'Rice jihad': The video falsely accusing Muslims of poisoning Hindus in India
India’s Muslim community is often targeted with disinformation by Hindu nationalists and falsely accused online of various crimes. The latest accusation to surface on social media is that Muslims are carrying out "rice jihad". But what is "rice jihad"? We take a look in this week’s episode of Truth or Fake.
A video of so-called "rice jihad" has been shared over the last few weeks in Indian circles on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. The longest version of the video is two minutes and shows a group of men on their hands and knees in a huge mound of rice, using their hands to stir and mix the grains. Occasionally one of them gets up to squirt a reddish liquid onto the rice from a plastic bottle, which the others then quickly mix into the pile.
What is this mysterious oily reddish liquid being mixed into the rice on the floor? Well, some Hindu nationalist accounts on Twitter say they have the answer. One tweet asserts that Muslims “have vowed to eliminate Hindu infidels” and so are deliberately tainting rice in order to poison Hindus. It warns people not to buy rice from Muslims. This accusation of "rice jihad" comes after India’s Muslim community was accused at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic of "corona jihad".
There are already a number of clues present in the video that let you know that it’s probably been taken out of context. First of all, you should focus on what you can hear. In the snatches of people speaking, you can hear that they’re not speaking in an Indian language, but in Spanish. That’s your first indication that this video probably wasn’t filmed in India – and will help you for further searches.
Another clue is in the video itself. Always look for text that you can identify in videos. If you pause the video at certain points, you can see the name of the brand on the sacks 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’ll discover a Peruvian rice brand called Casserita. From there, you can carry out further searches using keywords like "Peru" and the word for "to mix" in Spanish, "mezclar". That will lead you to viral posts from 2018.
Peruvian media at the time reported that the video showed these men deliberately adding oil and food colouring to rice to make it look like it was of better quality than it was. On social media, people said that the rice in the video was destined to be sold at the Santa Anita wholesale food market in Lima, Peru. The media Panamericana TV interviewed shop owners at 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.