Citizens of New Delhi have taken to the streets to condemn rampant Islamophobia across India amid a rise in anti-Muslim violence in the aftermath of Hindu-Muslim clashes.
During a peace vigil organized by citizens against hate crimes and violence targeting the Muslim minority in New Delhi on Saturday, the protesters held placards that read “No to Islamophobia” and “Muslim Lives Matter.”
Cases of violence against Muslims have been reported in at least eight states in India in recent days during the Ram Navami processions.
The protesters also shouted slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government days after Hindu-Muslim clashes erupted during a religious festival.
Indian police imposed a curfew in one town and banned gatherings of more than four people in parts of three states ruled by Modi’s Hindu nationalist party after the Sunday clashes.
Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has been blamed for stoking tensions between majority Hindus and Muslims in states that it rules.
Nine people were arrested in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh on Friday on charges of torching the home of a Muslim man who married a Hindu woman.
In a joint statement, the leaders of 13 opposition parties called for peace and harmony after the clashes.
“We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress, faith, festivals, and language are being deliberately used by sections of the ruling establishment to polarize our society,” the leaders said.
Violence against Muslims and other minorities has prevailed since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, but the last decade has seen a dramatic rise of right-wing Hindu domination.
Based on reports by human rights groups, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has adopted various laws and policies that legitimize prejudice against religious minorities in recent years, in particular Muslims.