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Islamist influence on American institutions: USCIRF exemplifies disturbing trend

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Islamist influence on American institutions: USCIRF exemplifies disturbing trend

It is very tragic that a gang of Islamists and evangelicals are sabotaging India-US ties that have been on an upswing since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014

Monica Verma December 19, 2023 19:24:51 IST Islamist influence on American institutions: USCIRF exemplifies disturbing trend

The USCIRF logo

As the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are approaching and India’s independent stance on many issues of foreign policy is pinching global elites, the usual anti-India brigade has also started relentlessly pushing its agenda across the world. In the same series, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom is busy tarnishing India by accusing it of persecuting its religious minorities through various means. It is alleged that India is using ‘draconian legislation’ such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and anti-conversion laws to target religious minorities as well as journalists and activists. But does USCIRF’s case against India over the treatment of its minorities hold any water?

Last week, a minor girl named Jaishree was abducted and forcefully married to a much older adult man in Samaro Umerkot in Pakistan. Another Hindu woman Premi was abducted and converted to Islam along with her child in Karachi. An 8-year-old child Narna Bheel was kidnapped by an adult Muslim man who may have raped, converted or even married her. In another incident, a gang of Islamists kidnapped two Hindu sisters and their 3-year-old children in the Tando Gulam Hyder area of Sindh. Even physically disabled people are not aloof from this tyranny and torture as a blind minor Hindu girl Anita Meghwar was kidnapped, raped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a man at Dargah Gulzhar-e-Khaleel in Pakistan. The same fate has been meted out to multiple other Hindu women who were even married or had children before but were picked from their houses and forcibly married to another man after conversion to Islam.

In just a single week, more than 10 Hindu girls and children have been either sexually assaulted, converted forcibly or married to their abductors in India’s neighbouring country of Pakistan. Even every single day, a new incident of persecution of minorities surfaced in that country last week, USCIRF didn’t take cognisance of a single case of such persecution. On the contrary, it was busy terming the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar and a purported plot to assassinate another terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Panun as India’s attempt to suppress religious minorities living abroad. Not only USCIRF was acting without any adequate proof of the Indian State’s involvement but it was also actively lobbying with the Biden government to designate India as a country of particular concern. It is difficult to understand why would USCIRF consciously ignore the actual mistreatment of minorities in Pakistan and continue to turn the heat on India without any credible evidence. But just a little research into its antecedents and the truth reveals itself.

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USCIRF is a federal government agency in the US which claims to be bipartisan and independent. Its mandate is to monitor freedom of religion abroad and make policy recommendations to top political executives in the country including the President. It also advises the US Congress on related matters and even organises hearings and briefings on countries besides publishing reports etc., to create public awareness. However, is USCIRF really a benign agency whose intention is to protect victims of religious persecution abroad? Definitely not. First of all, the very mandate of this body reeks of colonialism as it involves a much superior external power interfering in other countries in the name of upholding religious freedom but in reality, enforcing its political agenda and shoving western values down their throats. Secondly, USCIRF has been completely hijacked by a coterie of evangelists and Islamists who have come together to target non-Abrahamic faiths such as Hinduism. This is when ironically, they claim to fight for religious minorities but target Hindus who are one of the most vulnerable religious group across the world whose members are a small minority in comparison to Islam and Christianity.

USCIRF is home to a bunch of evangelicals who are closely associated with Islamist fronts and share with them the zeal to target India which is the only civilisational home to Hindus globally. Nadine Maenza, a former head of USCIRF makes regular appearances at events organised by Islamist fronts such as the Indian American Muslim Council that lobby for sanctions against India over unsubstantiated charges such as human rights violations and persecution of minority groups. A cursory look at its current commissioners brings to light equally shocking facts. The commission is dominated by Christians mostly with almost all of its nine commissioners having an overwhelmingly deep association with evangelical organisations. It also includes Mohammed Magid, a former president of the Islamic Society of North America. ISNA is an influential advocacy group in the US but one which is highly controversial due to its linkages with the Muslim Brotherhood, a designated terrorist organisation by multiple countries.

Interestingly, ISNA also features in a federal list of entities whose members have been formerly a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood. Looking at the compromised institutional integrity of USCIRF, it is not a surprise that even the current commissioners are a regular feature at events organised by the Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy group that has links with Pakistani terror outfits. USCIRF’s anti-India agenda can be understood more clearly from the fact that people who are ‘representing’ India at the commission have previously served as top executives at George Soros’s Open Society Foundation as well. Case in point is Anurima Bhargava who is currently serving as a commissioner at USCIRF and is a leading voice in seeking sanctions against India on flimsy grounds or getting India designated as a ‘country of particular concern’ ever since she joined the commission in 2018.

It may appear perplexing to a layman but in reality, it is very tragic that a gang of Islamists and evangelicals are sabotaging India-US ties that have been on an upswing since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014. USCIRF is conducting a concerted campaign against India over unsubstantiated charges but giving a free pass to Pakistan just because its commissioners have a background of hobnobbing with Pakistani lobbyists. The US government must seriously introspect how its federal agencies are spoiling relations with a key partner such as India and clubbing it with some of the most rogue states across the world. This will be a good time to reiterate that India must not let its national security be undermined due to such propagandistic activities by USCIRF. Khalistan terror and Islamist designs are a real threat to India’s territorial integrity and its progress. If USCIRF subjects the United States to the same standards as it is subjecting India then its Global War on Terror was the biggest example of ‘transnational repression of religious minorities’.

The author is a PhD from the Department of International Relations, South Asian University. She writes on India’s foreign policy. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.

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