Trolls attack Pak-origin US journalist for asking PM Modi about minorities’ rights

Sabrina Siddiqui asked PM Modi about his government's efforts to strengthen rights of minorities in India

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US and his meeting with US President Joe Biden, Twitterati went berserk after a Pakistan-origin US journalist, Sabrina Siddiqui, for asking ‘somewhat difficult’ questions to the Prime Minister, making him visibly uncomfortable. She was targeted online for asking questions about the rights of minorities in India to PM Modi during a press conference at the White House.

Sabrina Siddiqui, who is the great-granddaughter of renowned reformer and philosopher Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, responded to the trolls on Twitter, saying “Sometimes identities are more complicated than they appear.”

Sabrina is the White House Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. In response to the online bullying and trolls, she also posted her images wearing the Indian cricket team’s jersey and cheering for Team India during the World Cup. “Because some have chosen to highlight my personal background, it feels only right to provide a more complete picture. Identities are sometimes more complicated than they appear,” Sabrina tweeted.

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In a rare occurrence since taking over as the Prime Minister in 2014, PM Modi took questions during a joint news conference with US President Joe Biden at the White House on June 22. Sabrina Siddiqui, a Wall Street Journalist, asked him about his government’s efforts to strengthen the rights of minorities in India and to protect free speech.

“What actions are you and your government prepared to take to protect the freedom of speech while simultaneously advancing the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your nation,” she asked Modi during a joint presser along with US President Joe Biden.

“India has long prided itself as the world’s largest democracy, but there are many human rights groups who say that your government has discriminated against religious minorities and sought to silence its critics. As you stand here in the East Room of the White House, where so many world leaders have made commitments to protecting democracy, 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?”

It was a rare sight that a journalist was asking the Prime Minister of India direct questions, let alone alleging human rights violations. Modi has a reputation for staving off journalists. During his tenure as the Prime Minister, he has not held a single press conference anywhere in India.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said that the Prime Minister’s Office should find out who was trolling journalist Sabrina Siddiqui, who raised the issue of religious minorities. “Isn’t it your personal Troll Army? Would you take action against them?” Digvijaya Singh said on Twitter.

Notably, the online attacks against the journalist began after BJP’s IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya described her question as “motivated.” He said that the answers from Modi and the US President Biden were a “blow” to the “toolkit gang,” a pejorative reference to protesters who use digital tools to organise and coordinate protests.

Sabrina Siddiqui is a well-known American Muslim journalist. Before working as The Wall Street Journal’s White House reporter in Washington DC, she worked with the Guardian. She also covered the 2016 US Presidential election.

Siddiqui gained valuable experience before joining The Wall Street Journal while covering the Obama administration and Congress for The Huffington Post. She also worked as a part of Bloomberg’s White House team.

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