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US not particularly concerned about
abuse of religious freedom in India

Shakti Bhatt in New York | March 07, 2003 02:26 IST

US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday refused to designate India as a country of particular concern (CPC) ignoring a strong recommendation by the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The USCIRF, a non-partisan and independent body, makes annual recommendations based on extensive press and state department reports, hearings by experts and first-hand observations.

This year the commission proposed adding India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to the list of countries where severe religious violations take place.

"The commission knows that communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India is an old issue," Firuz Kazemzadeh, one of the ten commissioners, told rediff.com.

"But last year they took a particularly unpleasant form in Gujarat. The commission believes that the government of India did not take the appropriate measures to contain the violence and some high-ranking officials seem to have even encouraged it," he added.

But Powell stuck to China, Burma, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Sudan the same six he designated last year - as CPCs for abuse of religious freedom.

The US government can implement a range of measures against them such as diplomatic pressure, sanctions, or cut military or economic aid.

Kazemzadeh expressed 'disappointment' at the exclusion of the countries that the commission suggested, stressing that the exclusion of Saudi Arabia, one of the least tolerant states, is particularly upsetting.

"Saudi Arabia has a state religion which is a direct contradiction of religious freedom," he said.

"India on the other hand," Kazemzadeh said, "is a democracy and a friend of the US. This was the time to alert India that the US is concerned about what is happening there."

It may be worth noting that many of the countries Powell chose not to include are potentially useful allies in case of a war against Iraq.

But Kazemzadeh laughed off suggestions to this end.

"The government has to consider many elements," he said. "I really would hesitate to discuss their motivations when they can do it themselves."

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Number of User Comments: 11

Sub: Right doing

The ruling party is doing the right thing. and no should have any objection is someone is promoting his religion ~

Posted by tc

Sub: Religious Freedom In India

The ruling Hindu fundamentalist party and its allies in the coalition government are a threat to all religions including the Hindu religion. Secretary of State ...

Posted by Shrikumar

Sub: Before the flames start...

What happened in Gujarat was first a breakdown of the administration and next a Hindu- Muslim fight. The *only* way to deal with a breakdown ...

Posted by Akshay

Sub: Religion

Religion is the supreme instict. Ever since human beings got consciousness, they have been believing in something or the other. Secularism is the biggest fraud. ...

Posted by kirparaj

Sub: Hindu & muslim fanatics,sorry we r not interested...

A nice article indeed but what about the suggestion to the government as well as to the people, are we not responsible for that. I ...

Posted by suruchi saini


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