Modi is attacking India’s Muslims again – this time with the ‘love jihad’ law

The right-wing Hindu conspiracy theory is being used by the prime minister’s party to target the country’s Muslim population

Peony Hirwani
Tuesday 15 December 2020 19:47 GMT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party BJP has been blamed for anti-Muslim laws in India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party BJP has been blamed for anti-Muslim laws in India (AP)

India is one of the most culturally diverse countries in this world. We take pride in calling ourselves the biggest democratic nation that has so much to offer. However, recent laws passed by prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are letting the entire nation down. The most recent is a law passed in the state of Uttar Pradesh which prohibits so-called “love jihad”.

Love jihad is a Hindu right-wing conspiracy theory that claims Muslim men are marrying non-Muslim women in order to convert them to Islam. The new law, which gives the power to intervene in suspected cases, was agreed by the BJP led cabinet of Uttar Pradesh – the state that is home to the largest number of Muslims, in excess of 38 million. The idea first rose to national attention in India almost a decade ago and claims of “love jihad” conversions have spread throughout India and beyond, into Pakistan and even the United Kingdom.  

Saurav Dutt, author and political analyst, said: “The term itself ‘love jihad’ is provocative and alarming. It signals that this is an organised and planned activity on the part of Muslim males; and this law anticipates and bottlenecks this conspiracy in terms of a game, one that is a strident and expansionist form of the Hindu faith that is now playing a kingmaker role in Indian politics.”  

Not only is this law Islamophobic, via politicians and the media, it is an attempt to turn the word “Muslim” into something “synonymous with deception and forced conversion”, concluded Dutt.

In December 2019, the Modi government also introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act – a bill that offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring majority Muslim countries – Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. However, its introduction sparked violent conflict between religious groups, with critics claiming it is part of a BJP agenda to marginalise Muslim. For example, the party has been accused of failing to prosecute party allies involved in ruthless assaults on minorities and has ordered the extradition of Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar in spite of the dangers to their lives.

The “love jihad” law is one of the most backward and hostile laws ever passed in my country. Even though the central government has already admitted in February it had no official records of any incidents of the “love jihad” practice, Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath said in a speech: “I warn those who conceal their identity and play with the honour of our sisters and daughters, if you don’t mend your ways, your final journey will begin.” This was essentially openly provoking aggression towards Muslims.

“The law can only widen a chasm between communities that desperately needs to be broached with sensitivity and understanding. It wishes to destroy bridges instead of building them and dangerously gives legal credibility to fear and alarm that is a potentially apocalyptic combination in a country where violence and slaughter are not conversation starters but enders too,” said Dutt.  

I personally haven’t spoken to one Muslim citizen in my country who doesn’t fear for his/her life. On a daily basis they are discriminated against and called terrorists in public.  

The Uttar Pradesh state government has described the new law as ensuring “justice for women”. But being a woman in this nation, I totally oppose their claims. This isn’t justice. It is a law which stirs up unfounded speculations and claims that are being placed above issues that are far more important for our country to tackle right now.

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