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Pair held for 'offending Islam'

Pair held for 'offending Islam'

Author: Subir Bhaumik
Publication: BBC News
Date: February 11, 2009
URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7883612.stm

[Note from the Hindu Vivek Kendra: The so-called defenders of press, freedom of expression, etc., who are otherwise very active when Hindus protest, will be conspicuous by their silence in this case. The media in India will go to extreme lengths to ensure that this item is buried as deeply as possible. And no editor will even think of apologising as Kumar has done, if the protestors were Hindus.]

The editor and publisher of a top English-language Indian daily have been arrested on charges of "hurting the religious feelings" of Muslims.

The Statesman's editor Ravindra Kumar and publisher Anand Sinha were detained in Calcutta after complaints.

Muslims said they were upset with the Statesman for reproducing an article from the UK's Independent daily in its 5 February edition.

The article was entitled: "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?"

It concerns the erosion of the right to criticise religions.

In it, 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."

Mr Kumar and Mr Sinha appeared in court on Wednesday and were granted bail.


Angry Muslims have been demonstrating in front of the offices of the Statesman since its republication of the article.

Police have broken up the demonstrations using baton charges several times this week.

Some Muslims close to the Jamiat-e-Ulema e Hind (The Organisation of Indian Scholars, a leading Islamic group in India) later filed a complaint with police alleging that the publication had "outraged their religious feelings", which is an offence under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code.

Mr Kumar has said he has already issued a public apology for reproducing the article.

"I admit it was an editorial misjudgement but it was never intentional," Mr Kumar told the BBC in an interview.

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