Pompeo Visits India Amid Spat Over Religious Freedom Violations

CNS News | 6/26/2019 | Staff
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(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting India Wednesday, just days after his department, in a major annual report, highlighted serious incidents of religious persecution there, including “an increase in attacks against religious minorities and the perceived diminishing space for religious freedom.”

In an assessment that raised the ire of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, the State Department report released by Pompeo on Friday pointed to instances of Hindu mob violence against religious minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, in 2018.

Organization - NGO - Government - Mob - Attacks

It cited non-governmental organization (NGO) reports charging that “the government sometimes failed to act on mob attacks on religious minorities, marginalized communities, and critics of the government.”

Moreover, “some senior officials” in the BJP “made inflammatory speeches against minority communities,” it said.

Report - Triggers - Mob - Violence - Accusations

The report identified as major triggers for mob violence accusations that non-Hindus are killing cows, which Hindus consider sacred, and accusations that Christians and others are converting Hindus, using inducements or coercion to do so.

“Mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that victims had traded or killed cows for beef,” it said. “According to some NGOs, authorities often protected perpetrators from prosecution.”

India - States - Laws - Conversion - Christians

Nine of India’s 29 states have laws that restrict or criminalize religious conversion, and Christians accused of “forced conversions” faced criminal charges in several states.

Religious freedom is not the only potential irritant in the relationship between the world’s two biggest democracies, but it is a particularly sensitive issue.

Locus - Standing - Entity/government - State - Citizens

“We see no locus standi [legal standing] for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” foreign minister spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in response to the report.

“India is proud of its secular credentials, its status as the largest democracy and a pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to tolerance and inclusion,” Kumar...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNS News
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