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Congressional Letter Sheds Light on Rising Intolerance in India

08/08/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)International Christian Concern (ICC) has closely recorded developments in India as religious persecution continues to intensify. In February 2018, the Indian government openly admitted that religious intolerance was on the rise and presented evidence that reaffirmed their statements. While admission of growing persecution is a step forward, the government has taken no concrete steps to help curtail the increasing violence.

Following these statements, ICC has worked with members of the United States Congress to author a bipartisan congressional letter to Prime Minister Modi. The letter applauds the admission of the problem by the Indian government, while sternly calling on the prime minister to take action to ensure religious freedom for all religious groups in India. The letter was led by Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL) in the House and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) in the Senate. After several other members of Congress signed, the letter was sent to Prime Minister Modi last week. ICC continues to monitor developments in the region and expects a response from the government of India, highlighting steps to ensure religious freedom for all.

Although India’s constitution guarantees the right to religious freedom, not all citizens currently enjoy this right. Many Indian states have passed so-called Freedom of Religion Acts, or anti-conversion laws, that prohibit “coerced” religious conversion. The congressional letter specifically calls attention to these laws, which are extremely vague and often misused by local authorities to prevent Christians and other religious minorities from publicly practicing their faith.  Most organizations working with the persecuted are aware of the situation in India and support the US government’s efforts to apply pressure on Prime Minister Modi and the Indian government.

In 2016, ICC worked on a similar initiative with members of Congress that called on the Indian government to publicly acknowledge ongoing religious freedom violations. The letter helped prompt a response from the Modi regime, which dismissed such acts of persecution as mere “aberrations,” not indicative of a widespread and growing problem. International Christian Concern and partnering NGOs deemed these statements as false.

ICC has been working continually to combat persecution in India and hopes that the congressional letter will shed more light on persecution in India. Coming off of a 2017 visit to the United States, Prime Minister Modi echoed President Trump in saying that he greatly values US-India relations. ICC hopes that this letter will increase pressure on Prime Minister Modi to value human rights and religious freedom as the United States continues its cooperation with India.

Matias Perttula, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said, “International Christian Concern played a crucial role in supporting this congressional letter by making significant contributions to the language by providing expertise, raising awareness, and encouraging members of Congress to sign on to the letter. The bipartisan letter is expected to prompt a public response from the government of India and highlight the concrete steps they plan to take in order to curtail the ongoing persecution.”  

For interviews with Matias Perttula, Advocacy Director, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]