Dec 11, 2019

India passes restrictive citizenship amendment targeting Muslim migrants

Protest against the Indian government's citizenship amendment bill. Photo: Arindam Dey/AFP/Getty Images

India passed a citizenship amendment on Wednesday that, for the first time, makes religion a criterion of acquiring Indian nationality, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Concerns continue to grow that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is turning the country into a Hindu nationalist state. The amended citizenship law creates a pathway to citizenship for Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Parsi and Sikh migrants who fled from Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015, but excludes Muslims entirely, Al Jazeera reports.

  • The exclusion of Muslims from the law shows "Muslims are not on the same footing" as others in India, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political scientist, told the Post.

The big picture: Modi is quickly implementing his party's nationalistic and right-leaning objectives that emphasize a Hindu identity, per the Post.

  • Modi reclaimed the hotly contested Jammu and Kashmir region after seven decades, stripping the predominantly-Muslim state of its semiautonomous status.
  • India's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a Hindu temple can be erected on disputed land, instead of a mosque, ending a decades-long dispute in the country.

Worth noting: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that the Trump administration consider sanctions against Indian Home Minister Amit Shah if the bill passes, according to Al Jazeera.

The bottom line: "Hindu nationalist ideologues view India’s history as a series of humiliations — centuries of rule by Muslim kings followed by British colonialism — that must be redressed," the Post writes.

Go deeper ... Kashmir crackdown: A warning of nuclear war between India and Pakistan

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