Religious Minorities Facing Increased Persecution at Hands of Hindu Radicals in India
Christians and other religious minorities have faced increased violence and attacks in recent months. In 2015 alone, Christians were attacked over 365 times according to the Catholic Secular Forum making 2015 the worst year for Christians in India’s independent history. Recently, because of this ongoing trend, 34 members of the U.S. Congress sent an open letter to India’s Prime Minister expressing grave concern over the rise in intolerance in the his nation. So far, the federal government in India has remained eerily silent in the face of even more attacks on Christians. Will international pressure finally help India turn back this tide of religious intolerance?
By Colleen Curry
3/18/2016 India (Vice News) – Violent attacks on religious minorities in India averaged one attack per day last year, a rising number that has led a coalition of US Congress members to plead with India’s leaders to condemn the violence.
According to the Catholic Secular Forum, attacks rose more than 20 percent from 2014 to 2015. There have been 36 attacks on Christians so far this year, ranging from churches being destroyed to priests, nuns, and parishioners being beaten, according to the Christian human rights group International Christian Concern (ICC), as well as four murders of Muslim men by Hindu mobs over their consumption of beef.
Christian rights groups monitoring the violence say the attacks have coincided with a strong rise in Hindu nationalism, which encompasses a broad spectrum of Indian political movements, but centers around the idea that Hindu traditions and beliefs should serve as a guide for the state and its citizens. The more extreme Hindu nationalists are accused of mounting the attacks.
The extremists have been ignored, if not outright condoned, by the country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and ruling party, the Indian People’s Party, which both came to power amid the rising nationalist tide.
“It’s a radical Hindu ideology,” said William Stark, an expert in South Asia with ICC. “If you see someone Muslim or Christian, they’re following a foreign faith, and they’re defiling India because they’re following a foreign faith.”