US Commission recommends India be blacklisted over its religious intolerance
The recent report by the US commission on international religious freedom suggested that India should be added to the list of “countries of particular concern”, on whom sanctions can be imposed if their activities remain unchanged. The report said,“In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault.”
The bipartisan commission, created in 1998 by Congress to look into nations’ religious freedom records for policy formulation, suggested that the US authorities should adopt punitive measures including visa bans, on Indian officials responsible for injecting religious bias in society and funding groups that generate and spread hate speech. Though the chances of Trump administration taking action against its closest ally are very slim.
The report released on Tuesday pointed out at Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement, referring Muslim migrants as “termites,” and to the newly introduced citizenship law which sparked nationwide protests. The report said that the violence against the country’s minority groups increased under the rule of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. It highlighted that under Mr. Modi’s rule the country “allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity, and also engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence”.
Tony Perkins, the commission’s chairperson, called the Citizenship Act a “tipping point” and raised concern over the law, which strips people of Indian citizenship who are unable to produce documentation to prove that they are Indian citizens before 1971. In 1971 migrants (mostly Muslims) flew into the country during Bangladesh’s war of independence. The law was earlier introduced with respect to Assam and its migrant crisis.
“The intentions of the national leaders are to bring this about throughout the entire country,” Perkins told an online media briefing. He added, “You could potentially have 100 million people, mostly Muslims, left stateless because of their religion. That would be, obviously, an international issue.”
Indian government was quick to respond and invalidate the report. “Its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels,” foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said.
“We regard it as an organization of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” he said in a statement.
So far the list of “countries of particular concern” on religious freedom include nine nations — China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The commissions aims to include Nigeria, Russia, Syria and Vietnam, and India. Besides, the report also urged the US government to “exert significant pressure on Turkey to provide a timeline for its withdrawal from Syria.”