The global worth and authenticity of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) enlisting Pakistan as violator of religious freedom is under question as United Nations (UN) does not endorse it at all.
UN, an international, highly-respectable body that takes action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, such as peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production, and more, does not put its seal of approval on the USCIRF’s list encircling Pakistan and ten other countries, including China, for transgressing religious freedom in their respective countries.
UN has its own body “The United Nations Commission on Human Rights with Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance”, carrying full mandate of 193 countries. It never issued any list targeting Pakistan as a country that indulges in abuses on religious freedom or tolerated abuses against religious groups.
USCIRF has also gone controversial after it completely excludes United States from the infamous list notwithstanding massive violations and shrinking legitimate space to practice religion in America.
Targeted crimes and religious hate against Muslims escalated to 15 percent but USCIRF chooses to stay mum. According to a study released by advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) mapped out 300 hate crimes against Muslims in 2017. CAIR holds responsible U.S. President Donald Trump, for simmering situation saying Muslim community has become a punching bag of Trump.
It mentioned Trump with his retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political group. Report says that 300 hate crimes were a just a tiny part of 2,599 anti-Muslim incidents in 2017. They feature harassment, employment prejudices and state discrimination against Muslims by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Customs and Border Protection.
More than one-third of the incidents mark official biasness toward a religious minority within the United States. CAIR said its lawyers investigated 5,650 reported anti-Muslim incidents and concluded that slightly less than half of them were authentic. The report measured a 44 percent increase in hate crimes into 2016 from 2015.
According to a Pew Research Center, anti-Muslim intimidation in 2015 and 2016 surpassed to hate crimes recorded in 9/11 terrorist attack. In 2016, there were 127 reported victims of aggravated or simple assault, compared with 91 the year before and 93 in 2001. Overall, there were 307 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2016, marking a 19 percent increase from the previous year.
In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early 2017, 75 percent of Muslim American adults believe that discrimination surged against Muslims in the U.S. In addition, half of U.S. Muslim adults say that space has shrunk for a Muslim in the U.S.
US’s international role as religious police has not gained currency around the globe due to its discrimination; allowing favourite countries, including India, to walk away and entrapping those which do not protect American interest.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari lashed out at the US list terming it pure political blackmailing and said that it aimed to exert pressure on Pakistan to follow US policy in Afghanistan.
International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 issued by United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor highlighted withering religious freedom in India but fresh US list did not include India.
Out of 29 states, eight have legislation restricting religious conversion despite the fact that Indian constitution provides for freedom of conscience and the right of all individuals to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion; mandates a secular state; requires the state to treat all religions impartially; and prohibits discrimination based on religion.
Report said that on June 17 in Goa, at the sixth All India Hindu convention organized by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, a Hindu nationalist organization, an estimated 132 Hindu organizations resolved to establish the country as a Hindu state by 2023, ensure a ban on cattle slaughter, declare the cow as the country’s national animal, and ban all religious conversions.
On June 9, the Christian community in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, protested the publication of a Hindi language textbook they said characterized Jesus Christ as a “devil” Similarly, another textbook defined the Muslim practice of fasting during Ramadan as “cholera.”
The Vishva Hindu Parishad, VHP, an Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation has given ultimatum to Christian missionaries to leave the country warning to hold a rally called “Quit India.
Here is an excerpt from the report: “on April 9, targeting Christians in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu. In Kaithal, Haryana, local Hindus reportedly disrupted a church meeting and accused worshippers of attempting to induce locals to convert to Christianity. Police detained the pastor and worshippers but later released them. In Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, Hindus disrupted a Church of God service; police subsequently arrested the church’s pastor and seven worshippers for reportedly converting local villagers. Police released them after local Christian leaders intervened”.
On April 2, report said, Chhattisgarh’s Chief Minister Raman Singh said anyone who killed a cow in his state would be hanged. Some longstanding legal cases involving religiously motivated violence and riots continued to advance slowly.
According to figures compiled by local partners of international nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Open Doors, during the first six months of the year, Christians were harassed, threatened, or attacked for their faith in 410 reported incidents, compared with 441 incidents in all of 2016. Incidents included assaults on missionaries and attacks on churches and private property. From January through May, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reported 296 conflicts between religious communities, resulting in 44 deaths and 892 injuries.
On April 9, a member of Telangana’s legislative assembly, T. Raja Singh Lodh, reportedly stated he would behead those opposing the construction of the Ram temple at a disputed site in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
USCIRF has been established under International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
It finds that over one-half of the population of the world lives under regimes that have strict policies against basic religious freedoms. The Act has noted that some regimes engage in persecution that includes subjection of those people who engage in practice of religious faiths that are not state sponsored, to detention, torture, beatings, forced marriage, rape, imprisonment, enslavement, mass resettlement and death.
The writer is a senior journalist working for China Today and China Radio International. He also contributes to national mainstreams newspapers on economy, international relation and human rights. He is a fellow of ICFJ.