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Islamophobia: What Are The Laws That Target Minorities

A list of debatable laws that are said to be anti-Muslim

Islamophobia: What Are The Laws That Target Minorities
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Criminalising Triple Talaq in 2019

While divorce emanating from the utterance of ‘talaq’ three times was already made illegal in an earlier judgment, the government passed a law in 2019 criminalising the utterance of these three words. So, if a Muslim man says these three words to his wife, they are not divorced but the husband faces a prison term. Muslim activists have criticised the law for skipping the actual process of providing justice and financial security to Muslim women, as imprisoning husbands could prevent them from paying post-divorce maintenance.

Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019

The new citizenship law is an amendment to a 1955 legislation and makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship. The law grants citizenship to ‘persecuted’ minorities—Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians—from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but it makes no reference to Muslims from these areas, who would then effectively be denied from seeking Indian citizenship.

Criminalising the Possession of Beef

The first state to criminalise the possession of beef was Maharashtra in 2015 (then under BJP rule). A 2019 report titled ‘Violent Cow Protection in India’ notes that between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people, majority Muslim, indigenous Adivasis, or Dalits—members of India’s most oppressed caste, for whom beef forms a significant part of their staple diet, were killed after being suspected of eating, selling, or transporting beef.

Hijab Ban

The Karnataka High Court upheld a ban on wearing the hijab in class in 2021, saying that it is not an essential religious practice of Islam. The ruling, which was contested in the Supreme Court, is still awaiting a hearing, and has effectively pushed out thousands of Muslim girls from schools.

Article 370

In the first few days of August 2019, the government abrogated Article 370, which provided some special privileges to Kashmir. Many Kashmiris believe this move will alter the demographic character of the Muslim-majority region as the abrogation allows non-Kashmiris to buy land there.

UCC

The latest legislation that has sparked fear among minorities is the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). While the draft of this legislation has not been made public yet, religious minorities including Muslims and tribal communities fear that a uniform code would rob them of their constitutional rights to freedom of religion by imposing a ‘common’ code of dos and don’ts.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act or the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Assam Chapter

In February this year, the Assam government, led by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, began a crackdown on child marriages in the state. Police have been filing cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, and under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. Data shows that most of these arrests were concentrated in districts with a high population of Bengali-origin Muslims. In a bid to counter allegations that the State police’s crackdown was targeted at Muslims, Sarma said the ratio of arrests of Muslims and Hindus since the crackdown started has been 55:45.

‘Love Jihad Laws’

Through a number of laws were passed by states in the last few years, Muslim-Hindu marriages done for the ‘sole purpose of conversion’ have been criminalised, effectively undoing interfaith marriages. The legislation has often been justified on the grounds of an alleged increase in instances of Muslim men marrying Hindu women. A few days after enacting the legislation in UP in 2020, a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl were attacked. The police charged the boy under the anti-conversion law.

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Compiled by Anisha Reddy
(This appeared in the print as 'Laws That Target Minorities')

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