Arnab Goswami’s channel Republic may have come under attack on several occasions for its editorial decisions, but the channel acted with dignity on Saturday when it quickly apologised for wrongly calling a noted Muslim scholar a terrorist. In contrast, Mukesh Ambani’s CNN-NEWS18 has chosen to issue an extraordinary clarification in response to allegations of blasphemy by Muslim groups.
CNN-NEWS18 had broadcast a programme on 1 March, claiming to unearth the properties belonging to Jaish chief Masood Azhar. During the programme, the channel flashed images of what it said were Jaish’s terror factory. However, images being branded as ‘terror factory’ also included three of Islam’s holiest mosques, namely Mecca, Madina and Al-Aqsa. This has angered several Muslim groups with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board terming the broadcast ‘mischief.’
Posting its letter on Twitter, the AIMPLB had said, “We strongly condemn @republic channel for falsely accusing Ml Jalaluddin Umri, the vice president of @AIMPLB_Official, of being a terrorist. We also condemn @CNNnews18. It has committed blasphemy against Madjids in Mecca, Madina and Quds. Both channels must apologize.”
The news also evoked angry reactions with many accusing the channel owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Group of deliberately insulting Islam to provoke Muslims just before the elections.
Disgusting ! Targetting a place of faith to get TRPs and political agenda ! What if someone had targetted our temples in this manner ??? Think ! This is very very dangerous ! pic.twitter.com/wFl1JauiVP
— tn00x (@tn00x) March 4, 2019
They are trying to provoke the muslim community to help modi in elections.They should apologize to the people for spreading hate among people people, creating a divide between communities. And the biggest of them all, crimes against humanity and put them in jail.
— Raj Chatterjee (@demiguise77) March 4, 2019
It's clear provocation. They tried everything and Indians are not that easy to be fooled this time and now these bigots trying to play religious politics. I am just praying BJP loses and these medias brought back to terms.
— Aleem علیم 🇮🇳 (@aleem_rahman) March 4, 2019
Cases should be filed against @Zakka_Jacob @bhupendrachaube Mukesh Ambani for sedition and creating communal rift in the country and working as Pakistani agents to further their agenda of creating discord amongst communities in India. Their broadcast license need to be revoked
— RF (@REF787) March 4, 2019
I strongly condemned @CNNnews18 @republic must apologize immediately rest protest will begin around the world not only in India …shame @PMOIndia will you shut off such channel who intentionally hurting sentiments of people …shame
— Proud To Be Indian پراؤڈ ٹو بی انڈین🇮🇳🇮🇳 (@tanzebk777) March 4, 2019
Mecca and Madina and alaqsa most important for us if they r playing with this we r not accept 😡
— Amjad Khan امجد خان (@Amjad84038532) March 4, 2019
The statement by CNN-News18 defended its decision to broadcast the three most revered mosques for Muslims under the ‘JeM terror factory’ headline. It said that any criticism should be directed at the JeM since the channel had sourced the images from the terror outfit’s propaganda video.
It said, “The footage used in our broadcast is clearly watermarked with a JeM logo and was clearly referred to as a propaganda video. The use of the video has drawn ire from certain quarters. But given the context it was used, any religious offence and outrage should be directed at the JeM.”
Clarification on a story aired by CNN-NEWS18. pic.twitter.com/NczqaMkCSq
— News18 (@CNNnews18) March 4, 2019
Contrary to the claims made by CNN-News18, the images of the Holy mosques of Mecca, Madina and Al-Aqsa were clearly watermarked with ‘CNN-News18 EXCLUSIVE’ followed by JeM terror factory in Bahawalpur. At no point did the channel clearly state that the images of the Holy mosques were part of the JeM ‘propaganda video’, as now claimed by the TV channel.