In Escalating Islamophobia Indian City Allows Hindu Prayers After Blocking Muslim Prayers
The administration in Gurugram city, adjacent to Indian capital of New Delhi, allowed Hindu prayers to be held on a location where the local Muslim community had held prayers every Friday for years. The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) condemns this action of the city officials as a clear-cut case of Islamophobia.
After weeks of protests by Hindu extremist mobs on successive Fridays as Muslims prayed, the Gurugram officials unilaterally cancelled permission for Muslims to pray across various locations in the city. It is deeply disappointing that the Biden Administration fails to see the exponentially rising Islamophobia in India in the actions of the Indian federal and state governments and their various agencies.
Hate has now gone beyond the extremist groups affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and expanded to the educated Hindu middle classes, who are pressuring governments to deny Muslims their fundamental right to practice their faiths. India is a country where Hindus and Sikhs pray on public lands all the time. Yet, the same rights are being denied to Muslims and Christians.
In Court, Uttar Pradesh Government Defends Anti-Conversion Law That Targets Christians, Muslims
The IAMC condemns the Hindu rightwing government of India’s Uttar Pradesh state for defending its draconian anti-conversion law that is blatantly abused to bring false criminal charges against Christians and Muslims and arrest them. The state government’s defense of the law was made at the state’s high court, where the law has been challenged on the ground that it violates Indian Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of faith and belief.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 allows the state government to regulate all religious conversions and criminalizes forced religious conversions with jail terms of one-to-five years and fines of Indian Rupees 15,000 (USD 200).
“Forceful” religious conversions of minors, women, or members of low caste communities are punished by a jail term of three-to-ten years and a fine of Indian Rupees 50,000 (USD 670). Twisting the logic of freedom of faith, the government has told the court that the anti-conversion law protected “the liberty of thought, faith, belief and worship as well as equality or status stands safeguarded thereby assuring the dignity of the individuals.”
Since the law was enacted, Christians and Muslims in Uttar Pradesh have endured an unprecedented wave of persecution. Since June, International Christian Concern (ICC), a US nonprofit, has documented at least 56 incidents of religiously motivated violence taking place in Uttar Pradesh justified by the enactment of the anti-conversion law. In many cases, Christian victims are arrested on false forced conversion charges after being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists and taken to prison.
In states where similar anti-conversion laws are enacted, including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, they are widely abused. Radical nationalists falsely accuse Christians of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook violence perpetrated against Christians due to false accusations of forced conversion.
Hindu Extremist Mob Burns Bible, Assaults Two Christian Priests In Chhattisgarh
Hindu extremists mobs allied with the RSS ruthlessly assaulted two Christian pastors in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamteri district on November 2. According to reports, the assailants disrupted a prayer meeting, beat the two pastors, burned Bibles, and demanded the Christians stop holding worship services in their village.
The mob, led by Rajnikanth Devaghan and Nilambari Sahu, dragged Pastors Sasharath Maanikpuri and Kesar Manikpuri from the house where the prayer meeting was taking place and beat them. The assailants told the Christians to renounce Christianity and embrace Hinduism, warning that if they continued to hold worship services they would be killed.