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ICC Note:

The election of Ram Nath Kovind to India’s presidency puts religious minorities, including Christians, at further risk. Korind, the BJP-backed candidate, shares many of the hardline Hindu nationalist views of the current BJP-led government. For religious minorities, these Hindu nationalist views have led to a dramatic increase in attacks on minorities and their places of worship. Last year, ICC recorded over 360 attacks on Christians in India. With the presidency now in BJP hands, will more Hindu nationalist policies be passed into law? 

07/21/2017 India (Mission Network News) – India’s presidential election Tuesday was more just than a political contest — it was a battle for human rights. And unfortunately, religious minorities came out on the losing end.

Yesterday, Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, the candidate selected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was named India’s next president. Both Kovind and Modi are hardline Hindus and have created an environment of fear among religious minorities.

“Modi has been in power for some time now, and he is part of this Hindu Nationalist Party. It really has been promoting Hinduism as the national religion,” Open Doors’ Emily Fuentes says. “They’ve even stated outright that they’re hoping to make the country a fully Hindu country in the next several years. They are showing intolerance toward religious minorities, and it’s usually targeted toward both Muslims and Christians.”

Kovind is only the second Dalit president in India’s history — the lowest in the country’s caste system. Many view his election as a strategy by Modi to increase support from Dalits, who are widely viewed as “impure” and face continual persecution.

But according to the World Watch Monitor, in May, Modi’s government banned the sale of cattle for slaughter, which led to violence against Muslims and Dalits over rumors that they had sold, bought, or consumed beef. Cows are considered holy in India, but beef is cheap and popular among Christians, Muslims, and Dalits. India’s Supreme Court suspended the ban on July 13, however, saying that it violated the fundamental human right of people to choose their own food.

“Having both a president and a prime minister backing this agenda, pushing laws, encouraging those who might even have extreme views like the BJP party in general where they act out violently against Christians, some of these extremists, and Muslims — all this can just be strengthened and happen more frequently,” Fuentes says.

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