The IRF Roundtable is an informal organization, 12 years old, where over 100 individuals representing different human rights organizations come together to discuss the religious freedom issues in just about every country in the world. The other attendees include representatives of the US Department of State, DHS, US AID, USCIRF, and other governmental agencies. Today, Ambassador at Large Rashad Hussain was present in the meeting.
The verbal stand that the United States has taken about religious freedom and human rights is the best thing that has happened for the peace and prosperity of the nations, including the United States. However, it is time for us to act upon our words.
Right now, the leadership in India and other nominal democracies are intolerant of people who differ with the government policies; even the journalists cannot be critical, nor do the opposition leaders. All of them are thrown in jail, creating an environment of fear for the population. It is not a good sign.
Most of you are familiar with Zubair’s case – a journalist locked up for tweeting a movie poster five years ago. The only reason for his arrest was that he was a Muslim. It was religious discrimination. On the other hand, Arnab Goswami was also arrested but got bail the same night, whereas Zubair was released 20 days after the international pressure. I am not sure if the state Department did anything, but the UN had called on it.
The United States Foreign policy is predicated on reliable allies, and we have made mistakes every time. As citizens of the United States, we must remind the administration to move with caution in drawing up the defense, business, and other strategic pacts with India; we must protect our interests. We ask the Biden Administration to suggest to Mr. Modi, Shah, Yogi, and other leaders to restore religious freedoms – it is the panacea, cure of all problems. It will restore the fractured social structures and become one cohesive nation again.
As an Indian American, I like to see my motherland become a nation like ours – the United States with liberty and justice for all. Every Indian must feel secure and live without fear to build a strong, cohesive India by honoring the human rights of every Indian.
If the United States were to continue building a strong relationship with India, PM Modi needs to work back to restore India to be a reliable, long-term sustainable ally. Otherwise, we are wasting our relationship.
All President Biden has to say is this.
“Prime Minister Modi, we want to continue to strengthen our relationships with India, provided India abides by the human rights and religious freedom of Indians. Mr. Modi, all you have to say in your national address is this; “I will not tolerate any Indian to harass or lynch another Indian because of their religion. If they do, they will not be spared and punished per the law of the land.”
My Question to Ambassador Rashad Hussain was, what does it take for the President to say this?
What is fear?
Mike Ghouse is a social scientist, author, speaker, and wedding officiant. He offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and policymakers.