Mumbai Editor Arrested for Publishing Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Charlie Hebdo 1/14
Charlie Hebdo/Liberation

Authorities in Mumbai, India, arrested Shirin Dalvi, editor of the Uru Daily Avadhnama newspaper, for printing a cartoon from Charlie Hebdo. It appeared on the front page of the January 17 edition. Residents in Mumbra in Thane complained to the police about the cartoon.

Police justified the arrest “under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which bans malicious and deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings.” The cartoon in question was used on the cover of the latest Charlie Hebdo issue, depicting a weeping Mohammed holding a sign that says “Je suis Charlie.”

“She was arrested by us, produced in the court and granted bail,” said SM Mundhe, a senior police inspector. “We are investigating the matter.”

Since the incident, Dalvi remains away from her home and her children are living with relatives.

“I have not seen my daughter in the last 10 days,” she said. “My children’s books and uniforms are at home and they have not been attending college. I am staying with a friend.”

She apologized for “any hurt the image might have caused to the readers.” However, she lost her job since the Mumbai’s branch of the newspaper closed on January 19. She received the job only in July.

“We juxtaposed it with news of the Pope’s statement where he criticized the Prophet cartoons and said freedom of expression was not absolute and religious beliefs should not be mocked in the name of this freedom,” she explained when media asked why she published the cartoon. “Apart from a front page apology, I also wrote an editorial clarifying that my love and respect for the Prophet is next to none. Yet I am being harassed.”

Editors at other branches and publications defended Dalvi.

“I have known Shirin for long and can say confidently that she didn’t do it to hurt religious sentiments or to get cheap publicity,” said Sarfraz Arzoo, editor of Hindustan, where Dalvi once worked. “After she has apologized, the issue should close and the witch-hunting should stop.”


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