Hindu Group in Washington Slams US Religious Freedom Panel Report, Calls It 'Hinduphobic'
13:55 GMT 28.04.2022 (Updated: 14:48 GMT 28.04.2022)
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom claims to be an independent, bipartisan US government agency that monitors the universal right of freedom of religion and makes policy recommendations. However, the final decision is taken by the US State Department.
Days after a report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom
(USCIRF) recommended designating India as a “country of particular concern”, a Hindu organisation in Washington has termed the report on religious freedom a work of “Hinduphobic” commission members.
Condemning the USCIRF recommendation, HinduPACT, a Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy initiative of World Hindu Council of America, alleged that the USCIRF has been taken over by "Indophobic and Hinduphobic members".
Executive Director of HinduPACT Utsav Chakrabarti said in a statement that this year's report follows a pattern of reports that have appeared in previous years.
"Based on publicly available information on topics like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Kashmir, the USCIRF report is a copy-and-paste of talking points peddled by an agglomeration of Islamist groups working with radical Islamist group Justice for All on whose platform USCIRF commissioners appear regularly," the statement read.
Slamming the USCIRF report, World Hindu Council of America
President Ajay Shah stated that it is now obvious that the USCIRF has been taken over by the Indophobic and Hinduphobic members.
"Many of these members have attended India- and Hindu-bashing events. It is no surprise that their selective observations are meant to promote a political agenda and further their electoral reach in select communities," he said.
Meanwhile, several Muslim and Christian groups have hailed the observations of the USCIRF report.
Raising concerns over religious freedom conditions in India, the American Muslim Institution
(AMI) and its associate organisations lauded the USCIRF recommendation. It said that religious freedom conditions in India "significantly worsened" in 2021.
Demanding that the US administration should accept the recommendations of USCIRF, Federation of India-American Christian Organisations President Koshy George said: "This could also go a long way in helping the Union of India remain a functioning liberal democracy with respect for all religious and linguistic minorities."
In its latest report released on Monday, the USCIRF recommended designating India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and 12 other countries as “countries of particular concern" in the context of religious freedom.
This is for the third consecutive year that the USCIRF has recommended adding India to the religious freedom blacklist over alleged abuses.
In 2020, the panel flagged its concern for the first time and noted a “sharp downward turn" in religious freedom in India in 2019.
However, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar that year described the USCIRF as an "Organisation of Particular Concern" and questioned its locus standi.