India’s rejection of US State Department Report on Religious Freedom is flimsy say Indian Americans
OIC’s condemnation of derogatory statements against the Prophet a step in the right direction
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC (June 7, 2022) – The Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy organization dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos today characterized the Indian government’s response to the US State Department Report on Religious Freedom as flimsy and illogical. The report only contained information that has been widely reported by media around the world, around escalating attacks on India’s religious minorities. In fact, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has reported in the country’s Parliament that India witnessed as many as 3,399 cases of sectarian riots in the five year period from 2016 through 2020. Human rights organizations around the world have repeatedly emphasized that the victims of such riots are predominantly religious minorities, including Christians and Muslims.
The spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry, Mr. Arindam Bagchi, expressed an intriguing sentiment earlier this week, stating that the US State Department’s critique of the spiraling human rights violations in India meant that, “vote bank politics is being practiced in international relations.”
“Mr. Bagchi’s assertion of vote-bank politics playing a role in the State Department’s report is essentially a self-incriminating statement, since the Modi administration’s own divisive and sectarian policies is an integral element of its vote-bank driven political strategy,” said Mr. Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of IAMC. “The administration would be well-advised to heed the larger message of the State Department’s report, which is that it risks becoming an international pariah if it continues on the current trajectory,” added Mr. Ahmed.
In a welcome development, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued a strong denunciation of the denigration of Prophet Muhammed by then BJP spokesperson Ms. Nupur Sharma. “OIC’s statement is a belated recognition of the religious persecution and victimization of India’s 200 million Muslims,” said Mr. Syed Afzal Ali, President of IAMC.
IAMC has also noted with satisfaction that the recent State Department report referred to one of the Congressional briefings hosted by the organization and its allies. The Department of State noted that a session hosted by the “U.S.-based nonprofit Indian American Muslim Council on Religious Freedom in India, Amnesty International USA said the organization was forced to halt all operations in the country in 2020 because of the FCRA requirements. The Amnesty representative said the FCRA requirements were one example of “the Indian government activating their overall governmental framework” to crush opportunities for upholding religious freedom.”
The Department’s inclusion of IAMC’s name in its report represents a firm rejection of the sustained smear campaign launched against IAMC by the Indian government and Hindutva propagandist Indian news media, including TV news stations such as Republic TV, CNN News 18, and Times Now, as well as newspapers such as The Indian Express and The Economic Times.
In January, after India’s former Vice-President Hamid Ansari participated in a virtual briefing organized by IAMC and its allies, India’s federal minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party, outrageously and falsely accused IAMC of being connected with Pakistan’s government and with terrorist groups.
“Years of sustained attacks on IAMC by rabid Sangh-leaning media outlets in India and shady Hindutva outfits in the US have not dented our credibility one bit,” noted Mr. Khalid Ansari, Vice-President of IAMC. “We look forward to continued engagement with the US State Department towards holding human rights abusers accountable,” added Mr. Ansari.