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Anti-Muslim hate speech during polls 'jeopardized' safety of India's millions

Counterview Desk 

A coalition of 48 civil society organizations worldwide have said that “hate speech targeting the Muslim community by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top leaders of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)" during the recent election campaign “highlights the use of Islamophobic, inflammatory rhetoric” in order to fuel a climate of anti-Muslim hate jeopardizing “the safety of millions, as well as the integrity of India’s democracy.”
In statement, they said, “Political use of dehumanizing speech is a precursor to violence, yet the Prime Minister has himself targeted citizens with derogatory labels and unfounded accusations”, calling upon “the international community to hold PM Modi and his party accountable and urge them to cease spreading hate speech immediately.”

Text:

The undersigned civil society organizations and concerned individuals across the world strongly condemn the hate speeches[1] made repeatedly by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top leaders of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party against India’s Muslim community since India’s parliamentary elections began in April.
Despite repeated complaints[2] by India’s opposition parties and tens of thousands of concerned citizens[3], Prime Minister Modi has continuously targeted Indian Muslims and his political opponents alike in his hate speeches, fanning the flames of an already dangerous climate of anti-minority hate and violence in the nation.
In his many election speeches, the prime minister has labeled India’s 250 million Muslim as “infiltrators[4], deployed Islamophobic tropes accusing Muslims of having more children[5] than India’s Hindus, and claimed that Muslims will rob other marginalized communities of their reservations. This is a blatant attempt to further normalize and amplify anti-Muslim fears and hatred within Indian society.
Shockingly, Modi has also called[6] the right of India’s Muslim citizens to vote as “vote jihad”, in a blatant attempt to disenfranchise them. Almost on cue, police in Sambhal district of BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh state beat up[7] hundreds of Muslim voters[8] and chased them away to not allow them to vote.
Modi has stoked hatred for and fear of Muslims by saying[9] that should the Opposition parties win power, “terrorists in jail would be invited to the prime minister’s office and served biryani” and “land will be taken away to give to Muslims as part of land jihad.” He has further sought to stoke hatred for Muslims by saying[10] if the Opposition parties win the election they will withdraw affirmative quotas (reservations) from the tribal and Dalit communities and give them to “those who practice vote jihad,” a reference to Muslims.
Modi’s hate-filled rhetoric has also been copied by several other leaders, including by Home Minister Amit Shah who accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of promoting Islamic seminaries (madrasas), preachers (mullahs) and mafia, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who said[11] the Opposition parties wanted to bring the “Taliban” rule to India to implement the Sharia and redistribute “your” (Hindus’) properties to Muslims.
Assam Chief Minister Hemant Sarma, also a BJP leader, has been spewing hatred towards Muslims12 at public rallies, by targeting the setting up of Muslim religious schools, which is a Constitutional right of the Muslim community, and even the right of the Muslims to wear the religious caps.
In March 2024, experts from the Special Procedures of the United Nation Human Rights Council expressed their concerns[12] about the level of anti-minority violence and rhetoric within India as it prepared for the coming elections, as well as the lack of response from the government about these reports and the United Nation’s own communiques. They warned of the danger to minority groups and called for change, citing the need for an election free from discrimination.
We, the global civil society, maintain that the leader of the world’s largest democracy whose parliamentary elections have a significance and bearing for the rest of the world should not stoop to spreading hate speech and must be held accountable for doing so. We call upon the leaders of the international community to impress this upon Mr. Modi, urge him to immediately retract and apologize for his statements, and urge him to commit to holding his fellow party members accountable for spreading violent hate speech as well.

Notes

[1] "PM unleashing hate speech against Muslims from every available forum: Opposition." Business Standard. Accessed May 29, 2024. Business Standard.
[2] "Opposition accuses India's Modi of 'brazen' violations." Yahoo News Australia. May 20, 2024. Yahoo News.
[3] ""Over 17,400 citizens write to EC seeking action against PM Narendra Modi for hate speech." Scroll.in. April 22, 2024. Scroll.in.
[4] "Modi's Speech Against Muslims Sparks Outrage." The New York Times. April 22, 2024. The New York Times.
[5] "Asaduddin Owaisi slams PM Modi's remarks at Rajasthan rally." India Today. April 22, 2024. India Today.
[6] "Modi’s anti-Muslim ‘Vote Jihad’ rhetoric faces severe criticism." VOA News. May 22, 2024. VOA News.
[7] "Muslims in UP’s Sambhal ‘not allowed’ to cast vote, thrashed by cops." Siasat Daily. May 7, 2024. Siasat.
[8] "‘Merciless’ assault, ‘abused’, men detained for shooting videos: 24 hours in UP’s Sambhal." Newslaundry. May 11, 2024. Newslaundry.
[9] "If Congress wins, terrorists will be fed biryani in PM house: PM Modi." Times of India. May 29, 2024. Times of India.
[10] "Modi keeps up reservation rhetoric, says Congress wants to give SC/ST quotas to people who practice ‘vote jihad’." The Hindu. April 22, 2024. The Hindu.
[11] "Now, Yogi raises property redistribution, Sharia spectre." Times of India. May 22, 2024. Times of India. 12 "Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind condemns Himanta Biswa Sarma's offensive remarks against madrasas." The Wire. May 22, 2024. The Wire.
[12] "India: UN experts urge corrective action to protect human rights and end attacks." OHCHR. March 2024. OHCHR.
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Click here for signatories

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