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US religious freedom watchdog labels India’s CAA as “problematic”

The USCIRF said that the act “explicitly excludes Muslims.” 

Representative Image / Wikimedia Commons

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Mar. 25 expressed its concern regarding the Indian government’s rules to begin implementing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

The CAA of 2019  aims to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who were in India before 2014. USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck termed the act as “problematic” claiming that it “explicitly excludes Muslims.” 

In a congressional hearing, Scheck said, “While it provides a fast-track to citizenship for Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians, the law explicitly excludes Muslims. If the law were truly aimed at protecting persecuted religious minorities, it would include Rohingya Muslims from Burma, Ahmadiyya Muslims from Pakistan, or Hazara Shi’a from Afghanistan, among others. No one should be denied citizenship based on religion or belief.”

“USCIRF urges members of Congress to continue to publicly call out religious freedom issues in India, and to include religious freedom in discussions with government counterparts and importantly, during congressional delegations,” the commissioner added.

Earlier the US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti had also expressed concern regarding the implementation of the act and said that the US will be monitoring the situation. He maintained that the principle of religious freedom and equality was a cornerstone of democracy. New Delhi rejected the comments implying that they were influenced by “vote-bank” politics.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on religious freedom abroad. It makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion or belief.
 

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