US agency asks India to be clubbed in the list of “countries of particular concern” over attacks on minorities


The day the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the verdict to declare abortion illegal in the world’s largest democracy in Washington Friday, June 24, hundreds of Indian Americans joined a community of Muslim community organizations to protest the religious persecution of Muslims in the second-largest democracy, India.

“India is rapidly deteriorating into a Fascist state where minorities are facing harassment and humiliation regularly,” said Shakeib Mashood, president of Indian American Muslim Council. “We call on all the communities to join our coalition and make your voices heard.”

Apart from the IAMC, the Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of Greater Houston, Council of American Islamic Relations, Muslims American Society, and Muslim Ummah of North America also joined the protests.

Persecution of minorities, both Muslims, Christians and those designated as lower caste Hindus and tribals have been on the rise since the radical right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s political arm the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 and repeated the feet in 2019. The next general elections in India is two years away.

Though the RSS has always claimed itself to be apolitical, the BJP leaders including Modi have served the organization for years in their youth, and many from RSS are appointed to the BJP in the party organization as well as government.

The BJP had to beat a hasty retreat in the first time when Arab nations condemned the comments made by two BJP spokesperson on the Prophet. This was the first time that the BJP had to beat a hasty retreat on any issue involving Muslims.

The crowd at Houston chanted slogans of unity with Muslims in India, saying, “Stop Indian Muslim Genocide” and “We Stand with Afreen Fatima”

Fatima, a student activist and member of the Welfare Party of India, where she is the national secretary of the party’s students’ wing Fraternity Movement, had her house in the city of Allahabad, now renamed Prayagraj, demolished by the government authorities of India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh, where the chief minister is a hardliner Hindu monk, who got cases against him withdrawn soon after being first elected in 2012. Fatima’s father Javed Mohammad, also a member of the Welfare Party, was arrested for his involvement in the protests after the Prophet controversy in early June.

Ayman Kabira, the president of Islamic Society of Greater Houston, urged the people to speak out against the state-sanctioned persecution of minorities in India.

“We stand for justice. We stand for human rights. The egregious acts perpetrated against Indian Muslims and other minorities need to stop. People of all walks of life should be condemning and working to highlight the plight of Indian Muslims,” said Kabire.

Before the events in Washington unfolded, the Supreme Court of India overturned a petition that challenged then Gujarat chief minister and present PM Modi’s exoneration in a case from 20 years ago, for which he was barred from entering the US till his elevation to the top post.

At the Gulbarga Society, in Ahmedabad in India’s Gujarat, rioters belonging to the majority community had attacked the cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartments, dragged out the residents, hacked and set them ablaze, killing 68 including a former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri. The former MP’s widow, Zakia, now 84, had been pursuing the case for the last two decades. The Supreme Court of India observed in the judgement, the appeal is “devoid of merits” and filed to “keep the pot boiling.”

The protestors in Washington said, in the month of June alone Muslims in India have been killed, arbitrarily detained and their houses unlawfully demolished.

The United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in its annual report released in April 2022, had listed India in the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) for “systematic, ongoing, egregious” violations of religious freedom for the third consecutive year.

The attention of the elected representatives in the United States, including the Minnesota state representative of America, Ilhan Omar have been repeatedly drawn towards the worsening condition of minorities especially Muslims in India.

Omar introduced the House Resolution 1196 which condemns India for egregious violations of human rights and religious freedom on June 21, 2022. The resolution was co-sponsored by Congressman

Jim McGovern (MA), Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Congressman Juan Vargas (CA), also urges the State Department to act on the recommendations of USCIRF to designate India as a CPC under the International Religious Freedom Act.

William White, the director of operations of Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR)- Houston, said, “The authoritarian Islamophobia demonstrated by the government in these states and across India is the same across the globe: collective punishment of innocent civilians as a means of retribution on those that partake in public protest.”

White has urged all American citizens to call their congressperson to pass House Resolution 1196.
Similar protests have been carried out in California and Dallas, and will be held in Seattle and Indianapolis.