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MRG expresses grave concern over recent reports of extreme hate speech against minorities in India

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This statement was delivered by Glenn Payot in the name of MRG at the Human Rights Council’s General Debate, 49th Session, held on Monday 21 March 2022.

Thank you Mister President,

Minority Rights Group is gravely concerned by reports of extreme hate speech against minorities in India in recent months. This includes repeated calls by public figures for Hindus to commit mass violence against Muslims made during a prominent Hindu religious congregation in the state of Uttarakhand three months ago. Similar speeches were reported later in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, at events also attended by past and current government officials.

Anti-minority sentiments have been routinely mobilised by senior ranking government officials in the run-up to recently concluded elections in a number of states, accompanied by reports of resurgent harassment and violence against minorities. In India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, the incumbent leadership was re-elected following an inflammatory campaign and previous term characterised by the arbitrary arrest of and state-sanctioned violence against minorities and human rights defenders (HRDs).

Mister President,

MRG is also concerned by a recent high-profile online campaign, targeting Muslim women. In January, Muslim women, including prominent activists, were put ‘on auction’ on an online app, stoking threats of sexual violence. While arrests were made in this case, an atmosphere of stigmatisation, discrimination and violence remains pervasive.

The hostility shown online towards Muslims, and Muslim women and girls in particular, reflects other recent developments. In Karnataka, Muslim girls wearing the hijab have been denied entry to government schools and colleges in recent weeks since the introduction of a state-wide ban. This was upheld by the Karnataka High Court on 15 March – a move which amounts to legal sanction of an order that threatens to violate the right to freedom of religion or belief. The order has already constrained access to education for Muslim girls wearing hijab, affecting disproportionately girls from disadvantaged socio-economic and caste backgrounds.

The scale of mounting hostility against Muslims, Christians and other marginalised groups is aggravated by a context of rapidly shrinking civic space and barriers to securing timely and effective remedy. These elements combined create an alarming situation for minorities in India.

I thank you.

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