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The USCIRF has called for India to be blacklisted for lagging far behind in maintaining freedom of worship.



A US government panel has called for India to be put on a religious freedom blacklist over a “drastic” downturn under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, triggering a sharp rebuttal from New Delhi.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said India should join the ranks of “countries of particular concern” that would be subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records.

“In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault,” the report said.

The bipartisan panel recommends but does not set policy, and there is virtually no chance the State Department will follow its lead on India, an increasingly close US ally.

But the lower ranking for the ally amounts to a stark show of disapproval of India’s divisive new citizenship law, which the United Nations has called “fundamentally discriminatory”.

Trump declined to criticise the law during his February visit to India, where his meeting with Modi was punctuated by the worst violence in decades in New Delhi, in which 53 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

The commission, by contrast, is empowered as an independent arbiter to look only at nations’ religious freedom records, apart from their relationship with the US, Vice-Chair at USCIRF Nadine Maenza said.

Beyond the citizenship law, Maenza said in an interview, India has a broader “move toward clamping down on religious minorities that’s really troublesome”.

It called on the US to impose punitive measures, including visa bans on Indian officials believed responsible and grant funding to civil society groups that monitor hate speech.

The commission said Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, which won a convincing election victory last year, “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.”

It pointed to comments by Home Minister Amit Shah, who notoriously referred to mostly Muslim migrants as “termites,” and to a citizenship law that has triggered nationwide protests.

It also highlighted the revocation of the autonomy of Kashmir, which was India’s only Muslim-majority state, and allegations that Delhi police turned a blind eye to mobs who attacked Muslim neighbourhoods in February this year.

The Indian government, which has long been irritated by the commission’s comments, quickly rejected 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 organisation of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” he said in a statement.

The State Department designates nine “countries of particular concern” on religious freedom – China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The commission asked that all nine countries remain on the list. In addition to India, it sought the inclusion of four more – Nigeria, Russia, Syria and Vietnam.

Pakistan, India’s historic rival, was added by the State Department in 2018 after years of appeals by the commission.

In its latest report, the commission said Pakistan “continued to trend negatively,” voicing alarm at forced conversions of Hindus and other minorities, the abuse of blasphemy prosecutions and a ban on the Ahmadi sect calling itself Muslim.

Citizenship law ‘tipping point’
India’s citizenship law fast-tracks naturalisation for minorities from neighbouring countries – but not if they are Muslim.

Modi’s government says it is not aimed at Muslims but rather providing refuge to persecuted people and should be commended.

But critics consider it a watershed move by Modi to define the world’s largest democracy as a Hindu nation and chip away at independent India’s founding principle of secularism.

Tony Perkins, the commission’s chair, called the law a “tipping point” and voiced concern about a registry in the northeastern state of Assam, under which 1.9 million people failed to produce documentation to prove that they were Indian citizens before 1971, when mostly Muslim migrants flowed in during Bangladesh’s bloody war of independence.

“The intentions of the national leaders are to bring this about throughout the entire country,” Perkins told an online news conference.

“You could potentially have 100 million people, mostly Muslims, left stateless because of their religion. That would be, obviously, an international issue,” said Perkins, a conservative Christian activist known for his opposition to gay rights who is close to President Donald Trump’s administration.

Trump has hailed Modi and himself called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the US when he campaigned for president.

But for the first time in years, India has been facing substantial criticism in the US Congress.


ലോകമാന ക്രൈസ്തവ പീഢനങ്ങള്‍ നിരീക്ഷിക്കുന്നതിന് പുതിയ സംഘടന ഓ.പി.എ.സി. നിലവില്‍ വന്നു



