The Muslim community in India is often misinformed by Hindu nationalists and falsely accused of various crimes online. The latest accusation to appear on social media is that Muslims are carrying out a “rice jihad.” But what is the “rice jihad”? We take a look at this week’s episode of Truth or Fake.
A video of the so-called “rice jihad” has been shared in recent weeks in Indian circles on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. The longest version of the video is two minutes long and shows a group of men on their hands and knees on a huge pile of rice, using their hands to stir and mix the grains. Every now and then one of them gets up to pour a reddish liquid over the rice from a plastic bottle, which the others then quickly mix in the pile.
What is this mysterious reddish oily liquid that mixes with rice on the ground? Well, some Hindu nationalist Twitter accounts say they have the answer. One tweet claims that Muslims “have promised to eliminate the infidel Hindus” and are therefore deliberately polluting rice to poison Hindus. He warns people not to buy rice from Muslims. This “rice jihad” accusation comes after the Muslim community in India was indicted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic of “corona jihad”.
There are already a number of clues present in the video that let you know that it has probably been taken out of context. First of all, you need to focus on what you can hear. In the snippets of people speaking, you can hear that they are not speaking in an Indian language, but in Spanish. That’s your first indication that this video was probably not shot in India and it will help you run more searches.
Another clue is in the video itself. Always look for text that you can identify in the videos. If you pause the video at certain points, you can see the brand name on the bags of rice. It looks like “casserit” and is cut off at the end. If you type “arroz” (Spanish for rice) and “casserit” into your search engine, you will discover a Peruvian brand of rice called Casserita. From there, you can do more searches using keywords like “Peru” and the Spanish word “mix”, “mix.” That will lead you to viral posts of 2018.
Peruvian media at the time reported that the video showed these men deliberately adding oil and food coloring to the rice to make it appear that it was of better quality than it was. On social media, people said that the rice in the video was intended to be sold at the Santa Anita wholesale food market in Lima, Peru. The Panamericana TV media interviewed the merchants in that market, who flatly denied selling adulterated or contaminated food products. From what we can gather, the men in the video seen adding products to the rice were never found or arrested.