Religious Freedom In India Deteriorated Last Year: US Govt Watchdog

This is the first time that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has proposed to include India in the special list since 2004.

New Delhi| A United States government body observing global religious freedom has suggested that the state department add India in the list of “countries of special concern,” joining a group of 13 other countries.

The recommendations of the USCIRF were to redesignate nine countries – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan – in the list of “countries of special concern”.

Additionally, it recommended that five other countries, India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam, should also join this group.

Presenting the 2020 annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the chairman of the bipartisan body said that overall, there had an improvement in the global environment on religious freedom, but it singled out India as having shown a “sharp downward turn” last year.

“Though other countries deteriorated, particularly India, we see international religious freedom on an upward trajectory overall,” said chairman Tony Perkins.

The USCIRF proposed that the State Department name India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC because it “tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom,” said vice-chairperson Nadine Maenza.

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She further added that the most “startling and disturbing” was India’s passage of a citizenship amendment act that fast-tracks citizenship for immigrants who belong to six religions but eliminates Muslims.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its annual report released Tuesday said that the Citizenship Amendment Act, passed in December by the Parliament in majority-Hindu India, violates religious freedom, particularly for Muslims.

An estimated 190 million Muslims constitute slightly less than 15% of India’s population.

However, three of the nine members have shown their dissent over the USCIRF proposal to place India in the CPC.

Traditionally, India does not recognize the view of the USCIRF. For over a decade, it has denied visas to members of the USCIRF.

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