32,000 Hindu and Christan girls converted to Islam and transformed into ISIS terrorists – this is the plot line of a recently released movie, The Kerala Story. Focusing on the suffering of thousands of converted terrorists in Keralla, love jihad, and forced conversion, the film paints a grim picture of modern India.
But there’s a twist – the majority of what the movie presents as concrete facts are plain lies.
Be it the number of 32,000 converted ISIS terrorists or the looming threat of love jihad, the polarizing movie presents a twisted truth. In this article, we are debunking the reality of THE KERALA STORY and understanding how the movie only aims to provoke Indians against each other.
Fact-Check of the Kerala Story
The movie Kerala Story states multiple accusations and ‘facts.’ The most popular ones include the following:
- 3200 women converted to Islam
- Kerala to become an Islamic State in the next 20 years
- Fatima (the forcefully converted ISIS terrorist) is still stuck in an Afghanistan jail
But how much of it is true? Let’s uncover the reality.
3200 Converted women
In 2012, Oommen Chandy, the then-chief minister of Kerala, informed the state legislature that over 2667 young women converted to Islam between 2006 to 2012. On the contrary, however, the CM never mentioned the term ‘forced conversion.’
Instead, dismissing the baseless love-jihad accusation, he stated:
“We will not allow forcible conversions. Nor will we allow for spreading hate campaign against Muslims in the name of love jihad”Oommen Chandy, cm of kerala
Kerala – An Islamic State?
The second claim was based on another former Chief Minister of Kerala, V S Achuthanandan’s (2006-2011) statement. However, when you look at the video, you can clearly see how they manipulated the English subtitles.
During his speech, Mr. Achuthanandan criticized PFI, blaming them for “influencing the youth of other religions.” However, again there was no mention of ISIS. Also, it’s worth noting that it’s been over 13 years since the speech, and Kerala remains a safe and secular state.
4 Kerala Women Who Joined Islamic State
Between 2016 and 2018, four women left Kerala for the Islamic State of Khorasan Province –Nimisha (Fatima Isa), Merrin Jacob (Mariyam), Sonia Sebastian (Ayisha), and Rafela.
Amongst these four women, one was already Muslim, two converted from Christianity to Isma, and one from Hinduism to Islam. The Kerala story revolves around Fatima, who was allegedly trapped in love jihad. However, on further investigation, we found that Fatima’s husband, Eeza, himself converted to Islam from Christianity.
The Twisted Reality
The Kerala Story movie depicted a fake image of its three protagonists – innocent women trapped in a global conspiracy with no alter intentions. The entire audience sympathized with the helpless women.
However, when you look at the real-life interview of the real converted terrorist women, you can hardly empathize with them. The discussion clearly shows how brainwashed and radicalized these women still are.
Moreover, the 2016 NIA report shows that all the 20 terrorists mentioned in the report were deeply interconnected regarding radicalization. Seventeen of these came from the Kasargod district of Kerala.
The 2016 India Today report highlighted a concerning truth that it’s not just singles who are traveling to IS-controlled territories. Instead, entire families with children have gone to join ISIS.
According to Stat News Global, about 60 Indians (26 males, 13 women, and 21 children) shifted to Afghanistan in 2018.
So there definitely is a problem where people are brainwashed to join ISIS. Internet and social media have opened new modes of communication to influence. A 2019 report states that ISIS uses the dark web and encrypted platforms to radicalize the youth and recruit terrorists.
Analyzing the Real Terrorism Problem in India
The International Center for the Study of Radicalization, King’s College reported that about 41,490 people from 80 countries are affiliated with IS. Furthermore, 74% of these terrorists are men.
The Underseceratery General of the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism released another data of over 40,000 foreign terrorist fighter joining conflicts in Syria and Iraq across 110 countries.
But how many of these recruits are from India?
America’s Bureau of Counter Terrorism published a country report which highlighted the 160 people who were arrested related to IS in India. These 160 people include not only the terrorists who left India to join ISIS but also individuals who propagated ISIS’s agenda over the Internet.
Of the 160 accused, only 40 cases were said to be from Kerala. This number, however, still does not tell the exact data of people who joined ISIS.
The US Department of State reports revealed that about 66 Indian-origin terrorists were affiliated with ISIS till November 2020. Among these 66, there are only ten women, and only six are from Kerala.
The Problem with the Kerala Story
Dictating the story of three women being the reality of 32,000 women is one of the biggest lies the Kerala Story presents.
The problem is – people are still being brainwashed and recruited into ISIS across the globe. Going back to the 2016 country report, we can see how many countries are affected by the problem. Following is the number of IS recruits per country:
- Russia – 2,500
- Frace – 1,700
- United Kingdom – 760
- Germany – 760
- Belgium -470
When these numbers are compared to India, a country with the third-largest Muslim population, the 66 recruits seem, though still concerning, small.
The movie is defaming one of the best states of India based on lies.
The Proud Truth, the Kerala Story, Tries to Hide
The ORA report and, in many instances, international organizations consistently ask why Indians have fewer ISIS recruits. The movie, however, does not delve into this.
Time and again, the Indian agency’s strict and quick repose has busted ISIS propaganda in the Country. For example, under Operation Pigeon, Indian agencies saved 350 vulnerable Malyali youths from being recruited through de-radicalization programs.
Former diplomat Talmiz Ahmad also praises India’s syncretic culture and tradition behind the youths rejecting extremism. Indian constitution and culture celebrate unity in diversity. That’s why most Indians reject extreme ideologies.
A report from 2015 even states that ISIS considers Indian recruits inferior to Arabs because Indian Muslims follow a more legal version of Islam.
Many Indian Muslim clerics have also played a positive role in promoting harmony. In March 2009, Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa declaring India as Dar al-Aman (a country where militant jihad is prohibited). In 2015, over 70,000 Indian Muslim scholars issued a joint fatwa against ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.
The Real Kerala Story
Kerala is a living example of India’s thriving unity in diversity, where people of all religious faith live together in harmony. Movies like The Kerala Story are trying to defame one of the most prosperous states of India, along with increasing polarity and radicalization within the country.
Terrorist propaganda, conversions, and brainwashing of youth to become terrorists are global realities. But films like the Kerala Story undermine the pain and suffering of the actual victim by showcasing fake provocating stories.
On the plus side, however, the lash back the movie has received shows that fake numbers and conspiracy theories can’t fool Indians.