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US Representative Ilhan Omar’s resolution on India

  • Published
    24th Jun, 2022
Context

Ilhan Omar, a representative from the US Congress, introduced a resolution on June 22 to condemn human rights violations in India, specifically those targeting Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, Adivasis, and “other religious and cultural minorities”.

About
  • The resolution calls on the US Secretary of State to designate India as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act.
  • Such a move can lead to economic sanctions in extreme cases.
  • The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a consultative government body, has been recommending this designation for the past three years.
  • There are three co-sponsors of the resolution.
  • Among them is Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American Congresswoman from Michigan who, along with Omar, is part of a grouping popularly called ‘the Squad’, a Left-wing cohort within the Democratic Party. Both are the first two Muslim women to be elected to the House.
  • Another co-sponsor is Jim McGovern, a Congressman from Massachusetts, member of the Democratic progressive caucus in the House, and also the co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus of the House.
  • The third co-sponsor is Juan Vargas, a Congressman from California who, after college, joined the Jesuits working in El Salvador, served in the California State Senate, and got elected to the House in 2012.

Who is Ilhan Omar?

  • Omar is a US Congress representative from the Democratic party.
  • She was born in Somalia and came to the US as a refugee at the age of 13 years, fleeing the Somali Civil War.
  • In November 2016, Omar contested elections and became the first Somali-American legislator in the United States, and is the first hijab-wearing woman to be a part of the US Congress.

What is the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)?

  • The USCIRF is an independent body, setup by the American government to “monitor the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad — not in the United States — using international standards to do so and makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress”.
  • Its recommendations are non-binding.
  • In the last few years, it has criticised the Indian government’s treatment of minority religion groups, the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in June 2019, calling on the Indian government to “take concrete actions that will prevent this kind of violence”.
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