The Al Jazeera Media Network condemned the death threats and harassment faced by Indian journalist Raqib Hameed Naik on social media. Naik received the threats after his on the alleged misuse of Covid relief funds in the United States by five organisations having "ties to Hindu supremacist and religious groups".
In a , the media house said Naik has "already reported death threats to US law enforcement agencies but he continues to face online harassment from individuals and groups for merely doing his work". The statement said the network "stands by Naik’s impeccable journalism and supports his professional contribution".
Naik's report, published on April 2, said that over Rs 6.10 crore worth of federal Covid relief funds under three programmes were given to five Hindutva organisations in the US: the Hindu American Foundation, Vishwa Hindu Parishad America, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, Infinity Foundation, and Sewa International. All five organisations have “existential links” with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the “fountainhead of Hindu supremacist ideology”.
The report quoted Sunita Viswanath, cofounder of the US-based Hindus for Human Rights, as saying that the five organisations could use the funds to further a "hate campaign" against Muslims and other minorities in India.
The Hindu American Foundation filed a defamation suit against Naik and others quoted in the reports, including Viswanath, naming the journalist as one of the non-party co-conspirators. Naik called the lawsuit an attempt to “intimidate and silence” him and other activists.
SLAPP lawsuits, or Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation suits, are used by powerful people and companies to silence critics. The intent is to force individuals to back off, shut up, and/or apologise, and the method is usually through litigations alleging defamation.