International Coalition of Civil Rights Groups Calls on Thomson-Reuters to Divest From India’s Islamophobic News Agency ANI
Washington, DC (August 4, 2023) — A broad coalition of over 35 civil rights and interfaith organizations in the United States, UK, Australia, Canada and India today sent a letter to Thomson-Reuters, urging the media agency to terminate its partnership and investment in the Asian News Agency (ANI) due to its Islamophobic reporting and dissemination of pro-Hindu nationalist government propaganda.
ANI is an India-based news service that relays false information, quotes non-existent sources and non-existent institutions, actively collaborates with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to relay government messaging, and shows a pattern of anti-Muslim bias in its reporting. Until December of last year, Reuters had maintained a 49% financial stake in ANI, after which they were forced to reduce their fiscal share per Indian regulations. Reuters nonetheless continues to financially support ANI and help distribute its reporting to global audiences. The coalition letter calls on Thomson-Reuters to 1) immediately divest all financial stakes in ANI, 2) refuse to facilitate ANI’s dissemination of fabricated information, and 3) publicly condemn ANI for its biased, Islamophobic reporting.
ANI’s malpractices include: promoting dangerous anti-Muslim stereotypes; relaying false rumors of Muslim culpability for spreading COVID-19, thereby abetting the broader “Corona Jihad” Hindu nationalist conspiracy theory with all its violent consequences; making extensive citations of fabricated think tanks and sources in reporting on geopolitical concerns; collaborating with Indian government personnel to make state-sponsored and state-approved media content, according to the testimony of 90 ANI personnel; and repeatedly misrepresenting BJP politicians as neutral commentators on political affairs. More recently, ANI relayed false rumors that a Muslim man was responsible for raping two women in Manipur, feeding into broader Islamophobic narratives that have motivated anti-Muslim attacks in the past. Full documentation of ANI’s concerning practices are detailed in the open letter released today.
In recognition of the real-world impact of anti-Muslim propaganda, which daily endangers countless Muslim lives in India, and in consideration of Thomson-Reuters explicitly stated commitments to “independence, integrity, and freedom from bias”, the coalition letter demands Thomson-Reuters immediately divest all stakes from ANI and promptly condemn the organization.
Reuters ANI Letter Final