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U.S. envoy calls out COVID-19 related harassment of minorities in India

The U.S. envoy for ‘International Religious Freedom’, Sam Brownback, called out COVID-19-related rhetoric and harassment in India — especially against Muslims…. “In India, we’ve seen reports of unfortunate COVID-related rhetoric and harassment, particularly against the Muslim community. This has been exacerbated by fake news reports and misinformation being shared via social media. There have also been instances of Muslims being attacked for allegedly spreading the coronavirus,” Mr. Brownback said to reporters on Thursday during a telephone briefing about COVID-19’s impact on religious minorities.

Mr. Brownback’s comments come weeks after the U.S. International Commission for Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent bi-partisan commission set up by the U.S. Congress, downgraded India’s religious freedom rating to the lowest grade. Taking note of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register for Citizens, the USCIRD had recommended to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that India be classified as a ” country of particular concern.”

Significantly, the USCIRF also called for the release of those protesting the CAA. “During #COVID19 crisis, there are reports #India govt is arresting Muslim activists protesting the #CAA, including Safoora Zargar who is pregnant,” the Commission tweeted on May 14. “At this time, #India should be releasing prisoners of conscience, not targeting those practising their democratic right to protest.”

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