Editor of Urdu daily arrested for reprinting Hebdo cartoon

The editor of Awadhnama was arrested on Wednesday for reprinting a cartoon published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo; the paper had issued a clarification the next day

The editor of an Urdu daily was arrested for hurting religious sentiments after her newspaper published a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed made by French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Urdu outlet Awadhnama had reprinted the cartoon of Prophet Mohammed on January 17, like some other newspapers and TV news channels did after the horrific terrorist attack on January 7 in which eight of the French magazine’s staffers were killed. Editor Shirin Dalvi had issued a clarification the next day.

The reprint resulted in protests, with the All India Ulema Council claiming that a simple clarification was not good enough. “Her arrest was quite late. She should have been arrested on the same day. Freedom of expression has its limits, especially when the feelings of Muslims are getting hurt,” said Mahmood Daryabadi, of the All India Ulema Council.

'Apologise to Allah'
When asked why Dalvi had been targeted despite issuing an apology, he said, “Her apology means nothing; she should apologise to Allah. We will not tolerate anything bad against our rasool (messenger).”

Article 19 (3), of the Indian Constitution imposes some restriction on Freedom of Expression. Dalvi was arrested under Section 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings) of Indian Penal Code, and later released on bail, confirmed S M Mundhe, senior inspector, Mumbra police station.

Cops arrested her after the Ulema had threatened to protest, claiming that the police was not acting against Dalvi for offending their religious sentiments. Senior journalist Sucheta Dalal said that people across the globe have reacted differently to the Charlie Hebdo incident. “This was an international issue and everyone reacted differently to it.

There were a few who said that I may not agree with you, but will defend your right to expression. For cops to act in this ill-informed manner by targeting just one person was not correct. It seems easy to pick on women, make hasty arrests on issues like that, which is most worrying. Intolerance is increasing; it doesn’t matter which religion, but intolerance is on the rise.”

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