Hindu nationalists, pro-Israel activists, and right wing journalists have initiated a hate campaign against the Solidarity Youth Movement, a Muslim youth organization in Kerala following their Palestine solidarity program, during which Khaled Meshaal, the leader-in-exile of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, addressed the audience virtually.
The “Youth Resistance Rally” with a tagline of “Uproot Bulldozer Hindutwa and Apartheid Zionism” was organised by Solidarity Youth Movement, a youth organisation under the state unit of Jamaate Islami Hind.
In his speech in Arabic, the Palestinian resistance leader and former chief of Hamas political bureau, Meshaal, reiterated that the resistance against Israeli occupation will continue.
He said: “We should witness widespread protests in our society against the Israeli occupation. Firstly, we ought to unite and take to the streets, rallying for Palestine cause in various nations, also to protest American imperialism, which is complicit in the Zionist actions affecting our society. Secondly, our brothers in Gaza urgently require humanitarian and financial support. Thirdly, we must stay vigilant, staying informed about the ongoing injustices. Utilizing social media and other forms of media, we should counter misinformation propagated by Israel and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.”
The top Hamas leader’s virtual address at the rally was condemned by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kerala president K Surendran, who questioned the Kerala Police and also sought action against his participation.
Taking to X, Surendran said, “Hamas leader Khaled Mashel’s virtual address at the Solidarity event in Malappuram is alarming. Where’s Pinarayi Vijayan’s Kerala Police ? Under the guise of ‘Save Palestine,’ they’re glorifying Hamas, a terrorist organisation, and its leaders as ‘warriors.’ This is unacceptable!”
Hamas, which rules Gaza, is not a designated terrorist organization in India.
Suhaib CT, president of Solidarity Youth Movement also said that Hamas is not an organisation that is operational in India or a banned outfit, and so his participation is not a crime under the law.
Hamas is a resistance movement, Suhaib wrote on Facebook.
There would be many more solidarity events in India, which would prove the support of the Indians for the Palestinian people, read his post.
“Unbelievable. #HamasTerrorist Khaled Mashal speaks from Qatar in a #Kerala event under the slogan ‘Uproot bulldozer Hindutva & Apartheid Zionism’. Mashal calls participants to: 1. Take the streets and show anger. 2. Prepare for jihad (on Israel). 3. Support Hamas financially. 4. Promote Palestinian narrative on social media. It’s time to add #HamasISIS also to #India’s terror list,” read a post by Naor Gilon, Ambassador of Israel to India.
Responding to Gilon, Wahid Chullippara, state secretary of Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) wrote on X: “India’s history is always with Palestine, not with Apartheid Israel. Hamas is resistance movement of Palestine not a terrorist organisation. Israel is war criminal. So you Zionist racists don’t try to teach us. Israel is terrorism , not Hamas. We will always be with Palestine’s Freedom struggle and Hamas . Zionist racists don’t try to teach us.”
Apart from Hindutva handles, some journalists and social media influencers used social media to launch a campaign against the Kerala Muslim group, referring to the Palestinian resistance leader as a terrorist, in line with Israel’s propaganda.
“Why is a so called Hamas “leader” being allowed to address a rally in Kerala? This is a security lapse at the highest level. Crossing all red lines to platform a terrorist organisation,” read a X post by Swati Chaturvedi, author and journalist.
Senior journalist Barkha Dutt also posted on X: “Unbelievable & Shocking- Former Hamas Chief Khaled Mashal (virtually) speaks to a rally in Kerala- Palestine is Not Hamas – so why call them if the aim is to shine a light on the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza?”
Many Hindu right-wing accounts also used social media to accuse a connection between the Palestine solidarity program and the blast at a Christian convention center, inciting anti-Muslim violence. Among these is BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya, known for promoting hate speech.