Global press bodies call out online abuse against Rana Ayyub

Several global press bodies including CPJ, RSF and IPI urged Indian government to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into threats made to journalist Rana Ayyub.

Rana Ayyub, who has long been a victim of online trolling and threats by Hindutva groups, began receiving an onslaught of threats on Twitter after she tweeted her criticism of the Saudi Arabia government’s role in the ongoing Yemen war on 22 January.

Since then, Rana Ayyub, award-winning journalist, has received more than 30,000 tweets in response, including many rape and death threats, from social media users who posted in support of the Saudi government and India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which she has criticized in recent columns in The Washington Post.

“No journalist should have to suffer the intense online harassment and threats repeatedly directed against Rana Ayyub,” said Steven Butler, Committee to Protect Journalists’s Asia program coordinator.

“Indian authorities must take action against anyone who has threatened violence against Ayyub and ensure her safety,” Butler said.

International Women’s Media Federation also said that the organisation stands in solidarity with Ayyub and condemns the online volence against her.

“Rana continues to be the target of misinformation campaigns and harassment, appearing on three One Free Press lists of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth,” IWMF said.

Rana Ayyub is being the target of a 2-front cyber harrassment campaign orchestrated by both India’s right-wing and Saudi Arabia nationalist trolls, Reporters Without Borders said.

RSF also asked to Twitter India to end this harassment.

International Press Institute which stands in solidarity with Rana Ayyub, said “online harassment of women, especially women journalists and activists, is one of the scourges of our time.”

“We won’t remain silent and call on authorities in India to fully investigate if this is a coordinated attempt to discredit her,” IPI said.

Coalition for Women in Journalism demanded swift action against the perpetrators of the renewed hate campaign against Rana Ayyub.

Rana Ayyub, according to CFWIJ, continues to face online harassment and misinformation campaigns that endanger her life for speaking truth to power.

Free Press Unlimited also said the organisation stands in solidarity with Rana Ayyub who is once again facing severe online harassment regarding a tweet she posted.

“Online violence and intimidation is prevailing all over the world. We condemn such organized trolling and online abuse of journalists and call on the Indian authorities to investigate the issue,” Free Press Unlimited.

Condemning the relentless online abuse against Ayyub, PEN America said: “Rana is being deliberately targeted by a coordinated harassment and disinformation campaign, but she refuses to be silenced.”

Article 19, another rights group, also condemned the vicious attack against Ayyub.

“We condemn the online attacks and threats against journalists and Human Rights Defenders for pursuing the truth. Article 19 stands in solidarity with Rana Ayyub and urges authorities to investigate threats on journalists as a priority for safeguarding freedom of expression,” Article 19 said.

On Wednesday, the news website Scoop Beats published a video that included a doctored photo of a tweet purportedly by Rana Ayyub, saying, “I hate India and I hate Indians,” according to the journalist and a screenshot of the video. Scoop Beets later took down that video, but Ayyub said that the threats against her increased after it was published.

Ayyub filed a complaint to the Mumbai police against Scoop Beats.