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“The invitation of Modi, a disgrace to France”

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Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
Le Monde, the most widely circulated newspaper in France, greeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the following news item: “Emmanuel Macron’s selection of Narendra Modi as the guest of honor for Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 is a diplomatic gaffe.” The front page of Le Figaro proclaimed, “The invitation of Narendra Modi is a slap in the face to the values of human rights and democracy that France claims to uphold.” The fourth most widely distributed newspaper, Libération, stated, “The invitation of Narendra Modi is a sign of the growing ties between France and Hindu nationalism.” L’Humanité greeted Modi as follows: “The invitation of Narendra Modi is a disgrace to France.”

France’s choice of Modi, the most controversial personality, as guest of honor on the French National Day, surprised many, especially the French, who felt humiliated and insulted when Modi was given a red carpet welcome by President Emmnual Macrons, who was compelled to do so due to India’s deep pockets and its willingness to purchase french military hardware.

When he arrived in the city of perfumes, the great city of Paris, however, he was met by a large crowd protesting his human rights record. The following morning, all French dailies ran blaring headlines describing the incident as an insult to the French people and a slap in France’s face. The French press, not the government, expressed the sentiments of the French people, who are very assertive and forthright, by harshly criticizing the French government’s decision to invite Modi and give him a red carpet welcome that he neither deserved or merited.

When criticizing Modi’s record on human rights, nationalism, marginalization of religious minorities, supervising and aiding the genocide of Muslims and Christians, silencing the opposition, and violating democratic norms, the French media did not mince words. Modi was labeled a “predator of press freedom” by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), as India ranks 142nd out of 180 countries on the 2021 World Press Freedom Index. The RSF report accused Modi of using Gujarat as a “laboratory” for news and information control techniques, and of implementing these techniques after becoming India’s prime minister in 2014.

Modi during his tenure as Gujarat’s chief minister in 2002, was accused of murdering in cold blood more than a thousand people, predominantly Muslims, during the Gujarat riots which were abetted and incited by him. The Le Monde stated in an article that Modi’s “rise to power in 2019 has been accompanied by a worrying decline in democratic freedoms in India.”
Le monde, the second most widely circulated and esteemed newspaper, argued that Modi’s record on human rights is poor and that he has marginalized and discriminated against Muslims and other minorities in India. Critics cited Modi’s government’s policies on climate change, which they deemed harmful to the environment, and noted that Modi’s rise to power in India has coincided with a worrisome decline in democratic freedoms.
According to TFI, a highly rated television network, since Narendra Modi’s ascension to power, discrimination and violence against religious minorities in India have consistently increased, as he has been criticized on a regular basis for his human rights record and his role as a driving force behind this trend. It stated that just a few hours after Narendra Modi’s arrival in Paris on Thursday, July 13, the European Parliament expressed concern over the recurring clashes in the state of Manipur between the majority Meitei, who are predominantly Hindu, and the Kuki minority, who are predominantly Christian, resulting in “at least 120 deaths.” Members of the European Parliament urged Indian authorities to “immediately put an end to ethnic and religious violence” and denounced the leaders’ “nationalist rhetoric” and “inflammatory statements” The BJP is frequently charged with fostering Hindu identity.
TFI also highlighted the concern of the United Nations about the treatment of religious minorities. In 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights requested to join a legal challenge against a controversial citizenship law in India that facilitated granting Indian citizenship to refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, as long as they were not Muslims. The Modi government defends itself by stating that it does not favor Hindus and asserts that the rights are the same for all religions.

According toTF1, the visit to Paris for Bastille Day is highly criticized by the politicians and NGOs and added that several members of the French Green Party (EELV) considered it a “political mistake” by Emmanuel Macron. The Green Party member of Parliament Sandrine Rousseau emphasized, “Yes, it is acceptable to have diplomatic discussions with him, but no, it is not acceptable to honor him in our Republic.”

