US Report Highlights Concerning Rise in Hate Speech Against Indian Minorities

US Report Highlights Concerning Rise in Hate Speech Against Indian Minorities

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has raised alarms over the escalating issues concerning religious freedoms in India, as reported in the State Department’s 2023 International Religious Freedom Report.

Blinken highlighted a significant rise in anti-conversion laws, hate speech, and the destruction of homes and religious sites belonging to minority faith communities in India.

In his remarks during the report’s release, Blinken noted the global efforts to safeguard religious freedoms but expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in India. He emphasized the troubling increase in religious intolerance, which was evident from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023.

The report detailed instances where public celebrations of Hindu festivals led to communal violence, particularly when processions passed through Muslim-majority areas. These events were often spearheaded by the BJP and affiliated Hindu nationalist groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, highlighted India as a case where societal-level violence is prevalent. He pointed out that local police sometimes aided mobs that disrupted Christian worship services over alleged conversion activities, or they stood by during attacks and then detained the victims on charges of conversion.

The report also underscored the ethnic violence in Manipur and communal clashes in northern Indian states. It mentioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advocacy for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to replace separate personal laws for religious communities, which has faced opposition from Muslim, Sikh, Christian, and tribal leaders.

These leaders argue that the UCC initiative is part of a broader agenda to establish a “Hindu Rashtra” or Hindu nation.

Proponents of the UCC, including some opposition politicians, argue that it would promote greater equality, especially for women, by addressing issues like polygamy and unfair inheritance practices within personal religious laws.

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