Concerning increase in hate speech in India, says Antony Blinken

He said that even in the US, reports of hate crimes and other incidents targeting Muslims and Jews have increased.
EAM S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
EAM S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.File | PTI

NEW DELHI: The United States, in its latest report on international religious freedom, has raised concerns over an increase in hate speech, as well as the demolition of homes and places of worship of minorities in India.

“In India, we see a concerning increase in anti-conversion laws, hate speech, demolitions of homes and places of worship for members of minority communities,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who released the report on Wednesday.

Blinken also stated that, at present, governments around the world continue to target individuals, shutter places of worship, forcibly displace communities, and imprison people because of their religious beliefs. He added that even in the US, reports of hate crimes and other incidents targeting Muslims and Jews have increased.

EAM S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
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The section on India also mentions that 10 of the 28 Indian states have laws restricting religious conversions for all faiths. Some of these states also impose penalties specifically against forced religious conversions for the purpose of marriage, it added.

Christians and Muslims were arrested under laws banning forced religious conversions, which in some cases were used to harass and imprison members of religious minority groups on false and fabricated charges or for lawful religious practices, the report said.

The report also referenced the NDA government’s initiative to enact a Uniform Civil Code.

“Muslim, Sikh, Christian, and tribal leaders and some state government officials opposed the initiative on the grounds that it was part of a project to turn the country into a Hindu Rashtra,” the report said. Its proponents, however, argued that a UCC would promote greater equality, including for women.

This report has evaluated threats to religious freedom across all countries globally. It also addressed blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

EAM S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
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“Blasphemy laws in Pakistan help foster a climate of intolerance and hatred that can lead to vigilantes and mob violence,” it stated. The report also mentioned how several European nations have laws that effectively ban some forms of religious clothing in public spaces.

The annual report, which is submitted to the US Congress, describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious beliefs and practices, and US policies promoting religious freedom in nearly every country and territory across the world.

US embassies prepare the initial drafts of country chapters based on information from government officials, religious groups, non-governmental organisations, journalists, human rights monitors, and academics.

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