims, lawyers, and cybersecurity experts – joined the Space entitled “Objectification of Muslim Women.”
The discussion prompted action.
Jeevika Shiv, a social worker and lawyer who works on the intersection of gender, law and governance in marginalized communities said that as women shared their experiences, details of how many women were targeted emerged. “The Space certainly served as a catalyst for people to convene, collectively speak about it, and then take it offline.”
Shiv and others connected the targeted women with criminal lawyers and advised on legal recourse and coping mechanisms. “Any action that resulted from the discussion was because of the women who decided to speak up –the 10 women who were vocal and took action made a difference to the 70 others,” she said.
Since then, separate First Incident Reports (FIRs) have been registered in several states and groups have pressurized law enforcement agencies, including a Member of Parliament urging the IT Minister to take strict action.
While no arrests have been made so far, Shiv believes that talking about the issue and amplifying it puts pressure on the media and feminist groups to take action.
Shiv is inspired by Muslim Spaces as they move from traditional silos and “pass the mic to Muslim women.”
Like Shiv, Alishan Jafri, a journalist who documents anti-Muslim crimes, believes that amplifying and sharing videos of inflammatory speeches made by right-wing groups prompts some action.
Earlier this week, a group that included members of the BJP held a protest rally close to the Parliament in the capital, and videos from the event disclosed that members were chanting anti-Muslim slogans. Jafri was one of the few journalists who shared video footage from the rally on his Twitter timeline, calling for law enforcement to take action and condemn such hate speech.
The videos sparked social media outrage, with several human rights and civil society organizations urging action. A day later, six people were arrested; a Supreme Court lawyer and former BJP spokesperson have since been released on bail.
In the Muslim Spaces discussion entitled “Anti-Muslim Rallies, a new normal in India?” Jafri said that as a result of social media outrage, the mainstream media has had little choice but to cover the incident.
“Muslim Spaces serves as a larger collation for consensus among India’s Muslims to take a stance on human rights issues,” he said.


Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system

Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system
Updated 27 June 2022

Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system

Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system
  • MBC Group’s Natasha Matos-Hemingway: We are excited to offer Shahid’s content for Emirates’ customers to enjoy, just in time for the busiest travel season of the year
  • The partnership sees Emirates growing its library of Arabic content on ice, which currently includes over 420 audio channels and 170 film and TV show channels

DUBAI: Emirates has partnered with MBC Group’s streaming platform Shahid to offer premium content exclusively on its inflight entertainment system, ice.

The partnership makes ice the only channel to offer access to Shahid Originals, aside from the streaming service’s own premium subscription online platform.

“We are excited to offer Shahid’s content for Emirates’ customers to enjoy, just in time for the busiest travel season of the year,” said Natasha Matos-Hemingway, chief commercial and marketing officer (VOD) at MBC Group.

Starting in July, 135 hours of Shahid content from 15 shows will be available on ice.

The content has subtitles to ensure its accessibility to a large international audience.

The partnership sees Emirates growing its library of Arabic content on ice, which currently includes over 420 audio channels and 170 film and TV show channels.

“We are excited to welcome the world’s leading Arabic streaming service content on board so passengers can catch up on all their favorite entertainment inflight, just as they do at home,” said Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ senior vice-president, Retail, IFE & Connectivity.

Shahid’s biggest original production “Rashash,” which has been hugely popular in the Arab region, will be streamed for the first time by an airline on Emirates.

Other titles include “Anbar 6,” “Hell’s Gate,” “Al Shak,” “Dofa'at Beirut,” and “Salon Zahra.”

“Emirates is our first airline partner, and their global footprint enables us to reach viewers from many new markets and broaden the reach of our shows and brand — there is no better match for our ambitions,” Matos-Hemingway added.


Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival
Updated 27 June 2022

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival
  • The complaint could accelerate EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s scrutiny of Google for Jobs

BRUSSELS: Google was hit with an antitrust complaint on Monday after a Danish online job-search rival took its grievance to EU regulators, alleging the Alphabet unit had unfairly favored its own job search service.
The complaint could accelerate EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s scrutiny of the service, Google for Jobs, three years after it first came under her microscope. Since then the EU has taken no specific action relating to the online job-search sector.
The European Commission and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent out of office hours.
Google, which has been fined more than $8.4 billion (€8 billion) by Vestager in recent years for various anti-competitive practices, has previously said it made changes in Europe after complaints from online job-search rivals.
Launched in Europe in 2018, Google for Jobs triggered criticism from 23 online job-search websites in 2019. They said they had lost market share after the online search giant had allegedly used its market power to push its new service.
Google’s service links to postings aggregated from many employers, allowing candidates to filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply. Google places a large widget for the tool at the top of results for ordinary web searches.
Jobindex, one of the 23 critics three years ago, said Google had skewed what had been a highly competitive Danish market toward itself via anticompetitive means.
Jobindex founder and CEO Kaare Danielsen said his company had built up the largest jobs database in Denmark by the time Google for Jobs had entered the local market last year.
“Nevertheless, in the short time following the introduction of Google for Jobs in Denmark, Jobindex lost 20 percent of search traffic to Google’s inferior service,” Danielsen told Reuters.
“By putting its own inferior service at the top of results pages, Google in effect hides some of the most relevant job offerings from job seekers. Recruiters in turn may no longer reach all job seekers, unless they use Google’s job service,” he said.
“This does not just stifle competition among recruitment services but directly impairs labor markets, which are central to any economy,” Danielsen said, urging the Commission to order Google to stop the alleged anti-competitive practices, fine the company and impose periodic payments to ensure compliance.
Jobindex said it had seen examples of free-riding, with some of its own job ads copied without its permission and marketed through Google for Jobs on behalf of Jobindex’s business partners. It also cited privacy risks to job applicants and its clients.


REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 27 June 2022

REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
  • The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money

Kwai is a new social media platform that allows users to share and edit short videos ranging from 15 seconds to five minutes in length.

Find funny short videos, add recordings and videos of your daily life, take part in daily challenges, or look for the best memes and videos.

The app will make it easier for users to raise their profile and appear on trending pages.

Kwai recently signed a deal with many Arab influencers to enhance engagement in the Middle East.

Use the app’s video editor to create your own masterpieces by utilizing your device’s camera, adding music or filters and instantly uploading your video.

The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money.

Rules for posting videos help to protect younger viewers, while Kwai concentrates on Arab culture, creating hashtags and challenges suitable for the Arabic audience.

The app, developed by Chinese company Beijing Kuaishou Technology, has been downloaded by 300 million users worldwide.


Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel
Updated 26 June 2022

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel
  • The panel explored trends impacting the media ecosystem and audiences around the world, including the metaverse, news gathering and information, data analytics, and technological innovation, among others

CANNES: SRMG CEO Jomana Al-Rashid joined a Bloomberg-hosted expert panel at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week to discuss the future of the media.

“We are actively working to anticipate and shape the future of media through more investment in talent, technology, data and analytics, regional and global partnerships, research and studies, mega events and conferences ... and perhaps most importantly, exclusive premium content delivered across all screens, multi-platforms and touchpoints ... all this with the objective to stay relevant and engage audiences in five continents,” Al-Rashid told the panel.

She was joined by Ebony and Jet CEO Michele Ghee, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, Bloomberg Media Global Chief Marketing Officer Anne Kawalerski and MNTN President & CEO Mark Douglas.

The panel explored trends impacting the media ecosystem and audiences around the world, including the metaverse, news gathering and information, data analytics, and technological innovation, among others.

“We at SRMG strive to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving media sector, seize business opportunities, face potential challenges and exceed expectations, while continuing to offer added value to shareholders and business partners,” Al-Rashid added.

SRMG, one of the largest media and publishing groups in the Middle East, owns more than 30 major media outlets in the region, including Arab News, Asharq Al-Awsat, Asharq News and Sayidaty.


Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022
Updated 24 June 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022
  • Leading awards program announces this year’s winners

CANNES: The award winners for this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity have been announced.

This year saw 25,464 entries from 87 countries competing to become the global benchmark for excellence in creativity and effectiveness.

“This is always such a pivotal moment for us because the work entered provides a compelling insight into the global creative marketing landscape,” said Simon Cook, the festival’s CEO.

The Middle East region bagged more than 20 awards, including two Grands Prix for the UAE. “The Election Edition,” a campaign by Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar and Dubai-based marketing communications group Impact BBDO, won the highest number of trophies in the region.

The campaign, which won eight awards, including a Grand Prix in the print and publishing category, had “the kind of genius simplicity that we often see in Grand Prix-winning work,” said jury president Natalie Lam, who is Publicis Groupe’s chief creative officer for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

“The irony is that it’s a Grand Prix in print and publishing when there was no printing at all — something that shows that the power of an idea can transcend design,” said Dina Richa, the CEO of Impact BBDO.

Havas Middle East Dubai followed closely with seven trophy wins, all for Adidas. The campaign “Liquid Billboard” won a Grand Prix, one gold, two silver and one bronze in the outdoor category as well as a silver trophy in the media category.

The agency also won a silver trophy in the Entertainment Lion for Sports category for Adidas.’ “I’m Possible Billboards” campaign.

Horizon FCB Dubai’s innovative use of a new technology resulted in the campaign “Breakchains with Blockchain” for the Children of Female Prisoners Association, which won three silver trophies in the digital craft, media and creative commerce categories.

In Egypt, thousands of women are sent to prison every year for being unable to repay loans often worth only a few hundred dollars.

Working with global artists, the agency and the association created non-fungible tokens, each designed to tell the story of why a woman was sentenced to prison and priced at the amount it would cost to free them.

Other winners from the region include TBWA\RAAD Dubai for its “Chickenstock” campaign for KFC, which won a silver trophy, the UAE Government Media Office for “The Warm Winter Livestream” campaign, which won a bronze trophy, and VMLY&R Commerce MENA Dubai’s “Twitter Feminine Arabic” campaign for Twitter, which won a silver trophy.

Carla El-Maalouli, head of marketing for Twitter in the MENA region, said the company was honored to be recognized at the festival for a campaign “that captures our ethos of inclusivity.”

“As a company, Twitter is continuously exploring new ideas and projects to ensure the platform is representative of the diverse voices that shape the conversation and the Arabic Feminine language setting is a continuation of our work around inclusive language,” she added.

The special awards of the night included:

Creative Company of the Year (previously Holding Company of the Year): WPP

Network of the Year: Ogilvy

Independent Network of the Year: Serviceplan Group

Agency of the Year: Dentsu Creative, Bengaluru

Independent Agency of the Year: We Believers, Brooklyn, USA

Creative Brand of the Year: Burger King

The Regional Network of the Year for Europe, Middle East and Africa was awarded to Publicis Worldwide.