Indian police are escalating pressure on the journalist who caused an embarrassing international crisis for Prime Minister Narendra Modi by drawing attention to remarks critical of Muhammad by a spokeswoman for his party.
Posted at 6:00 AM
Observers of Indian political life have denounced the security forces’ move against Muhammad al-Zubair, who has been detained since June 27, as retaliation against the head of state.
“What he is accused of is absurd. BJP [Bharatiya Jamata Party] Salil Tripathi, a New York-based writer and journalist, says in an interview, referring to Mr. Modi’s training:
indian daily Hindus It goes in the same direction in a recent editorial by noting that it is “new evidence of the regime’s characteristic intolerance” and its “hatred” of anyone who dares criticize its repeated attacks against the country’s religious minorities.
Mr Zubair, one of the founders of a website, Alt News, which aims to counter attempts at misinformation and hate propaganda, was initially accused by New Delhi police of “insulting Hindu religious beliefs” in a four-year old tweet.
He then transmitted an image from an Indian film shot 40 years ago in which an institution was renamed using the name of the god Hanuman.
Substitution, which can in no way be considered an insult, according to Hindusangered an anonymous netizen who complained about a Twitter account with practically no subscribers.
The 39-year-old journalist was also targeted by police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, over a tweet attacking three Hindu national leaders, calling them “spreaders of hate”.
In a Supreme Court hearing aimed at allowing him to temporarily regain his freedom, the journalist’s lawyer, Colin Gonsalves, argued last week that his arrest was a “new police strategy” to silence critics.
“The goal is to limit freedom of expression for supporters of secularism who dare to oppose the promoters of participatoryism and to scare them so that they no longer dare to protest,” an Indian website covering legal affairs recounted. Issues.
Although the court granted the request, the journalist is still detained due to separate proceedings pending in New Delhi.
The co-founder of Alt News, who has half a million followers on Twitter, sparked a scandal at the end of May when he widely echoed the remarks of BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma, who mocked on air the relationship between Muhammad and his son. wife.
Scandal about Muhammad
Angry Muslim citizens demonstrated in Uttar Pradesh against the spokeswoman before the issue took an international turn with the intervention of leaders of several Muslim countries, demanding the BJP to apologize.
The spokeswoman and the representative of the other party who had relayed her remarks were finally fired, much to the chagrin of angry Hindu nationalists with Mr. Zubair.
Tensions over the crisis also contributed to a horrific attack in late June in Rajasthan, where two Muslim men were accused of beheading a Hindu merchant who had tweeted his support for Nupur Sharma.
A local official, Narendra Modi, appealed for calm, noting that “tension is rising in small towns and the gap between communities is widening.”
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, noted last week in an online analysis that the Indian government has always tended to downplay criticism of the “systemic discrimination” it promotes.
A step in the right direction
The situation has changed now that India’s strategic partners have shown their dismay. It is pushing New Delhi to take more forceful action, not, as he ironically calls, to put an end to the abuses, but instead to “silence critics who are able to reach an international audience”.
MI Ganguly warns that countries cooperating with Narendra Modi’s regime must ensure that it fulfills its human rights obligations.
Germany has particularly intervened in this regard in the past few days, noting that India prides itself on being “the largest democracy in the world” and should be sensitive in this regard to the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Mr Tripathi, who is concerned to see that an increasing number of his Indian reporters no longer dare to communicate with him except through encrypted apps for fear of reprisal, thinks the reasoning should go further.
He said foreign leaders “need to reassess whether it is appropriate to say that India is a true democracy”.
- The score out of 100 given by the US organization Freedom House for India, which evaluates political freedoms and civil rights
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