A senior Facebook executive in India apologized to the company’s Muslims for sharing an article on his Facebook page that called Muslims in India a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing but the purity of religion and the implementation of Sharia matter ”.
“Dear friends – The intention of my personal Facebook post was not to denigrate Islam,” wrote Ankhi Das, Facebook’s policy director for India and South and Central Asia, in a internal message to employees obtained by BuzzFeed News. “It was to reflect my deep belief in celebrating feminism and civic participation. I appreciate all the perspectives I have heard over the past few days on how the message was received and as a result I deleted the message. I sincerely regret any damage this may have caused, including to my Muslim colleagues at the company.
The post she shared at the end of 2019 was written by a former Indian policeman in response to protests against a discriminatory citizenship law which expedites Indian citizenship for South Asian immigrants belonging to most major religions except Islam.
However, Das did not directly comment on a the Wall Street newspaper story earlier this month which reported that she had protected T. Raja Singh, member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party, and at least three other Hindu nationalists, from punishment for violating hate speech rules from Facebook, telling employees it would be bad Facebook’s operations in India. Singh, a BJP politician from the Indian state of Telangana, is known for his anti-Muslim hate speech. In Facebook posts, he reportedly called for the slaughter of Muslims, for Rohingya Muslim immigrants to be slaughtered and for mosques razed to the ground.
In comments on Das’ post, some Muslim Facebook employees fired back and called on Facebook to do better.
“Thank you for recognizing that the message was hurtful to the Muslim community. It’s a first step in the right direction, ”said one person. “As a business, we now need to honestly reflect on hate speech and Islamophobia against Muslims on our platform. In a market where public figures like T. Raja Singh engage in blatant hate speech and incite violence, against the Muslim community, we must do more to protect the most vulnerable. The person also demanded that Facebook designate the Hindu supremacist organization Bajrang Dal, and others like it, as “dangerous,” which may lead to organizations and individuals being kicked off Facebook platforms.
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“ a company for which we need to take a closer look at what happened in India so as not to blame but to reform our processes, ”said another Muslim Facebook employee. “Blaming does nothing, make structural changes and I think we owe it to ourselves, our colleagues, our company, our users and the world because it will help us bring the world closer together and build better. communities. “
The comments echoed sentiments expressed in a letter sent to Facebook executives last week by members of an internal Facebook board for Muslim employees. The letter, first reported by Reuters, called on Facebook to reorganize its structure to combine the content policy and government lobbying teams, include Muslim staff members in its policy team in India and designate Hindu extremist organizations as organizations dangerous under Company Hate Speech Rules.
Facebook did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
The Journal’s story about one of Facebook’s most influential executives, who has been with the company since 2011, has sparked a political storm in India. On Tuesday, a committee made up of members of the BJP and the Aam Aadmi party from New Delhi will question Das on Facebook’s role in riots in New Delhi in February, when two-thirds of the more than 50 people killed by Hindu mobs were identified as Muslims. An Indian parliamentary panel will also be Ask Facebook executives about the company’s speech regulation policies in India on September 2.
Hours after the report was published, Das received violence and death threats on his Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as on Twitter. In one police complaint, Das named six Facebook and Twitter accounts, including one belonging to a journalist and asked the police to investigate and protect her at her home.