Journalist arrested for ‘insulting religious beliefs’ in India

NEW DELHI:

Delhi police on Monday arrested the Muslim co-founder of a fact-checking site, accusing him of insulting religious beliefs on Twitter, a network of digital media organizations said, condemning it as an attempt to harass him for his journalism.

Mohammed Zubair, who co-founded New Alternatives and regularly tweets about the growing marginalization of the Muslim minority in the country, was arrested under two articles of a law relating to the maintenance of religious harmony, the association DIGIPUB said.

Alt News’ other co-founder, Pratik Sinha, said on Twitter that no notice was given to Zubair before his arrest.

“He is currently being held inside a police bus in Burari for over an hour,” Sinha said, referring to a Delhi neighborhood where Zubair was to be brought before a magistrate at his residence to clear the way. provisional detention of the journalist.

A Delhi police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Calls to their desk phone went unanswered.

Reuters partner ANI reported, citing Delhi Police sources, that Zubair was arrested based on a complaint from a Twitter account that said he insulted Hindus in a 2018 post commenting on a hotel’s renaming after the Hindu monkey god Hanuman.

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He had also tweeted a video of a televised debate in which India’s ruling BJP spokesman made disparaging remarks about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) last month.

Journalists demanded his immediate release.

“Journalist Zubair, who regularly exposed fake news and exposed the hateful machinery in India, has just been arrested,” said Rana Ayyub, another Muslim journalist who often draws the ire of Hindu diehards. “The country is punishing those who reported, documented the decline.”

Ten human rights organizations said on World Press Freedom Day last month that Indian authorities were increasingly going after journalists and online critics for their criticism of policies. and government practices, including prosecuting them under anti-terrorism and anti-sedition laws.

Government officials deny the charges.

Ruth R. Culp