Prime Minister Modi Must Confront Rising Violence
International Christian Concern
International Christian Concern (ICC) is calling upon President Barak Obama to discuss the issue of religious intolerance in his upcoming meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since taking office in May, the new Modi-led government has been witness to a dramatic escalation in communal violence across India, many instances of violence being perpetrated against India's religious minorities. In India's Uttar Pradesh state alone, over 600 attacks have been recorded in Prime Minister Modi's first months in office.
The visit will be Prime Minister Modi's first since a decision that banned him from receiving a U.S. visa was made in 2005 based on the International Religious Freedom Act that bars foreign officials accused of violating religious freedom from receiving a U.S. visa.
This afternoon, Prime Minister Modi will be flying from New York City to Washington, DC to hold two days of meetings with President Obama and other high ranking U.S. officials. During Modi's visit, the White House announced the leaders "will discuss ways to accelerate economic growth, bolster security co-operation, and collaborate in activities that bring long-term benefits to both countries and the world."
Not among the issues to be discussed are those of growing religious intolerance and the need for greater protection of religious minorities in India. In the months following the general elections, communal violence across India, often fought along religious lines, has dramatically escalated.
In an interview with the Times of India, Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress Party, said, "There have been some 600 communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh along since the new government came to power in May 2014." Among these communal clashes are attacks on Christian communities. "Attacks on Christians in Uttar Pradesh are on the rise," Rev. Victor Das told ICC. "Aggressive Hindu radicals are creating terror in the minds of Christians and other minorities."
In a letter to President Obama, Congressmen Joseph Pitts and Keith Ellison have requested the issues of religious inclusion and the protection of religious minorities in India be discussed in addition to the topics announced by the White House. "Reports indicate that there has been an increase in violence against Muslims and Christians," the letter read. "Prime Minister Modi's visit could open a dialogue about the positive steps his government can take in preventing oppression and encouraging religious inclusion."
ICC's Regional Manager, William Stark, said, "Following Prime Minister Modi's victory in the general elections, many Christians in India were afraid for the future of the freedom of religion in India. What has followed during Prime Minister Modi's first one hundred days in office has done little to calm those fears. Christians across India continue to face restrictions on exercising their faith freely and many have been attacked by radical Hindu groups operating with near impunity. This must not be allowed to continue under India's new national government. Positive action must be encouraged by President Obama in his meetings with Prime Minister Modi to ensure the rights of all of India's citizens, including Christians and other religious minorities, are respected and enforced."
For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for South Asia: RM-SAsia@persecution.org
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