"Taj Mahal, Agra, India" by Yann / CC BY-SA 4.0
By Michelle Boorstein and Joanna Slater
Religious freedoms in India deteriorated sharply last year as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi allowed “campaigns of harassment and violence” against Muslims and other religious minorities to continue, according to a U.S. watchdog group.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government body that monitors conditions abroad and U.S. responses, moved India to its category of greatest concern in an annual report released Tuesday. USCIRF, as the group is called, has no power to enforce its recommendations, but the State Department is required to consider them.
The commission recommended that the State Department designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, said Nadine Maenza, its vice chair, because it “tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” The most “startling and disturbing,” she said, was India’s passage of a citizenship amendment act that fast-tracks citizenship for newcomers who belong to six religions but excludes Muslims.
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