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Indian minister scoffs at Obama comment on protecting Muslims

NEW DELHI, June 26 (Reuters) – India’s finance minister has derided comments by former U.S. President Barack Obama that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government should protect the rights of minority Muslims, accusing Obama of being hypocritical.

During Modi’s state visit to the United States last week, Obama told CNN that the issue of the “protection of the Muslim minority in a majority-Hindu India” would be worth raising in Modi’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Obama said that without such protection there was “a strong possibility that India at some point starts pulling apart”.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she was shocked that Obama has made such remarks when Modi was visiting the United States aiming to deepen relations.

“He was commenting on Indian Muslims … having bombed Muslim-majority countries from Syria to Yemen … during his presidency,” Sitharaman told a press conference on Sunday.

“Why would anyone listen to any allegations from such people?”

The U.S. State Department has raised concerns over treatment of Muslims other religious minorities in India under Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party. The Indian government says it treats all citizens equally.

Biden said he discussed human rights and other democratic values with Modi during their talks in the White House.

Modi, at a press conference with Biden last week, denied any discrimination against minorities under his government. (Reporting by Sakshi Dayal; editing by Robert Birsel)