Obama welcomes Modi's assurance of equal respect to all faiths

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2015 23:16 IST

President Barack Obama welcomes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that his government will give equal respect to all religions, said the White House.

In response to a “We the People” petition, the White House said, “During his recent trip to India, the President discussed the importance of religious freedom and tolerance in India on January 27 during his speech at Siri Fort in New Delhi. President Obama underscored that India's success depended on the nation not being ‘splintered along the lines of religious faith’.”

And, “The President welcomed Prime Minister Modi's February 17 condemnation of religious-based violent acts, and his assurance that his government will give equal respect to all religions.”

At an event to commemorate the canonization of two Indians by the Vatican on February 17, Prime Minister 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. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions.”

“We the people” petition is an Obama initiative to give Americans a way to engage with the government on issues important to them. Anyone can start a petition on the White House website, but to elicit a response, the petition must get 100,000 signatures within 30 days.

This petition — Question Modi "WHY Indian constitution labels "Sikhs" as Hindus?" while attending Constitution Day events on January 26 — gathered 125,000 signatures.

President Obama did raise the issue of religious tolerance in a speech from Siri Fort during his visit, and then reiterated it at a later event in Washington DC, when he remarked “acts of intolerance” in India in recent years “would have shocked Gandhiji”.

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