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18 Apr, 2024 13:59

Australian tourist detained in India for tearing down pro-Palestine posters

A video of a Jewish woman arguing with Indians over anti-Israeli ‘propaganda’ has gone viral
Australian tourist detained in India for tearing down pro-Palestine posters

A Jewish woman from Australia was taken into police custody in the state of Kerala in southern India for tearing down posters supporting Palestine, Indian media have reported.

A video of a heated exchange between a woman and the locals, who questioned her move, has gone viral on social media. In the footage, the woman can be heard claiming that the posters promoted “racism and propaganda.” The scene took place in the city of Kochi, known, among other things, as home to the oldest group of Jews in India, although just a handful of them remain.

After a brief investigation, the woman was tried in court in the Thoppumpady ward of Kochi, according to the New Indian Express. Her friend was not arrested, as her involvement could not be established. Meanwhile, two officials from the Australian embassy have reached out to help with the legal procedures, according to Indian media outlets.

The tourist has been charged under section 153 (provoking riots) of the Indian Panel Code (IPC), which is a bailable offence, at the Fort Kochi Police Station.

According to reports, the posters were installed by the Students’ Islamic Organization of India (SIO), the student wing of the socio-religious group Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. The students who put up the posters argued that they were “not promoting any enmity between religions or sects” and only sought to draw attention to the ongoing suffering of Palestinians.

A police complaint filed by the SIO notes that the banners showed pictures of a child standing in front of a battle tank along with a description reading “silence is violence, stand up for humanity.” After West Jerusalem launched its offensive in Gaza in retaliation for the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks on Israel, the organization’s president Syed Sadatullah Husani claimed that Palestine is the “most oppressed country in the world” and argued that support for Palestine is in India’s “best interests.”

New Delhi has on many occasions called for a diplomatic resolution of the decades-old conflict, which would entail a two-state approach, and has expressed concerns over the loss of civilian lives in Gaza. New Delhi has also cautioned against a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Israel's response to October 7 attack by Hamas, the Gaza-based militant Palestinian group, killing over 1,100 Israelis and taking over 200 hostage, has turned much of the enclave into rubble and claimed the lives of over 33,000 Palestinians over the past six months, according to local authorities.

Most recently, after Iran launched a strike against Israel last week in retaliation for the attack on its embassy in Damascus, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar called on his counterparts in both West Jerusalem and Tehran, asking them to “work towards a peaceful resolution.”

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