Love Jihad, also called Romeo Jihad, is an alleged activity under which young Muslim boys and men reportedly target young girls belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love. The term has been used to describe the activity in India, while similar activities have been reported in places like the United Kingdom. Official investigations in India have found no truth behind the allegations.
Love Jihad in India
The allegations of love jihad in India have raised concerns in various Hindu, Sikh and Christian organizations, while Muslim organisations in Kerala have denied the allegations. Investigations were launched in 2009 in Kerala and Karnataka. The Karnataka CID said it has not found any evidence of ’Love Jihad’ in a case involving the marriage of a non-Muslim girl from Karnataka with a Kerala Muslim youth and it had sought a two-month time from the State High Court to further probe the incident. The police said there was no organised attempt by any group or individual in Karnataka to entice girls and women into marriage. However, a large number of Hindu girls have converted to Islam of their own will. In January 2012, Kerala police declared that Love Jihad was "[a] campaign with no substance", bringing legal proceedings instead against the website hindujagruti.org for "spreading religious hatred and false propaganda." The controversial issue was able to garner international attention.
Love Jihad was alleged to be conducted in Kerala and Mangalore the coastal Karnataka region. The fundamentalist Muslim organization Popular Front of India and the Campus Front have been accused of promoting this activity. According to Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, up to 4,500 girls in Kerala have been targeted, whereas Hindu Janajagruti Samiti claimed that 30,000 girls have been converted in Karnataka alone. Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana general secretary Vellapally Natesan said that there had been reports in Narayaneeya communities of "Love Jihad" attempts. In Kerala, some movies have been accused of promoting Love Jihad, a charge which has been denied by the filmmakers. In addition to this reports of similar activities have emerged from Pakistan and the United Kingdom. On June 25 2014, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2667 young women were converted to Islam in the state since 2006. However, he stated that there was no evidence for any of them being forced conversions, and that fears of Love Jihad were "baseless."
In October 2009, the Karnataka government announced its intentions to counter "Love Jihad", which "appeared to be a serious issue". A week after the announcement, the government ordered a probe into the situation by the CID to determine if an organised effort existed to convert these girls and, if so, by whom it was being funded. One woman whose conversion to Islam came under scrutiny as a result of the probe was temporarily ordered to the custody of her parents, but eventually permitted to return to her new husband after she appeared in court, denying pressure to convert. In April 2010, police used the term to characterize the alleged kidnapping, forced conversion and marriage of a 17-year-old college girl in Mysore.
Following the launching of a poster campaign in Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala, purportedly by organisation Shri Ram Sena, state police began investigating the presence of that organisation in the area. In late October 2009, police addressed the question of "Love Jihad" itself, indicating that while they had not located an organisation called "Love Jihad", "there are reasons to suspect ‘concentrated attempts’ to persuade girls to convert to Islam after they fall in love with Muslim boys". They documented unconfirmed reports of a foreign-funded network of groups encouraging conversion through the subterfuge, but noted that no organisations conducting such campaigns had been confirmed and no evidence had been located to support foreign financial aid.
In late 2009, The Karnataka CID (Criminal Investigation Department) reported that although it was continuing to investigate, it had found no evidence that a "Love Jihad" existed. In late 2009, Director-General of Police Jacob Punnoose reported that although the investigation would continue, there was no evidence of any organisation using men "feigning love" to lure your women to convert to Islam. However, on 9 December 2009, Justice K T Sankaran for the Kerala High Court weighed in on the matter while hearing bail for the Muslim youth arrested for allegedly forcibly converting the two campus girls. According to Sankaran, police reports revealed the "blessings of some outfits" for a "concerted" effort for religious conversions, some 3,000 to 4,000 incidences of which had taken place after love affairs in a four-year period. Sankaran "found indications of ‘forceful’ religious conversions under the garb of ‘love’", suggesting that "such ‘deceptive’ acts" might require legislative intervention to prevent. According to The Indian Express, his conclusion that "such incidents under the pretext of love were rampant in certain parts of the state" ran contrary to Central and state government reports. In early 2010, the State Government reported to the Karnataka High Court that although a large number of young Hindu women had converted to Islam, there was no organized attempt to convince them to do so. A petition was also put before Sankaran to prevent the use of the terms "Love Jehad" and "Romeo Jehad", but Sankaran declined to overrule an earlier decision not to restrain media usage. Subsequently, however, the High Court stayed further police investigation, both because no organised efforts had been disclosed by police probes and because the investigation was specifically targeted against a single community.
Various organisations have joined together against this perceived conduct. Christian groups, such as the Christian Association for Social Action, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) banded against it, with the VHP making a specific Hindu helpline that answered 1,500 calls in three months related to "Love Jihad". The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) have reported that Catholic Church is concerned about this alleged phenomenon. The Vigilance Council of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) raised an alert for the Catholic community against the practice. In September, posters appeared in Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala under the name of right-wing group Shri Ram Sena warning against "Love Jihad". The group announced in December that it would launch a nationwide "Save our daughters, save India" campaign to combat "Love Jihad".
Muslim organizations in Kerala called it a malicious misinformation campaign. Popular Front of India (PFI) committee-member Naseeruddin Elamaram denied that the PFI was involved in any "Love Jihad", stating that people convert to Hinduism and Christianity as well and that religious conversion is not a crime. Members of the Muslim Central Committee of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts have responded by claiming that Hindus and Christians have fabricated these claims to undermine the Muslim faith and community.
In July 2010, the "Love Jihad" controversy resurfaced in the press when Kerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan referenced the alleged matrimonial conversion of non-Muslim girls as part of an effort to make Kerala a Muslim majority state. PFI dismissed his statements due to the findings of the Kerala probe, but the president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, the women's wing of the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party, called for an NIA investigation, alleging that the Kerala state probe was closed prematurely due to a tacit understanding with PFI. The Congress Party in Kerala responded strongly to the Chief Minister's comments, which they described as deplorable and dangerous.
In December 2011, the controversy erupted again in Karnataka legislative assembly, when member Mallika Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party asserted that the problem was ongoing and unaddressed — with, according to her, 69 of 84 Hindu girls who had gone missing between January and November of that year confessing after their recovery that "they'd been lured by Muslim youths who professed love." According to The Times of India, response was divided, with Deputy Speaker N. Yogish Bhat and House Leader S. Suresh Kumar supporting governmental intervention, while Congress members B. Ramanath Rai and Abhay Chandra Jain argued that "the issue was being raised to disrupt communal harmony in the district."
That same month, the alleged phenomenon was raised by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader during a protest organized by Hindu Hitarakshana Vedike about the arrest and reported mistreatment of 15 people on an unrelated matter, when Sangh suggested that police feared to interfere with Muslim youth who practice "Love Jihad" and cautioned young Hindu women against using cell phones, suggesting these play a major role. It was also raised by filmmaker Paromita Vohra, who labeled the phenemonen as VHP conspiracy theories.
- Child grooming
- Sexual jihad
- December 2010 Israeli rabbi letter controversy
- Flirty Fishing
- Forced conversion
- Marital conversion
- Missionary dating
- Sri Ram Sena
- Love bombing
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- The far-Right leader in a Sikh headscarf and a very disturbing anti-Muslim alliance: EDL joins protesters angry at 'grooming of girls' Mail Online 1 July 2012
- Secret 'Sikh' spies: EDL members disguised in headscarves hijack peaceful protest The Mirror 2 July 2012