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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India rocked by deadly citizenship protests

Democratic Youth Federation of India activists in Siliguri burn an effigy of India's Home Minister Amit Shah during a demonstration. Photo: Diptendu Dutta/AFP via Getty Images

More than 100 activists protesting India's citizenship amendment have been wounded in clashes with police near Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, Al Jazeera reports, as deadly demonstrations entered a fifth day Monday.

Details: Per Reuters, police used tear gas and batons on activists to disperse them Sunday. It's one of several protests being held across India against the amendment, which creates a citizenship pathway for Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Parsi and Sikh migrants who fled from Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015. Muslims are excluded.

Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019

India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

Demonstrators and security personnel Dec. 12 in Guwahati. Photo: Biju Boro/AFP via Getty

India's parliament passed a bill this week that would link citizenship to religion for the first time in the country's history.

Why it matters: This is the latest in a series of steps by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that could "fuel the sentiment that Muslims are a kind of permanent underclass," says Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment. "The damage that could do to the social fabric is potentially enormous."

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019

Modi defends citizenship law that excludes Muslims while protests rage

Narendra Modi at a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 22. Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the country's new citizenship law that excludes Muslims at a rally for his Hindu nationalist party on Sunday, accusing opponents of the bill of pushing India into a “fear psychosis," AP reports.

Why it matters: The law passed by Parliament earlier this month allows religious minorities from neighboring countries to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion, but it does not apply to Muslims. The move has set off nationwide protests and international outcry, with 23 people killed since the demonstrations began.

Go deeperArrowDec 22, 2019