How TV stations are bringing in the ‘fringe’ by inviting unknown and dodgy ‘academics’ on talk shows

Not all bearded men are Islamic scholars, mocked fact checker and AltNews co-founder Md Zubair and journalist Alishan Jafri this week. They questioned the presence of a certain Ilyas Sharafuddin on television channels, which presented him as an “Islamic scholar”. The bearded man, as obnoxious as the panelists representing ‘Hindus’, they pointed out, insulted Hinduism, mocked Hindu beliefs and mocked mahants and yet had ample time to let off steam.

Why would channels like Zee and AajTak give Ilyas Sharafuddin airtime? Why did the anchors allow him to spit inflammatory comments and fail to mute him? And why does the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting consistently fail to open these channels?

Sharafuddin, both Zubair and Jafri claimed, was no one with 100 YouTube subscribers. But the news channels promoted it a lot. By calling for the beheading of nonbelievers and selectively quoting or quoting from the holy book, he reinforced stereotypes and helped polarize people along community lines. That indeed seemed to be the goal.

Is Ilyas Sharafuddin part of the Islamic fringe and should he be ignored? Are only the fringe invited by Indian news channels to discuss sensitive topics live on television? Others invited by these channels like Maulana Nadimuddin, Alimuddin Asadi, Atiq-ur-Rahman, Shoaib Jamei etc. are they also academics or do they even represent their community?

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