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Trump Will Raise the Issue of Religious Freedom With PM Modi, Says White House

The US official was responding to a question on whether President Donald Trump was planning to speak to PM Narendra Modi on the CAA and NRC.

New Delhi| US President Donald Trump will raise the issue of religious freedom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India next week, the White House said, noting that the US has great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions and will continue to encourage it to uphold those values.

Before Trump’s first visit to India, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan American federal entity, published a ‘factsheet’, claiming that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) represents a significant downturn in religious freedom in India.

“As I talked about, we do have this shared commitment to upholding our universal values, the rule of law. We have great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, and we will continue to encourage India to uphold those traditions. And we are concerned with some of the issues that you have raised. And I think that the President will talk about these issues in his meetings with Prime Minister Modi and note that the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities. Of course, it’s in the Indian Constitution — religious freedom, respect for religious minorities, and equal treatment of all religions in India,” a senior official told reporters in a conference call.

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The official went on say, “In fact, India has a strong foundation of democracy, going back to the early days, right after Independence. India is a country rich in religious, linguistic, and cultural diversity. In fact, it’s the birthplace of four major world religions. Prime Minister Modi, in his first speech after winning the election last year, talked about how he would prioritize being inclusive of India’s religious minorities. And, certainly, the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law.”

The official was responding to a question on whether the President was planning to speak to PM Modi on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) or the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India before 2015 due to ‘religious persecution’. Critics say it intends to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.

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