Thursday, September 21, 2023

India’s “Jihad of Love” Laws: Another Attempt to Subjugate Muslims | Islamophobia News

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On January 6, the Supreme Court of India refused to uphold controversial laws recently enacted in several states to fight the “jihad of love” – ​​a baseless conspiracy theory accusing Muslim men of attracting women Hindus in marriage with the aim of forcibly converting them to Islam.

Such laws are currently in place in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. Other states, such as Haryana and Karnataka, have also announced their intention to introduce similar legislation.

By allowing so-called “jihad of love” laws to remain in force, the Supreme Court has increased the vulnerability of Indian Muslims, who are already subject to immense religious discrimination and persecution under the rule of the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata (BJP).

Interfaith marriages and religious conversions are relatively rare in India – a Hindu majority nation of 1.3 billion people home to some 195 million Muslims. Nevertheless, in Utter Pradesh alone, since the promulgation of the anti-conversion ordinance on November 28, 86 people have been named in the first information reports (FIR) related to the law and 54 have been arrested. Of the 85 people reserved, 79 were Muslim men accused of “seducing a woman and forcing her to convert to Islam”.

Just days after the ordinance was enacted, on December 2, Lucknow town police violently interrupted a wedding ceremony between a Hindu woman, Raina Gupta, and a Muslim, Mohammad Asif, which was to include in the both Hindu and Muslim Rituals. The families, who have supported the union, said neither will convert religion, but the wedding has still not been able to take place.

In mid-December, a Muslim teenager was arrested under the new law in the Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh after the father of a 16-year-old Hindu girl said the boy “had urged his daughter to run away with him ”with“ the intention of marrying and converting her ”. After returning from a birthday party, the boy and girl were attacked by a group of men and taken to the local police station. The Muslim boy was convicted under the anti-conversion law and for kidnapping. He was also charged under sections of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offenses Act 2012.

In another case, a Muslim, Owais Ahmad, was arrested and sentenced to 14 days in custody for allegedly trying to pressure a Hindu woman to convert to Islam and flee in 2019 , following a case filed by his father. The woman is now married to a Hindu and Ahmad says he had “no connection with the woman”.

And the new laws are used to criminalize and harass not only Muslim men seeking to marry (or daring to have simple social interactions with) Hindu women, but also interfaith couples who were married long before the legislation was enacted. .

At the end of December, when Muskan, 22, born into a Hindu family, and her Muslim husband Rashid went to register their marriage in the city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, he found himself in prison and the young woman in a state . -run shelter at home. Three months pregnant, she had a miscarriage. Later, the courts ruled that the couple were not breaking any laws and allowed them to continue living together, but the damage was already done.

Although they have repeatedly warned their supporters against “amorous jihad,” BJP leaders insist that their “anti-conversion” laws are not aimed at any specific group and are intended only to protect women against ” interfaith marriages ”. Nonetheless, as the above examples clearly show, these laws do nothing more than victimize young couples and put targets on the backs of innocent Muslim men and boys. In addition, the laws undermine India’s secular constitution and deny women freedom of action.

On December 15, the Allahabad High Court made this point clear when it suspended the arrest of a Muslim from the town of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh under the country’s new anti-conversion law. State. The man, a 32-year-old worker named Nadeeb, has been accused of “trapping” a married Hindu woman in a “love net” in an attempt to convert her.

In explaining its decision, the court said that Nadeeb and his alleged victim are “adults” who “have a fundamental right to privacy” and “are aware of the consequences of their alleged relationship”. He added that “Article 25 [of the Indian constitution] provides that all persons have the equal right to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion, subject to public order, morality and health and other provisions of the part III of the Constitution (which covers fundamental rights). “

“Love jihad” is not a new conspiracy. Since the 19th century, far-right Hindutva groups in India have argued baselessly that Muslim men are predators. Let them work to seduce Hindu women to convert them to Islam. That they want to use the wombs of Hindu women to produce Muslim babies and change the demographics of the predominantly Hindu country.

These demands have gained renewed significance in recent years, thanks to the BJP government’s overt efforts to further marginalize Muslims and transform secular and democratic India into a Hindu nation. In 2018, as ‘love jihad’ rhetoric became part of mainstream political discourse, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted an investigation into interfaith marriages in Kerala. The investigation, as expected, found no evidence of coercion in any of the cases examined. A similar survey conducted in September 2020 in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, came to the same conclusion.

Although there is no evidence of a Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu women through marriage, Hindu self-defense groups, with the support of state authorities, have long worked to prevent interfaith marriages. The Special Marriage Act 1954 provides a clear legal framework for marriages between adults of different religious communities. However, authorities often refuse to register such marriages on frivolous grounds. They also make couples’ names public during the registration process – a requirement recently overturned by the Allahabad High Court in a landmark judgment declaring it a “invasion of privacy” – allowing Hindu vigilante groups intervene and force the Hindu bride to come back to her parents.

With the introduction of anti-conversion laws in several states, the BJP has contented itself with hiding an ongoing political project to criminalize and victimize Muslims in legal garb. Now, right-wing vigilantes are openly working with the police to break interfaith marriages, undermine India’s secular constitution, and most importantly, put innocent Muslim men and boys behind bars.

From its contentious anti-Muslim citizenship amendment bill to its criminalization of “triple talaq” Muslim divorces, the BJP has made no secret of its desire to use legal means to silence, deprive and alienate Muslims in India. The new “anti-conversion” laws are just one more weapon in the ruling party’s anti-Muslim legal arsenal and must be fought.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.


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