Drop ‘trumped-up charges’ against Munawar Faruqui and other accused, say over 100 artists, writers

Original article here. Some excerpts below:

Diasporic Indian organisations, Indian and international stand-up comics, along with filmmakers, artists, and writers have issued a statement calling for the full dismissal of all charges against comedian Munawar Faruqui and five others arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. They said the case reinforces deep concerns around the rights to liberty and freedom of speech in India.

The 100 plus signatories include writer Arundhati Roy, actors Swara Bhaskar, Pooja Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Shonali Bose and documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, as well as Indian stand-up comedians Kunal Kamra, Sanjay Rajoura, among others. International signatories include United States-based authors Amitava Kumar and Tanya Selvaratnam, Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and British architect Sofia Karim…

“We call for the dropping or dismissal of these trumped-up charges for all six individuals,” the statement said.

Faruqui’s case, the statement said, showed that institutions of a “changing India” appear to be colluding to give out a message that humour threatens the powerful. “And humour by a Muslim man in India will not be tolerated by Hindu supremacists,” it said.

Meanwhile, Director of PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection Julie Trébault, said the arrest of Faruqui, his friends and associates was nothing short of a violation of their fundamental right to free speech and expression. “We condemn the arbitrary arrests of these artists and call for their immediate release, as well as dropping all charges that have been made against them,” Trébault said.

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