USCIRF Suggests to Blacklist India on Religious Freedom

For the second year in a row, a US commission, USCIRF, suggested that India be included on a religious freedom blacklist. The commission claimed that the treatment of minorities had worsened.

Last year, the Indian government reacted furiously to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom\’s call. However, there\’s no hope the State Department will follow its advice and condemn India.

The Dire Situation in India

In its annual report, the commission stated that “religious freedom conditions in India continued their downward trend”. However, the commission only gives recommendations and doesn\’t make policies.

The report went on to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi\’s government \”promoted Hindu nationalist policies. This has resulted in systemic, continuing and egregious religious freedom violations.\”

It cited reports of police involvement in brutality against Muslims during deadly riots in New Delhi last year. It also highlighted the ongoing questions about a citizenship bill promoted by Modi. According to critics, the bill labels Muslims as non-Indians.

Moreover, it also claimed that the Indian government was suffocating dissent and expressed concern about the growth of interfaith marriage restrictions, especially in India\’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh.

In an apparent reference to the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz in March 2020, the USCIRF gave a statement. USCIRF stated that  “At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, disinformation and hateful rhetoric – including from government officials – often targeted religious minorities, continuing familiar patterns.”

India’s Ignorant Behaviour

Last year the USCIRF members were denied visas to visit India. The members wanted to visit for further assessment. International bodies like USCIRF, according to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, do not have the locus standi to \”pronounce on the condition of Indian citizens\’ legally reserved rights.\”

List of Notable Names

The commission proposed that India is a \”country of special concern\” by the State Department. This is alongside China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan are among the countries on the State Department\’s blacklist, which may lead to penalties if they do not reform their records.

Moore’s Lobbying

One commissioner, Johnnie Moore, a Trump appointee, expressed reservations about the recommendation on India. Moore said in a statement that India was \”at a fork in the fence,\” nonetheless, it is still the world\’s biggest democracy, with constitutional assurances of religious freedom.

He complained that India should not be a \’country of special interest\’ among all the countries in the world. He went on to say that it personifies plurality and that its religious life has become its greatest historical blessing.

Lastly, in addition to India, the commission has requested the State Department to also include Russia, Syria and Vietnam in the blacklist.


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