[Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of U.A.E. Armed Forces, General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on February 10, 2018.]
Dubai/Mumbai: In a hard hitting article published Sunday, United Arab Emirate's top English daily Gulf News slammed Times Now and other Indian media outlets for fabricating news, warning such moves could damage the growing relationship between India and the rich Arab state.
"Any attempt by any groups to demean Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed’s goodwill gesture or the UAE’s foundations of mutual respect and cultural co-existence for the sake of domestic political gains will not succeed – but could have a debilitating impact on the growing momentum of relations", Gulf News said Sunday.
Gulf News article was in response to a story with a 02-year-old video clip by Times Now which conicided with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE claiming that Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, had chanted Jai Siya Ram - a Hindu prayer greeting, at a ceremony organised by a Hindu group.
"The story is patently false. Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed never attended any such event. The person in the video shown attending the ceremony is actually Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, a UAE-based columnist and commentator on Arab affairs", Gulf News said.
"The fact that a raft of top Indian channels would fail to distinguish between Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed – who was the Chief Guest at the Indian Republic Day celebrations in 2017 and visited India as a state guest in 2016 – and someone else from the UAE is thus very unlikely and raises several disturbing and alarming facts.
"First, it is a clear indication that mainstream media in India is falling prey to propaganda and fake news, whether by choice or as acts of commission. They do not have adequate safeguards in place to prevent such distorted half-truths from spreading far and wide, and are incapable of verifying basic facts – which forms the backbone of responsible journalism.
"Secondly, when tracked online, the digital footprints of the viral videos show a clear pattern. All the stories were uploaded between a similar time period: just ahead of Modi’s arrival in UAE. And they all started the same way – at first were the gloating and unverified declarations", the daily said.
More painful was the fact that Times Now retweeted the story with the 2016 video clip even though the cahnnel was alerted by many Twitteratis about the "mistake". And, when it changed the story, it did so keeping in mind that the original resonance was not lost.
TheTimes Now fake news came at the backdrop of another report that the UAE rulers had donated a land for construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi - a move received with shock in the Muslim world. For, idol worship is red line in Islam.
Gulf News however justified the UAE ruler's decision saying it reflected the Arab state's tolerance.
"The temple in Abu Dhabi is widely seen as one of those common values – it reflects the UAE’s moderation, tolerance and respect for all humanity irrespective of their faith or creed.
"The allotment of the land for building the temple is also a testament of the UAE’s pluralistic values and its respect for the Hindu community in the country, which makes up an important part of its expat population", it said.
Times Now, Zee News and other Indian media oultets are of late regularly on the radar for circulating fake news.
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