Forced into a burqa, separated from kids: Mumbai Urdu editor pays for Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Even as debate continues over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, a former female editor of a Urdu daily Avadhnama, finds herself in the middle of legal trouble and facing threats to her life for printing these cartoons.

FP Staff February 03, 2015 14:29:15 IST
Forced into a burqa, separated from kids: Mumbai Urdu editor pays for Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Even as debate continues over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, a former female editor of a Urdu daily Avadhnama, finds herself in the middle of legal trouble and facing threats to her life after she made a decision to publish some of them in the wake of the attack on the Paris newspaper.

According to an IANS report, Shirin Dalvi, the editor of Avadhnama, was arrested by Mumbra Police on Wednesday and produced before a magistrate who granted her bail. "She was arrested on charges pertaining to hurting religious sentiments and related issues by reprinting a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed," an police official said.

In its 17 January issue, the Mumbai edition of the Avadhnama had published the same cartoon which had resulted in the attack on the offices of 'Charlie Hebdo'. A local citizen, identified as Nusrat Ali complained to the Mumbra Police against the Urdu tabloid, contending that it hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslim community and could create hatred among communities.

Soon after the complaint in Thane and similar complaints in Mumbai by various individuals, the Mumbra police investigated the matter and arrested Dalvi. According to an Indian Express report, she now has six FIRs against her and  lives in so much terror that she has been forced to wear a burqa at all times. She never wore the veil before this.

Dalai told the paper, "Facing the community again has become a great concern for me as there is still a lot of unrest. I have avoided showing my face in Muslim-populated pockets. I have not gone back to my house (in Mumbra) since the protest started." She also says that she has been unable to meet her children, since the controversy broke out. Her kids are now staying with relatives.

Forced into a burqa separated from kids Mumbai Urdu editor pays for Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Representational image. Agencies

Dalvi has also received threats on her mobile. “My children have my old phone and they told me that someone has been sending messages through WhatsApp, saying “Maafi nahin milegi (You won’t get forgiveness),” she said.

Avadhnama is published from Lucknow, Faizabad, Aligarh, Azamgarh and Saharanpur, and the Mumbai edition was launched around a year ago. Now the owners have issued a statement saying the parent organisation has nothing to do with the Mumbai edition.

According to the IE report, in a statement on behalf of Taqdees Fatima, owner of the Avadhnama title, Waqar Rizvi said Fatima had no links with the Mumbai edition which was run by a separate entity. Interestingly a day after the Mumbai edition published the photos, all its staff including Dalvi were sacked.

Following the outrage, Dalvi admitted to the "mistake" and tendered an unconditional apology through the columns of her newspaper, but it was not accepted by the community at large.

Dalvi however says she's being singled out because she's a woman editor. She told Indian Express, “When organisations such as Raza Academy and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind were satisfied with my apology, I do not understand why these letterhead organisations are hounding me. Their only agenda is to harass a woman editor.”

She also pointed out that hers was not the only organisation in India to publish the pictures but they were the only ones targeted with FIRs. While some of her colleagues told IE that Dalvi published the photos to get "publicity," she has denied the charge.

The Charlie Hebdo cartoons, which mocked Muhammed have generated controversy ever since the attack on the magazine office that left most of the staff dead. While most in the Muslim world see the cartoons are offensive (given that it is forbidden to represent Muhammad and the Charlie Hebdo relied on crude depictions of the Prophet), others say that the right to free speech includes the right to offend as well.

In India, however as we've seen even with the recent FIR against AIB, the right to feel offended takes precedence over freedom of speech. However in Dalvi's case, she is right to point out that she is being singled out given that hers was not the only publication in India that printed the cartoons.

With inputs from IANS

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