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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Indian PM Modi accused of hate speech

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s main opposition party has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of resorting to hate speech after he called Muslims “infiltrators” — some of his most inflammatory rhetoric yet on minority faith during a campaign rally. days after the country began its week-long general election.

At Sunday’s rally in the western state of Rajasthan, Modi said that when the Congress party was in government, “they said Muslims had the first right to the country’s resources.” If returned to power, the party “will collect all your wealth and distribute it to those with the most children,” he said to applause from the crowd.

More than 50 countries will go to the polls in 2024

“They will distribute it to the infiltrators,” he continued, adding: “Do you think your hard-earned money should be given to the infiltrators?

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a Congress spokesperson, called the prime minister’s remarks “deeply, deeply objectionable” and said the party had sought action on Monday from the Election Commission of India, which oversees the six-week voting period. The first votes took place on Friday.

The remarks drew sharp criticism for peddling anti-Muslim clichés and for breaking election rules that prohibit candidates from engaging in any activity that could escalate religious tensions. The Election Commission of India’s model code of conduct prohibits candidates from “appealing to caste or communal sentiments” to secure votes.

Asaduddin Owaidi, a Muslim lawmaker and president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen Party, said on Sunday: “Modi today called Muslims infiltrators and people with many children. Since 2002 until today, Modi’s only guarantee has been to mistreat Muslims and get votes.”

Critics of Modi – a declared Hindu nationalist — say India’s tradition of diversity and secularism has been under attack since his party took power in 2014 and returned for a second term in 2019. They accuse Modi’s BJP of fostering religious intolerance and sometimes even violence. The party denies the accusation and says its policies benefit all Indians.

But rights groups say attacks on minorities have become more brazen under Modi. Muslims were lynched by Hindu mobs following allegations of consuming beef or smuggling cows, an animal considered sacred to Hindus. Muslim businesses were boycotted, their homes and businesses were bulldozed And places of worship burned. Some open calls have been done for their genocide.

Modi’s remarks on Sunday were based on a 2006 statement by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the Congress party. Singh said lower castes, tribes, women and “especially the Muslim minority” were empowered to participate equally in the country’s development.

“They must be the first to claim the resources,” Singh had said. A day later, his office clarified that Singh was referring to all disadvantaged groups.

Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are expected to win, according to most polls. The results will be known on June 4.

Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge called Modi’s comments “hate speech”. “In Indian history, no Prime Minister has lowered the dignity of his office as much as Modi,” Kharge wrote on social media platform X.

In its petition to the Election Commission, the party said Modi and the BJP had repeatedly used religion, religious symbols and sentiments with impunity during their election campaign. “These actions were further reinforced by the commission’s inaction to penalize the Prime Minister and the BJP for their blatant violations of election laws,” he said.

The commission’s code of conduct is not legally binding in itself, but it can issue opinions and suspend activists for a period of time for violations.

“We decline any comment,” a commission spokesperson told the Press Trust of India news agency on Monday.

In his speech, Modi also referenced a Hindu nationalist myth that Muslims were overtaking the Hindu population by having more children. Hindus make up 80% of India’s 1.4 billion people, while the country’s 200 million Muslims make up 14%. Official data shows that Muslim fertility rates have fallen fastest among religious groups in recent decades, from 4.4 in 1992-93 to 2.3 between 2019-2021, slightly more than that of Muslims. Hindus, at 1.94.

Modi’s BJP has already branded Muslims as infiltrators and called them illegal migrants who crossed the Indian border from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Several BJP-ruled states have also passed laws that restrict interfaith marriage, citing the myth of ” I like jihad”, an unproven conspiracy theory that Muslim men use marriage to convert Hindu women.

Through it all, Modi has maintained a blatant silence, which critics say has emboldened some of his most extremist supporters and enabled more hate speech against Muslims.

News Source : apnews.com
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jack colman

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