U.S. Commission says religious freedom in India deteriorated in 2018

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  • The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan, independent federal government commission has said that there is an “overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018” in India.

Declining religious freedom across world

  • India continues to remain a Tier 2 country, according to the Commission, a list it has been unable to get off of since 2009.
  • Tier 2 countries are those in which “violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2018 are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious” CPC (Country of Particular Concern) standard.
  • CPCs are designated by the State Department and the latest list, from November 2018, contains 10 countries (including Burma, China, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia).
  • In these countries the government has tolerated or engaged in “particularly severe religious freedom violations, meaning those are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”
  • Other Tier 2 countries for 2018 are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
  • The Commission says in several countries where it found religious freedom declining, it also found an increased securitization and politicization of religion.

Indian case

  • In countries like India, it is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics, a tactic that is sometimes intentional by those who seek to discriminate against and restrict the rights of certain religious communities.
  • The report says conditions for minorities in India have deteriorated over the last decade, adding that a “multifaceted campaign by various right wing nationalist groups.
  • It calls out the role of extremist groups, India’s anti-conversion laws, cow-protection lynch mobs, concerns that millions from Assam will be incorrectly left out of the NRC and a lack of transparency on denying international NGOs registration and political targeting of NGOs.
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