The Kerala Story: Exaggeration, Propaganda, and Half-Truths

The Kerala Story: Exaggeration, Propaganda, and Half-Truths
Opinion- Arsh Iqbal

A controversial film called "The Kerala Story" has recently been released and is being talked about a lot. This film has a captivating and tight screenplay with Adah Sharma's outstanding performance. However, this story is spine-chilling and has the potential to create communal violence in our society. Therefore, this film should be banned as any documentary that creates chaos in any country should be banned.

The film portrays how a secret game is going on in Kerala, where innocent women are forcefully converted to Islam without their consent and then sent to ISIS. According to the director and the film, this has been done with approximately 32,000 innocent girls from Kerala, who are now buried in the deserts of Syria and Yemen. However, we do not know the whole truth behind this.

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It reminds us of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle), where he wrote about the propaganda techniques called a BIG LIE. Hitler said that if you want to manipulate people, you need to tell a big lie fantastically, make people think that no one can tell a lie this big, and it must be true, and people will eventually believe it. Adding to this propaganda technique is Joseph Goebbels, who was Hitler's propaganda minister, who said that repetition is crucial in making people believe the lie. The third technique is said to be half-truth. Sometimes, adding an element of fact to speeches is used to fool people. Nowadays, people can easily determine if someone is telling a big lie, and when they identify these liars, they can counter the extent of fraud.

I am discussing these propaganda techniques to inform everyone of how these techniques have been used in "The Kerala Story" to mislead people. The director of the film was asked which true incidents of Kerala inspired the movie. He mentioned a statement by Kerala's Chief Minister Oommen Chandey in 2010, where he talked about 2,500 women converting to Islam in Kerala in the next 20 years. However, it should be noted that the Chief Minister never used the term "forced conversion."

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In a 2012 India Today article, Oommen Chandey informed the state legislature about the conversion of 2,667 young women to Islam in 2006, but again, he did not mention forced conversion. The former minister of Kerala, V.S. Achuthanandanhad, had videos uploaded by Sunshine Pictures, the same company that made the film. The English subtitles used in the video are different from the words spoken by the former minister, and the former chief minister is strongly criticizing PFI.

It has been 13 years since this statement, and Kerala as a state is still as safe and secular as it was before. An India Today article from 2016 shows that not only singular youth but entire families have joined ISIS. The article also mentions that most of the ISIS recruits before 2016 were from Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Telangana.

It is worth noting that between 2014 and 2018, the Observer Research Foundation published a paper stating that there were approximately 180-299 pro-ISIS cases in India. The estimate of 200 people did not only include those who left India to join ISIS but also included those who spread the group's propaganda across the country. This number further highlights that the claim made in "The Kerala Story" about 32,000 women being converted to Islam and sent to ISIS is not only inaccurate but also grossly exaggerated and misleading. It is essential to base claims on verified and accurate information to avoid creating a false narrative that can mislead and create harm.

"The Kerala Story," claims that innocent women are being forcefully converted to Islam and sent to ISIS. However, when questioned about the true number of cases, it was found that only 40 out of 280 cases were from Kerala. These numbers do not give a true picture of how many people actually joined ISIS, as they include all people affiliated with ISIS and those who spread ISIS propaganda on the internet.

The US Department of State report revealed that there were only around 66 Indian-origin fighters affiliated with ISIS as of November 2020. As per the 2018 Strat News Global report, the figure was close to 60. Out of these 66, only 6 were women from Kerala, and three of them were converted from either Christianity or Hinduism to Islam. The real number of women who were forced to convert to Islam and sent to ISIS is unknown, and the director of the film evaded the question about the source of the number 32,000. After the screening of the movie at JNU, he said that the number was just an arbitrary number.

The film is using misleading information to defame the entire state of Kerala, which is home to a diverse population of people from varying cultures and religions who live together in harmony. Compared to other countries, there are very few Muslims from India who joined ISIS, and Kerala is an excellent example of Unity in Diversity. Kerala is the top state in literacy, human development, and healthcare, and it is regrettable that some politicians use fake stories to defame Kerala instead of promoting its achievements.

The movie claims that a secret Love Jihad game is going on in Kerala and women are being forcefully converted to Islam and sent to ISIS. However, this is not the case, as it was discovered that only three women were involved. Unfortunately, some people enjoy watching a defamation of their own country based on lies. The government and Indian film industry should focus on promoting the good work of NIA and IB, which work to save our youth from radicalization and extremism, instead of promoting this film of lies.

It is essential to be educated to run any country, and a business of misleading and spreading hatred should not be encouraged. Instead of discussing unemployment and the future of youth, politicians should focus on building a unified and tolerant nation. The real Kerala story is one of diversity, tolerance, and progress, which should be celebrated and emulated.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely the opinion of the author, and The Mooknayak has no responsibility for or endorsement of those views.

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