In a scathing editorial over “unchallenged” religious “intolerance” in India, the Washington Post has urged the US government to oppose “rising Islamophobia” in the country.
Referring to the diplomatic controversy following remarks against Prophet Muhammad, the daily’s editorial board observed that the “backlash produced some modest results”. It noted that the Narendra Modi government expelled BJP spokespersons but “this is not how Mr. Modi or the BJP has governed”.
“Bulldozers have houses in majority-Muslim neighborhoods under dubious pretenses, with local officials even boasting of the demolitions. The BJP-run state government of Karnataka hijabs in schools, a motion the state court upheld in March. Hate crimes against Indian Muslims and other religious minorities in the hundreds each year, as local and state BJP officials in hate speech themselves. Amid all this, Mr Modi and the national BJP have been quiet – until now.
“Given this history, it seems unlikely the BJP’s nice-sounding statements reflect a sudden concern for religious tolerance. Indeed, and dozens more injured as police charged a crowd of protesters last Friday.”
Washington Post said the government’s condemnation of religious intolerance in the recent episode reflects “concern about alienating Middle Eastern states, on which India heavily for natural gas, economic cooperation, infrastructure projects, counterterrorism and intelligence. Millions of Indians work and live in the Persian Gulf region, sending home remittances. Mr. Modi wants to make India a leader on the global stage; the recent backlash shows that he and his party might respond when other countries object to rife anti-Muslim sentiment in India, tolerated or encouraged by his party.”
The paper said the US government “should increase the pressure” on the Indian government. “Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April that the Biden administration is monitoring human rights abuses in India; this month, he India as a country with deteriorating religious freedoms. But the White House has been silent as this most recent controversy has unfolded. India could be a pluralistic democracy or a country defined by a dark, intolerant nationalism. The United States should work actively in favor of the former.”