US panel proposes blacklisting India over minorities’ persecution

The persecution of minorities has gotten worse under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to a US government panel that reiterated proposals for blacklisting India over religious freedom on Monday.

There is little anticipation that the State Department will embrace the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s position on India, a growing US partner, as it just makes recommendations and does not establish policy.

Each year, the State Department publishes a list of nations where it has serious concerns about religious freedom and has threatened to impose penalties in the absence of change.

The State Department’s most recent designations, which included China, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, were all endorsed by the independent committee, whose members are chosen by the president and congressional party leaders.

However, it suggested that the State Department include a number of nations, including Vietnam, India, and Nigeria.

The yearly report linked to statements and social media posts made by members of Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and mentioned incidents of violence and property destruction in India that targeted Muslims and Christians.

“The continued enforcement of discriminatory laws facilitated a culture of impunity for widespread campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups,” the statement added.

The panel’s recommendation on India was made for the fourth year in a row, infuriating New Delhi, which accused the commission of being biased.

Following requests from evangelical Christians, the State Department briefly blacklisted Nigeria at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. However, President Joe Biden’s administration removed it after rejecting claims that the violence in Africa’s most populous nation was motivated by religion or was assisted by the government.

The committee also advised the State Department to put a number of US allies, including Egypt, Indonesia, and Turkey, on a watch list of nations that run the possibility of being banned if reforms aren’t made.