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Concerning increase in anti-conversion laws, hate speech in India: Blinken – Times of India



NEW DELHI: US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Thursday expressed concern over the alleged rise in anti-conversion laws, hate speech in India.
Blinken made these remarks during the release of the state department’s annual report on international religious freedom, while also acknowledging the efforts of people worldwide to safeguard religious freedom.
“Today, the state department is releasing its annual report on the status of international religious freedom. The department’s report tracks these kinds of threats to religious freedom in almost 200 countries. For example, blasphemy laws in Pakistan help foster a climate of intolerance and hatred that can lead to vigilantes and mob violence,” Blinken said.
“In India, we see a concerning increase in anti-conversion laws, hate speech, demolitions of homes and places of worship for members of minority faith communities…Today religious freedom is still not respected for millions of people around the world. Some countries place restrictions on wearing certain types of religious dress; others enforce it. Here in the United States, reports of hate crimes and other incidents targeting both Muslims and Jews have gone up dramatically,” he added.
The report highlighted that in 2023, senior US officials continued to raise concerns about religious freedom issues with their Indian counterparts. It noted that ten out of 28 states in India have laws restricting religious conversions for all faiths, with some states imposing specific penalties against forced religious conversions for the purpose of marriage.
The report also mentioned that some members of religious minority groups questioned the government’s ability and willingness to protect them from violence, investigate crimes against them, and safeguard their freedom of religion or belief.
The US state department‘s report further noted that Christians and Muslims were arrested under laws banning forced religious conversions, which religious groups claimed were used in some cases to harass and imprison members of religious minority groups on false and fabricated charges or for lawful religious practices.
The report also discussed Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s calls for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) at the national level, which was met with opposition from Muslim, Sikh, Christian, and tribal leaders, as well as some state government officials, who viewed it as part of a project to turn the country into a “Hindu Rashtra (a Hindu Nation)”.
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) welcomed the report, stating that it echoes the findings presented in the annual report released by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which calls on the State Department to designate India as a “Country of Particular Concern (CPC)” for ongoing and severe violations of religious freedoms for minorities.
IAMC executive director Rasheed Ahmed urged Secretary Blinken to act on these facts and designate India as a CPC.





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