Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: Hashtag #TalkToAMuslim is kicking up a storm in India. Thousands of Indian tweeps have taken to the social media platform to highlight the seemingly growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.

The trend seems to have kicked off after writer Zainab Sikander (@zainabsikander) tweeted: “I’m An Indian Muslim. I’m Human too. You can talk to me. #TalkToAMuslim.”

She posted this in response to an earlier tweet by Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) who had tweeted: “I stand with the last person in the line. The exploited, marginalised and the persecuted. Their religion, caste or beliefs matter little to me....”

Gandhi’s tweet came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a speech on Sunday, quoted Gandhi as saying that he wanted practices like triple talaq to continue. The Congress president denied having made any such statement and the Congress party demanded an apology from Modi.

In just three hours, the hashtag #TalkToAMuslim had over 7,000 tweets. Sikander and other Muslims started posting their pictures with the hashtag, requesting people to look beyond communal hate politics and uphold secularism in India. On Tuesday evening it became the top trend on Twitter in India.

Like many Muslim tweeps @Ssaniya25 could not believe this hashtag existed. She posted: “Never thought a day like this would come where a community will explain how normal they are, a politician meeting Muslim leaders would become a topic of debate or people will be forced to prove patriotism in their own country.”

Non-Muslims also joined the tirade against communal violence in India and in support of the minority Muslim community.

@ektaa_malik posted: I’m a Hindu. I talk to Muslims... they are humans too. #TalkToAMuslim”

@ameytirodkar added: “I am Hindu. I have so many Muslim friends from my childhood. They are as lovely people as my other friends from Hindu, Christian, Sikh and other religions. Rather religion matters little in our friendship. #TalkToAMuslim”

Twitter user @Bit_2_close won many hearts when he posted: “I am a Sikh. I surprise my kids with Gifts by their Bedside on Christmas. I am difficult to be recognized on Holi. I always take the onus of lighting my house on Diwali. I invite my Fasting friends for Iftar during Ramadan. We all are so similar. Please #TalkToAMuslim”

Some however felt that the hashtag was unnecessary and that the situation was not that bad in India.

Bollywood actress Koena Mitra (@koenamitra) posted: “What the hell is this #TalkToAMuslim hashtag? Shameful this is. A new circus or something? Who doesn’t talk to Muslims? Twitter has become a joke!”

And @pepper_smoker added: “What’s this #TalkToAMuslim? Don’t understand such hashtags. I am a Muslim, I won’t bite you, come talk to me, what...? Please make me understand why do I have to prove?”

Pointing out that hate crimes were a serious problem that India was dealing with, Twitter user @ansabtastic posted: “Here’s the deal, talking to any citizen, including Muslims, isn’t a crime. Lynching, murdering, and inciting hate, however, is. #TalkToAMuslim”