Since her independence on August 15, 1947, the Indian government has usually had a good human rights record. For decades, they elected prime ministers from the democratically-minded Congress Party. Initially, there were bloody encounters between the Hindu majority and the large Muslim minority, but each prime minister strongly discouraged this.
That situation seems to be changing under the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is with the BJP, a political party that favors Hindu nationalism. BJP zealots use the Hindu religion as a rallying force for Indian nationalism. In their view, India-grown religions are OK. That includes not only Hinduism but also Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The religions that are out of favor with the BJP are the two brought in by conquerors and colonialists: Christianity and Islam. They view these two religions as a threat to India’s culture. Open Doors now lists India as the 10th hardest country to follow Jesus.
If there were such a list for Muslims, India would probably be much higher than number 10. Calls for violence and even genocide against Muslims is moving from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream of Hinduism, according to the New York Times. Hindu preacher Yati Narsinghan has been making inflammatory sermons with little or no condemnation by India’s BJP-dominated government.
Muslims are being harassed. In Karnataka state, they temporarily barred Muslim women from classrooms for wearing hijabs, the traditional head covering. Hindu militants were behind the arrest and beating of a Muslim shoe salesman. His crime? Selling a shoe brand named Thakur, a prestigious Hindu caste. For hundreds of years, there have been few efforts to take Christ to Muslims in India. Now that the two religious communities are suffering together, could this be the right time?
- Christianity Today, The 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus in 2021. January 2021
- New York Times, As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels. February 9, 2022
- Los Angeles Times, Hindu nationalism is a threat to Muslims and India’s status as the world’s largest democracy. February 16, 2022.
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