From Fauda to Ertugrul: Spreading radical agenda via entertainment

Both the series have polarised the majority and minority communities in India

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Movies and TV series have long been used to further right-wing nationalist agenda, at least in India. The country has seen a multitude of films which work around the rhetoric of opposing Pakistan and terrorism, the most recent being Uri: The Surgical Strike. Not just this, its broadcast of the mythological series, Ramayana, during the pandemic led to the regime being accused of promoting ‘soft Hindutva’.

Cinema has been used for propaganda in India for a long time now. Last year, during the Lok Sabha elections there was a string of what we can call propaganda movies that were released to fillip votes. PM Narendra Modi (name of the movie), The Accidental Prime Minister, Thackeray, Tashkent Files, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (on PM Modi’s pet Swacch Bharat Mission) and the aforementioned Uri: The Surgical Strike (on Balakot air strikes) were among some of the movies released in a bid to strengthen vote banks.

Now, talks for a movie on the Ayodhya land dispute case, where the Indian Supreme court ruled in favour of the construction of the Ram Temple, are also on. The movie, tentatively titled Aparajita Ayodhya, will reportedly be directed and produced by Kangana Ranaut who has been called out for hate speech before.

It must be noted that the case had a very controversial history and had divided communities on communal lines. The Supreme Court decision for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya was met with some criticism, though it was peacefully accepted by the minorities. The ‘Mandir wahin banayenge’ or ‘we will make the temple there (Ayodhya)’, had long been chanted by senior leaders of the BJP which is the ruling party in the country today, working to disseminate the nationalist agenda among the people.

Now, into the fray, feeding the right-wing agenda are two international shows Fauda and Ertugrul. While Fauda has found a fan base with the majority community in India, Ertugrul has found fans in the minorities. However, what is noteworthy is that both still push the agenda of radicalisation based on religion, moving away from secularism.

Fauda, is a show about an Israeli undercover unit ‘mista’arvim’ which carries out military missions in Palestinian territories. India and Israel have extensive strategic and military ties and India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment. Last year, Indian consul general in New York, Sandeep Chakravorty, had called for the ‘Israeli model’ to be adapted in Kashmir. As explained by The Wire, the model espouses for the occupation of sovereign territories of others, illegal conversion of occupied territory into own land, discrimination against citizens on the basis of religion or ethnicity, labelling critics as ‘terrorists’ or ‘anti-nationals’ and impose collective punishment on the occupied people.

Israel’s inhumane approach towards Palestinians can be witnessed from a recent example. Middle East Eye had reported United Nations experts as saying that that there were more than 4,520 Palestinian prisoners, including 183 children, 43 women and 700 detainees with pre-existing medical conditions who were at high-risk exposure to coronavirus in jails. However, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a minority rights petition and snatched away the human rights of Palestinian prisoners by saying that they did not have any right to social distancing from protection against the coronavirus.

Now, Fauda has found a fan-base in India and many right-wingers, including politicians and army men have praised it, indirectly calling for India to adopt the Israeli model.




On the other hand there is the Turkish hit, Dirilis: Ertugrul (Resistance: Ertugrul) that has captivated the minority community. Dr. Zakir Naik, a radical Islamist scholar said that Ertugrul was ‘less haram’ than Bollywood and Hollywood movies, however he advised people not to watch it. Ertugrul talks about the battles of Ertugrul, the father of Osman I and the founding of the Ottoman Empire.

The series has found a massive following even in Pakistan, with parents naming their children Ertugrul. However, writing for Muslim Mirror, Asad Askari explains that given the testimony of the creators of the show itself, that there was very little information about the period presented in the show, the contents of the show must not be believed to be true as it is not based on history.

A blog, Danilfineman, explains that the Ertugrul craze in Kashmir, where copies of the episode are passed on through pen drives, is a signpost for the alienation of the minorities in India that seek solidarity elsewhere and want to break-free from the dominant political tradition. The series has mostly benefited Turkey PM Tayyip Erdogan who has even been known to visit the sets. Writing for Greater Kashmir, Safeer Ahmed Bhat explained that the repeated dictum of pleasing Allah throughout the series, is in consonance with contemporary Turkey where Erdogan is attempting a mixture of nationalism and Islam.

The same can be seen with the Turkish court annulling the decades-old decree turning Hagia Sophia into a museum where it ruled that the decree was unlawful and paved the way for Hagia Sophia to be re-converted into a mosque even amid international criticism.

Erdogan had criticised the revocation of Article 370 and raised concerns about the future of the Valley in 2019, Firstpost had reported. However, this criticism wasn’t due to the extensive human rights violations that took place there, but due to Erdogan’s own agenda of reviving the Ottoman Caliphate and gaining control of Muslims over the world.

The parallels in Ertugrul and Erdogan’s ideology appear to be dangerous. Whether it is Fauda or Ertugrul, the impact on the psyches of the masses will be irreparable for they seek to mobilise and divide people in the name of religion. The blatant polarisation, backed by government sponsored media agenda, moves people away from the value of secularism which is imperative for a democracy to thrive.

History is being seen through the myopic mindset of Hindus vs. Muslims. The hate politics spread by such right-wingers aim at taking society back to an era which is no more conducive for the current civilization to survive. While a physical war may not be on the cards, such depictions of communities are pushing for a socio-cultural religious war which will have a worse impact on the people and the generations to come.


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