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The US rubbishes media reports that describe India as anti-Muslim, says it engaged with India in protecting freedom of religion across the world

"We are deeply committed to promoting and protecting universal respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief of all around the world. We have engaged many countries including India on the importance of equal treatment for members of all religious communities," the US State department said.

The United States media is constantly portraying the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in India as anti-Muslim. The New York Times published a report on May 19, in which it was said that Muslim families living in India have been sidelined by the ruling authorities and even their identities are being questioned.

On Monday (May 20), the US State Department clarified and praised India’s religious freedom. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the state rejects such reports outright. “We are deeply committed to promoting and protecting universal respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief worldwide. We have engaged many countries including India on the importance of equal treatment for members of all religious communities,” Miller said in a daily press briefing.

During this time, the US State Department also rejected its International Religious Freedom Report, which stated that Muslims are being oppressed in India. Also on May 17, the White House stated that India is the world’s most thriving democracy. The ability of Indians to vote and speak out to choose the right government is commendable.

Since the commencement of the Lok Sabha elections in India, the US media has been broadcasting negative stories about the country. It describes the secular system of India as a threat. Most media outlets predict that if Prime Minister Modi is elected for the third time, violence against Muslims will escalate in the country. Also, the Indian government will isolate Muslims.

The New York Times published a report on May 18 reading “Strangers in Their Own Land: Being Muslim in Modi’s India”. The report suggested that Muslim families grapple with anguish and isolation as they try to raise their children in a country that increasingly, allegedly questions their very identity. It added that Muslims live ‘lifeless lives’ in India.

Several other US media houses like the Associated Press and Fox 59 reported that the Modi government is facing a test in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections 2024. The reports also claimed that the PM was influencing people by playing over religion.

Further several reports also claimed that the Prime Minister had also influenced the people from the Hindi cinema industry. “Hindi cinema once reflected certain secular, democratic values championed by India’s founding fathers. Many critics now say the industry has veered toward the right over the past decade – coinciding with the populist rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” the CNN report read.

Earlier in February, the British newspaper The Economist had also published a report in which it was said that there are flaws in India’s democracy. In this report which published the ranking of democracy among 167 countries, India was ranked 41st. According to the report, democracy exists in India with some flaws.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has outrightly rejected these reports. In several interviews and election campaigns, the PM has said that no community is being oppressed in the country. He emphasized that the news of atrocities on minorities in India is absurd and the public should stay away from them.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council said in a report that from 1950 to 2015, the Muslim population in India increased by 43.15%. On the contrary, a decline of 7.82% has been observed in the population of Hindus during the same period.

The research found that the Christian, Sikh, and Buddhist numbers increased, while the Jain and Parsi populations fell. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also cited the EAC-PM report, claiming that the narrative that “minority is in danger” is untrue and has been debunked. He stated that the perception that has been formed is “proving to be a mistake.”

“Between 1950 and 2015, the number of Hindus in India has decreased by about 8 per cent, while that of minorities has increased by 43 per cent. The perception that has been created is proving to be a mistake. The wrong narrative is being exposed. Whatever meaning one has to take out of it, they can. I don’t want to bring out anything,” PM Modi said while speaking to Republic TV earlier this month.

“If this is factual, then the perceptions created as in that minority is being suppressed in India, there is no voice for the minority in India… all these narratives that are being created, all this allegation against India, please accept the truth and come out of this narrative,” he added.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is an independent council established to provide economic and related advice to the Government of India, specifically the Prime Minister.

Earlier on May 17, White House spokesperson John Kirby had said that America is closely watching the elections being held in India. He noticed that 96 crore people in India would become a part of the voting process to choose the candidates of 2,660 registered parties.

“Indians are electing 545 Members of Parliament from among thousands of candidates, with more than 10 lakh polling stations,” he added. This statement of the White House came when the global media called the elections being held in India a threat to its democracy.

Even though empirical evidence suggests every community, including the Muslims, has flourished and received central government schemes without discrimination, the Western media have run a concerted smear campaign to project the Modi government as anti-Muslim.

The Ministry of External Affairs meanwhile dismissed a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “reinforcing discriminatory nationalist policies.”

The Ministry referred to the group as “biased” and indicated that it does not expect it to understand India’s diverse, pluralistic, and democratic culture.

“The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is a biased institution with a political agenda. They continue to publish their propaganda on India disguised as an annual report,” Randhir Jaiswal, an MEA official spokeswoman, stated at a news briefing.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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