“Everyone has the right to express their opinion and their opinion on a particular situation, but I personally have never even thought of discriminating against anyone on the basis of their religion – and this is a very sacred and personal matter for every human being, and it should be left there, “he added.
Bowler Shami, the only Muslim player on the Indian team, has been the target of social media abuse – including Islamophobic messages – by social media trolls blaming him for India’s first defeat against Pakistan in a T20 World Cup match on October 25th.
Indian captain he was unequivocal in his support of Shami and strongly condemned the hatred of social media, saying he did not want to “waste a minute” on trolls whose “lack of confidence” and “lack of compassion” led them to the goal on Shami.
“We totally stand by his side, support him 200 percent and all those who attacked him can come with more force if they want to,” Kohli said. “Our fraternity, our friendship within the team – nothing can be shaken.”
“And I can assure you that as a team captain, that we have built a culture where these things will not even 0.001% infiltrate this environment and that is an absolute guarantee on my part,” he added.
The captain further condemned the nature of trolling on social media, saying it was “so unfortunate and so sad” that it has become a “source of entertainment in today’s world” and is an example of “literally the lowest level of human potential”.
Indian politicians and celebrities have posted messages of support for Shami on social media, with former cricket captain Sachin Tendulkar calling him a “dedicated world-class bowler”.
He said on Saturday that some on social media praised Kohli for stepping in Shami’s defense, and was also criticized by nationalists who accused him of pointing the finger at Indian social media users rather than Pakistani fans.
India will face New Zealand later on Sunday and then face Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia in early November in hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.
The team’s last victory in the tournament was in the opening edition, which took place in 2007, where they played Pakistan in the final. Kohli was named the player of the series in the last tournament of 2016, although India did not make it to the finals.