India Denies Entry to U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
06/12/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – According to multiple reports, India has refused to grant entry visas to representatives of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). USCIRF was set to investigate reports of increased attacks and intolerance against India’s religious minority communities, including Muslims and Christians.
In USCIRF’s 2020 Annual Report, India was recommended to receive the “Country of Particular Concern” designation because ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom rights experienced by the country’s religious minorities. USCIRF claims that much of the religious intolerance and violence in India corresponds with the growth of Hindu nationalism under the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
“We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson from the Ministry of External Affairs, told India Today. “India is a pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to tolerance and inclusion.”
While India’s constitution does protect an individual’s right to religious freedom, national security and public order are often used by the state to promote Hindu nationalism and oppress religious minorities. Examples of this are the proliferation of anti-conversion laws to prevent the spread of “foreign religions” and zoning ordinances used to shut down churches.
According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) attacks on India’s Christians have been steadily increased since the BJP took power in 2014. In 2014, EFI documented 147 violent attacks on India’s Christians community. In 2019, the latest data available, EFI documented the violence grew to 366 attacks.
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