Freedom of the Press Update

Last week was terrible for freedom of the press in South Asia. Four New Delhi-based journalists were sentenced to four months in jail on Friday for writing articles that implied former Chief Justice YK Sabharwal was corrupt. The tabloid newspaper Mid Day published a series of articles that alleged Sabharwal ordered a group of illegal shops and commercial buildings be torn down because his sons’ business interests would benefit from the demolition. The journalists have stood by their story and are planning to appeal.

In Bangladesh, cartoonist Arifur Rahman was arrested in Dhaka because one of his pieces “hurt religious sentiments.” The cartoon was titled “Name” and featured a young boy who called his Mohammed. You can see the cartoon here. (Hat tip: 3rd World View).

According to Reporters Without Borders the text of the cartoon is as follows:

- Boy, what’s your name?
- My name is Babu.
- It is customary to put Mohammed in front of the name.
- What is your father’s name?
- Mohammed Abu.
- What is that on your lap?
- Mohammed cat.

The RSF statement sums it up perfectly: ‘”The play on words had no intention of attacking the Prophet,” Reporters Without Borders said “It was a joke about a cultural custom. The government should not yield to pressure from extremist leaders who are trying to politicise the case. Rahman should not be made a scapegoat. He must be freed.”‘

Update: The International Press Institute called for Rahman’s release Wednesday.

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