When viral hashtags promote religious extremism

In our hyper-connected world, hashtags are often a state of mind. A recent popular hashtag campaign made it clear to me that polarization and the religious divide are firmly entrenched in India. On 17 July, #TalkToAMuslim trended at #1 on Twitter. Over 500 Twitterati picked it up, followed by hundreds of thousands of ‘impressions’. Of late, there have been several such successful hashtag campaigns here, including the #NotInMyName protests against the lynching of Muslims in the country, and the global #MeToo campaign against the sexual harassment and assault of women. They helped raise social awareness, created a momentum of protest. I participated in them, too. So why did #TalkToAMuslim make me uncomfortable?


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