As violence erupted in the streets Tuesday over a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims, President Trump defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s record on religious tolerance as he closed out a two-day visit to India that served as a celebration of the bond between two nationalist leaders.
Trump avoided any public criticism of his host — whose political biography is also built partly on religious and cultural divisions — along with any comparison of Modi’s policies with his own treatment of Muslim immigrants.
“We did talk about religious freedom, and I will say that the prime minister was incredible in what he told me. He wants people to have religious freedom and very strongly,” Trump said during a news conference that capped the public portion of his largely ceremonial visit.
Modi, who leads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has insisted that the citizenship law aims to help persecuted religious minorities in three nearby countries. But critics say it is unconstitutional and discriminates against India’s Muslim minority.
At least 13 people were killed, including a police officer, in clashes in the capital city during Trump’s visit. The violence began when supporters of the citizenship law confronted opponents of the measure. [Continue reading…]