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India: Citizenship Amendment Act
  • CAA
Celebrated for the umpteenth time in some Indian newspapers and the majority of the foreign press is the "funeral to secular and multicultural India." Stone of the scandal is the announcement of the future enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on Dec. 11, 2019, which amends the current citizenship law that prohibits illegal immigrants from becoming Indian citizens. The Caa grants a kind of amnesty, a fast track, to illegal immigrants who came to India due to religiously motivated persecution they suffered in their countries of origin-the Islamic republics of Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. According to the Caa, illegal immigrants of Parsi, Christian, Sikh, Hindu or Buddhist religion who arrived in India before December 2014 can apply for Indian citizenship if they prove that they have lived in India for six years instead of the canonical 12 years required for anyone to obtain the said citizenship. From the 'fast track' have been excluded, declaratively, Muslims for whom the current rules apply. The measure affects, in summary, only illegal immigrants and only those who were in India before December 2014. All others belonging to the above religions will be able to enjoy the same privilege in the future only if they arrive in India by legal means. Illegal immigrants, whatever religion they belong to, will not be granted any future benefits. According to oppositions, the law violates the Indian Constitution's principles of secularism and inclusiveness and is part of a well-defined plan to marginalize Muslims in India and deliver the nation into the hands of Hindu supremacists. The government has made it clear that the law does not apply in any way to Indian citizens, that it covers only undocumented refugees who have been living in India for years a and who until now could not obtain citizenship, and that it is a way to "help those who have suffered years of persecution at home and have nowhere to go but India." It remains clear that no one is preventing Ahmadis or Shiites, Baloch or Pashtuns and Sindhis persecuted in Pakistan, Uighurs persecuted in China, or Rohingyas from seeking asylum by following regular channels: the Caa only concerns illegal immigrants who are already in India, a fact that evidently escapes most. Because, in this as in other cases, what matters is not the facts but the narrative. Centered on the real or alleged nefarious agenda of the Modi government and its desire to make India a Hindu nation. That is, to validate the so-called 'two-state theory' (desired by Muslims) that led to the creation of the Islamic state of Pakistan. Pakistan which has declared, incidentally, that it is not at all willing to take in any Muslim refugees, whether from India or other Islamic or non-Muslim neighboring states, and indeed has just kicked more than a million Afghan refugees out of the country without anyone batting an eyelid or crying scandal. But by now, when it comes to India, everything is read, and almost always wrongly, in an 'anti' or 'pro' Muslim key. A measure like the one that abolished so-called triple talaq, which allowed Muslims to divorce their wives by simply saying 'talaq' three times effectively making Muslim women second-class citizens, should in theory have been a battle of the left supported by all Democrats. Instead, the left walked out of the House claiming that the measure violated the rights of Muslims. The next battle announced will be on the Uniform Civil Code. Even now in India, in spite of the funerals for the country's supposed and defunct secularism, each religion regulates marriages and kindred affairs with a different code of rules that apply only to members of that religion and in fact create A and C citizens (especially female citizens). Having common rules for every citizen regardless of race and religion should be considered desirable in a secular republic. Instead, some time ago, The Times UK, talking about this, headlined, 'India wants to abolish Muslim law.' Thus contributing to reading every single law or measure in a pro-Hindu or anti-Muslim light, even when they are measures that simply affect, or should affect, citizens as such. So much for the invoked secularism.
Francesca Marino