A Twitter storm over a cartoon

On Groundviews this morning, I covered in detail conversations on Twitter with Sri Lankans and Indians on the publication of an utterly tasteless cartoon, depicting the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in the Sunday edition of Lakbima, a newspaper with good circulation and owned by a businessman very close to the Sri Lankan government.

Read the full post here. Within minutes of publishing it and tweeting it, it was retweeted by others including, surprisingly, Amb. Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary of India from 2009-2011 and currently Ambassador of India to the United States, to nearly 46,000 followers.

As flagged in the article,

A selection of the anti-Sri Lankan sentiment this one cartoon alone has contributed to, at a time when Indo-Sri Lankan relations are already test, is captured in the screenshot below (search term Lakbima, taken at 0800hrs SL time).

I go on to note,

While it is the nature of social media to peak quickly over an issue or event and then as quickly forget and move on, the fact remains that Lakbima’s tasteless cartoon has given unnecessary fodder to voices, from the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora as well as from India. It’s interesting that this degree of outrage has not been seen since early 2009. It suggests the growth of Twitter in the past three years, but also clearly flags that content originally meant for domestic readership/consumption can and will be used internationally to support or challenge other agendas…

Just as India is much more than Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, Sri Lanka cannot and should not be reduced to a file image incorrectly used in a leading newspaper, or a tasteless cartoon. Condemnation of specific comments, content and actions is to be welcomed. Blanket condemnations of entire countries and their people sadly only help the extremists, within and outside its borders, grow louder and stronger.

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