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False Claims About Jews Being Targeted in Kerala Blasts Go Viral on Social Media

The blast occurred at a Jehovah's Witness prayer meet in Kerala, which has a miniscule Jewish population.

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Shortly after reports of explosions at a gathering of Jehovah's Witnesses in Kerala's Kalamassery emerged on Sunday, 29 October, social media users shared posts which built a narrative of the Jewish community being targeted with the blast.

The posts come amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, and correlate the blasts to an online speech by Hamas leader Khaled Mashal at a pro-Palestine rally in the state, which took place a day prior, on 28 October.

Sharing visuals of the explosion, which has claimed one life at the time of writing this report, the posts built a narrative of anti-semitic sentiments, claiming that "radical Islamists" had bombed the "Jewish gathering."

(Swipe to view all posts.)

  • Several viral posts on X stated or implied that Jews were targeted in the blast.

    (Source: X/Altered by The Quint)

(You can view the archived versions of these posts here, here, here, here, and here.)

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One individual, identifying himself as Dominic Martin – who claimed to be a Jehovah's Witness – surrendered to the police claiming responsibility for the blast, Kerala police said.

“You all may have heard of something that happened today. There was a bomb blast at a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention. I don’t know what happened, but I know that it happened for sure and I take full responsibility for that. I was the one who executed the bomb blast there,” Martin says in the video.

"I have been with this movement for 16 years. I didn't take anything seriously at that time. I just went forward as a joke. But when I thought about it six years ago, I realised that this was a wrong move. The lessons learned from this were very treacherous. I have repeatedly asked them to correct it," he added.

A video of the accused, purportedly shared on Facebook before surrendering, shows him talking about his motivations behind the attack.

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Kalamassery blasts: A series of explosions took place at an convention centre in Kerala's Ernakulam district around 9:40 am on 29 October, killing one and leaving at least 36 people injured.

  • The blasts happened minutes after a prayer meeting of Jehovah's Witnesses had just begun at Zamra International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Kalamassery.

  • Calling it an "unfortunate incident," Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that he had spoken to the Director General of Police (DGP) and they were "investigation this very seriously."

  • "We are examining all angles," DGP Shaik Darvesh Saheb said, requesting "everyone to remain calm and maintain peace."

  • Preliminary investigation said that the explosions were caused by an IED device, the DGP stated, adding, "at this stage, I cannot say [if there is a terror angle]."

  • Citing sources, NDTV reported that the explosives were carried in a tiffin box.

Jewish population in Kerala: As per the 2011 census, Kerala's religious composition is majoritarily Hindu, with around 54 percent of the state's population following Hindusim.

  • They are followed by Muslims, who comprise 26.56 percent of the people in Kerala.

  • Christians make up 18.38 percent of Kerala's population, followed by Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains at 0.01 percent each.

  • 'Other' unclassified religions – which includes Jews – are 0.02 percent of the total population of the state.

The blast occurred at a Jehovah's Witness prayer meet in Kerala, which has a miniscule Jewish population.

Kerala's population by religion, as per the 2011 census.

(Photo: The Quint)

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In Kalamassery, where the blasts took place, Hindus, Muslims and Christians comprise 99.71 percent of the population.

The blast occurred at a Jehovah's Witness prayer meet in Kerala, which has a miniscule Jewish population.

Nearly all of the people living in Kalamassery belong to the Hindu, Muslim, or Christian communities.

(Photo: The Quint)

We reached out to a local member of the Jewish community to know whether 'Others' included any Jews.

Manjusha Emmanuel, a member of the Jewish community in Ernakulam told The Quint that there are no Jews settled in Kalamassery. She added that people from the community lived in Ernakulam City and Kochi.

According to a 2021 report on population growth and religious composition published by the Pew Research Center, approximately 3000-4000 people practice the Jewish and Baha'i faiths in all of India.

A number of media reports and posts peg the current number of Jews in Kerala at somewhere between 15-20 people. (Links here and here.)

(Swipe to view screenshots of both reports.)

  • (Source: Jewish News Syndicate/Altered by The Quint)

Was it a gathering of Jewish people?: No. The gathering was a prayer meet of Jehovah's Witnesses, who form a sect of Christianity.

  • The sect does not believe in the Holy Trinity doctrine, which states that God exists in three persons, namely the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.

  • Jehovah's Witnesses worship Jehovah as the "true and Almighty God" believing him to be the "Creator" and "the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus."

Jehovah's Witnesses and Zionism: The Watchtower, which is the official magazine of this faith, categorically states that "There (is) no Scriptural support for political Zionism."

The blast occurred at a Jehovah's Witness prayer meet in Kerala, which has a miniscule Jewish population.

The magazine unequivocally states that the sect does not support Zionism.

(Source: Watchtower Online/Screenshot)

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Since Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in political bodies or arrangements, their website mentions that they "do not advocate Zionism as a religious doctrine, and are completely neutral toward political Zionism," which has both "religious and political roots."

The blast occurred at a Jehovah's Witness prayer meet in Kerala, which has a miniscule Jewish population.

The website o Jehovah's Witnesses states that their "entirely religious" movement does not advocate any political arrangement, including Zionism.

(Source: Jehovah's Witness website/Screenshot)

While there is no conclusive evidence (at the time of writing this report) of who was behind the attack or what their motive was, the narrative that Jewish people were targeted in the multiple explosions in Kerala's Kalamassery during a prayer meet of Jehovah's Witnesses is misleading.

(With inputs from Meenakshy Sasikumar.)

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Kerala   Blast   Webqoof 

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