FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2018
USCIRF to Hold Hearing on Rising Challenges to Religious Freedom in India
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today announced it will hold a hearing on religious freedom in India titled, “Freedom of Religion or Belief in India: Rising Challenges & New Opportunities for U.S. Policy,” on Wednesday, December 12, from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM in Room 562 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. This hearing will examine challenges to religious freedom and explore opportunities for U.S. policymakers to encourage the protection of freedom of religion or belief in India.
“In recent years, religious extremists in India have intimidated, harassed, and sometimes murdered members of religious minorities or those who either abandon or change faiths,” said USCIRF Chair Tenzin Dorjee. “These actions represent a direct threat to the secular claims of the Indian constitution and the fundamental rights of millions of Indians to practice their religion freely or live according to their beliefs without fearing violence.”
“As the world’s largest democracy, India has claim to a noble tradition of interreligious harmony, Ahimsa, tolerance and pluralism that is being threatened today. At this hearing, we will hear from witnesses representing a broad array of perspectives on India as we consider the state of religious freedom there and the policy tools the U.S. can use to improve conditions on the ground.”
USCIRF has found that conditions for religious freedom in India have consistently deteriorated over the last decade, leading it to place India on its Tier 2 annually since 2009. In its latest Annual Report USCIRF found that in 2017 actors tied to Hindu extremist groups regularly harassed, intimidated, and perpetrated violence 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. These and similar issues have continued in 2018.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion or belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-703-898-6554.