Editor and publisher of Indian newspaper on anti-Islamic charges


KOLKATA – The editor and publisher of a prominent Indian daily were briefly arrested and then released on bail after being charged with hurting Islamic sentiments in an article, police said yesterday.

Ravindra Kumar, editor of the Statesman, and publisher Anand Sinha have been charged with “deliberate act with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings”.

They were granted interim bail.

The Statesmanis one of India’s oldest English-language newspapers, founded in Kolkata in 1875. It republished an article on February 5th titled “Why should I respect oppressive religions?” originally written by columnist Johann Hari in the British newspaper, the Independent.

The article argues that the right to be free to criticise religion has been curtailed by a coalition of Islamic conservatives that has set back equal rights for women, gays and non-Muslims.

It argues that the United Nations has been complicit in this move against free speech.

The article triggered protests by Islamic groups before Statesman House, a heritage building in eastern city of Kolkata.

The editor was arrested after a formal complaint was lodged by a Muslim resident of Kolkata.

“The essential ingredient of the law under which we are charged is malicious intent,” Kumar said, “but how could we anticipate the protest when the article generated no controversy in Britain, which has substantial Muslim population, after it was carried originally by the Independent?” – (Reuters)