During a US congressional briefing last month, Dr. Gregory Stanton, founder of Genocide Watch, warned that Muslims in India face the threat of imminent genocide, likening the situation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to those experienced on the eve of genocide in Rwanda and Myanmar.
Despite Stanton’s reputation as the world’s most esteemed scholar of genocide – having accurately predicted the Rwandan genocide in 1994 – the Biden administration remains silent towards the persecution of Muslims in India, as it has since the 46th President of the United States was sworn in more than a year ago.
The Biden administration remains silent towards the persecution of Muslims in India.
President Biden conspicuously rejected recommendations by the bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to include India on the list of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom.
Neither Biden, nor Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, mentioned the Indian government’s human rights violations against Muslims and other religious minorities during their recent respective visits to India, and instead, all praised the Asian country for its “pluralistic society and history of harmony.”
Except there’s not a single human rights organization on the planet that would praise Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist government for promoting pluralism and communal harmony. The Hindutva ideology, which provides Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with its ideological DNA, draws its inspiration from Germany’s Nazi Party and other European fascist movements, which is why Dr. Stanton has been warning of genocide in India for years.
Dr. Stanton reminded US lawmakers that Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 when riots and massacres killed more than 2,000 Muslims. “At the time…Modi did nothing. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence he actually encouraged those massacres,” Dr. Stanton said, adding that as Prime Minister, Modi has weaponized “anti-Muslim, Islamophobic rhetoric” to build and mobilize his political base.
For these reasons, India has recorded a year-on-year upward surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes since Modi came to power in 2014, culminating with the 2020 Delhi Riots, which resulted in the murder of 51 Muslims at the hands of Hindu extremists.
India has recorded a year-on-year upward surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes since Modi came to power in 2014.
Today, Hindu nationalist leaders openly and routinely urge genocide and campaigns of mass rape against Muslims without fear of consequence or condemnation from the Indian government. Understandably, Hindu extremists have interpreted this silence as tactical approval, which is why Muslims are being lynched, beaten, raped, murdered, and discriminated against across the country.
Almost every day – but certainly every week – brings new revelations of a country spiraling ever further into the moral abyss, and further away from the democratic ideals espoused by India’s post-colonial founders, who rejected majoritarian rule and religious supremacism while embracing secularism, pluralism, tolerance, and inclusiveness.
Hindu vigilante groups, lynch mobs, and “purity” police hunt in packs for their next Muslim victim to harass, threaten, assault, and worse. No level of Indian society has escaped the pernicious influence of the Hindutva ideology.
No level of Indian society has escaped the pernicious influence of the Hindutva ideology.
Last month, India drifted further away from its constitutionally protected norms when a government-funded pre-university college in Karnataka’s Udupi district moved to ban the wearing of Islamic head coverings on the school’s campus, despite the right to do so enshrined within the Indian Constitution and permitted by the school itself, as stated in its student handbook.
But on February 3, the school became the subject of international scorn and condemnation when disturbing video footage showed school administrators blocking hijab-wearing students from entering the schools’ grounds, just weeks before their scheduled end-of-semester-exams.
Their cries and pleas were heard around the world, including the United States, with CNN, the Washington Post, and New York Times reporting what human rights activists have accurately described as “religious apartheid.”
“Singling out [the] hijab for criticism is unfair and discriminatory. Those opposing it are on record decrying secularism and for openly espousing majoritarianism,” said Zakia Soman, founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, in a recent interview.
But when female Muslim students organized a protest against the school’s anti-democratic ruling, their Hindutva radicalized male classmates mobilized a counter-protest, in which they not only wore saffron-colored scarfs while chanting Hindu nationalist slogans and war cries but also threw rocks towards the Muslim girls.
Silence from the Modi government has sent a clear signal to other government-funded schools across the country.
Silence from the Modi government has sent a clear signal to other government-funded schools across the country, including Madhya Pradesh, where the state’s education minister said the hijab would be banned, too.
In other parts of the country, Hindutva radicalized college professors have ordered Muslim students to stop greeting one another using Islamic terms of peace (Salam) and quit speaking in the Urdu language (the Muslim Indian’s language), as noted by Shabana Mir, an associate professor and Director of the Undergraduate Education at the American Islamic College, Chicago.
This latest episode in the rise of anti-Muslim hate in India comes only months after Hindu nationalist groups and individuals established online mock auction websites to target prominent female Muslim lawyers, activists, and journalists, including Washington Post contributor Rana Ayub, with sexualized violence.
But not a word of condemnation from President Biden. And not a single statement or tweet from the State Department telling the Modi government to knock it off, therefore revealing the United States’ hypocritical and feigned concern for the welfare of persecuted Muslim minorities.
But not a word of condemnation from President Biden.
The US strongly condemns its adversaries’ human rights violations, such as China’s abusive treatment of ethnic Uyghurs, while turning a blind eye to the behavior of its allies, such as India, which the US views as a crucial partner in its contestation with China in Indo Pacific. This is a sure demonstration of duplicity and insincerity.
The United States’ blatant double standard undermines international action and solidarity for persecuted Muslim populations in both India and China, as it not only provides cover for the Indian government to continue its march towards genocide but also gives fuel to those who incorrectly accuse the US of manufacturing false allegations of genocide against China to advance US strategic interests.