by Muslim Mirror Staff
The US State Department, on Monday, expressed concerns about religious freedom worldwide, including in India, where they highlighted “targeted attacks” on minorities, “home demolitions,” and hate speeches specifically directed towards Muslims. These concerns were raised just before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming state visit to the US.
In its annual report on global religious freedom, the State Department provided detailed information about instances of violence committed by law enforcement authorities against religious minorities in various states of India throughout the year 2022.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, upon releasing the report, acknowledged both positive developments and concerning trends that are either continuing or, in some cases, escalating.
The State Department’s report brings attention to cases of violence against individuals belonging to religious minority groups in various states of India during the year. These incidents involve killings, assaults, and intimidation, often triggered by allegations of cow slaughter or beef trade, resulting in acts of “cow vigilantism” primarily targeting non-Hindus. Furthermore, there have been incidents where Muslim men have been accused of marrying Hindu women with the alleged intention of converting them to Islam. The report also highlights instances of communal violence between different religious communities.
According to the report, out of the 28 states in the country, thirteen have enacted laws that restrict religious conversions for all faiths. Furthermore, some of these states have specific penalties in place to address forced religious conversions associated with marriage. However, it is worth noting that historically, certain state high courts have dismissed cases brought forward under these laws.
A senior State Department official told reporters that the document outlined “continued targeted attacks against religious communities, including Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindu Dalits, and indigenous communities; dehumanizing rhetoric, including open calls for genocide against Muslims; lynching and other hate-fueled violence, attacks on houses of worship and home demolitions, and in some cases impunity and even clemency for those who’ve engaged in attacks on religious minorities – we’re also continuing to see, at the state level, some restrictions on religious attire”.
Rashad Hussain, the Ambassador at Large at the State Department for International Religious Freedom, specifically pointed out the speeches delivered in Hardwar in December 2021 as highly concerning.
“In India, legal advocates and faith leaders from across the country’s diverse religious communities condemned a case of extreme hate speech against Muslims in the city of Hardwar, calling for the country to uphold its historical traditions of pluralism and tolerance,” he said.
Hussain was alluding to an event named the Dharma Sansad that occurred in December 2021. During this three-day meeting, speakers advocated for individuals to arm themselves against Muslims. The Uttarakhand police filed a case against the organizer of the event.
India has previously dismissed and raised objections to these unsolicited comments and observations, and in recent years, it has questioned America’s authority to pass judgment on other nations.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has been considerably more critical of India and has recommended to the State Department that India be designated as a “country of particular concern” on four occasions. However, the State Department has not yet acted upon this recommendation. The official announcements regarding these designations are scheduled to be made later this year.
On June 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to undertake an official state visit to the United States. As per a press statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday, PM Modi will be received by US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who will host a state dinner for him at the White House.
“President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India for an Official State Visit to the United States, which will include a state dinner, on June 22, 2023,” a statement released by the White House said.