“Attacks over religion pathetic”: Virat Kohli on Islamophobic abuses against Shami

Ahead of India’s second T20 World Cup match against New Zealand, skipper Virat Kohli threw his weight behind teammate Mohammad Shami who faced Islamophobic abuse after India’s 10-wicket loss to Pakistan in the team’s T20 World Cup opener.

“Attacking someone over their religion is the most pathetic thing one can do as a human. That is a very sacred and personal thing. People take out their frustration because they have no understanding of what we do,” Kohli told reporters in Saturday’s pre-match press conference.

From the moment Pakistan completed a 10-wicket victory against India, pacer Shami, a Muslim member of India’s playing-XI, was subjected to terrible anti-Muslim abuse on social media. The match finished in the 18th over bowled by Shami as Pakistan chased down a target of 152 runs with relative ease at the Dubai International Stadium.

“There’s a good reason why we are playing on the field and not some bunch of spineless people on social media that have no courage to actually speak to any individual in person. They hide behind their identities and go after people through social media, making fun of people and that has become a social entertainment in today’s world, which is so unfortunate and so sad to see,” Kohli added.

“This is literally the lowest level of human potential that one can operate at and that’s how I look at these people,” said Kohli  a day before facing the Black Caps.

Kohli said the team stands “200 percent” behind Shami. “We stand by by him 200 percent. Our brotherhood in the team cannot be shaken.”

Kohli went on to say: “People take out their frustrations because they obviously have no understanding of what we do as individuals. They have no understanding of how much effort we put on the field. They have no understanding of the fact that someone like Mohammad Shami has won India a number of matches in the last few years and he has been our primary bowler with Jasprit Bumrah, when it comes to making an impact in games.”

Skipper adds: “If people can overlook that and his passion for his country, honestly I don’t even want to waste one minute of my life to give any attention to those people, and neither does Shami and neither does anyone else in the team. We stand by him fully. We are backing him 200 per cent, and all those who have attacked him can come with more force if they want to. Our brotherhood, our friendship within the team, nothing can be shaken.”

Since Monday, numerous cricketers have come out in support of Shami.