In Malaysia, a ‘Buy Muslim First’ campaign was initiated by NGO Gerakan Pembela Ummah to empower the economy of the Muslim business community in the nation.
Globally, ‘#BoycottMalaysia’ campaign was launched on social media by Indians to protest Malaysian tourism, products and services.
According to Social Network Analysis, the hashtag usage of ‘#BoycottMalaysia’ becametrending on Twitter from September 29 to October 1.
The boycott campaign was triggered by Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s speech at the 74th UN General Assembly held in New York last month.
Then, Mahathir commented on the Jammu and Kashmir crisis, urging India and Pakistan to resolve their conflict in a non-violent manner.
However, India’s netizens found that the Malaysian Prime Minister is siding with Pakistan due to his critical statements on New Delhi. Words such as “invaded” and “occupied” were used on Jammu and Kashmir, while India’s action in the state was labelled as “wrong”.
The biggest cluster in the network was the orange group, taking up 37.65% of the overall network. The top influencers in the cluster were @MajorPoonia and @abhijitmajumder.
@MajorPoonia is the official Twitter account of Major Surendra Poonia, an Indian politician. He criticized Mahathir for saying that Jammu and Kashmir were “occupied and invaded” by India.
He further mentioned the official account of Tun Mahathir (@chedetofficial), poking fun at his age, stating that the Malaysian Prime Minister might be suffering from dementia for forgetting the facts on Jammu and Kashmir.
Another influencer from the same cluster is Indian journalist Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) who shared the same sentiment with @MajorPoonia.
However, Malaysian Twitter users did not keep mum on the ‘#BoycottMalaysia’ campaign. They retaliated with the usage of ‘#BoycottIndia’.
The counterattack on India can be nasty and explicit. Several social issues in India were highlighted along with ‘#BoycottIndia’ such as rape and child marriage. Some even claimed that Indians are Islamophobic.
Nevertheless, the trend of ‘#BoycottMalaysia’ and ‘#BoycottIndia’ have died down since October 3.
Later, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah clarified that Malaysia was not affected by the boycott campaign on Twitter, neither was the nation’s bilateral ties with India.