French media also accused Modi of neutralizing political opponents due to his treatment of opposition. While citing multiple instances of marginalizing the opposition, the report stated that in March, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi was sentenced to two years in prison for defamation against the Prime Minister, whom he had referred to as a “thief” during the 2019 election campaign. Consequently, he was barred from Parliament. According to Human Rights Watch, this is not an isolated incident. In India, “federal agencies are used to exert pressure on opposition politicians through a proliferation of legal proceedings initiated for political purposes.

The two-day state visit of the Indian Prime Minister raises concerns among human rights defenders, according to Europe 1, one of the most reputable television channels. It was added that Narendra Modi governs by appealing to Hindus, as 80 percent of Indians are Hindu. He established World Yoga Day, erected a massive temple to the deity RAM, and renovated the holy city of Varanasi. This has inspired hundreds of millions of Indians with pride and a false sense of superiority. On the other hand, his detractors accuse him of nationalism that marginalizes a segment of India’s population and history, namely Muslims.

Radio France International, labeled the Indian prime minister a Hindu nationalist and accused him of bringing India perilously close to authoritarianism, and said “It’s regrettable that we’re rolling out the red carpet for Narendra Modi on 14 July – a day when we’re supposed to be celebrating freedom – when Modi is responsible for an authoritarian shift that we consider very serious and a severe deterioration of human rights,” said Philippe Bolopion, chief of staff He cited what he termed the “systematic” persecution of religious minorities by Modi’s BJP party, as well as efforts to stifle critics, gag the press, and restrict online freedom of information. Bolopion told RFI, “The authoritarian turn is extremely concerning and a situation the French government should not ignore.”

It stated that shifting global priorities have made other nations willing to overlook Modi’s domestic record, adding, “Let us not forget that Modi was practically an international pariah” when he first came to power, and that the United States barred Modi from its territory over the riots, only lifting the ban when he became prime minister in 2014.

The media reported that as Modi arrived in Paris, a large number of protesters, including two far-left legislators, gathered to denounce his visit. “No red carpet for an enemy of human rights,” read a banner. The primary negotiator for the text, French MEP Pierre Larrouturou, described Modi’s Bastille Day reception as “an insult not only to India’s minority communities, journalists, and human rights defenders, but also to India as a democracy.”

Radio France international’s article titled “India, an unavoidable but unclassifiable power” quoted Tara Varma, a researcher at the American Institute of Brookings, as saying, “India has become an unavoidable actor in Asia.” In light of the systemic competition between the European Union and the United States and China, Western powers require an ally in Asia. This expert asserts that India is the only nation in the region capable of embodying this function, which it is fully prepared to play. While India’s lauded democracy is indeed undermined by authoritarian tendencies and the repression of Muslims, few leaders now have the courage to criticize the country.

In the game of great powers, Jean-Luc Racine, a French research director stated that strong military alliances can be formed with India because it desires to strengthen itself vis-à-vis China. It’s all about realpolitik in India, the world’s greatest importer of arms, piques the interest of numerous nations. Since the past decade, India has been the world’s largest importer of arms. The greatest supplier is France (29%) followed by the United States (11%). Consequently, Paris’s interest in New Delhi is comprehensible.

Regardless of its accomplishments, India will continue to be a pseudo power with 230 million people living in abject poverty, which is equivalent to the entire population of Pakistan. It is imploding from within by pursuing destructive and hateful narratives against its minorities, who outnumber Pakistan’s entire population. The rise of Hindu nationalism has resulted in increased discrimination against religious minorities, while the disparity between wealthy and poor in India is widening, causing resentment among the poor. It is fomenting war hysteria in the region by intimidating its weaker neighbors and forming an alliance against China, the world’s second-largest economy with a formidable military thus destabilizing the entire region. The French people have revealed Modi’s true nature and cruel face, while the French government, in an effort to make as much money as possible, is attempting to put on a fake show that has failed to achieve all of its goals due to the rejection of the visit by the entire French population.

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