Trump Praises India’s PM Modi for Work to Improve Religious Freedom Despite Persecution

President Donald J. Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk together from Hyderabad House to deliver a joint press statement Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, on the lawn of Hyderabad House in New Delhi. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

President Trump wrapped up his trip to India this week by praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday, saying that they have worked hard to improve religious freedom conditions in the country.

The president’s two-day trip comes as ongoing riots and clashes between Muslim and Hindu groups over a controversial citizenship amendment that Muslims say is unfair has led to the death of at least 13 people in Delhi in recent days.

Although Trump did not take a position on the legislation, which has been criticized by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom as a possible “religious test” for citizenship, he did seem to express optimism regarding the condition of religious freedom in India.

Although Trump has vowed to promote religious freedom worldwide, his administration has not spoken out as boldly on the deteriorating religious freedom conditions in India as it has with other religious freedom violations across the globe, such as those in China.

Many called on the president to bring the issue up during his meeting with Modi.

Trump told reporters during a news conference that he and Modi “did talk about religious freedom” for “a long time.” Trump stressed that he “really believes” religious freedom is what Modi wants.

“The prime minister was incredible on what he told me. He wants people to have religious freedom,” Trump said at a news conference Tuesday. “He said that, in India, they have worked very hard to have great and open religious freedom. And if you look back and you look at what’s going on, relative to other places especially, they have really worked hard on religious freedom.”

Since Modi and the BJP came to power in 2014, rights groups have warned that Hindu nationalists have acted with relative impunity in attacking and persecuting Christians and other minorities that they view as “non-Indian.”

ADF India reported last year that there have been over 1,000 reported incidents of Christian persecution in India since 2014. ADF India and its partners who facilitate a database of Christian persecution report there to have been over a dozen incidents of Christian persecution in India in February 2020 alone.

Most recently, the database reported that police personnel raided Christians’ homes in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh at around 11 p.m. on Feb. 19. The Christians were reportedly warned that their names would be removed from a ration register and they wouldn’t be allowed to avail government facilities.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith