White House Condemns ‘Harassment’ Of Reporter Sabrina Siddiqui

Sabrina Siddiqui

New Delhi: The Wall Street Journal’s reporter Sabrina Siddiqui faced online abuse and harassment after she asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi about democracy and human rights in India during his visit to the US last week. She shared a question with President Joe Biden at their joint press conference in the White House.

The White House strongly condemned the harassment and intimidation of Siddiqui, who is also a Muslim, by some people in India. White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that such behavior was “completely unacceptable” and “antithetical to the very principles of democracy” that were discussed during the state visit. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also expressed her support for Siddiqui and said that the White House was committed to freedom of the press.

Siddiqui had asked Modi what steps he and his government were willing to take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in India and to uphold free speech, citing the concerns of many human rights groups about discrimination and silencing of critics in India. Modi replied that he was surprised by her question and that democracy was in India’s spirit and constitution. He claimed that there was no discrimination in India based on caste, creed, religion, or gender.

Siddiqui’s question triggered a backlash from some pro-Hindutva social media users, especially on Twitter, who attacked her personal background, heritage, and faith. Some accused her of being a “Pakistani Islamist” and a part of a “toolkit gang” that was trying to defame India. Amit Malviya, the head of BJP’s IT cell, tweeted that Modi had “completely destroyed” Siddiqui’s “motivated question” and that it was a “blow” to the “toolkit gang”. Siddiqui responded by posting pictures of her cheering for the Indian cricket team and saying that “sometimes identities are more complex than they seem”.

Sabrina Siddiqui

The Wall Street Journal and the South Asian Journalists Association stood by Siddiqui and praised her for her professionalism and unbiased reporting. The Wall Street Journal said that Siddiqui was “a respected journalist known for her integrity and unbiased reporting”.