The White House Journalists’ Association has backed a journalist who became a victim of online hate after asking Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “In a democracy, journalists shouldn’t be targeted just because they’re doing their job and asking questions that need to be asked,” said the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), a coalition of journalists working on the white report house.

Modi was received by US President Joe Biden as a state guest in the White House last week. During a press appearance, Wall Street Journal journalist Sabrina Siddiqui asked Modi what measures he was taking to protect minorities and uphold freedom of expression. Modi said there was “absolutely no room” for discrimination in India and defended his government. The prime minister rarely speaks to the media. It almost never happens that he answers questions at a press conference.

Modi of the Hindu nationalist BJP has been the country’s prime minister since 2014. During his tenure, India fell several places in rankings for democracy and freedom of the press. Critics complain that religious minorities are discriminated against in the predominantly Hindu country and that the prime minister is undermining democracy.

The journalist Siddiqui has been violently attacked on the Internet by supporters of Modi and his party since the press conference. Their motives, religion and background have been questioned, the WHCA said. “This is unacceptable.” The White House also condemned the harassment of journalists in this context. The Wall Street Journal said Siddiqui was a “respected journalist known for her integrity and unbiased reporting.”