Dec 18th, 2019, 10:35 AM

India's New Islamophobic/Anti-Atheist Bill

By Husam Ibrahim
Protestors shout slogans during a protest against the citizenship bill in Delhi. Credit: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) Redefines Illegal Immigrant and Excludes Muslims and Atheists in the Process

The bill which passed on December 10 allows illegal immigrants in India to apply for fast tracked citizenship based on their religion. Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) specifically allows persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh Indian citizenship. However, the basis of the nationalization only allows immigrants who were fleeing from religious persecution from three of India's neighboring Muslim countries.

After getting major criticism about the bill's exclusion of Muslims, the President of India's Hindu nationalist party, BJP, said that the need for the bill goes back to the India-Pakistan partition and Pakistan's failure to protect its religious minorities. While Pakistan was constitutionally founded on Islam, India has always been a secular country and Amith Shah, the president of BJP, stated that the bill will now fixes the blunders made by the other countries that led to the persecution of non-Muslim minorities. 

Shah said: "There would have been no need to introduce this bill. This bill is to address the problem created by the partition. Also, if any government would have solved the problem, there would have been no need for this bill."

Policemen detain an injured student outside Jamia Millia Islamia university, New Delhi, during a protest against CAB. Image Credit: AP 

The issue with the bill is that it makes religion a key part of citizenship, excluding both  Muslim and Atheist. In the three Muslim majority countries mentioned in CAB, many Muslims are still persecuted due to Islam's division between sects. For example Shia's which make up 15-20% of the Pakistani population have been attacked in large numbers in Pakistan. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, between 2003 and May 2016 more than 2558 people have been killed and over 4518 others injured as a consequence of attacks on the Shia community.

Ahmadis, people from an another sect of Islam have also been persecuted against. Pakistan made an amendment to its constitution in 1974, declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims, making it illegal for them to refer to themselves as Muslims or use Islamic symbols in their religious practices. A report listed 3963 news items and 532 editorial pieces in the country's Urdu-language media for spreading "hate propaganda" against Ahmadis adding to the discriminatory arrests. 

In Bangladesh several Atheist bloggers and writers have been massacred by machetes in daylight for their criticism of religious extremism and the perpetrators faced minimal consequences. Rohingya Muslims facing genocide from the Myanmar government are also not allowed citizenship under the new law. The refugees who have fled the burning of their villages and beheadings of their kids have been recasted as terrorists and "illegal Bengalis" by India's Hindu nationalist government. The Indian government also has deported over 40,000 of them, defying both Indian and international law. Recently, Indian authorities have also ceased to recognize the UNHCR-issued refugee cards of Rohingya, taking away the little amount of legal protection some 18,000 registered Rohingya refugees had in the country. This has made schooling, healthcare and other essential services unobtainable for the Muslim refugees. 

Rohingya refugee who fled from a police raid in her village poses for picture in a Bangladeshi refugee camp. Her parents and husband were murdered during the raid and she lost her arm after being brutally beaten up. Image Credit: AFP/Getty 

When Shah was questioned on why Rohingya's aren't allowed to get nationality in the new bill he simply stated, "Rohingyas did not come into India directly. They first went to Bangladesh and then infiltrated into India from there."

The new bill has led to massive violent protests throughout India, leading to several injuries, arrests and 6 deaths. India's identity as a secular state seems unsteady as the government strikes down on it's Muslim minority, which consists of over 200 million people. 

Click here to donate to the children of Rohingya. 

Click here to read more on India's crackdown in Kashmir.