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What happens when US ‘religious freedom’ watchdog goes to India in search of ‘monsters to destroy’

Nebojsa Malic
Nebojsa Malic

is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

What happens when US ‘religious freedom’ watchdog goes to India in search of ‘monsters to destroy’
A busybody US committee for ‘international religious freedom’ has butted into India’s turmoil over new citizenship rules, exposing Washington’s hypocrisy and threatening to derail US attempts to cultivate New Delhi as an ally.

On Monday, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemned “religious violence” across India and called on the government in New Delhi to “stop use of force on those exercising right to express concern” about India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

At least 22 people have died over the past two weeks as a result of protests against the laws adopted earlier this month, which many Western outlets described as discriminatory against Muslims.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi insists that the CAA and the NRC are in no way aimed against Indian Muslims. The CAA is intended to expedite persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh – all majority Muslim – getting Indian citizenship, while the NRC aims to tally up the immigrants living in India illegally. Neither should affect the rights of Muslims with Indian citizenship.

Also on rt.com ‘Avoid rumors & know the truth’: India’s ruling party kick-starts social media campaign to calm Muslims over citizenship act

Enter the USCIRF, a busybody created in 1998, at the peak of “humanitarian interventionism” pushed by the Bill Clinton administration. It is one of those “independent” Washington bodies funded entirely by taxpayer money to crusade around the globe for US government interests – in this case, the “universal right to freedom of religion or belief.”

It is no secret that the US regards human rights – including religious freedom, apparently – as “lethal arrows” to be used against other countries as need be. Even the Trump administration, for all of the president’s lip service to “sovereignty,” believes this. If there is a dispute about weaponization of human rights in Washington, it is only about who gets to decide on the targets.

More often than not, those who find themselves on the receiving end of “human rights” objections are global rivals like Russia or China, or targets of regime change like Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, or North Korea – but never allies or client states, such as Saudi Arabia. Even though it imposes a death penalty for leaving Islam, Riyadh is treated with kid gloves by USCIRF. The commission is also entirely silent on  the persecution of Christians in, say, Kosovo – a province of Serbia occupied by NATO in 1999 where ethnic Albanians have since demolished or desecrated over 150 Serbian churches. But Kosovo is a US client state, so it’s not on USCIRF’s radar.

Also on rt.com US body wants to take India to cleaners over citizenship bill, but what about America’s dirty linen?

Which makes the poking of India that much more puzzling. Washington has been courting New Delhi for years, going so far as to rename a military command“Indo-Pacific” in 2018, in an effort to secure Indian support for a confrontation with China.

Not surprisingly, India has not taken kindly to USCIRF’s meddling, with the foreign ministry calling the US watchdog’s position “regrettable” and “guided only by its prejudices and biases,” about a matter “on which it clearly has little knowledge” and no standing.

Way back in 1821, US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams famously argued that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” and while wishing freedom and independence to all, “she is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” 

In America of today, where courts have to rule on whether Christian bakers must be forced to bake cakes for same-sex weddings – while outfits like CIRF pontificate to the rest of the world how to live, without a shred of self-awareness – Adams’s words would no doubt be considered heresy.

Also on rt.com ‘Guided by prejudices & biases’: India hits back at US after it threatened sanctions over citizenship bill

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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