US State Department’s religious freedom report highlights cow protection violence in India and insecurity of religious minorities in India
The report released by Rex Tillerson also mentioned instances of attacks on people suspected of making what were claimed to be derogatory remarks against Islam
The US State Department has highlighted attacks in India by cow protection groups against people accused of bovine trafficking or having beef in its annual report on religious freedom, while attempting a measure of balance by also including critical mention of practices by minority religions.
The International Religious Freedom Report for 2016 (IRFR) released on Tuesday by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: "There was an increase (during 2016) in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation."
The report also mentioned instances of attacks on people suspected of making what were claimed to be derogatory remarks against Islam, including the involvement of police in one incident in Madhya Pradesh, the denial of burial rights by Christian and Muslim institutions to inter-religious couples and the arrest of a Catholic priest in Maharashtra on complaints that he denigrated Islam and prevented a teacher trainee from wearing a burqa.
IRFR took note of some positive developments on the religious front in India. Jews were accorded minority status in Maharashtra making their community "eligible for several government assistance programs".
"There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize," the report said. "The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reported 751 conflicts between religious communities, which resulted in 97 deaths and 2,264 injuries in 2015."
The IRFR quoting a Christian fundamentalist organisation, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), said that there were "300 incidents of abuse targeting Christians during the year, compared with 177 in 2015" and that "incidents included assaults on missionaries, forced conversions of non-Hindus, and attacks on churches, schools, and private property".
"Members of civil society expressed concerns that, under the BJP government, religious minority communities felt vulnerable due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and places of worship," the IRFR said.
"Religious minority communities stated that, while the national government sometimes spoke out against incidents of violence, local political leaders often did not, which left victims and minority religious communities feeling vulnerable."
The IRFR raised the case of Compassion International, a US-based Christian organisation backed by several members of Congress, whose partners in India were refused registration under the Foreign Contributions Registration Act to receive money from abroad.It noted that activities disturbing "harmony between religious, racial, social, linguistic, regional groups, castes, or communities" can be reasons for denying the registrations.
"Some media and civil society representatives stated Compassion International's partner organisations were targeted because MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) alleged they were involved in conversions or other religious activities," the report said.
US State Department raps US allies and others for aiding and abetting persecution against Christians-ISIS Christian Genocide
Tillerson said that in addition to Christians being targeted for genocide in Iraq and Syria, they have also been targeted by Islamic State militants in Egypt.“The protection of these groups – and others subject to violent extremism – is a human rights priority for the Trump administration,” he said.
The report is the first to be released during the Trump administration and covers 2016
Rex Tillerson raps some US allies for religious freedom violations, slams IS
Tillerson made the comments at the State Department while introducing the agency's annual report on religious freedom, required by a 1998 act of Congress..