White House: Online harassment of journalist who questioned Modi ‘unacceptable’

Press secretary Jean-Pierre said the US was committed to the freedom of the press, which is why the joint press conference was held

Kimberly Rodrigues

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 22: U.S. President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold a joint press conference at the White House on June 22, 2023 in Washington, DC. Biden is hosting Prime Minister Modi for his first official state visit. Modi will later address a joint meeting of Congress before a state dinner at the White House tonight. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The harassment of a US journalist on social media for asking prime minister Narendra Modi a question at his joint press conference in Washington with President Joe Biden has been strongly condemned by the White House, which deemed it “totally unacceptable.”

During the press conference, Sabrina Siddiqui, a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, raised concerns about the rights of minorities in India and inquired about the measures the government was willing to undertake to improve those rights and uphold freedom of speech.

A day after the joint press conference, the reporter faced online abuse for questioning the prime minister, with some alleging that her question was “motivated” and calling her a “Pakistani Islamist”.

“We’re aware of the reports of that harassment. It’s unacceptable. And we absolutely condemn any harassment of journalists anywhere under any circumstances. That’s completely unacceptable. And it’s antithetical to the very principles of democracy that were on display last week during the state visit,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters on Monday (26) in response to a question.

In response to Siddiqui’s question, Modi had strongly defended India’s record on democracy and his government’s performance and human rights, saying that the basic foundation stone of his government has been ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas’, which means together for everyone’s growth, with everyone’s trust.

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