Kolkata Statesman newspaper apologizes as Muslim mob goes on a rampage over article
Posted by jagoindia on February 10, 2009
“Demonstrators threw stones, soda bottles and shoes injuring four cops. Some agitators later took shelter in a nearby mosque and threw stones, empty bottles and shoes targeting policemen.”
Once again Muslim bullies win. Free speech loses. And pseudo secular Indian media has once again demonstrated how pusillanimous it really is. Moral: It pays to be violent and intolerant
The article in question is:
Why should I respect these oppressive religions? Johann Hari:
Whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents say they’re victims of ‘prejudice’
You can also read it all here
BBC report : Pair held for ‘offending Islam’
By Subir Bhaumik, BBC News, Calcutta
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
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.
Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Feb. 9: More than 20 people, including four policemen, were injured in a clash that broke out when police tried to clear Lenin Sarani where Muslim agitators had put up a road block for four hours in protest against an article published in The Statesman a few days ago. Forty-four people were later arrested in connection with the attack on police and blocking traffic, said Mr Pradip Chattopadhyay, joint CP (administration).
According to police, trouble broke out around noon when the agitators tried to block CR Avenue in protest against an article ~ a comment piece ~ from The Independent that was published in The Statesman in its 5 February edition. Police chased away the mob and arrested seven people.
The agitators regrouped and blocked Lenin Sarani throwing traffic out of gear. They demonstrated in front of Statesman House and damaged a taxi, two private buses, and a tram. Commuters complained of being severely inconvenienced due to the roadblock. Some protestors forced local traders to shut down their shops and join the agitation. Long queues of vehicles were seen on either side of CR Avenue, Dorina Crossing, SN Banerjee Road due to suspension of traffic on Lenin Sarani.
Senior police officers, led by additional commissioner (I) Mr Ranjit Kumar Pachnanda, rushed to the spot and appealed to the agitators time and again to withdraw the blockade.
After agitators refused to call off the blockade, additional forces were deployed in the area. Later DC DD (I), Mr Jawed Shamim, DC (Central) Mrs Damayanti Sen, DC (Traffic) Mr Dilip Banerjee, Joint CP (Traffic) Mr Ranvir Kumar reached the spot and urged agitators to call off the blockade.
After all their pleas fell on deaf ears, leaders from some Muslim organisations and even imams of Shahi Tipu Sultan Mosque came to the spot and tried to pacify the mob. Meanwhile, Rapid Action Force and Armed Police jawans were deployed to prevent any further violence.
After several requests of police officers and religious leaders to call off the blockade went unheeded, police chased away the mob and resorted to a mild lathi-charge to clear Lenin Sarani. Demonstrators threw stones, soda bottles and shoes injuring four cops. Some agitators later took shelter in a nearby mosque and threw stones, empty bottles and shoes targeting policemen. These people later left the mosque.
The situation came under control around 5 p.m. A police picket was posted near the mosque. Later in the evening, a group of people belonging to some Muslim outfits blocked AJC Bose Road near Rajabazar for one-and-a-half hours on the same issue. The blockade was later withdrawn. In a Press release, the Indian Union Muslim Leage (West Bengal) condemned the lathi-charge on protestors and accused The Statesman of “obstinacy” with regard to issuing an apology for carrying the comment piece by Johann Hari. (In fact, The Statesman has, already expressed its deep regret if the publication of the article had caused hurt to any community or religion.)
Pamphlets call for agitation
Later in the evening, unsigned pamphlets and posters were being distributed in the Esplanade area urging members of a particular community to “continue the agitation” and stating that the “protests were not against the state government or police administration”. The pamphlets also demanded that The Statesman be “banned” and that its editor be “arrested”.