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India witnessed alarming spike in anti-Muslim hate speech in 2023: Research

File photo of a protest against Islamophobia in New Delhi

Instances of anti-Muslim hate speech more than doubled across India last year, research has shown, amid accusations of Islamophobic tendencies against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

India Hate Lab, a Washington-based research group, revealed the information in a report on Monday.

The group said it had documented 668 hate speech incidents targeting Muslims across the country in 2023.

As many as 255 of the incidents occurred in the first half of the year, while 413 took place in the last six months, it revealed.

Compared together, the figures reflected a 62 percent increase in the incidents.

About 75 percent of those incidents took place in states governed by the Hindu nationalist BJP.

The country has experienced a surge in Islamophobic acts, whether in the highest echelons of power or among the grassroots by Hindu vigilantes, since 2014, when the party rose to power.

In 2019, the Indian parliament amended its Citizenship Act, providing an accelerated pathway to Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The UN Human Rights Office has called the amendment, which excludes Muslims, “fundamentally discriminatory.”

Under Modi, a whopping 12 states also criminalized conversion to Islam and Christianity, thus officially challenging the constitutionally-protected right to freedom of belief.

Also in 2019, Modi’s government revoked the constitution’s Article 370, which had given the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir significant autonomy.

There has also been an increase in the demolition of Muslim properties in the name of removing illegal construction and a ban on wearing the hijab in classrooms in Karnataka when the BJP was in power in the southwestern Indian state.

The government, however, denies the presence of minority abuse and alleges that its policies aim to benefit all Indians.

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