The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) claimed it was “deeply troubled” by the citizenship bill, which passed the Indian parliament’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, in a 311-80 vote, calling it nothing short of a “religious test for Indian citizenship” which “excludes Muslims.”

“The United States government should consider sanctions against the home minister and other principal leadership” if the bill passes, the commission said, insisting that it knows how Indian internal politics works best.

Dubbed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, or CAB for short, the new law will fast-track Indian citizenship for immigrants facing religious discrimination in several neighboring countries.

While the bill specifies Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, it makes no mention of Muslims, an omission that has courted controversy. As the lower house debated on Monday, opposition lawmakers slammed the bill as “divisive” and deemed it “targeted legislation” that seeks to strip rights from Muslim minorities.

However, Home Minister Amit Shah, who introduced the law, outright rejected the US butting into India’s internal affairs, insisting the bill is solely intended to protect those facing persecution.

“In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis and Jains have been discriminated against,” Shah shot back. “So this Bill will give these persecuted people citizenship.”

If any Muslim from these three nations applies for citizenship according to our law, then we will consider it, but the person won’t get the benefit of this amendment as the person has not faced religious persecution.

The bill also has backing from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, like Shah, belongs to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The USCIRF was established in 1998 to monitor and evaluate religious freedoms in other countries and to make policy recommendations to the US president, the State Department and the House of Representatives – routinely calling for sanctions against those who don’t live up to American standards. The commission placed India on a “watch list” in 2009 over what it said were “largely inadequate” protections for minorities. However, New Delhi has barred entry for American commissioners attempting to travel to the country, insisting they stay out of the country’s internal affairs.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Share your photos on the theme of ‘relief’

The next theme for our weekly photography assignment, published in print in the Observer New Review is ‘relief’. Share your photos of what relief means to you – and tell us about your image in the description box. The closing…

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe prison leave extended

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has had her temporary leave from prison in Iran extended by two weeks, her husband has revealed.  The British-Iranian mother was among about 85,000 prisoners released from Evin prison in Tehran on 17 March as part of efforts…

Man in court over killing of N Ireland journalist Lyra McKee

LONDON — A 52-year-old man appeared in court Thursday in Northern Ireland in connection with the killing of Lyra McKee, a journalist shot dead during a riot involving Irish Republican Army dissidents last year. Paul McIntyre has been charged with…

Putin enlists the military following record jump in coronavirus cases

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered snap checks on the readiness of troops to deal with coronavirus following a record increase in the number of coronavirus cases. The 163 day-to-day increase to 658 was approximately three times the previous record, stoking fears…