In India, Narendra Modi's “anti-Muslim” campaign reaches a new level

In India, Narendra Modi's “anti-Muslim” campaign reaches a new level

This is yet another escalation in an electoral campaign otherwise largely tainted by political maneuvering, doctored video scandals and suspicions of fraud. While Indians continue to go to the polls for the legislative elections organized since mid-April and until June 1, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist right party in power, was forced by the commission election of the country, to delete on Wednesday May 8 a video post deemed stigmatizing against Muslim communities.

In cartoon form, the sequence published on the social network X featured caricatures of opposition politicians plotting to abolish special affirmative action programs intended for marginalized Hindu groups in order to benefit Muslims. A message deemed “reprehensible” by the electoral commission, which had written the day before to the Indian office of the platform to alert it of this content contravening Indian legislation.

“Hate speech”

The latter in fact prohibits campaigning on slogans opposing communities, the Indian state being constitutionally secular. The BJP's main rival in this new race for power, the Congress, for its part, filed a complaint accusing the Hindu nationalist right of promoting through this video “hostility between different religions”.

The case is not isolated. Last month, the BJP had already published another animated video on Instagram, warning against the scenario of a victory for the opposition – which would then rush to seize “all the money and wealth of non-Muslims to distribute to Muslims, their preferred community”. The video was also removed after several reports, denouncing the spread of a “hate speech”.

Since the start of the elections, the “anti-Muslim” rhetoric of Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister running for a new term, has continued to reach new levels. One sequence, in particular, caused a national outcry. During a meeting on Sunday April 21 in Rajasthan, in the tribal region of Bhanswara, he taxed, without openly naming them, Muslims “infiltrators” about to monopolize the “wealth of the nation”. “ Do you think your hard-earned money should be given to the infiltrators? Do you approve of this? »he harangued the crowd, to applause.

In a climate of great polarization in Indian society, this speech by the Prime Minister, usually less frontal in its formulations, raised a wave of indignation and opened the way to the filing of several complaints. Seized, the electoral authorities did not, however, sanction the candidate to succeed him for a third term.

Theory of “love jihad”

In fact, his remarks echo a myth constructed by Hindu fundamentalists advocatinghindutva, religious ideology aiming to remake India into a great Hindu nation: that of “love jihad” (“love jihad”), theory according to which Muslims seduce Hindu or Christian women solely to convert them.

To prevent this so-called phenomenon, eleven states governed by the BJP have voted in recent years “anti-conversion laws”. Among other practices, the latter criminalize conversions through marriage. They are part of a broader campaign of denigration and repression of Muslim minorities – who represent 220 million faithful, or more than 14% of the population – who are particularly exposed to pressure from Hindu nationalists.

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