The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which flags religious freedom violators for the State Department, listed Russia among six new Tier 1 “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in its latest annual report, released Wednesday.
There are currently 10 countries designated by the United States as the world’s worst offenders against religious freedom: Burma (aka Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The USCIRF has recommended that, along with Russia and Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Syria, and Vietnam be added to the CPC list.
While closing eyes to deteriorating conditions of religious freedom in India, the report has put India among the Tier 2 CPC.
However, it is strikingly shocking that the report fails to cover increasing religious persecution in India. In India, religious minorities, particularly Muslims, have to face persecution and disparity on regular basis.
USCIRF places India on its Tier 2, where it has been since 2009 despite the fact that Modi’s coming to power in 2014 has seen rapid increase in religious intolerance with countless incidents of cow vigilantes attacking Muslims, official criminalization of slaughter of cows and selling of meat in some states.
Only recently, a priest, Yogi Adityanath, a fire-breathing cleric from Gorakhpur, was named by the incumbent government of India as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath has been heard saying that “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims.” In another undated video, he says: “If they take one Hindu girl, we’ll take 100 Muslim girls.”
Ministers have openly called for concentration camps and genocide of Kashmiris and other Muslims in other parts of India.
A research by Pew also ranked India fourth worst – after Syria, Nigeria and Iraq – in religious hostilities in the world in 2015.
But the USCIRF report, while also admitting religious intolerance in India, has ranked it better than Russia and Pakistan where experts believe persecution is far lesser than India.
Ahmadis prohibited from voting in Pakistan?
Commenting on religious persecution in Pakistan, the report, while rightly pointing out religious intolerance in the country, makes a big mistake by stating that Pakistan has prohibited Ahmadis from voting giving an impression as if there is a constitutional provision that bars any Ahmadi from voting.
Many Ahmadis choose not to cast their votes as a protest against the second amendment that declares them non-Muslims. There is no legal provision that has explicitly asked Ahmadis to not vote. The report, on the other hand, does not elaborate on the complexity of the matter and insinuates that the state has categorically banned Ahmadis from voting.