US Expresses Concerns Over Religious Freedom in IndiaTop Stories

June 28, 2024 09:10
US Expresses Concerns Over Religious Freedom in India

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United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has voiced apprehension regarding the prevalence of hate speech in India. During the release of the State Department's annual report on international religious freedom on Wednesday, 26th June, Mr Blinken remarked, "In India, we observe a disconcerting rise in anti-conversion legislation, hate speech, and the demolition of homes and places of worship belonging to minority faith communities." Mr Blinken elucidated that the department's report scrutinises threats to religious freedom in nearly 200 countries. He cited examples such as Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which he posits may foster intolerance and potentially incite mob violence, as well as attacks on Hamas in Israel. The Secretary of State further expounded on global concerns, including restrictions on religious attire in certain nations. He also addressed domestic issues, noting hate crimes targeting Muslims and Jews within the United States.

The 2023 report underscored religious freedom issues in India, alleging that 10 out of 28 states have implemented restrictions on religious conversions, with some imposing penalties. It further noted that several religious groups have expressed concerns about their safety and the government's capacity to protect them from violence. The report also highlighted the arrests of both Christians and Muslims on charges of forced religious conversions. Conversely, religious groups contend that these arrests are merely a means of harassment, based on fabricated charges. The document critically examined Prime Minister Narendra Modi's advocacy for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and noted that some state government officials are portraying India as a "Hindu Rashtra" (Hindu Nation). Recently, a row erupted during Narendra Modi’s campaign in Rajasthan. Modi alleged that Congress is planning to give away people’s hard-earned money to those who have more children and infiltrators, even though Congress has hit back at the comments. The hate speech of the PM has raised an eyebrow.

The 2023 report also highlighted the incarceration of minorities, particularly referencing past incidents such as the murders of Mohammad Junaid and Mohammad Nasir, alleged cow vigilantism, and the continued about the incarceration of Umar Khalid. Mr Blinken's document expressed concern about attacks on the Christian community in India, citing statistics from the United Christian Forum (UFC) that reported 731 registered attacks on Christians in 2023, an increase from 599 incidents in 2022. The report alleged that in some instances, state police remained passive while mobs attacked Christians. In conclusion, Mr Blinken noted a sharp increase of Islamophobia within the United States, particularly in connection with the ongoing conflict of Gaza."

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