Wall Street Journal's White House Correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui, a Pakistani-American Muslim journalist, got to ask the only question posed by an American journalist to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to the White House in Washington, DC. This was the first time in 14 years that Mr. Modi took an unscripted question from any journalist anywhere in the world. In fact, it was his first press conference since taking office as the prime minister of India in 2014.
|Narendra Modi (Left), Sabrina Siddiqui (R)|
Sabrina Siddiqui asked the Indian leader about rights groups’ assessments that his government is discriminating against religious minority groups and quashing dissent. She asked," 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?"
The Islmophobic Indian prime minister feigned “surprise” at the question and said democracy is core to India. He then went to lie in front of the whole world claiming that there's ”absolutely no space for discrimination” in India.
|Cartoonist Mocks Modi's Answer at the White House. Source: Satish Acharya|
Modi’s mendacious answer is in sharp contrast to rising state persecution of religious minorities, including Muslims and Christians, in India. Modi's BJP-affiliated politicians have called for genocide against Indian Muslims, attacked mosques and churches, and demolished homes, according to The Nation. The Biden administration has remained silent on these issues, choosing instead to try and strengthen the US-India relationship and deepen the ties between the countries’ military and technology sectors, as a counterweight to rising China.
For the last four years, the Biden Administration has ignored the USCIRF (US Commission on International Religious Freedom) recommendation to designate India as a “Country of Particular Concern” and impose strategic sanctions on Indian government officials and agencies involved in religious freedom violations.
Cartoonist Satish Acharya exposed Modi's lie in a cartoon by referring to a statement he made during the protests against the BJP-sponsored discriminatory CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) in 2019. "They (Muslims) can be identified by the clothes they are wearing," he said without elaborating.
Even though Modi did not know the exact question that would be posed to him at the press conference, he had a readymade answer regardless. Sabrina Siddiqui's question and Modi's answer illustrated how the BJP's lies are being shamelessly promoted and spread in India and elsewhere in the world. The Hindutva rulers of India are living a lie.
In a recent interview to CNN, former US President Barack Obama has pointed out the consequences of BJP's anti-Muslim policies. “If the (US) President meets with Prime Minister Modi, then the protection of the Muslim minority in a Hindu majority India is worth mentioning. If I had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who I know well, part of my argument would be that if you don't protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, there is a strong possibility that India would at some point start pulling apart,” Obama had said.
“We have seen what happens when you start getting those kinds of large internal conflicts. So that would be contrary to the interests of not only the Muslim India but also the Hindu India. I think it is important to be able to talk about these things honestly,” said Mr. Obama.
Sabrina Siddiqui is one of many high-profile Pakistani-American journalists. Amna Nawaz is the co-anchor of the popular PBS NewsHour. Zohreen Adamjee Shah is a national correspondent for ABC News. Imtiaz Tyab is a foreign correspondent for CBS News. Asma Khalid covers the White House for National Public Radio. Wajahat Ali writes columns for New York Times and The Daily Beast.
Sabrina Siddiqui has an illustrious background. She is a great-great grand-daughter of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in India. She has come under vicious attacks by right-wing Hindu Nationalist trolls since Modi's press conference at the White House.
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