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India withholds visas from US religious freedom monitors

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(RNS) A U.S. religious freedom panel says it has been unable to obtain visas for members who planned to travel to India this week to assess conditions there.

In its 2015 annual report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom included India on its list of Tier 2 countries — not the worst offenders but worthy of close monitoring due to religious freedom violations within their borders.

USCIRF chairman Robert P. George said in a statement that “a pluralistic, non-sectarian, and democratic state” such as as India should have allowed the visit.

He noted that USCIRF has sent delegations to some of “the worst offenders of religious freedom,” such as China, Burma, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.


RELATED STORY: 5 takeaways from the new report by US Commission on International Religious Freedom


In the report, the commission said that while India had tried to protect religious minorities, incidents of “religiously-motivated and communal violence reportedly have increased for three consecutive years.”

The Tier 2 designation was seen as unfair and part of what Jakob De Roover, a professor at Belgium’s Ghent University, considers an effort by USCIRF to promote a society based on American notions of religion.

“It seeks to spread Protestant-Christian values across the world but does so under the guise of promoting and protecting human rights that are ‘universally held sacred,’” he wrote on firstpost.com, an Indian website, shortly after the release of last year’s USCIRF report.

(Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national reporter for RNS) 

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

7 Comments

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  • India has consistently rejected USCIRF false-rpt & denied visa.Visa was denied in 2009.Few facts:
    1)Event: Terrorist Attack at Bodhgaya India
    USCIRF portrayal: “NIA arrested Hindu priest.Protest ensued &..Priest released.”
    Fact: India Mujahideens arrested.Anti-attack vigil ensued.

    2)Event: AntiTerror Op. BatlaHouse, Delhi
    USCIRF portrayal: “2 unarmed youth shot by police.”
    Fact: Court awarded life term to arrested Indian Mujahideen terrorist found guilty of bombing new delhi and killing 17 civilians.

    3) Event:99acre land to build Safe Shelter for Hindu Pilgrims in amarnath, kashmir.
    USCIRF portrayal: Lends voice to claims of terror outfits. Shows no concern for Pilgrim security.
    Fact:Amarnath piligrim massacre & terror attack on temp shelters is a recurring event.

    4)Event: Attack on Hindu Monastery,Orissa,India: Massacre of 5 ppl incl 82yrold Monk, Woman & Children
    USCIRF portrayal: USCIRF Villifies 82yrold Monk. Defend accused & doubt court judgement without…

  • Excellent news. I live in US and trust me, its not a great picture here. If they have time, let them fix US first and then worry about other countries next. And this is a US govt wing, not UN thing for them to get into other countries to evaluate the situation there. If India sent a team to US and said situation is horrible there, would they accept it? There have been numerous attacks on Gurudwaras and Mosques in US, let them fix that and then worry about India. These guys are nothing but Church funded idiots, with sole mission of portraying others in bad light. They go to countries and say they are animals, create hate in American mind, then they say they need to be fixed or eliminated and then wage war, coz Americans have been brainwashed. They convinced people that Native Americans and Blacks were not humans and killed them Now they want to convince people that Indians are inhuman and do the same to India. Keep them out.

  • Robert P. George is a notorious anti-gay activist. He has routinely advocated for the subversion of the United States Constitution and has demanded many times his peculiar, minority “religious views” be forced upon all Americans. His presence on this Commission is an embarrassment to all Americans who value genuine Freedom of Religion, and reject George’s false concept of claiming “freedom of religion” means Christianist politicians such as himself has some imagined right to force their views onto others. India has every reason to reject anyone intending to interfere with their policies.

    Thank you, RNS, for revealing George’s presence on that Commission. I will be contacting my Member of Congress and Senators suggesting he be investigated and removed from this Commission.

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