Muslim man arrested over FB post in support of Palestine

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Azamgarh: A Muslim man was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police over a social media post, in which he allegedly appealed to hoist the Palestinian flag on homes and vehicles in a show of solidarity against the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Earlier, police arrested 21 people in Kashmir for expressing solidarity with Palestine and protesting against Israel’s bombardment in Gaza Strip.

According to Al Jazeera, Azamgarh district’s senior superintendent of police (SSP), Sudhir Kumar Singh said they have arrested the man after he posted a message on his Facebook page, calling residents in his Saraimeer village to display the flag after the congregational prayers on Friday.

 He has been identified as Yasir Akhtar.

“This is a congested area and multiple Muslim sects live here. Making a mass appeal post prayers could have resulted in violence,” the SSP said, adding that if Yasir wanted to hoist a flag, he could have but calling others is not right.

“Many people opposed to it, so we had to take action,” he said.

Yasir’s brother Muhammad Shadab told Al Jazeera that his brother has copied the solidarity message and posted it on his Facebook page.

“He had corrected himself in a second post that it was not meant for people in India, but that he had copied (the message). It was in Gaza where people were asked to hoist the flags,” Shadab said.

“But if Muslims anywhere are suffering, I believe it is not wrong to support them and speak against injustice,” he added. 

Shadab said that the family will try to secure bail for 34-year-old Yasir, who has three children and runs a footwear business in Azamgarh. 

Yasir’s lawyer was quoted by Al-Jazeera saying that the charges are not severe, and Yasir can be bailed out. 

“Although what he did was not illegal, but then you are in Uttar Pradesh,” the lawyer said and labeled the charges as “political”.

More than 230 Palestinians, including at least 65 children, were killed in 11 days of war as Israeli forces relentlessly bombed the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. 12 people died on the Israeli side. A ceasefire was declared early on Friday.