Re-posted from Impressions (Originally posted on November 22, 2013)
. By T.V. Antony Raj
The American news satire website NATIONAL REPORT claim and labels itself as “America’s #1 Independent News Team”. But it is better known for pushing the boundaries of good taste than making its readers laugh. On November 2, 2013, it published a post titled “The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week.“
Earlier on January 8, 2013, the SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS posted the article titled “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week“. The NATIONAL REPORT just copied that article word-for-word. The only change was in the title – the Indian state “Assam” was substituted in lieu of “Punjab” to read: “The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week.“
The article claiming a non-existent, wishful (in the mind of the author) vulgar event taking place in India was a spoof by a person writing under the pseudonym Jimmy Rustling.
The social media was abuzz with reactions to the article. So far, it has been shared more than 312,000 times on Facebook and around 3,000 times on Twitter. It has besmirched the image of Assam and has sparked widespread protests in the state.
The article does not display any disclaimer saying it is a spoof. However, there is a general Disclaimer page on the NATIONAL REPORT website:
DISCLAIMER: National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental . The views expressed by writers on this site are theirs alone and are not reflective of the fine journalistic and editorial integrity of National Report. Advice given is NOT to be construed as professional. If you are in need of professional help (and you may be if you are on this page), please consult a professional. National Report is intended for a matureaudience and not for children under the age of 18.
Linked to the “Rape Festival” articles in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS and NATIONAL REPORT is a common website Giveindia.org that looks like a genuine Indian website seeking donations for the welfare of Indian women.
At the end of the article there is the following statement:
For more information about the festival or if you would like to participate, please call the 24-hour India Rape Festival hotline at (785) 273-0325.
I googled and found that the given hot line number (785) 273-0325 belongs to Fred W. Phelps Sr., an American pastor heading the Westboro Baptist Church, an independent Baptist church based in Topeka, Kansas in 1955. Address: Westboro Baptist Church, Address: 3701 SW 12th St, Topeka, KS 66604, United States.
According to Phelps, basically everyone, who isn’t a part of their “religion” and “church” is doomed and will go to hell.
Phelps’ group protests all over the United States at Gay funerals and Soldiers funerals. The first Amendment under the U.S. Constitution protects them to do these despicable hate acts.
Although the “church” started as only hating “fags” they have now moved on to hate Australians, Canadians, Jews, Swedish, and even the Amish. To picket hey use signs such as: “God Hates Fags“, “Fags Hate God“, “America Is Doomed“, “Soldiers Die God Laughs“, “Thank God for 9/11“, etc.
Many people in USA, India and other countries believed the contents of the article as a true fact even though no such festival exists or existed in any part of India. And the article was widely shared even now via social media. It has been blindly copied and posted in sundry websites around the world without verifying the facts, thereby tarnishing the image of India.
Here is an example of this spurious, apocryphal copying:
On November 6, 2013, Patricia Kahill, posted the article verbatim without verifying facts in UGOnews with the following introduction:
Reports from National Report say that this week in Indian men readied themselves to begin celebrating the annual Assam Rape festival. This festival sees that every unmarried girl between the age of 7-16 who has not been hidden is raped. (sic)
This article published in UGOnews evoked many scathing comments. I have reproduced some of them here:
Prashant Moni · Textiles
It is very sad that some mentally sick peoples are publishing the scenario of a region in a very bad manner. To be make clear that there is NO ANY SUCH FESTIVAL in Assam or even in any other region in India. This is nothing but an output of mentally sick person (s). (sic)
Rajeev Gohain · J.B College, Jorhat
What a rubbish story. The picture is from a festival from Uttar Pradesh, Tamilnadu is lakhs km far. The names are not Assamese. The creator of this story is that the psychic who is dreaming about this type of festival , so that he also can go and participate it.. I am requesting to whole the world not to believe this type of fake story, but come and enjoy a beautiful green Assam famous for One horned Rhino and Tea.
Ashish Das · Online Entrepreneur and Blogger
Stupid website… research before publishing.
Manashwi Sharma · Student
This is absolutely NOT TRUE. There is no such freaking festival celebrated in Assam or in any part of India. I Request everyone NOT TO BELIEVE whatever is written on this website. This is totally a FALSE NEWS.
Prasanta Dutta · Guwahati College
I am from Assam and 33 year’s old, Its a is totally a Stupid news. Women is always respected in Assam more than other part of the world. (sic)
Sukanya Goswami · Dibrugarh University
this is unacceptable!!! shame on your mentality!!! u people published such a wrong thing about a region without knowing any thing!!! shame on u!!!! go and research before doing such stupid things!!!! u people dont knw any thing ,never heard about assam and but ready to publish nonsense about it!!! stupid website!!!! (sic)
Shreeja V Shetty · Software Tester at GlowTouch Technologies
Well this news is surely not true. India is a lovely country. But action should be taken on the one who wrote this! So that nobody repeats such nonsense again!
Lekha Borah · Works at Working as a Freelance Photographer
Want to make it clear that there is no this kind of \\”DIRTY FESTIVAL IN ASSAM”// or in INDIA. This is nothing but a fake RUMOUR of some mentally sick persons.Very sad and very shameful thing happened made by psycho people. (sic)
Slickèr Qalie Ndlovu · Member, Organisation of African Youth (Zimbabwe) people stop lying please (sic)
On November 12, 2013, Patricia Kahill posted another article in UGOnews titled “The Controversial Assam Rape Festival” in which she says:
Last week we reported about the Assam rape festival a controversial and satire story that was first published by National Report a USA based website, lead to a number of comments on our site from the Indian community.
According to Lets Gist the point of the story was activism, to educate people about what is going on in India on a daily basis, because a lot of people don’t know.
Hindustan Times received a statement from Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam immediately that said:
“the fraudulent and extremely unethical article about the completely fictitious festival is an act of serious disrespect and total disregard shown towards the humble and unsuspecting people of our beautiful state of Assam. The writer of such a piece of pure evil is not fit for human society.”
Bharat Narah, press adviser to Gogoi, told Gulf News:
“The Assam Rape Festival article is not at all humorous. It is distasteful, unethical, abominable, despicable and must be abhorred by all sections of society. We have taken up a suo moto case against the website and the author of the piece. It is a highly sensitive matter which cannot be ignored. We are assessing all our options and are in touch with the Cyber Cell of the Police Department.
Regardless of race, culture, or nationality, any decent and moral person should be offended by this filth. Media plays a very critical role in forming opinions. If media will start acting so naively, then the responsibility of spreading information through media should be taken away. We Indians know that this news is totally fake, but people in other parts of the world are getting the wrong message about our nation. This mischief by the media should be dealt with very strictly.“
The comment by Nancy Powell, US ambassador to India, when she addressed the students of Xavier Institute of Social Science (XISS) in Ranchi, on November 19, 2013, is an epiphany for the state of affairs now prevailing in India.
When a student asked: “Why aren’t American students coming to India for studies?“
She replied: “The concern for personal security and perceived increased danger to women as a result of the rape cases was perhaps a factor in US students’ decision regarding study in India.”
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