Why OpInida is labelled as vessel of misinformation and fake news?


Most of us, who have been in the journalistic profession for decades are fully aware of OpIndia, the fastest-growing Indian news site, which is being regularly quoted by the majority of international news outlets, including BBC, CNN, Fox News, The New York Times etcetera. For this reason, this news site has also made some enemies – particularly those fans and patrons of radical Islam, militancy, and religious bigotry as well as enemies of India, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For a news site like OpIndia, which is run by a team of young and enthusiastic youth in India, it is surely a matter of greatest surprise that just within the span of nine years, they have succeeded in emerging into a mainstream media outlet, despite the fact that it is not funded by large corporate houses or those billionaires who spend lavishly towards most of the media outlets in the country.

On the Twitter handle of Nupur Sharma, the editor-in-chief of OpIndia, though she describes herself as an “Accidental journalist”, as someone being in journalism for more than 36 years now, I must say – most of the greatest journalists and editors in the world have been an “accidental journalist”.

Despite the tremendous success, OpIndia is labeled as a vessel of misinformation, fake news, and even Islamophobes. For example, describing this popular news site, Wikipedia says: “OpIndia is an Indian right-wing news website that frequently publishes misinformation. Founded in December 2014, the website has published fake news and Islamophobic commentary on multiple occasions, including a 2020 incident in which it falsely claimed that a Hindu boy was sacrificed in a Bihar mosque.

“OpIndia is dedicated to criticism of what it considers “liberal media”, and to support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindutva ideology. According to the University of Maryland researchers, OpIndia has shamed journalists it deems opposed to the BJP and has alleged media bias against Hindus and the BJP. In 2019, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) rejected OpIndia’s application to be certified as a fact-checker. IFCN-certified fact checkers identified 25 fake news stories and 14 misreported stories published by OpIndia from January 2018 to June 2020”.

Wikipedia also accuses OpIndia of plagiarism stating: “OpIndia has also been engaged in plagiarism and copyright violation in their articles without attributing to the original publishers”.

According to Wikipedia, “OpIndia was blacklisted from Wikipedia in March 2020 (alongside Swarajya and TFIpost) after Sharma, in an OpIndia piece, published personally identifying information about a Wikipedia editor who helped write the encyclopedia’s article on the 2020 Delhi riots, which resulted in the editor leaving Wikipedia”.

Wikipedia further says: “Stop Funding Hate, a British social media campaign, urged organizations to withdraw their advertising from OpIndia in May 2020 after the website published an article asserting that businesses should be able to declare that they do not hire Muslims. The head of the campaign, Richard Wilson, said that “OpIndia is becoming internationally notorious for its hateful and discriminatory coverage” and that the campaign has “rarely seen such overt advocacy of discrimination on religious grounds”. Over 20 organizations, including advertising network Rubicon Project, video streaming service Mubi, personal care brand Harry’s, and the Saïd Business School, ceased advertising on OpIndia as a result of the campaign”.

Who is Richard Wilson?

According to a 2013 report in the Daily Mail, Richard Wilson is a self-confessed gay. He was placed at 80 on Time Out’s list of influential gay people. It was, he says, ‘the most blatant outing’.

He told The Daily Mail, “I don’t mind people saying I’m gay, because I am. But I don’t live in a gay relationship. That [being single] is probably why I go to counseling. I think when I changed professions it was at a time I should have been settling down or not settling down with someone, and I just didn’t seem to have time for that”.

But no one speaks about Richard Wilson being a pedophile also. For this reason, he did not look for a lifelong partner.

Criticism centering ‘Stop Funding Hate’

In August 2021, Stop Funding Hate was accused of breaching company laws by engaging in “political activity” by Members of the UK Parliament in a letter to the British Secretary of State for Business Kwasi Kwarteng. In the letter, the Members of Parliament said: “We are concerned that since 2017 the campaign group Stop Funding Hate has been exploiting the prestige that is afforded by CIC status, and the privileged access that CICs have too many grants of taxpayers’ money, for overtly political means”. Stop Funding Hate is registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC), a type of organization which should not be formed for political purposes. A spokesman for the Department of Business said: “We expect all Community Interest Companies to act in accordance with their legal obligations, and are clear that they should not be formed for political purposes, or have the engagement in political activities among their main objectives”. Stop Funding Hate did not respond to the criticism from the Members of Parliament.

One of the key goals of ‘Stop Funding Hate’ is to silence conservative media by mobilizing its notorious bids of putting pressure on advertisers to stop advertising in their targeted media outlets. For this group, “hate” is the existence of any media or publication which leans — or can be accused of leaning — anywhere to the right of the political center. Since its founding, the group has targeted a range of conservative-leaning papers and magazines.

Its modus operandi is always the same: it identifies a conservative outlet full of “hate”, and then lobbies its advertisers to pull their cash — thus eliminating one of the major revenue streams of the free press.

In other words – the key agenda of ‘Stop Funding Hate’ is to patronize left-leaning and pro-Islamist and even pro-jihadist media outlets throughout the world. As OpIndia confronts Islamists, jihadists, and religious bigots, it became a victim of ‘Stop Funding Hate’.

OpIndia is also labeled as a vessel for spreading Islamophobia. In this case, may I ask – what is the definition of Islamophobia? Is it exposing the notoriety of various Islamists and jihadists? For many years, when we continued exposing Zakir Naik, a notorious hate preacher and an open supporter of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, we too were branded as vessels of Islamophobe. But because of reports published in Blitz, Zakir Naik was banned in Britain and Canada and subsequently banned in India, Bangladesh, and many other countries.

In a video speech, Zakir Naik was seen saying, “If bin Laden is fighting enemies of Islam, I am for him. If he is terrorizing America—the terrorist, biggest terrorist—I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is that if he is terrorizing the terrorist, he is following Islam. Whether he is or not, I don’t know, but you as Muslims know that without checking up, laying allegations is also wrong.”

Zakir Naik’s comments in defense of Osama Bin Laden were first exposed by Blitz back in 2005. Later the matter drew the attention of global news media.

There is a proverb in English stating – “give the dog a bad name and hang it”. In my opinion, OpIndia is a victim of the conglomerate of thuggish Islamists, jihadists, Hindu haters, and enemies of India. OpIndia does not peddle misinformation or fake news. It is a prolific and courageous news outlet that has the guts and audacity of publishing truth against lies.


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