Mango Man

Telugu Daily Eenadu Denies Ad to Islamic Information Centre

Fasiullah Sheik for BeyondHeadlines

Misconception is less dangerous than discrimination. We may have misconceptions with people. In a country like India with populace having different ethnicities and social backgrounds, misconception often finds its way to drive in and create problem. Today, I have felt its heat differently!

What can be more rewarding than to live in a free country? Nothing! My country guarantees me right to freedom, equality, religion…and much more. Irrespective of the government at the Center, I have always enjoyed these fundamental rights as a citizen of India.

But today when I approached a leading Telugu newspaper Eenadu for an advertisement of The Islamic Information Centre (IIC), a registered society in Hyderabad, they simply denied saying they don’t carry advertisements of “Religious websites / Gambling / Dating and other sensitive websites”. I found it disgusting and contemptuous for two reasons.

Firstly, I will never enjoy reading any religion being categorized along with illegal and immoral things such as gambling and dating. Indian society gives much respect to religion, whether it is Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, or Buddhism. Not following any religion is fine in a free country. But disrespecting religion itself does not go well, especially when there are millions of believers in one or the other religion. In this scenario, helping people of different faiths to co-exist peacefully becomes a necessity. With its pan-India Toll Free number, IIC is working towards removing misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in India. This very initiative is tantamount to communal harmony in the country where communication gap and misconceptions often lead to outbreak of riots.

Secondly, when the Indian Constitution guarantees right to religion to every citizen then how come a media house block religious advertisements? I felt discriminated, as I could not enjoy my right to religion which allows me preaching a religion peacefully for a larger interest to promote communal harmony. Even though I sent details of IIC and website URL through email to Eenadu’s marketing team, they simply did not approve the advertisement and failed to realize the importance of IIC’s contribution in strengthening communal harmony.

Interestingly, an ad agent from another Telugu daily visited IIC’s Banjara Hills office on the same day on our call to discuss about the advertisement. As he realized that we want an ad “Discuss Islam @ 1800 2000 787”, he quietly left the office without further discussion. This gives us the benefit of doubt that Telugu media have a different perception when it comes to religion.

In India, religion is part and parcel of our lives and the society. Exclusion of religious advertisements by print and digital media houses is unambiguously unconstitutional and absurd. On the other hand, electronic media and channels give hours of religious advertisement without any apprehension. Why print media, particularly Telugu media in this case, is so disgusted of religion? It’s high time they allow religious advertisements keeping public interest in view.

IIC Hyderabad_01

IIC Hyderabad_02

[The author is associated with Islamic Information Centre, Hyderabad as a Media Relations Officer.]


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