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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

President of the Global Council of Indian Christians: 'Not only Trump, India does not welcome Muslims either'.


President of the Global Council of Indian Christians: 'Not only Trump, India does not welcome Muslims either'. (AsiaNews).

"Those shocked by Trump’s executive order prohibiting entry to refugees and citizens from seven countries with an Islamic majority, should look to similar laws in India”, says Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Commenting on the decision of the newly elected American president that has shocked world public opinion, the Christian leader also reports that the Indian government is launching similar policies. An amendment of the Citizenship Act provides that it can only be accorded to minority Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Therefore Muslims are excluded altogether. Even those who are suffering "horrific forms of persecution" such as the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Buddhist Tibetans and Uighurs in China. Below his comment.

President Donald Trump's executive order suspending the country's refugee entry programme for 120 days, and banning the entry of citizens from seven primarily Muslim countries – Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Sudan – for 90 days was passed with the apparent objective of protecting US national security.

While many in India have recoiled at the manner in which the Trump administration has made its refugee and immigration policy, Indians should also turn to look at similar legislative provisions being proposed in our own country.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 is a short, three-page document that seeks to amend Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act. The Citizenship Act deals with the acquisition and termination of Indian citizenship. Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act defines the term "illegal immigrant".
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to amend the definition of this term by adding this provision:
"Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act.".
Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to qualify for naturalization as a citizen of India if they are resident in India

The Preamble to the Bill, which seeks to explain the aims and objectives of the act, states:
The phrase "Many persons of India origin including persons belonging to the aforesaid minority communities..." is telling. It is clear that that this proposed amendment is not aimed at all persons of Indian origin but only some, namely non-Muslim ones.

What is even more interesting is that the bill is not aimed at all religious minorities in all neighbouring countries, and it clearly excludes many communities that may be experiencing horrific forms of persecution, such as the Muslim Rohingyas in Buddhist-majority Myanmar or Buddhist Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs in China.

legislation on refugees, or be a signatory to the 1951 Convention, treating the decision to grant refugee status as a matter of political expediency. Even if it does not want to sign the 1951 convention, nothing prevents it from enacting a domestic law that incorporates its principal features. The fact that the government is not interested in doing so means granting protection to victims of persecution is not its primary objective.

What does that leave us with, then? The Bharatiya Janata Party's 2014 election manifesto gives us the answer.

Page 37 of the manifesto states that "India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here". Why should India be a natural home for persecuted Hindus, as opposed to persecuted Muslims or Christians? Invoking the image of the "persecuted Hindu" is a masterful way of pushing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's notion of India as a 'Hindu nation', and an embattled one at that. Just as the claim of a threat to national security
,
If the Narendra Modi government wants to provide protection to religious minorities in neighbouring countries from persecution – a laudable objective – then it need not have looked further than the existing international frameworks of refugee law.

Central to the definition of a refugee in the 1951 Refugee Convention is a well-founded fear of being persecuted on the grounds of religion, race, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion by the country of one's nationality. Till now, India has consistently refused to promulgate a central order

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