On Tuesday, the head of India’s far-right Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) political party Raj Thackeray reiterated his demand to remove loudspeakers on mosques post-Eid.
The Hindu reported that Thackeray asked the state government to hold discussions with maulvis of mosques till Eid on May 3 to ensure the removal of loudspeakers. If not, he threatened to start playing the Hanuman Chalisa, a Hindu service to praise Hanuman, in front of every mosque.
In addition, he also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring the Uniform Civil Code and act to control the country’s population growth. In response to criticism that he was singing Bharatiya Janata Party’s tune, he said he speaks what he wants and targets whoever is at fault.
Thackeray stirred controversy in his rally at Gudi Padwa at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on April 2. He asked his party workers to play Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques if they continued to play Azaan on loudspeakers. He then decided to hold another rally to respond to criticism over his warning.
According to him, Hindus shouldn’t hear other people’s prayers. Therefore he appealed to Hindus to come forward and start playing Hanuman Chalisa in front of the mosque after Eid if loudspeakers are not removed. Answering National Congress Party (NCP) leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Thackeray said he talked about loudspeakers in mosques for many years and would continue to do so.
A wave of rejection of loudspeakers in mosques also occurred in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, where police arrested three men after hoisting a saffron flag at a mosque on the occasion of Ram Navami, a Hindu religious festival.
A video recording of the incident shows a man climbing the mosque’s wall in Muzaffarpur and planting a saffron flag above its gate while another man thumping the air happily and cheers on the man on the wall. Fortunately, the police quickly lowered the flag from above the mosque gate, bringing the situation under control.
The incident occurred shortly after a minister issued a demand from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to impose a ban on mosque loudspeakers in Bihar.
Opposition parties in India accuse the Hindu nationalist BJP government at federal and state levels of discriminating against religious minorities, especially Muslims. Islamophobia in India has been moving in an alarming direction since Modi’s election in 2014.