The 28-nation European Union welcomed Mr Modi’s statement, saying his remarks were entirely in line with the fundamental spirit of Indian Constitution.
European Union ambassador in New Delhi, Joao Cravinho, said that Mr Modi’s comments were “upholding the basic principles of freedom of religion, were very welcome and unremarkable” because they are “entirely in line with the Indian constitution, and it is not surprising he made the remarks.”
“We welcome that because we know very well there are elements of discordance resulting from radical statements by different groups and it is important for political leaders to be aware of the explosive potential of religious divisiveness and communal conflicts, and Prime Minister Modi’s statements were highlighting such concern,” Mr Cravinho said on February 18.
The spokesperson for the United States Department of State Jen Psaki was also appreciative of Mr Modi’s speech on religious freedom.
“I can say broadly that, certainly, religious tolerance and freedom is something that we support around the world, including in India,” said Mr Psaki.
Americans of Indian origin also applauded Mr Modi’s remarks on the right to practice religion of their choice.
”Until the right to retain one’s religion is part of the international legal framework and understood to be essential to constructive interfaith engagement, we will continue to witness the annihilation of entire cultures and civilizations,” Suhag Shukla, Director of Hindu American Foundation, said on February 17.
Mr Modi’s remarks in support of freedom of religion came in the wake of tragic attacks on churches in the capital and controversial activities by saffron right-wing elements.
US President Barack Obama had recently stressed on the growing religious intolerance in India. During his visit to India in January, Mr Obama had said, “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines”. Later, during a National Prayer Breakfast meeting in Washington, Mr Obama noted that Mahatma Gandhi would have been shocked at the acts of intolerance in India.
Speaking at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on February 17, PM Modi had said, “My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence. My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly.”
Mr Modi’s speech on religious tolerance is a significant reassurance for the minorities of India, but the entire nation, and not just religious minorities, is expecting him to redeem his pledge to protect the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural diversity of India.
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