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Three arrested in India for online harassment of Muslim women

Pictures
of dozens of women had been used without their consent and doctored to create
an open source app called ‘Bulli Bai’ – a derogatory term to describe Muslim
women – on the GitHub platform before it was taken down.

Police
in the western city of Mumbai, which is investigating the case, said they had
arrested three people, two 21-year-old men and an 18-year-old woman.

“We
are investigating whether this was a part of a larger conspiracy,”
Mumbai’s Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale told reporters.

Among
those targeted were several Indian Muslim journalists, including Ismat Ara who
filed and then shared on social media a police complaint that said the app was
“clearly aimed at insulting Muslim women”.

Muslims
make up around 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population, and sections of
the minority community have been at odds with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
government and its Hindu right-wing supporters, including over a controversial
2019 citizenship law that triggered large-scale protests.

Media
watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described the app as “absolutely
chilling” and urged Indian authorities to take action.

“To
do nothing would be to condone an extremely violent form of harassment, a form
of intimidation that discriminates against an entire sector of the journalistic
community and exposes those targeted to potential physical attacks,” RSF’s
Daniel Bastard said.

The
GitHub platform shut down a similar app last year that had used pictures of
Indian Muslim women.

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