New Delhi: The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) has expressed concern about recent developments affecting Muslims in India related to citizenship rights and the Babri Masjid court case, stating that India should uphold obligations under international law for non-discrimination against minorities.
The statement from the Islamic bloc was issued on the same day that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed at a rally that the opposition was envious of his popularity in Muslim nations. He further stated his “popularity” in Muslim nations would translate into approval among Indian Muslims.
“Congress has a problem with why Modi is so popular among Muslim nations. I made many peace overtures to Pakistan, got betrayal in return. But with other Muslim countries, our ties are excellent. The Haj quota has gone up, Indian prisoners have been released. Our ties with Bangladesh are the strongest in a long time. Congress fears that if Modi is popular among other Muslim countries, they will not be able to carry on with their politics of fear among Indian Muslims. Do not listen to these fear-mongers,” he said on Sunday.
A few hours later, OIC general secretariat issued a statement that it has been “closely following recent developments affecting Muslim minority in India”.
“It expresses its concern over the recent developments pertaining to both the issue of citizenship rights and the Babri Masjid case. It reiterates its call to ensure the safety of the Muslim minority and the protection of Islamic holy places in India,” said the press communique.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which became law this month, allows for fast-track citizenship of non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This is the first instance of a religious criteria introduced for citizenship in the constitution.
Further, coupled with a nation-wide National Register of Citizens process, the concern among critics is that it would put the poor and minorities into a stateless limbo. The Indian prime minister said at the rally on Sunday that there was no discussion of NRC since 2014. However, it had been mentioned both by the Indian president in his inaugural speech and the home minister in his speech in parliament. Modi had also mentioned it in interviews to media previously.
The Supreme Court had in a verdict last month had accepted the Hindu parties’ claim to the disputed Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya.
“The General Secretariat reaffirms the crucial importance of upholding the principles and obligations enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and relevant international covenants that guarantee the rights of minorities without any discrimination. In this regard, any action, contrary to these principles and obligations, may lead to further tensions and may have serious implications on peace and security across the region,” stated the OIC statement.
Earlier this year in March, late Sushma Swaraj became the first Indian external affairs minister to address the inaugural plenary of the annual meeting of the Council of foreign ministers on March 1, on invitation of the host – United Arab Emirates. Pakistan boycotted the 46th ministerial meeting claiming that India had “no legal or moral grounds to be present at the meeting”.
In her speech, she said that Indian “Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself”.
Speaking different languages, having diverse culinary and cultural traditions, “they practice their respective beliefs and live in harmony with each other and with their non-Muslim brethren.” This diversity and co-existence has “ensured that very few Muslims in India have fallen prey to the poisonous propaganda of radical and extremist ideologies”.