New York: A senior State Department official has said that the US was concerned about the developments in India over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and related matters and would like to help New Delhi work through them.
The official said on Wednesday: “I’ve met with officials in India about what’s taking place in the nation and expressed concern, expressed desire first to try to help and work through some of these issues.
“The initial step we try to do in most places is say what can we do to help you work through an issue to where there’s not religious persecution. That’s the first step, is just saying can we work with you on this.” India is unlikely to consider this offer of help as it brooks no foreign involvement in its internal affairs.
The official was briefing reporters about the International Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), which Washington launched on Thursday.
The Alliance will be a “consensual body and by that I mean there won’t be votes taken, and every nation is not bound to join in each of the items that come forth”, the official said.
The actions it could take would include “putting out statements, actions that can take place in international bodies that the group can come together and hopefully come behind, the possibilities of sanctions being used”, the official added.
Replying to a reporter’s question, the official said that “there’s a religious basis” to the US granting asylum to refugees, and hoped other countries would also give asylum to those facing religious persecution.
“We grant asylum status to people that are persecuted in their home country, and oftentimes there’s a religious basis to that, if they believe and there’s a legitimate possibility that they will be persecuted physically or in other ways for their faith,” the official said. “So we do that, and we would hope other countries do, and some countries do.” The Specter Amendment included in the US budget legislation known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act gives asylum to some non-Muslim minorities from Iran, while pointedly excluding Muslim.
The CAA follows the same path in granting expedited citizenship only to some non-Muslim refugees from the officially Islamic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan and Muslim majority Bangladesh and excluding Muslims from those countries from the facility, while at the same time not banning them from applying for citizenship under the normal rules.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has called for imposing sanctions on Indian Home Minister Amit Shah over the CAA, backs the Specter Amendment even though it excludes Iranian Muslims from special refugee status in the US.