Media’s Selective Outrage On Munawar Faruqui And The Resulting Radicalisation Of Sharjeel Usmani
For all the media propaganda around Faruqui’s Muslim identity being the reason behind his arrest and rejection of bail, he happens to be the only free man in the case as of today. Five others are still in jail.
Perhaps nothing confirms the so-called left-liberal media’s agenda of spreading the false Muslim persecution narrative in India than the coverage of the recent ‘blasphemy’ case against Munawar Faruqui.
The stand-up comic was released last night (6 February) following an ad-interim bail from the Supreme Court (SC), after spending about a month in jail.
This follows a series of reports and editorials in the media decrying Faruqui’s arrest. Most such articles cited Faruqui’s Muslim identity to say that he was being victimised for his religion.
Now that Faruqui is out of jail, editorials are being written in national dailies that it has come too late.
What’s essentially a debate on the existence of blasphemy laws in India has been spun into an issue of imagined Muslim persecution.
To force this narrative, the media has repeatedly ignored the glaring fact that along with Faruqui, four non-Muslims were arrested.
For all the media propaganda around Faruqui’s Muslim identity being the reason behind his arrest and rejection of bail, Faruqui happens to be the only free man in the case as of today.
All other men booked in the same case continue to be in jail.
Facts of the case in brief:
On 1 January 2021, an FIR (number 2/2021) was registered at Tukoganj police station in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore on a complaint by one Eklavya Singh Gaud.
As per the complaint, participants of a stand-up comedy show at Munro Café were cracking indecent jokes on Hindu religious gods and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The police booked Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas, Nalin Yadav and Munawar Faruqui under IPC sections 295A, 298, 269, and 188/34.
Apart from Sadakat, all suspects were arrested on the same day.
The next day, a bail application filed by all of them under Section 437 of the CrPC was rejected by the magistrate.
On 5 January, the Sessions court rejected the bail applications filed by Faruqui and Yadav.
Faruqui and Yadav then moved the Madhya Pradesh (MP) High Court.
On 28 January, the court rejected the bail pleas, stating that there is a constitutional duty on every citizen and the state to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood irrespective of religious, linguistic, sectional, and regional diversities.
Faruqui subsequently moved the apex court.
On 5 January, the SC granted ad-interim bail to Faruqui, observing that the law laid down by the top court in its 2014 judgment in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar was not followed and the procedure under Section 41 of CrPC (arrest without warrant) was not complied with.
Radicalisation by left-wing media
All along, the media has been talking about Faruqui alone.
Here is a look at some of the reports and editorials in prominent publications.
Editorials in prominent publications criticising the MP High Court order mentioned only Faruqui:
- When the MP High Court rejected the bail plea by Munawar Faruqui and Nalin Yadav, the English daily Hindustan Times criticised the order by naming only Faruqui. ‘Why Munawar Faruqui matters’, the headline of the edit piece said.
- The same was repeated by Indian Express in its editorial, which, again, criticised the MP High Court order. ‘A big step back,’ said the editorial, which named only Faruqui in the text.
- The same was repeated in a short editorial by the digital publication The Print, owned by former editor of Indian Express Shekhar Gupta. ‘Denial of bail to comic Munawar Faruqui is Orwellian’, the headline of the edit piece said.
Before these editorials, the headlines and text within reports had named Faruqui alone:
- Indian Express, 28 January: Comedian Munawar Faruqui’s bail plea rejected by Madhya Pradesh HC
- The Times of India, 28 January: High court rejects jailed comic Munawar Faruqui's bail plea
Several articles in digital media singled out Faruqui to paint it as a case of Muslim victimisation.
- The Print: Munawar Faruqui no hardened criminal. Denying him bail is to keep Muslims in line
- News18: A Look at Arrested Comedian Munawar Faruqui's Tryst with Satire: Partition, Gujarat, Muslim Stereotypes
- Indian Express, 8 January: The arrest of stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui should worry us all
- The Leaflet, 9 January: Munawar Faruqui: Real Villain is Divisive Heartland Politics, Not Stand-up Comics
Taking a cue, global publications reported the case as one of a Muslim comic being in jail.
- Aljazeera, 26 January: Indian Muslim comic in jail for weeks for jokes he did not tell
- Daily Sabah, 26 January: Indian police jail Muslim comedian for jokes he did not tell
- Deutsche Welle: Muslim comedian detained over anti-Hindu jokes he might crack
What explains the media singling out Faruqui for “victimisation”?
Well, it is in line with the long-held tradition in left-wing media of pushing a perpetual Muslim victimhood narrative. This is despite the fact that the false narrative is evidently radicalising Muslim youths.
For this, we do not need to go any further than the recent hate speech made by controversial ‘student activist’ Sharjeel Usmani at Pune’s Elgar Parishad 2021.
In his speech, Usmani repeated the media-fed propaganda that Faruqui was arrested and had been denied bail for being a Muslim, to announce his loss of trust in the “Indian state“ and declare war.
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