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Riots in Delhi leave dozens of Muslims dead

by Joe Tomlinson
Thu, Mar 26th 2020 03:55 pm

On Sunday, Feb. 23, widespread riots broke out in the North East district of the capital city Delhi, India, as a result of growing Hindu nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiments within the country. The impetus for such violence came after Kapil Mishra, a local leader in the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), voiced threats directed toward Muslim protestors who were peacefully blocking a road as a demonstration against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). 

To many within India, the act legislates discrimination toward Muslims and violates the secular nature of the constitution which is supposed to prohibit religious discrimination and provide equal protection under the law. The bill officially passed both houses of parliament on Dec. 13, with the BJP claiming it will make India a safe haven for people running from religious persecution. 

In addition, the act adjusts a provision that mandates people who arrived in India through illegal immigration must live or work for the government for at least 11 years before applying for citizenship. Presently there are exceptions for devotees of six different religious minority groups — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian — as long as they can prove they are from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. People who fit this criteria will only have to live or work in India for six years to be eligible for citizenship. 

Historian Mukul Kesavan told BBC News the bill is “couched in the language of refuge and seemingly directed at foreigners, but its main purpose is the delegitimization of Muslims’ citizenship.” 

As protests over the bill continued, Hindu nationalists responded with incendiary rhetoric, causing mobs to break out into the streets and target Muslims. Militant Hindus mobilized throughout the area and honed in on Muslim owned businesses, homes and mosques in broad daylight on the streets Delhi. In total, the death toll from the riots stands at 46 people, thousands of others have been injured and had their houses or stores destroyed while the north-east spiraled into a war zone. 

The outburst of violence in Delhi coincides with growing Islamophobia, which has been stoked by the Prime Minister of India and leader of the BJP Narendra Modi. Since being elected to the office in 2014, Modi has implemented a staunchly Hindu-first regime that has worked tirelessly to alienate and harass the 200 million Muslims who reside in India. 

After his BJP government passed the CAA in December, several protests and demonstrations have taken place in major cities all across the country. 

“The anti-CAA demonstrations,” The Guardian reports, “have been met with increasingly authoritarian measures, including incidents of mass arrests and harassment of the Muslim community and reports of torture of activists, protesters and innocent Muslim bystanders.”

Reuters correspondent Devjyot Ghoshal reported the Delhi police even seemed to encourage mobs of Hindu supremacists to attack Muslims with rocks, and stood by as the mob lit vehicles on fire.

The riots corresponded with President Donald Trump’s two-day trip to India where he had nothing but praise for the country and Modi. It has been confirmed at least 12 Muslims were killed in the capital during Trump’s visit. Regardless, the president of the U.S. lauded Modi for his commitment to equal protection for all religions. 

“The Prime Minister was incredible on what he told me,” Trump said. “He wants people to have religious freedom very strongly.”

When Trump was specifically asked about the new citizenship law that makes Muslims second-class citizens and the protests that have arisen as a result, he neglected to condemn it. 

“I don’t want to discuss that,” he said to a reporter. “I want to leave that to India, and hopefully they’re going to make the right decision for the people.”

According to The Intercept, Trump later rewarded his anti-Muslim host and thrilled a crowd of Hindu nationalists by saying the U.S. and India were united in a fight against “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Trump’s expressed support for an authoritarian, anti-Muslim government exposes the hypocritical nature of American foreign policy. Stating that a leader is dedicated to religious freedom while his supporters beat and kill Muslims for the whole world to see. Claiming to uplift ideals of freedom and liberty while simultaneously embracing an openly oppressive regime. 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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