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Anti-Shahbagh smear campaign continues

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TAKING advantage of the anonymous and virtual nature of the Internet and manipulative power of graphic and video software, a group of online activists supporting war criminals have launched an all out propaganda against the spirit of Shahbagh movement through social media like Facebook and blogs, The Daily Star reports.

By posting pictures of one event and claiming them to belong to another and manipulating photos and videos in websites, these activists are trying to prove that Shahbagh demonstrators are receiving money from Indian secret service, RAW, and that heinous crimes are being committed by the police against religious people.

This propaganda not just aims at the people to create an anti-Shahbagh opinion, but also at the governments of other countries. The Daily Star received a lot of alerts from the concerned people inquiring about what was going on.

Most of the Facebook posts are aimed against women who are participating in the Shahbagh movement.

In one instance, a picture of a young woman dancing with a bottle of wine surrounded by many young men was shown as a daughter of a famous person who was busy partying at Shahbagh at night.

This was actually a picture from a new year’s party at a city hotel. The picture was manipulated by darkening its background so that it would appear as if it was taken at a street at night.

Another Facebook picture showed a girl covering her face with her hands at some public place. The post said that 11 girls were raped in Shahbagh recently and she was one of them.

These girls are now missing, the post added. But in reality no such incident had taken place.

Another post showed a man exchanging money with some people at Shahbagh. The post claimed that this man was a RAW agent who was busy distributing money among the Shahbagh organisers.

How the person, who posted this picture, knew that this was a RAW agent can not be verified.

In another page, a picture of a massive religious congregation was shown as a Friday gathering of Muslim devotees protesting atheist bloggers of Shahbagh. A careful scrutiny reveals that this was a picture of an eid congregation that was published in newspapers before.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) more than a week earlier had suspended a dozen blogs and some Facebook accounts.

But since one person can create thousands of Facebook pages sitting in a room in Dhaka or any other city of the world posing as anyone else, the cyber propaganda continues unabated.

Giasuddin Ahmed, vice chairman of BTRC said, “There are thousands of such pages. With our limited resources, it’s not possible to monitor and search all the sites and Facebook accounts.”

He also said if anybody complains specifically against any blog or Facebook account, the commission could take action.

“The BTRC is not monitoring it politically. We are doing our job as per the law. As per the law, cyber crime is a punishable offence,” he added.

A wing of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) is also monitoring the social sites, said Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan, director of Rab intelligence wing.

But taking any legal action was a challenging task as it was almost impossible to identify the cyber criminals who use fake identities.


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