European Parliament worried about religious crisis in India

MEPs adopt a resolution asking Indian government to take action in Manipur, where tribal and religious conflict already left 250 churches destroyed.

Evangelical Focus · STRASBOURG · 20 JULY 2023 · 19:00 CET

European Parliament. / <a target="_blank" href="">Frederic Köberl</a>, Unsplash.,
European Parliament. / Frederic Köberl, Unsplash.

The European Parliament recently adopted a joint resolution, calling for the government of India to “take urgent steps to restore calm” in the midst of the tribal and religious crisis unfolding in Manipur, which has led to the destruction of dozens of Christians churches.

The resolution was approved by a large majority, who also asked Indian authorities to tackle “the impunity enjoyed by mobs perpetrating the violence and respond to stem the violence in line with their international human rights obligations”.

Furthermore, MEPs urged political leaders to “cease inflammatory statements and play an impartial role in mediating the tensions”, not criminalising “those who are critical of the government’s conduct”.

EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness pointed out that the EU was “following the situation in Manipur closely, and we are very deeply saddened, by the large number of deaths and of injured and displaced persons”.

She acknowledged some steps taken by the Indian government, like setting up a commission of inquiry and a peace committee. “We hope that these measures will very soon bring results so that this wave of violence and the profound mistrust between the communities comes to an end”, said McGuinness.


EU and freedom of religion

The resolution also called on the EU member states “to systematically and publicly raise human rights concerns with India at the highest level, particularly regarding freedom of expression and religion and the shrinking space for civil society".

Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen, a Reformed Christian, stressed that “without strict guarantees, there can be no new trade agreement with India.”

His party (SGP in the Netherlands) presented three requests for the European Commission. The first one urged the EU to really implement its guidelines guidelines for freedom of religion, which, according to the MEP, have existed for ten years,but they have been barely applied.

The second one is the demand for a permanent mandate for the EU Commissioner of Religious Freedom and extra personnel.

Its last proposal was to dedicate June 24, the day the guidelines were presented, as the European Day for the fight against religious persecution.


Indian government: “a colonial mindset”

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, strongly condemned the European resolution, stating that it was “unacceptable” and reflected a “colonial mindset”.

Bagchi underlined that the conflict in Manipur was entirely an "internal matter" and Indian authorities, including the judiciary, are actively addressing the situation and working to maintain peace, law and order in the region.

He said the European Parliament should focus on its own internal issues instead.


250 churches burned in Manipur

The resolution comes in response to a violent clash that erupted on May 3rd, due to an ongoing conflict between Manipur’s largely Hindu Meitei and largely Christian Kuki tribes.

At least 120 have died, 50,000 have been displaced, and over 1,700 homes have been destroyed.

Furthermore, religious symbols and places of worship were heavily targeted, with over 250 churches burned down or damaged.

Religious freedom conditions in India have worsened in recent years. Laws at the local, state, and national levels, including anti-conversion laws, are discriminatory towards religious minorities.

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