Indian jewelry chain withdraws ad after outrage from Hindu extremists

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New Delhi (AFP)

One of India’s largest jewelry retailers withdrew an ad featuring an interfaith baby shower after a backlash on social media by Hindu extremists who said it glorified ‘love jihad’.

Critics of the withdrawal said it illustrated the atmosphere of religious intolerance towards minorities that has developed since Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power six years ago.

The ad from Tanishq – whose owners are from the Parsi minority that adheres to the Zoroastrian religion – showed a Muslim family hosting a traditional baby party for their Hindu daughter-in-law.

The company said the idea behind the “Ekatvam” (oneness and unity) collection was to “celebrate the coming together of people from different backgrounds”.

“We are deeply saddened by the involuntary stirring of emotions and withdraw this film with the hurt feelings and well-being of our employees, partners and store staff in mind,” a statement said Tuesday evening.

NDTV reported on Wednesday that a Tanishq store was attacked in Gujarat and the manager was forced to write an apology note.

Despite the ad’s withdrawal, #BoycottTanishq was all the rage on Twitter, with one user claiming it was intended to showcase the ‘love jihad collection’.

“The majority of your customers are Hindus and you hurt their feelings. Shame on you, ”wrote another user.

“Love jihad” is a recent term coined by Hindu extremists to accuse Muslim men of seducing Hindu women and converting them – a critical issue in the officially secular country.

Interfaith relations are rare in still very traditional India, especially in rural areas where marriages are most often arranged.

Those who cross the borders of caste and religion are often ostracized and sometimes killed, apparently to preserve family honor.

As has been the case in other similar episodes, no high ranking member of Modi’s government commented on Wednesday.

“The top leaders (of the ruling party) never speak out and condemn these hate campaigns. Because they are completely silent, they seem to tolerate such behavior, ”said political analyst Parsa Venkateshwar Rao.

“It creates an atmosphere of hatred everywhere,” he told AFP.

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