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Kerala’s Pro-Palestine mural torn down by Aussie tourists

Videos circling around social media have sparked anger and raised questions about the need for such an aggressive act.

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A recent incident in India, concerning Kerala’s Pro-Palestine mural has brought two Australian tourists, identified as women, to controversy.

The pair were filmed tearing down a pro-Palestinian mural in the Fort Kochi area, a popular tourist destination, sparking outrage amongst locals and social media users alike. Now, a police complaint has been filled and the women are being summoned for questioning.

The mural, installed during the Cochin Carnival in December 2023 by the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) displayed the message “Silence is Violence, Stand Up for Humanity.” While the organisation had no formal approval to erect the mural in such a public place, no initiatives had yet been taken to legally take down the mural.

Kerala Pro-Palestine mural
Image: The News Minute Twitter

In saying so, Kerala has been an avid supporter of Palestine, headed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who has been at the forefront of protests and rallies. Governed by pro-Palestine, left-wing party – Communist Party of India (Marxist), the state holds more solidarity protests than the rest of India, where pro-Israel ideals are prevalent.

The women, who have not been identified yet, were recorded on a CCTV camera nearby, deliberately tearing down Kerala’s Pro-Palestine mural. Accused of behaviour which has the potential to instigate acts of violence within the community however, when confronted by locals, a heated argument ensued as onlookers videographed on their phones.

Yelling at locals, the woman explained she “did it for the Jewish,” owing to her alleged heritage as a Jewish woman. She accused locals of fueling propaganda and spreading false information on the Palestine-Gaza war and attributed her actions to the fact that since there were few people of Jewish heritage in Kerala, she had to be their spokesperson.

In response to this, a local was heard saying, “There are Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, everybody. We are living in India.” Surrounded by remains of the mural, the locals argued that she was destroying public property and should instead have done so in a peaceful manner which wasn’t against the law.

The incident comes during a period of intense violence in the Middle East where the Israel-Gaza conflict has resulted in widespread devastation, with local health officials reporting over 33,800 fatalities, including more than 12,500 children. The war has since been taken to social media with two sides presenting their versions of the truth, resulting in protests and marches around the world.

The tourists’ actions were met with swift legal repercussions. The Kerala police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against them under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with charges of provocation for rioting, whether or not a riot has occurred. As a bailable offence, the tourists have been released from the station after questioning and there has been no confirmation on whether any further action needs to be taken.

READ ALSO: India on Gaza conflict: Calls for ‘immediate de-escalation’

Khushee Gupta
Khushee Gupta
A passionate journalist dedicated to highlighting stories of diversity, empowerment and resilience in various industries.

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