In yet another crackdown on free speech over criticism of a religion, the editor and publisher of The Statesman has been arrested for running an article that contains material insulting to Muslims. The Statesman’s editor Ravindra Kumar and publisher Anand Sinha were arrested in Calcutta.
The Statesman re-ran an article from the British Independent daily entitled: “Why should I respect these oppressive religions?” The author, Johann Hari, writes: “I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a ‘Prophet’ who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.”
Members of Jamiat-e-Ulema e Hind (The Organisation of Indian Scholars) filed a complaint with police alleging that the publication had “outraged their religious feelings”, which is an offense under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code
The use of these criminal laws is an outrage against both free speech and the free press. The increase in such cases shows that civil libertarians and press organizations must organize an international effort to fight the spread of these laws and call countries to account for their crackdown on journalists and others who speak their minds about religion. If freedom of speech means anything, it is to be able to confront the most cherished views of the majority. Religion is one of the most important elements of a society and the subject of great debate. The effort to make such criticism as crime is a direct attack on civil liberties.
For the full story, click here.