Minority leaders of India strongly condemn US report on religious freedom, call it attack on nation’s diversity

India has strongly criticized the latest US religious freedom report, describing it as biased and interference in its internal affairs. The report, released annually by the United States (US) State Department, highlighted concerns over religious freedoms in several countries, including India. Various prominent religious leaders have refuted the claims made in the report.

“We reject this report which is based on limited understanding and selective information,” the ministry spokesperson said, addressing concerns raised in the US report regarding incidents of religious discrimination and violence.

President of All India Muslim Jamat Dargah Aalah Hazrat, Bareilly Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi expressed strong reservations over the findings of the report. “Every country has its own issues and problems. But we have an enriched civilization and our Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb is an example for the whole world to take inspiration from. No country has the right to interfere in our matters without understanding our social fabric,” said Maulana Razvi.

I am appalled at the way the US sees our religious ecosystem. I urge them to look at it form a freer and unbiased eye and what they will then see will be a healthy and diverse nation,” he added.

Maulana Razvi represents the Dargah Ala Hazrat, the dargah of Imam Ahmed Raza Khan, a prominent Islamic scholar and spiritual leader of the Barelvi movement in Sunni Islam. He is revered for his scholarly contributions, theological writings, and advocacy of Sufi practices.

Indian officials dismissed the findings as “unsubstantiated” and accused the United States of overlooking the country’s robust constitutional protections for religious minorities. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs asserted that India is committed to religious harmony and accused the US report of portraying a “distorted” picture of the situation on the ground.

He views were seconded by the Mufti Ashfaq Husain Qadri, Chairman of All India Tanzeem Ulema E Islam, Delhi, an organisation of Barelvi Muslims and a predominant Sunni organization in the country. “We do not endorse the report findings, especially when they come from a country like the US, which is infamous for its never-ending atrocities against the Muslim nations. Their violence against Muslims in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine and so on, can’t be preaching us on religious freedom. Yes, we may have our issues. And we continuously engage in dialogue with our governments and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sort out differences and work towards building an inclusive environment. Still, any other country’s involvement and such name-shaming cannot be tolerated,” said Mufti Qadri.

“Whatever, if may, is our internal matter and we celebrate our diversity living in this country for thousands of years. We are fully equipped to win over situations and sort any differences among ourselves,” said Abu Ashraf Zeeshan, Naib Sajjada Nasheen, Khanqah E Gulzariya Amethi.

The report also receives criticism of perceived double standards, suggesting that the US report overlooks religious freedom issues within its own borders or in allied countries.

The United States, often hailed as a melting pot of cultures and religions, continues to grapple with complex issues surrounding religious diversity and racial tensions. From historical legacies to contemporary challenges, the intersection of religion and race in American society presents a nuanced and evolving landscape. Alongside religious pluralism, the nation’s history is also marked by racial inequality, slavery, and systemic discrimination against African Americans, Native Americans, and other marginalized groups.

Despite strides towards racial equality, disparities persist in various aspects of American life. African Americans and other minority groups continue to face higher rates of poverty, incarceration, and discrimination in employment and housing. Issues of racial profiling, police violence, and access to quality education and healthcare remain contentious topics that underscore deep-seated inequalities rooted in historical injustices.

The current diplomatic rift comes amid ongoing strategic dialogues between India and the United States, focusing on regional security, economic cooperation, and shared democratic values. Despite the criticism, both countries continue to engage in diplomatic dialogue to address differences and enhance bilateral relations.

Despite the contentious nature of its response, India engages in diplomatic dialogue with the United States and other concerned parties regarding the issues raised in the report. This engagement often includes clarifications, exchanges of viewpoints, and efforts to address any misperceptions or misunderstandings that may arise from the report’s findings.

The US State Department has not immediately responded to India’s rebuke, but similar disputes over human rights and religious freedoms have periodically strained relations between the two nations in recent years.

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