Riz Ahmed and Jameela Jamil pull out of Gates event honouring India's Narendra Modi
By Barfi Culture Team
17th September 2019

British actors Riz Ahmed and Jameela Jamil have pulled out of a controversial event by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation honouring India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The event was being organised to honour Modi for the PM's Clean India Mission ('Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan') initiative. A statement by the Foundation merely said: "Jameela Jamil and Riz Ahmed are no longer participating in Goalkeepers [event]."

In an editorial for the Washington Post last week, lawyers Suchitra Vijayan and Arjun Singh Sethi said the Gates Foundation was wrong in awarding the Indian PM.

They wrote: "While public health is undoubtedly a priority in India and around the world, such an honor would come as his Hindu nationalist party has incited violence against minorities, silenced dissent and curtailed freedom of expression. In light of Modi’s record, including promoting repressive policies in the past month in Kashmir and the northeastern state of Assam, he should not be given the award."

They point that until 2014, Narendra Modi was the only person ever to be banned from the US under the International Religious Freedom Act over his role in the anti-Muslim pogroms of 2002 in Gujarat.

Earlier a group of South Asian activists based in the US also published an open letter urging the Gates Foundation to rescind the award.

Neither actor has released a statement in response, but Jameela Jamil said on Twitter she rarely spoke out publicly about politics as it only invited rape and death threats.

The story was first reported by reporter Azad Essa.

The Gates Foundation said in a statement it respected the views of critics but Modi would receive its annual Goalkeepers Global Goals Award for providing safer sanitation for millions of people in India.

The event will take place on September 24th and 25th. India's PM is planning to attend to receive the award.

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