Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders has drawn both scathing criticism and applause from netizens after he accused US President Donald Trump of a “failure of leadership” over his response to Delhi violence.
Sanders made a rare foray into India’s internal politics on Wednesday, shortly after Trump returned from a heavily publicized trip to the country, where he was given a red-carpet welcome by PM Narendra Modi and clinched a much-anticipated $3 billion weapons deal with New Delhi.
Tweeting a link to a Washington Post story about a spate of sectarian violence over a citizenship law that has gripped parts of the Indian capital since last weekend, Sanders pinned blame for the unrest squarely on one side, describing the showdown between the rival groups as “anti-Muslim mob violence.”
“Over 200 million Muslims call India home. Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying, ‘That’s up to India.’ This is a failure of leadership on human rights,” tweeted Sanders, who is riding high in the polls after winning the popular vote in the first three primary contests.
Over 200 million Muslims call India home. Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying, “That’s up to India.” This is a failure of leadership on human rights.https://t.co/tUX713Bz9Y
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 26, 2020
The tweet has sparked a barrage of reactions online. While some commended Sanders for his criticism of what some argued is Trump’s lukewarm response to the unrest, others accused him of turning a blind eye toward the other side of the story – amid reports that a number of Indian police have been killed or wounded in the violence.
“In your desperation to get back at @realDonaldTrump, don’t malign MY country,” an Indian commenter tweeted.
They’re sectarian riots. Dishonest to call two cops brutally lynched by rioting Muslim mobs, some of whom indulged in stone pelting, hurling petrol bombs & firing bullets, as “anti-Muslim violence”.In your desperation to get back at @realDonaldTrump, don’t malign MY country.
— Kartikeya Tanna (@KartikeyaTanna) February 26, 2020
Others noted that not only Muslims but also law-abiding Hindus were victims of the rampage.
“You totally left out the fact that violent, organized Islamists went on a rampage, killing people, civilians, and burning down homes. Many of yesterday’s victims were Hindus. Police were powerless against the Islamist mobs. Why did you leave that part out!?” another user tweeted.
Some argued that what is happening in Delhi is none of Washington’s business:
“I don’t agree with Trump on 99.9% of what comes out of his mouth… I’m going to have to side with him in this one! The US is not the world’s police!” said one netizen.
I don’t agree with Trump on 99.9% of what comes out of his mouth… I’m going to have to side with him in this one! The US is not the world’s police! If the religious want to kill each other over who’s imaginary friend has a bigger set of balls let them! 😆
— Jamie Thorsteinson (@JRoc82) February 26, 2020
While sporadic clashes over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have been unfolding across India for months, the flare-up of violence in New Delhi coincided with Trump’s visit, prompting local authorities to blame“anti-social, political and external elements” for fomenting the unrest.
That comes after reports that a mob of some 1,000 people ransacked a mosque near Badi Masjid during a prayer service on Tuesday. A witness told the Times of India that “a huge group of people entered and started shouting slogans,” forcing worshipers to flee. Other witnesses said that the vandals who descended into the neighborhood’s Muslim community appeared to be outsiders, clad in masks.
“We have been living here for the past 25 years and never in these years have we had a single discord with any of our Hindu neighbors. We all co-exist here like a family,” local resident Mohammed Rashid said. Locals also said that when some of the Muslim residents had their houses burnt by the rowdy crowd, they were offered shelter by their Hindu neighbors.
In a bid to curb the violence that has claimed at least 30 lives so far, Indian authorities deployed a small army of riot police to patrol the areas of northeast Delhi and have been using drones to keep track of the situation from afar, with PM Modi calling on the residents to refrain from violence and “maintain peace and brotherhood at all times.”
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