India’s Pm Modi Accused of Anti-Muslim Hate Speech Amid Election

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing accusations of spreading hatred against Muslims after controversial comments on Sunday wherein he equated the community to “infiltrators” and peddled anti-Muslim tropes in the middle of the country’s general elections.

Speaking at a crowded rally in the western state of Rajasthan, Modi said if the opposition led by the Congress party came to power, it would distribute the country’s wealth among “those who have more children”, in an apparent reference to Muslims, whom he had spoken about just before.

“Should your hard-earned money be given to infiltrators?” he said to the cheering crowd, before alleging that the opposition would take away even mangalsutras the auspicious necklace that a husband ties around his wife’s neck in Hindu weddings  if given a chance.

Local poll officials in Rajasthan confirmed to newsmen that they had received at least two complaints against Modi, calling for his election campaign to be suspended and for his arrest.

Renu Poonia, a nodal officer of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the state capital, Jaipur, revealed that the complaints were received from the Azad Adhikar Sena, a regional political party, and a local non-profit organisation. India’s election code bars parties and politicians from engaging in speeches and campaigns that aim to perpetuate religious or caste differences. But independent watchdogs and activists have long complained that election officials act too slowly, if at all, especially when cases involve powerful officials in the government.

Many leaders in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in India’s Hindu-majoritarian right have long portrayed the country’s 200 million Muslims effectively as outsiders. Muslim asylum seekers and refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar are in particular targeted as “infiltrators”.

The BJP and its partners have also long pushed a conspiracy theory that suggests that Indian Muslims produce more children intending to eventually outnumber Hindus in the country. In reality, government data shows that the Muslim fertility rate in India is dropping the fastest among all communities and has almost halved in the past three decades.

Modi has himself promoted this stereotype in 2002, after an anti-Muslim massacre in the state of Gujarat, where he served terms as chief minister infamously mocking relief camps as baby-producing factories.

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