What should Muslims avoid in India

Religious dispute in India : Premier Modi provokes the Muslims

The holy city of Ayodhya shines solemnly in yellow and orange. Hindu temples are decorated with garlands of flowers and candles, priests pray and recite the Ramayana, the holy book about the legend of the Hindu god Ram. "Long live Ram," announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he laid the foundation stone for a new Ram temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday. “Millions of Indians cannot believe that this day has come.” The construction of the Hindu temple on the site of a 16th century mosque that was destroyed by Hindu extremists in 1992 is a political triumph for Modi, who has thus made India a little more in transformed a Hindu state.

Instead of a folk festival with cheering Modi supporters, however, the celebration was sober. Because of the corona pandemic, only just under 200 guests were invited to the ceremony. Several members of Modi's government had tested positive for Corona in the past few days, including Interior Minister Amit Shah, Modi's right-hand man. India reported 52,509 new infections on Wednesday. In total, the country has over 1.9 million Covid-19 infections and 39,795 virus-related deaths. India has the third highest number of infections after the US and Brazil.

End of the multi-religiosity

The date for the laying of the foundation stone had been determined by priests and astrologers to bring particularly good luck. But another symbolism will have played a role. Exactly a year ago, Kashmir lost its autonomous status. India's only Muslim-majority state was incorporated into the central state. A curfew has been in effect again in Kashmir since Tuesday. Hundreds of politicians and activists remain in custody.

"In Ayodhya we see the dismantling of the old republic and the laying of the foundation stone for the new republic", wrote the "Indian Express". India, long proud of its multi-religious tradition, has changed radically since Modi's election in 2014. A new citizenship law protects Hindus, and peaceful protests against the law have been brutally suppressed. Muslims must fear attacks by Hindu extremists. Modi had been involved in his party's campaigns to rebuild the Ram Temple in Ayodhya in the 1990s, but had always avoided the site during his time as prime minister.

Only the historic decision of India's Supreme Court changed that. In November 2019, the judges gave the go-ahead for the construction of a Hindu temple on a piece of land in the holy city that had been disputed between Muslims and Hindus for 500 years and gave the entire property to the Hindus . This ends one of the longest and bitterest legal disputes in Indian history in a triumph for the Modi government. Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started with an election promise to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, the birthplace of God Ram. Although the judges criticized the destruction of the mosque in 1992 as a criminal act, their verdict was not affected.

More than 2000 people died

The destruction of the mosque had led to the worst religious excesses in India since independence in 1947. Over 2000 people died in the days of mutual persecution of Hindus and Muslims. The property on which the destroyed mosque stood has been cordoned off and closely guarded for a quarter of a century. Given the explosive nature of the laying of the foundation stone, thousands of additional security forces had been mobilized to prevent religious excesses. Police barriers had been set up on the access roads to Ayodhya and the district's borders had been closed.

The majority of Indians are Hindus who make up about 80 percent of the population. The second largest religious group are the Muslims with around 170 million. They make up around 14 percent of the population.

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