The White House has denounced the “intense online harassment” of the Wall Street Journal reporter Sabrina Siddiqui, who had asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a question on democracy in India during his joint press conference with President Joe Biden in the US last week.
Top official John Kirby, in response to the Wall Street Journal’s question on its reporter, said the White House was “aware of the reports of that harassment”. The Wall Street Journal said since she asked the question, Ms Siddiqui had been subjected to “some intense online harassment from people inside India”. She was also being targeted, in part, because of her Muslim faith, said the newspaper.
“It’s unacceptable. And we absolutely condemn any harassment of journalists anywhere under any circumstances. That’s just – that’s completely unacceptable. And it’s antithetical to the very principles of democracy that – you’re right – were on display last week during the state visit,” said Mr Kirby, who is the White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications.
After Mr Kirby’s statement, the White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre went to the podium and said: “I just want to reiterate a little bit what John said – we’re certainly here at the White House under this administration, we are committed to freedom of the Press, which is why we had the press conference last week. So just want to remind folks, that’s why we had the press conference last week. Also, we certainly condemn any efforts of intimidation or harassment of any journalist that is just trying to do their job.”
Ms Siddiqui had said many human rights groups talked about discrimination and silencing of critics in India. “What steps are you and your government willing to take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your country and to uphold free speech?” she asked.
Ms Siddiqui, responding to criticism directed at her online, shared photos of her wearing the team India t-shirt and cheering for the cricket team with her father, who was born in India.
“Since some have chosen to make a point of my personal background, it feels only right to provide a fuller picture. Sometimes identities are more complex than they seem,” she wrote in the tweet.
Disclaimer: White House condemns harassment of Muslim reporter for asking Modi question on rights in India - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view