Sep 8, 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2000
Lawrence J. Goodrich, Communications Director, (202) 523-3240
WHAT:The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom will hold hearings on religious freedom in India and Pakistan
WHEN:Monday, Sept. 18, 2000, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
WHERE:Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room, 419 Dirksen Office Building
WHO:Witnesses include Ainsley Embree, professor emeritus at Columbia University; Ghulam Nabi Fai, Kashmir American Council; Mumtaz Ali Khan, an expert on Muslim minorities in India; John Dayal, a representative of Indian Christians; Mumtaz Ahmad, professor at Hampton University, Hampton, Va.; Mohan Shahani, a Pakistani human rights lawyer; James Channan, a Roman Catholic priest in Pakistan; Mujeeb Rahman, a representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community; Marshall Bouton, executive vice president of the Asia Society; Sumit Ganguly, professor at the University of Texas; and Robert Oakley, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.
BACKGROUND:Since the rise to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1998, assaults on India's religious minorities by self-proclaimed Hindu nationalists have substantially increased in a number of states. Christian converts have been intimidated, churches and schools burned, nuns raped, priests and missionaries murdered. Muslims continue to be targets of vandalism and assault. In Pakistan, large numbers of Sunni Muslims, Ahmadis and Christians have been harassed, detained, and imprisoned on account of their religion under laws that prohibit blasphemy and essentially criminalize adherence to the Ahmadi faith. In April of this year, the military government abandoned its expressed intent to soften the blasphemy laws. The Commission will hear testimony on these situations as well as options for U.S. policy towards India and Pakistan.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress."
Hon. Elliott Abrams,Chair