Online harassment of Sabrina Siddiqui falsifies PM Modi’s claim, White House condemnstext_fields
Washington: The online harassment that has been faced by Sabrina Siddiqui, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal after her question over the Indian government’s measures to check human rights violations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House itself establishes how intolerant the supporters of Modi and right-wing activists are.
Despite PM Modi's denial of instances of discrimination under his rule in India, where he emphasized that the Constitution governs the country, the online harassment targeting a journalist, including attacks on her Muslim identity, by social media accounts from India has prompted condemnation from the White House.
In a recent joint press conference by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden at the White House, a question on democracy in India posed by Sabrina Siddiqui, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, sparked intense online harassment towards Siddiqui. The White House has strongly condemned the harassment, emphasizing its commitment to freedom of the press.
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, addressed the issue, stating that the White House was aware of the reports of harassment directed at Siddiqui. The Wall Street Journal revealed that she had faced significant online abuse from individuals within India, with a portion of the harassment targeting her Muslim faith.
Kirby expressed the White House's unequivocal condemnation of any harassment towards journalists, stating that it was unacceptable and contrary to the principles of democracy. He emphasized the importance of respecting journalists' work and ensuring their safety.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House Press Secretary, echoed Kirby's remarks, reiterating the administration's commitment to press freedom. She emphasized that the press conference had been held to facilitate open dialogue and condemned any attempts to intimidate or harass journalists simply doing their jobs.
During the press conference, Siddiqui had questioned PM Modi about the steps his government would take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in India and uphold free speech. In response, PM Modi emphasized that there was no discrimination in India and highlighted the country's commitment to democracy and human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
The question and the Prime Minister's response provoked strong reactions in India. Amit Malviya, the head of BJP's IT cell, praised PM Modi's answer, stating that he had effectively countered a "motivated question." However, the exchange ignited a broader discussion on social media platforms about the treatment of minorities and freedom of speech in India.
Amidst the online criticism directed at Siddiqui, she responded by sharing photos of herself wearing an Indian cricket team T-shirt and cheering for the team alongside her father, who was born in India. Siddiqui sought to provide a more comprehensive understanding of her background, emphasizing the complexities of personal identities.