Jailed for jokes he didn’t make

An Indian comedian has been put in prison for an ‘offensive’ standup routine he never performed.

spiked

Share
Topics Free Speech Politics World

An Indian comedian has been put in prison for an ‘offensive’ stand-up routine that he did not even perform.

Munawar Faruqui was accused of insulting Hindu gods and members of the Indian government with ‘indecent’ and ‘vulgar’ comments at a gig on 1 January.

But witnesses say he did not get to perform that night. Police have even admitted there is no evidence for the accusation. Apparently, the accuser – the son of a politician from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – overheard some jokes Faruqui was preparing for his performance.

Faruqui and four others (including another comic) were arrested and charged with upsetting religious sentiments and – in reference to Covid – performing a ‘negligent act likely to spread infection of diseases dangerous to life’.

Despite not actually performing at the gig, Faruqui remains in jail. And police superintendent Vijay Khatri has – incredibly – said it ‘doesn’t really matter’ whether or not Faruqui made the comments, because he is guilty of ‘intent’.

Authoritarians around the world have always used subjective and nebulous concepts like ‘offence’, ‘harm’ and ‘hate’ to crack down on their critics. But it is even more absurd when the target of censorship never said the thing he is accused of saying. Censorship is no laughing matter.

spiked is free, and it always will be, which is why we need your help. We don’t have a paywall, or bonus content for paying customers, because we want our arguments for freedom and democracy, against misanthropy and identity politics, to reach as many people as possible. Which is why we ask those of our readers who can afford it to chip in. One-off donations are hugely appreciated, but monthly donations are even better. They allow us to plan for the future and to grow. Even £5 a month is a huge help. It’s much cheaper than your average magazine subscription, and it ensures that spiked is free and open to all. To make either a monthly or a one-off donation, click here. Thank you for your support.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Share