Press Freedom Group urges India to release journalist
Press freedom advocates have urged India to immediately release a prominent Muslim journalist and outspoken critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over tweets authorities claim promote religious and ethnic division.
Digipubsaid a body representing digital media organizations in India.Mohammad Zubair, the co-founder of AltNews, a leading fact-checking website in India, was accused of insulting Hindu religious beliefs in a handful of Twitter posts in 2018,
“Journalist Zubair, who has regularly exposed fake news and exposed the hateful machinery in India, has just been arrested,” said Rana Ayyub, a famous Muslim journalist in India. said In Monday. “The country is punishing those who reported, documented the decline.”
On Tuesday, he was sentenced to four days in prison, galvanizing press freedom groups, opposition leaders and journalists.
The arrest marks a new low for press freedom in India, where the government has created a hostile and dangerous environment for members of the press reporting on sectarian issues,” said Steven Butler, the Journalists Protection Committee The Asia program coordinator, said in a statement. “The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Zubair and allow him to continue his work as a journalist without further interference.”
Zubair has more than half a million Twitter followers and was the first journalist to share a controversial TV debate clip this month in which ruling party spokesman Nupur Sharma made comments offensive against the Prophet Muhammad.
His tweet went viral, escalating India’s diplomatic crisis with the Islamic world and sparked strong protests from the Muslim minority in India.
The Modi government distanced itself from Sharma’s statements and suspended her from the party on June 5.
Sharma claimed to have received death threats after his suspension and blamed Zubair’s leaking of the clip on Twitter for the threats. Zubair has also received death threats.
“Everyone who exposes the BJP’s hatred, bigotry and lies is a threat to them. The arrest of one voice of truth will only spawn a thousand more,” Rahul Gandhi, the main leader of the Indian opposition party, tweeted.
Modi and his BJP party have repeatedly been portrayed as Hindu nationalists and criticized for stoking religious tensions in the country, resulting in discriminatory treatment of Muslims across the country.
Although it maintains a Hindu majority, with over 200 million Muslim citizens, India has the third largest Muslim population in the world.
Before he became prime minister, Modi was accused of negligence after bloody communal riots killed between 1,000 and 2,000 Muslims in the western state of Gujarat during his tenure as governor in 2002.