CFI-India Representative Arrested for “Hurting the Sentiments of Muslims”

March 15, 2010

Last month Dr. Innaiah Narisetti, CFI's Representative in India, was arrested for "hurting the sentiments of Muslims."  His alleged crime?  Distribution of a book titled "Crescent Over the World," a collection of works by Salman Rushdie, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, and a cartoon of Mohammad from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.  Dr. Narisetti was reportedly taken into custody at his home on February 26 after Muslim legislators raised questions in the Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh State and Chief Minister Konijeti Rosaiah promised to take action.  Dr. Narisetti was among several individuals arrested in connection with the book.  He has since been released on bail, but will face court hearings in the near future.  Read more about Dr. Narisetti's case in the Wall Street Journal's March 11 article .

These alarming developments are the latest in a series of attacks on freedom of expression in the name of protecting religion.  The Center for Inquiry's international representatives have drafted the statement below in support of Dr. Narisetti.  CFI intends to lobby the appropriate officials within India and at Indian embassies. We will continue to monitor Dr. Narisetti's case, and will post updates here.

The Center for Inquiry and its branches around the world strongly protest the treatment of our colleague, Dr. Innaiah Narisetti, a volunteer representative for CFI in India.

Based on information from Dr. Narisetti, it appears that the Indian police searched his home and arrested him in connection with the publication of a book critical of Islam. Dr. Narisetti maintains that the police filed false reports against him, that the police lacked a search warrant and an arrest warrant, and that he neither wrote nor published the book in question.

We appeal to the Indian government officials to put an end to these apparent efforts of intimidation and censorship. They can begin by providing legal and personal protection to Dr. Narisetti, and dismiss all legal charges against him and any others connected with this case.

We condemn anti-blasphemy laws and the direct threat they pose to the guarantees of freedom of speech and belief found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also urge the international community to condemn this apparent perversion of the Indian legal system, which makes a mockery of the concept of the just state and its responsibility to its citizens.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation in India and the protection and safety of Dr. Innaiah Narisetti and the right of freedom of expression.

Signed

Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry
Derek C. Araujo, Vice President and General Counsel

Dr. Paul Kurtz, Founder of CFI and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy,
State University of Buffalo, N.Y.

Fundatia Centrul pentru Constiinta Critica
CFI Romania
J. Beth Ciesielski and Dr. Gabriel Andreescu

Ian Figueroa Baltazar
CFI Philippines

Dr. Jugal Kishore
CFI New Delhi, India

Professor Nadel Niang
CFI Senegal, West Africa

Armedeo Sarma
CFI Germany, GWUP German (Skeptics),
ECSO European Skeptics Organization

Andrzej Dominiczak
CFI Poland

Hugo Estrella
CFI Italy

Floris van den Berg and Annemarieke Otten,
CFI Low Countries, Netherlands

Stephen Law
London

Suresh Lalvani
London

Comments:

#1 oldebabe (Guest) on Monday March 15, 2010 at 9:46am

What’s surprising to me here is that this occurred in India, where they have such a plethora of gods, semi gods, etc. and things to worship.

These kinds of bizarre responses from one religious entity, expected to be accepted by all,  to perceived slights continues to be mind-boggling to me. 

What can be the fear that many Muslims/Islamists have about any critique or discussion by others of their religion?  Why do they expect, demand, more `respect’ than others (and which more and more seems to be given, at least from what I read in the media)and constantly find something to be discontented and insulted, and angry about? Do they not understand how `off the wall’ it makes them sound?  or is that what being a `fanatic’ is?

Looking forward to hearing more re: from CFI

#2 Chris (Guest) on Monday March 15, 2010 at 10:28am

That aspect is not surprising at all…  Some elements of the Islamic faith have responded VERY vehemently against any criticism.  The religious dynamic of India has been slowly shifting over time.  As the Muslim population grows, the elected representatives feel they need to stand up for the feelings and pride of a few of their more vociferous constituents rather than actually standing up for what is right (namely freedom of speech).  We tend to think of India as a very modern nation, but lets not forget that they are struggling, both culturally and socially, to transition from a 3rd world country to a 1st world power.  And they are still fairly early in the process.  They have taken something of a backwards route than much of the Western world did.  We had democracy, (more or less) secularism and established human rights before advanced technology… They acquired the technology first and are still working on the others.

#3 Historyscoper on Monday March 15, 2010 at 10:41am

How did Islam get so intolerant and violent? How deep does the rabbit hole go? Is there any way to reform it? Find out for yourself by studying Islam’s history in gory detail free with the Historyscoper at http://go.to/islamhistory

#4 gray1 on Wednesday March 17, 2010 at 9:33am

It seems there exists some lack of true faith in the supernatural power of Holy God’s own words alone to prevail over the merely ignorant words of some Godless unbelievers.  Isn’t their burning in hell quite enough?

#5 Marian Hennings (Guest) on Friday March 19, 2010 at 2:49pm

Are religious people spoiled toddlers who cannot handle criticism of their beliefs?

#6 Ophelia Benson on Friday March 19, 2010 at 4:18pm

Ohh, that’s appalling.

And how odd that people are happy to be spoken of as if they were spoiled babies. “Hurting the sentiments of Muslims” - such a childish notion of a crime.

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