Modi: Indian Muslims had nothing to fear in new citizenship law

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Prime Minister has accused Pakistan of ‘trying every trick to mislead the Muslims of India.’ (AFP)
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Updated 06 February 2020

Modi: Indian Muslims had nothing to fear in new citizenship law

  • ‘Pakistan is trying every trick to mislead the Muslims of India’
  • Pakistan has called India’s citizenship law a manifestation of Modi’s India taking a Hindu supremacist agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Parliament on Thursday that Indian Muslims had nothing to fear from a new citizenship law and accused opposition parties of toeing rival Pakistan’s propaganda to create fear.
Modi said the Congress and other opposition parties had incited the nationwide protests against the law, which fast-tracks naturalization for Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who have fled persecution in India’s Muslim-majority neighbors, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
“Pakistan is trying every trick to mislead the Muslims of India,” Modi said during the speech ending a debate during the budget session of Parliament.
Modi recalled that India’ first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who belonged to the Congress party, expressed concern over the plight of Hindus in Pakistan after British colonialists partitioned the subcontinent into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan in 1947.
He also said “the new act will not impact the people of India, whether Muslims, Sikhs or Christians,” and accused opposition parties of employing “vote politics” to win support from Muslims, who are nearly 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people.
Rahul Gandhi, a top Congress party leader, accused Modi of sidestepping key economic issues of rising unemployment and falling growth.
Parliament approved the new citizenship law on Dec. 11, and in the nationwide protests that followed, at least 23 people were killed. Critics of the law have called it discriminatory and say it violates India’s secular constitution.
Supporters say it is an answer to religious discrimination in other places. Muslim migrants not included in the law still can seek citizenship under a 1955 law.
Pakistan has called India’s citizenship law a manifestation of Modi’s India taking a Hindu supremacist agenda. Prime Minister Imran Khan criticized Modi and accused India of human rights violations while speaking to a rally Thursday in Pakistan-held Kashmir.
Khan said Modi had converted India’s portion of Kashmir into the world’s largest prison and he hoped its people will soon get independence. Modi’s government last August ended the semi-autonomous status of Indian-controlled Kashmir and imposed a harsh security crackdown that has not been fully eased. The Muslim-majority Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both.
Critics of the Modi government’s actions fear the new law and a possible nationwide citizenship registry together could leave millions of people stateless.
A registry in Assam state last year excluded nearly 2 million people, about half Hindu and half Muslim. They must prove their citizenship in quasi-legal tribunals or risk being declared foreign and stripped of rights.
The manifesto of Modi’s political party, which won by a landslide last year, promised a national registry. But Modi backed away from it after pressure mounted with the protests against the citizenship law.


Washington braces as crowds converge for Trump’s July Fourth fireworks, racial protests

Updated 50 min 12 sec ago

Washington braces as crowds converge for Trump’s July Fourth fireworks, racial protests

  • Disregarding the Washington mayor’s warnings of the risk of gathering as many US states mark a record number of new COVID-19 cases, crowds began to assemble early
  • Trump’s Fourth of July event follows a Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota where he accused “angry mobs” of trying to erase history

WASHINGTON: Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to converge on Saturday in the heart of Washington, where US President Donald Trump will host an Independence Day fireworks display and military flyover, while protesters will march for racial equality.
Disregarding the Washington mayor’s warnings of the risk of gathering as many US states mark a record number of new COVID-19 cases, crowds began to assemble early on a hot Saturday morning.
Police officers blocked off streets around the White House, Black Lives Matter Plaza and the Lincoln Memorial, where demonstrators planned to join one of the dozen organized protests in advance of Trump’s nighttime address on the South Lawn.
Activist groups pledged to hold peaceful protests for reforms following the May killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Millions of Americans responded in June by marching against police brutality and racial inequality, leading to widespread removal of Confederate statues and other symbols of America’s legacy of slavery.
Trump’s Fourth of July event follows a Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota where he accused “angry mobs” of trying to erase history and used the speech to paint himself as a bulwark against left-wing extremism.
Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival in the November election, struck a contrasting note with the Republican president and accused him in a Fourth of July op-ed of finding every day “new ways to tarnish and dismantle our democracy.”
“We have a chance now to give the marginalized, the demonized, the isolated, the oppressed, a full share of the American dream,” Biden said in a separate letter to donors.
In his Mount Rushmore speech, Trump made little mention of the pandemic that has hit his re-election hopes, even as COVID-19 moved further into Trump’s inner circle. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior campaign official and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., tested positive in South Dakota before the event.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had tried to dissuade the Trump administration from holding the fireworks display over the National Mall and informed the Department of the Interior that it went against health officials’ guidance amid the pandemic.
Apart from fireworks spectators, activists of different stripes also appeared willing to disregard the health warnings.
Roar of the Deplorables, a bikers group, said via social media that they, too, were planning to gather in Washington on Saturday to stand in protest against what they call “the anti-Trump regime” and to celebrate the nation’s birthday.
Freedom Fighters DC, a new activist group which seeks to rally an ethnically diverse generation of supporters behind liberty for all people, especially the Black population of Washington, is one of the anti-racism groups ignoring the mayor’s heed to refrain from gathering.
“Black folks are not free from the chains of oppression, so we don’t get to truly celebrate Independence Day,” said Kerrigan Williams, 22, one of the founders of the group, which will host a march and an arts demonstration on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re marching today to showcase that Black folks are still fighting for the simple liberties that the constitution is said to provide.”