India was put into the UNCIRF report after global reactions to the anti-CAA protests across the country
India was put into the UNCIRF report after global reactions to the anti-CAA protests across the country
(Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

The executive director of the Hindu America Foundation has slammed a report by the United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that has listed India in its 2020 list of nations that have seen a decline in religious freedom.

Taking to Twitter, Suhag Shukla also attacked USCIRF chairperson Tony Perkins, who also heads the Family Research Council and Southern Poverty Law Centre, as being ‘anti India’.

Claiming that Perkins hired a person from Pakistan to write an anti-India report, Shukla added that the US State Department does not take USCIRF’s report seriously, given that it is not a policy making body.

She also alleged that the Perkins-led Southern Poverty Law Centre once termed yoga as an ‘obstacle to God’ and even opposed ‘Hindu prayer in Capitol’.

This is the thread she has shared.

In 2017 article in Foreign Affairs Magazine titled 'How the U.S. Promotes Extremism in the Name of Religious Freedom', the author criticises the body by saying, "An inherent problem with the current system concerns the accuracy of the evidence on which USCIRF bases its conclusions. Because the commission’s mandate is to cover the entire globe, it rarely conducts original research, relying instead on reports from local and international NGOs. It then recycles these reports, without independently verifying their accuracy, and puts the U.S. government’s stamp of approval on them. Worse, the USCIRF provides no specific information on the sources of their data beyond naming NGOs and opposition media. In other words, the reader has no basis for verifying the commission’s data. A further problem with this approach is that many NGOs are highly partisan groups that make no pretense of hiding their agenda, whether it is to actively support a government or to bring it down."

Earlier, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Tuesday night released its 2020 Annual Report, documenting significant developments during 2019, including remarkable progress in Sudan and a sharp downward turn in India, and making recommendations to enhance the U.S. government’s promotion of freedom of religion or belief abroad in 2020.

In the 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends 14 countries to the State Department for designation as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) because their governments engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations.” These include nine that the State Department designated as CPCs in December 2019—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five others—India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.

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