Pro-Hindutva social media users directed online attacks towards Sabrina Siddiqui, The Wall Street Journal's White House correspondent, following her question to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the reported marginalisation of Muslims in India during his recent press conference.
As a result of these attacks, Siddiqui felt compelled to share photos of herself expressing support for the Indian cricket team in the past. Siddiqui took to Twitter to give "fuller picture" after her trolling.
WSJ journalist trolled online
Amit Malviya, the chief of the information department for the Bhartiya Janata Party, characterised Siddiqui's question as "motivated".
"Prime Minister Modi completely destroyed the motivated question on steps being taken to ‘protect’ rights of Muslims and other minorities. In his response he didn’t mention Muslims or any other denomination, spoke about Constitution, access to Govt resources based on eligibility and no discrimination based on caste, creed, religion or geography… After President Biden’s cold response to a similar question, this was another blow to the toolkit gang," he said.
Siddiqui was labeled an "Islamist" by Twitter accounts recognised for sharing pro-Bharatiya Janata Party and pro-Hindutva content, highlighting her Muslim background as the basis for their claims.
After raising the issue regarding Indian Muslims, Siddiqui faced accusations from certain social media users who alleged that she had a hidden agenda and insinuated that she was acting under the influence of Pakistan. These users went as far as uncovering an Instagram post from eight years ago in which Siddiqui had shared a picture of the Pakistani flag along with a request for prayers for Pakistan.
OpIndia, a prominent pro-BJP website, published an article targeting Siddiqui, referring to her as "the daughter of Pakistani parents" and criticising her for allegedly supporting the views of "Islamists".
Sabrina responds to trolling
As a result of these attacks, Siddiqui felt compelled to clarify that she had cheered for the Indian cricket team alongside her father.
"Since some have chosen to make a point of my personal background, it feels only right to provide a fuller picture. Sometimes identities are more complex than they seem," Sabrina wrote on Twitter, while attaching pictures of her celebrating India's 2011 cricket world cup victory along with her father and she herself donning the jersey of the Indian cricket team.
Siddiqui's question to PM Modi at press conference
Siddiqui's inquiry directed towards the Indian Prime Minister marked a rare occurrence where PM Modi entertained a journalist's question during a press conference throughout his nine-year tenure as the Prime Minister.
Siddique highlighted that multiple human rights organisations have made accusations against the Modi government, claiming discrimination against religious minorities and efforts to suppress dissenting voices.
In reaction, PM Modi defended the secular foundations of Indian democracy. “There is absolutely no space for discrimination...And when you talk of democracy, if there are no human values and there is no humanity, there are no human rights, then it’s not a democracy,” the Prime Minister said.