Indian State outlaws ’love jihad’ marriages

'love jihad' marriages

Anyone in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh found guilty of using marriage to force someone to change religion will face a prison term of up to 10 years.

India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party has approved legislation outlawing so-called ‘love jihad’ marriages.

Uttar Pradesh government minister Siddharth Nath Singh said the threat of imprisonment would stop unlawful conversions and provide justice to women.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long campaigned against interfaith marriages.

The party describes such marriages as “love jihad,” an unproven conspiracy theory used by its leaders and hard-line Hindu groups to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage.

Under the decree, a couple belonging to two different religions will have to give two months notice to a district magistrate before getting married. The couple will be allowed to marry only if the official finds no objections.

Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with 237 million inhabitants. It is one of five states seeking to legislate against what Hindu nationalist leaders call forced and unlawful religious conversions.

There has been a rising tide of Hindu nationalism in India under Modi. Hindu hard-line groups have long accused minority Muslims of attempting to take over the country by persuading Hindu women to marry them and convert to Islam.

Hindu’s account for 74% of India’s 1.3 billion people, while Muslims make up about 14% of the population.

Hindu groups also oppose conversions to Christianity which makes up 2.3% of India’s population. They have vowed to continue trying to prevent interfaith relationships.

Although India’s constitution is secular and provides protection to all faiths, the issue of “love jihad” has gripped headlines and pitted Modi’s party leaders against secular activists.

India’s investigating agencies and courts have, however, rejected the “love jihad” theory. Many see it as part of an anti-Muslim agenda by Modi’s party.

But, in recent weeks, the Love Jihad conspiracy has risen to new prominence in the national conversation.

On Monday, police registered a case against Netflix for a scene in the TV miniseries “A Suitable Boy.” The scene depicted a Hindu woman and a Muslim man kissing against the backdrop of a temple.

This was described as “extremely objectionable content” by Narottam Mishra. He is the home minister of the BJP-ruled Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, who is weighing a similar law.


The Philadelphia Tribune



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