ആഗോളതലത്തില്‍ ക്രൈസ്തവക്കെതിരായ മതപീഢനങ്ങള്‍ വെളിച്ചത്തു കൊണ്ടുവരുവാനും പ്രതിരോധിക്കുവാനും യാഥാസ്ഥിതിക ക്രൈസ്തവ സഭകളുടെ നേതൃത്വത്തില്‍ പുതിയ സംഘടന നിലവില്‍ വന്നു. ഇക്കഴിഞ്ഞ ബുധനാഴ്ച വാഷിംഗ്ടണില്‍ വെച്ചായിരുന്നു ഓര്‍ത്തഡോക്‌സ് പബ്ലിക് അഫയേഴ്‌സ് കമ്മിറ്റി എന്ന സംഘടനയുടെ ഉദ്ഘാടനം. യാഥാസ്ഥിതിക ക്രൈസ്തവ സഭകളുടെ നേതൃത്വത്തില്‍ രൂപം കൊണ്ടതാണെങ്കിലും സഭാഭേദമന്യേ ലോകമെമ്പാടുമുള്ള ക്രൈസ്തവര്‍ക്കെതിരായുള്ള അടിച്ചമര്‍ത്തലും വിവേചനവും വെളിച്ചത്ത് കൊണ്ടുവരികയെന്നതാണ് തങ്ങളുടെ ലക്ഷ്യമെന്നു ഒ പി എ സി പുറത്തു വിട്ട പ്രസ്താവനയില്‍ പറയുന്നു.

ക്രൈസ്തവര്‍ക്കെതിരായ മതപീഢനങ്ങള്‍ വര്‍ദധിക്കുകയാണെന്നും ഇതിനെതിരെ പോരാടുവാന്‍ സംഘടന ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നുണ്ടെന്നും അമേരിക്കന്‍ പ്രസിഡന്റിന്റെ മുന്‍ ഡെപ്യൂട്ടി അസിസ്റ്റന്റ് ഓ പി എ സി യുടെ സഹസ്ഥാപകനും ചെയര്‍മാനുമായ ജോര്‍ജ്ജ് ജിജിക്കോസ് പറഞ്ഞു. കഴിഞ്ഞ ജൂലൈയില്‍ ചരിത്ര പ്രസിദ്ധമായ ഹാഗിയ സോഫിയ എന്ന ക്രൈസ്തവ ദേവാലയത്തെ മുസ്ലീം പള്ളിയാക്കി മാറ്റിയതാണ് സംഘടന സ്ഥാപിക്കാനുള്ള പ്രധാന കാരണമെന്ന് സംഘടനയുടെ സ്ഥാപകരില്‍ ഒരാളായ നിക്കോളാസ് ഫുരിസ് പറയുന്നു.

ഇത്തരത്തിലുള്ള ആത്മീയ മോഷണങ്ങള്‍ ആധുനിക ലോകത്ത് അനുവദനീയമല്ല. ഇതിനെതിരെ പോരാടും. തങ്ങളുടെ ഉപദേശക സമിതിയിലുള്ളവര്‍ ഉന്നത വിദ്യാഭ്യാസ വിദഗ്ദരോ,ദൈവ ശാസ്ത്രജ്ഞരോ,മതപണ്ഡിതന്‍മാരോ അല്ലെന്നും മതപീഢനം നേരിട്ടുള്ള സാധാരണക്കാരുടെ സേവനമാണ് തങ്ങള്‍ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നതെന്നും ഫുരീസ് പറഞ്ഞു.

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Christian Leader Concerned by Growing Anti-Christian Violence in Central India



India – According to Asia News, Christians in India are concerned by escalating anti-Christian violence in Chhattisgarh. In recent months, at least two Christian communities have been brutally attacked and displaced by religious extremists in the state.

“Extremist fringe groups are artfully using propaganda to stir up suspicion and enmity among various groups in order to divide along communal lines,” Sajan K. George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told Asia News. “We are deeply concerned by the growing number of attacks and incidents involving tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh.”

On November 25, at least 27 people were injured in an anti-Christian incident in Chinghawaram, a village located in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. According to local reports, four Christians required hospitalization due to the severity of their injuries.

In September, extremists attacked 16 Christian families in Kakabeda, Singanpur, and Tiliyabeda, three villages located in the Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh. The homes of the 16 Christian families were destroyed after they refused to publically renounce their Christian faith.

“In Chhattisgarh, Christians are falsely accused of proselytizing,” George told Asia News. “Ironically, these radical groups attack Christians to convert them to Hinduism.”

“GCIC is deeply concerned by what is happening in many tribal areas,” George continued. “Serious episodes of large-scale anti-Christian violence have been reported.”

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