Muslims fear rising tide of Hindu nationalism in Narendra Modi’s India
Since India’s Prime
Minister Narendra Modi came to power last year, the country's Muslims have
expressed growing concerns about a spate of inflammatory statements made by
Hindu nationalist leaders and activists.
Last month, India
hanged Yakub Memon, a Muslim accountant convicted of helping plan bombings in
1993 in Mumbai that killed 257 people. Many critics, including the Muslim
lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi, opposed the execution saying that there were other
non-Muslim convicts waiting in the death row that were given clemency. More
than 15,000 Muslims joined Memon’s funeral procession in Mumbai.
A call to increase
birth rates to 'protect Hindu religion'
Sakshi Maharaj, a
lawmaker from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said
that Hindu women must have at least four children each to keep up with the
growth in the population of Muslims in India. "The concept of four wives
and 40 children will not work in India and the time has come when a Hindu woman
must produce at least four children in order to protect Hindu religion,”
Maharaj said. Muslim account for about 14 per cent of India’s more than 1.2
The beef ban in
The BJP government in
the western state of Maharashtra banned the sale of beef because the cow is
worshipped as a holy animal by many Hindus. Muslims dominate the meat industry
in many parts of the country. “This is a political decision,” said Mohammed
Aqil Qureshi, president of the Buffalo Traders Welfare Association in New
Delhi. “They want to gratify the Hindus and harass the Muslims.” There have
been calls for a national beef ban as well.
Drive to convert
Muslims, Christians to Hinduism
The Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (or the World Hindu Council, which is associated Modi’s party)
launched a programme called “Gharwapsi” (or homecoming) to urge India’s Muslims
and Christians to convert to Hinduism, which they said was the religion of
their ancestors. The controversial debate began in December 2014 when more than
50 impoverished Muslim families in a
slum in the northern city of Agra attended a simple ceremony at which they were
asked by a Hindu priest to chant and throw offerings into the holy fire in
front of some Hindu idols.
In December 2014,
Maharaj again fueled anger when he called the assassin of India’s revered
freedom leader Mahatma Gandhi a “patriot.” Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse,
a firebrand Hindu activist who accused Gandhi of being very tolerant of Muslims
and of “appeasing” them. Godse is widely known for his extreme anti-Muslim
views. Maharaj later retracted the statement.
At an event in New
Delhi last year, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the Hindu scripture
Bhagwad Gita must be declared a “national scripture.” Another BJP politician,
Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief minister of the northern Haryana state said
Bhagwad Gita is considered more important than India’s secular Constitution.
Members of the World
Hindu Council launched a campaign last year urging Hindu families to be on
guard against what they called “love jihad” – romantic relationships between
young Hindus and Muslims. They accused Muslim men of coercing Hindu women into
love in order to convert them to Islam.
Post – written by Rama Lakshmi)