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USCIRF’s Circus Act

The White House released President Obama’s birth certificate.  Kate wore McQueen.  Apple released a white iPhone.  And the cherry on top of this week’s circus…USCIRF put India on its “watch list” again. 

Yesterday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a quasi-governmental body that monitors “violations of religious freedom abroad,” released its annual report and included India, for the third year in a row, on its “watch list” alongside countries such as Afghanistan and Russia.  I am still baffled, and clearly miffed, as to how the world’s largest secular democracy managed to find a spot on the same “watch list” as Afghanistan.

Sure, India has had its share of inter-religious problems, the 2002 Gujarat riots being the most commonly cited.  But so have countries like Malaysia, with its downtrodden minority Hindu population, and Sri Lanka, neither of which USCIRF considered “watch list” worthy.  So, let’s examine a few points, which my colleagues at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) presented to USCIRF during their testimony in March:


  • India provides separate personal and family laws for Muslims and Christians
  • India subsidizes the annual Hajj pilgrimage for Muslims – which runs into the $100 millions
  • Except for the Hindu majority in India, all religious communities are able to control their places of worship, free from government interference

So why does India get this undeserving distinction?  It seems that USCIRF is concerned about the “Freedom of Religion Act(s),” also erroneously referred to as “anti-conversion” laws.  HAF testified that first, these laws are rarely enforced, and second, they haven’t impinged on a person’s ability to willfully convert.  Based on the growing number of converts reported by various Christian evangelical groups, the laws have clearly failed in their attempt to protect vulnerable populations from predatory proselytization.


But again, in Malaysia, ethnic Malays are born Muslim and aren’t free to convert.  Hindu parents tend to have difficulty registering their children as Hindus.  All minorities are increasingly forced to deal with Islamic sharia courts, despite a parallel court system.  A peaceful protest rally of over 50,000 Malaysian Hindus and Indians was violently and brutally suppressed by the country’s government in 2007.  In its annual human rights report, HAF regularly covers these and other violations of religious freedom that minorities in Malaysia face.  So why then, despite these serious restrictions on religious freedom, isn’t USCIRF concerned about Malaysia’s “Freedom of Religion Act?”

Of course, maybe we’re overreacting.  One of my good friends has worked on the Hill for a couple of years now, and when I asked if he had any contacts at USCIRF, he replied, “At who???”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment sneha

    I do not understand why does HAF even have to respond to USCIRF ‘s criticism and be defensive. What HAF should be doing is exposing the hypocrisy of USCIRF and double standard of US government. Unless you stand firm and call out their bluff you are never going to prove truth.


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment shankar

    I do not understand why the US is so arrogant as to even HAVE a commission on International religious freedom.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Lalitha

    Malaysia should be put on the watch list instead of India.
    I’m a Malaysian but living in the US.
    Orphans, run-away kids, older people are being converted into Islam.
    There is no justice to this. A Hindu mother ran away with her kids to Autralia because her young kids were converted by their father (who converted to Islam) without their mother’s knowledge. She challenged the court for a couple of years – and the courts were heavily leaning towards Islam. She was fortunate to leave but there are many out there who are not.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Big Oil

    I wouldn’t put much credence in this group. The so called “USCIRF” is run by Christian fundamentalists. Basically their definition of not having religious freedom is where angry crusaders are not successful in converting the population. Note, hate mongers like Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham are consulted by the U.S. politicians to decide which country to put on this list. Would you take an argument about “religious freedom” seriously by anyone who calls 1 Billion Hindus as devil worshipers?
    Note that these same Christian radicals consider the Russian Orthodox Church as not “Christian” hence the inclusion of Russia.
    I would suggest Hindus write a report on Christian hate Crusaders and how they are funding Christian terrorist groups in India such as in Orrisa and the Northeast.
    Atleast the majority of Americans who are moderate should know about the terrorism that the Christian right in America is sponsoring around the world.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Big Oil

    “US is so arrogant as to even HAVE a commission on International religious freedom.”

    Because, anyone who doesn’t believe in the Jesus Egyptian myth and doesn’t bow before their Jealous god, is by definition suppressing religious freedom.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Big Oil

    I wonder if India’s decision to go with the Europeans on the $11 Billion Fighter deal was partly driven due to the false state propaganda like the USCIRF. Looks like unlike the old days, smear campaigns are becoming more expensive each passing year.

  • M Patel

    Just read USCIRF’s 2011 report. On Page 14, India Report says “several states have adopted Freedom of Religion Act(s)…that purportedly
    prohibit…forced…religious conversions away from Hinduism, but not
    towards it.”

    The last part “but not towards it” is a complete lie. Most of the state laws are available on web in PDF format. All of them simply state “No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force”.

    Most laws are created with an implicit intent. In some cases like “civil rights commission” intent in genuine. In some other, Like USCIRF and IRFA it is highly questionable.

  • http://ReligiousFreedomisfreedomforthemissionariestodowhattheywanttodo.-USCIRF Sucheta


    I thank you for voicing my thoughts and concerns on Hindu issues through HAF.

    Has USCIRF ever tried to check the religious freedom of a billion + Chinese and of citizens of the block of 57 Islamic countries for a change? Where is Tibet’s ‘religious freedom’ to exist !
    OR even more importantly … how about the freedom to proselytizing in these very same countries??

    The one billion+ Chinese and the one billion+ Muslim block is out of the question for proselytizing.. now lets converty the Hindus and blame them for the same.. now thats a great strategy!

    The civilization that has always treated the outsider guests as gods .. this is how those gods have paid her back – by blaming.
    These ‘guests’ should have left Bharat long ago but they never did.
    Instead they continue their loot and blame game of all things Hindus to this day .. Yoga being primo uno.

    It is time Hindus start gazing back to show the bias and motive hidden behind such pseudo-authoritative ‘reports’.

    Sucheta Maheshwari

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Raman

    Ask the American government to approve personal laws for Muslims and Christian by sects in America. How are the natives of America being treated. Give them back their land and give put the 300m Americans in reservations where they can plunder the land further. The United States should open to all countries population. It is a shame that three continents are occupied by whites who are plundering all the worlds resources and preaching to the rest of the world.

  • Pingback: Persecution of Hindus — 1 (USA) « afreusa

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