Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s work in South and Southeast Asia, recently discussed the dire state of religious freedom in India on JustLove, a radio program on SiriusXM’s The Catholic Channel.
Marshall spoke about the Hindu nationalism movement, which has provoked rising intolerance towards minority religious communities in India. Last month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that the U.S. government designate India as a “country of particular concern” in the area of religious freedom.
“There are huge amounts of religious violence in India, occurring almost every day,” said Marshall. “There are reasons for this, but one of them is…a very radical form of Hinduism.” Hindus make up approximately 80% of India’s population. Muslims and Christians together make up only about 15% of the population and recently have been the targets of mob violence, which is not being adequately covered in international media.
“The BJP party, which supports [Hindu nationalism], gets over half the votes in the country,” said Marshall. Although many BJP government officials were educated in Christian schools, they still support Hindu nationalism and the anti-conversion laws that make proselytizing religions illegal in many Indian states.
These anti-conversion laws, Marshall observed, have incited mob violence against many Christians in India:
You can’t say anything that might imply life would be better for you if you became a Christian. That’s an inducement; you could go to prison if you say that. So then what possible reason could you give someone to convert? …When people do convert, there are often riots, they are attacked, anybody suspected of evangelism would be attacked. Often you’ll go to the police station because you’re safer in the jail than you are outside with this mob violence.
Marshall concluded by pointing to some recent outbursts of violence in northeast India, where hundreds of churches were burned down in the span of a month and 60 to 70 people were found dead as a result.
Listen to the full interview here.