By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – A U.S. government advisory panel wants India on a religious freedom blacklist over a “drastic” downturn under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, triggering an angry reaction from New Delhi. In addition to India, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also recommends the inclusion of four more – Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.
In its annual report, the USCIRF suggested that India and the four other nations should join the ranks of “countries of particular concern.” That would make them subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records. Countries already on this list include China, Iran, and North Korea. “[W]e also urge the administration to discontinue the repeated imposition of preexisting sanctions or waivers for CPC-designated countries. Instead, take a unique action for each country to provide accountability for religious freedom abuses,” stressed Gayle Manchin, USCIRF vice-chair, in a statement.
The commission noted that 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.” India’s government, it claimed, “also engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence.” Minority Christians have been among those targeted, Worthy News established.
The USCIRF also mentioned harsh remarks by the government about Muslims and the revocation of the autonomy of Kashmir, which was India’s only Muslim-majority state. Additionally, the panel cited allegations that Delhi police turned a blind eye to mobs who attacked Muslim neighborhoods in February this year. In a reaction, India’s government, which has long been upset by the commission’s comments, rejected the report. “Its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this new occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels,” a foreign ministry spokesman, Anurag Srivastava, told media. “We regard it as an organization of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” he added.
It remained unclear whether the U.S. State Department would follow the USCIRF’s advice because India is an increasingly close U.S. ally. Despite ongoing anti-Christian pressure, the commission’s annual report claimed that countries such as Sudan and Uzbekistan made improvements in the realm of religious freedom. The USCIRF’s annual report is watched worldwide as it is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity. It was established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad.
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