Tuesday, 5 July, 2022
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Qatar Airways CEO didn’t plead with Indian Twitter user to stop boycott call, it’s a spoof video

Video shows CEO Akbar Al Baker trying to mollify 'biggest shareholder', Twitter user Vashudev. Some users, such as Kangana Ranaut, believed video to be real & hit out at Al Baker.

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New Delhi: A spoof video of Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker, pleading with an Indian user to take back his boycott call of the airlines, has caused much merriment among Internet users.

The video is the latest in a series of tit-for-tats between right-wing users and their detractors.

It all stems from BJP leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal’s derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad, which subsequently drew sharp rebukes from the Muslim world.

Qatar was among the first to summon the Indian envoy and told him “such Islamophobic remarks… would create a cycle of violence and hate”.

As the Arab world joined Qatar one by one to criticise India, a hashtag began to trend on Twitter — #BoycottQatarAirways.

An Indian Twitter user Vashudev jumped into the fray and posted a video from his terrace, stating Qatar had no right to lecture India. He said Qatar had begun to sack Indians from jobs in that country, and appealed to his viewers to boycott Qatar-made goods and its national carrier. “Eent ka jawab pathhar se milega,” he said before signing off. Vashudev hashtagged the video #BycottQatarAirlines. (Ahem, note the misspelling).

Amid a flurry of comments to Vashudev — wherein some questioned whether he had the money to afford a Qatar Airways ticket — a video showing the airline’s chief purportedly responding to Vashudev went viral on Twitter.

The video spread like wildfire in cyberspace, making thousands guffaw but completely fooling several others.

 

While right-wingers continue to celebrate Vashudev and liberals laugh at him, we explain to you how the parody video came about.

The hoax: The spoof has put the following words in Al Baker’s mouth: “I cancelled all my meetings and straight away flew to Qatar because our biggest shareholder Vashudev decided to boycott our airlines from his headquarters, which is the terrace of his house… Vashudev is our biggest shareholder with a total investment of Rs 624.50. And we don’t know how to operate anymore.”

The CEO then goes on to request Vashudev to take back the call for boycotting the airlines.

He also mentions the wrong spelling of “boycott” in Vashudev’s hashtag #BycottQatarAirlines, attributing it to be “a special kind of boycott because it is B-Y-C-O-T-T — another level of boycott”.

In the end, the CEO makes a conciliatory offer of a whole plane to Vashudev to make his TikTok videos or 2 litres of free petrol to take his boycott back.

Fact check: The original video is a four-year-old interview of Al Baker by Qatar broadcaster Al Jazeera. Needless to say, the interview was serious — all about the airlines’ profit, future plans and even Al Baker’s unfriendly relations with the then US President Donald Trump.

The hilarious script of the voiceover is obviously the Twitter user’s hyperactive imagination! (PS: The user has now been suspended by the microblogging site.)

Several fall for spoof video:

First, actor Kangana Ranaut, who not only believed the video but also slammed Al Baker as a “bully”.

She shared a still from the video on Instagram and captioned it: “This idiot of a man has no shame bullying a poor man mocking his insignificance and the place in the world… Vashudev may be poor and insignificant for a rich man like you but he has the right to express his grief, pain and disappointment in whatever context it may be… remember there is a world beyond this world where we all are equal.”

A Pakistani journalist, who also believed the video to be authentic, tweeted:

“Now this is very very serious guys! Qatar Airways CEO asks for an apology and appeals to Indians to end the ‘Bycott’ campaign.”

The following tweet by an IAS officer – mocking ‘andhbhakt’ Vashudev — got over 3,400 retweets.

And here are a few more. They all look to be having fun.

(In collaboration with SM Hoaxslayer)


Also read: Time cover hasn’t compared Putin to Hitler, controversial image is by UK-based designer


 

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