Indian American Muslims Raise Voice Against Delhi’s Move to Censor Internet

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talking about Internet freedom

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Washington, DC – Indian American Muslims reacted with dismay at the Indian government’s move to block certain websites and called upon the government to remove the blocks, while urging New Delhi to adopt an even-handed, fair, and transparent approach in regulating the internet.

Reacting to the directive from India’s Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to block access to certain pages from (TCN), Shaheen Khateeb, President of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), said, “If there are legitimate concerns about any content adversely impacting communal harmony, these need to be taken up with the news portal before an arbitrary decision is made to block the pages.”

Kashif-ul-Huda of, in an email to India America Today regarding the blocks said, “The (Indian) government has never contacted us to inform us about the blocks. The two pages that have been blocked have nothing to do with Assam or Myanmar.”

Agreeing that, “hate-speech should be controlled, he argued, “but there should be transparency of the process and an appeal mechanism so legitimate voices do not get censored.”

“Using the violence in Assam and the panic in parts of the country in the aftermath as an excuse to stifle legitimate press coverage of other issues is unacceptable,” said Manzoor Ghori, Executive Director of Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC).

Adding their voice to the protest, Tajuddin Ahmed, president of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI), said, “Any arbitrary decisions blocking access to credible news sources like TwoCircles.Net is bound to scuttle the freedoms guaranteed by the Indian constitution.”

The United States last month urged the Indian Government to respect freedom of expression in the cyber world.

Answering questions on New Delhi’s alleged threats of censorship toward US companies, including Twitter, Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson for the US Department of State, said, “We’ve said all along, and as we said publicly here, as the Indian government seeks to preserve security, we are urging them also to take into account the importance of freedom of expression in the online world.”

On the broad guidelines Washington expects New Delhi to follow, Nuland said, “The general principle of respect for freedom of expression, respect for the unique characteristics of the online environment, needs to be respected even as they work through whether there are things these companies can do to help calm the environment.”

Commenting on India’s threats to “restrict or nationalize the internet,” Nuland said, “We also would always have concerns about incitement and hate speech and this kind of thing. So it’s always a balance, but in general, we want to see a free and open internet and we want to see our companies have a good dialogue with the governments.”

The Indian government is blaming US-based Internet sites like Facebook and Twitter for the exodus of tens of thousand of Indians belonging to north eastern states, after rumors spread across India that Muslims in Bangalore and other southern cities would attack migrants. (IATNS)

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