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Hearing - Freedom of Religion or Belief in India: Rising Challenges & New Opportunities for U.S. Policy


*** Notice of Event Postponement ***

USCIRF Hearing on Freedom of Religion or Belief in India Rescheduled Following USCIRF’s Annual Report Release in May 2019

Washington, DC - Due to an overwhelming response in interest on the topic of religious freedom in India by a wide variety of religious and civic organizations, USCIRF has announced the postponement of this Wednesday’s scheduled hearing in order to accommodate more participants and attendees. 

Media inquiries may be addressed to kboyle@uscirf.gov.



Freedom of Religion or Belief in India: Rising Challenges & New Opportunities for U.S. Policy

Date: Wednesday, December 12, 10:00 AM
Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building – Room 562

Video will be live streamed here: https://youtu.be/L7NoHva8qxI


Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a hearing that will explore the rising challenges to freedom of religion or belief in India and opportunities for U.S. policy to address these challenges.

India, a pluralistic, secular democracy with a long history of inclusivity through law, governance, and society, was among the original countries to adopt the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1979, expressing a commitment to protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the “freedom [of the individual] to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” Despite this, USCIRF has found that conditions for religious freedom have consistently deteriorated over the last decade—in recent years in 10 specific states, placing India on its Tier 2 (formerly Watch List) annually since 2009. In 2017, USCIRF found that public and private actors affiliated with Hindu nationalist groups regularly engaged in incidents of violence, intimidation, and harassment largely against Hindu Dalits, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. Anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter laws were routinely used to discriminate against religious minorities or as a pretext for extrajudicial violence, and forced conversions of non-Hindus to Hinduism were reported. In addition, rules on the registration of foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations were used discriminatorily against religious minority groups. Based on current observation, these issues have continued in 2018.

India’s religious freedom challenges are being influenced by a rise in violent Hindu extremism. One key consequence has been the proliferation of hate speech and hate crimes, which in India primarily include incidents against religious and ethnic communities; in fact, India’s National Crime Record Bureau has publicly reported this uptick in hate crimes. This hearing will examine these issues while exploring new opportunities for U.S. policymakers to effectively encourage the protection of freedom of religion or belief in India.

The hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. For any questions, please call 202-523-3240. Please RSVP to Henry Young at hyoung@uscirf.gov.

Witnesses will be announced at a later date.

Hosted by:

Tenzin Dorjee                   Kristina Arriaga
Chair, USCIRF                   Vice Chair, USCIRF

Gayle Manchin                 Gary L. Bauer
Vice Chair, USCIRF           Commissioner, USCIRF

Andy Khawaja                  Nadine Maenza
Commissioner, USCIRF     Commissioner, USCIRF

Johnnie Moore                  Tony Perkins
Commissioner, USCIRF      Commissioner, USCIRF