The media trial of televangelist Zakir Naik has opened up a semantic debate on the word “inspiration” and “instigation.” Almost all dictionaries define the word “inspiration” in a positive term, an act that induces somebody to do good things, while “instigation” is defined in a negative manner that goads somebody to do unlawful things like radicalization.
The media at length debated whether televangelist Zakir Naik, speeches are inspirational or are source of instigation for radicalization In this media trail there are certain facts that comes out vividly and rather than revealing it exposes the bias of Indian media and questions its fairness of being watchdogs, even though this story has not run its course.
The controversy erupted when a Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star on July 1, 2016 used the term “Inspiration” for Zakir Naik as a part of its story sourcing police confession of the accused in terror related case. Later, the same newspaper disassociated with the word saying it stands corrected on any such attribution to Zakir Naik, in its corrigendum on July 9 edition.
However, Indian media lapped up the word “inspiration” from Bangladeshi newspaper and interpreted it as “instigation” amounting to “radicalization” for terror acts.
It held a media trial against Zakir Naik that ran for days together and the audience were subjected to watch this even though many wanted to puke at this garbage story with its phony arguments.
Even long after the corrigendum was issued by the Bangladeshi newspaper on this story, the Indian media continued with its drum beat of its “radicalization” and went gung-ho with its theme song.
It’s only after failing to nudge the government or the courts against Zakir Naik that the media took off the story from its news bulletins, more so after knowing well that people’s interest in this story has reached to the level of “diminishing returns.”
Now the follow up on this is; Dr Zakir Naik has sent legal notice to Media houses for his “character assassination.” This is the part two of this story. It is sure that media will not update us on part two development even though the law will take in its own course on this issue.
Another twist in this tale is, a guest’s relations officer of Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation is arrested on the charge that he and his organization is instrumental in “instigating” non-Muslims to convert to Islamic faith. A charge that has to be proved in the court of law and this again will run its legal course. Till the verdict is in favour or against the charge sheet, it will be more prudent to be patient rather than being judgemental.
However, certain things come out vividly from this story is; one it exposes true colours of certain media outlets. How lies are pandered as truth till it is instigated to the length to make it become true. The second lesson is; we should be careful of the negative fall out of the media trial in certain cases like this where it serves no purpose.
The word of caution to all those who consume media news, that while consuming them, they should distinguish the news from the views. As an individual we should be conscious of the facts and distinguish it from the fiction. We should always consider the views of the accused and not only of those who are making accusation. Sometimes media trial is just not necessary for making judgements.
[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]