Assam CM Himanta’s ‘Hussain Obama’ remark creates stir

His remarks come in the context of Former US President Barack Obama's reference to the rights of ethnic minorities in India during a media interview.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma responded on Friday to a journalist who quoted former US President Barack Obama’s ‘safeguarding Muslim minority in a majority Hindu India’ remark, asking whether Assam police were on their way to Washington to arrest Obama.

The Assam chief minister responded by saying that there are plenty of ‘Hussain Obamas’ in India and that the state prioritises taking care of them over travelling to Washington. ‘Hussain’ is the middle name of the former US President.

“There are many Hussain Obama in India itself. We should prioritize taking care of them before considering going to Washington. The Assam police will act according to our own priorities,” he remarked.

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His remarks come just hours after PM Narendra Modi’s statement in the White House presser that ‘there is no discrimination in India’ on the grounds of caste or religion because his government follows the Constitution, which is formed on the basic values of democracy.

“When you talk of democracy, if there are no human values and there is no humanity, there are no human rights then that is not a democracy at all. So when you talk about democracy and you accept democracy and when we live democracy, then there is absolutely no space for discrimination,” the Prime Minister asserted,” Modi said.

Following Himanta Biswa Sarma’s remark, many netizens started reacting by comparing the statement made by PM Modi in the US and Assam CM’s ‘Hussain Obama’ comment.

Journalist Siddharth Varadarajan tweeted, ‘There’s absolutely no space for discrimination” said the Vishavguru in DC. He was lying, of course, which is why his Assam CM can reply to @rohini_sgh’s tweet by saying…. Shocking!’

Fact-checker Mohammed Zubair wrote, ‘Isn’t this an acknowledgement of religious discrimination by Chief Minister of Assam @himantabiswa by threatening to ‘take care’ Indians like ‘Hussain Obama’ (stresses on the name) who criticize Indian govt and speaks in line with Former US President @BarackObama?’.

Former US President Barack Obama on Thursday made a reference to the rights of ethnic minorities in India during a media interview and said if these are not protected, there is a strong possibility of the country “at some point starts pulling apart”.

Obama’s made the remarks during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and said if President Joe Biden meets with PM Modi, “the protection of the Muslim minority in a majority Hindu India is something worth mentioning”.

The remarks by the former US President came amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States, which is regarded as extremely significant by both sides amid growing strategic, technology and defence cooperation.

Bharatiya Janata Party Vice President Baijayant Jay Panda slammed Obama for his remarks and said it is preposterous to see the former US President “pander to the anti-India crowd, lecturing India in the same breath as China for its atrocities in Xinjiang”.

Obama, who was asked a question relating to India and China, said he has worked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Paris accords to deal with climate change.

“By the way, if I had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who I know well, part of my argument would be that if you do not protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, then there is a strong possibility that India, at some point, starts pulling apart. And we have seen what happens when you start getting those kinds of large internal conflicts. So that would be contrary to the interests not just of Muslim Indians but also Hindu Indians. I think it is important to be able to talk about these things honestly. Things are not going to be as clean as you like, because the world is complicated,” Obama told CNN.

Obama also said it is important for the US president to say that if China is sending Ughurs to mass camps and they are being “re-educated, that’s a problem and a challenge to all of us” and there is a need to pay attention to it.

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