Minorities

The new citizenship law. Why are India’s Muslims concerned?

India has an estimated 200 million Muslims, but they feel increasingly threatened about their legal status in the country they consider to be home, and Hindus make up the majority of its 1.3 billion inhabitants.

The new amended citizenship law, the latest measure that Muslims in the world’s largest democracy, sees as being targeted by other measures, including a controversial census and the authorities’ approval of the construction of a Hindu temple on the ruins of a mosque.

Hindu Nationalist Party Victory

Since the Hindu Nationalist Party (Bharatiya Janata) won the 2014 elections, India‘s Muslims have been concerned that the government of the party will be dragged into scourge, because of its extremist history and its standing against Muslim issues in the country.

In the last elections last May, the party’s strength in parliament strengthened, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning 303 of the 542 seats, and the party-led coalition winning 65% of the seats, ensuring full control of the country’s political landscape.

Points of adjustment of nationality requirements

• A popular movement in northeastern India‘s Assam state has been established since the end of the 1970s to drive out immigrants, mostly from Bangladesh and Burma, because they take jobs from indigenous Assam people and endanger their culture.

• The Indian government then signed a treaty with the leaders of the movement in August 1985, which stipulated that a census of the state’s population should be conducted, and based on this census, Indian whoever proved that he or his parents had been in the state before 1971.

• It was not until 2019 that successive governments were able to complete the census, with some 2 million people declared to be foreigners in Assam.

• It was projected that the vast majority of these migrants were Muslims and therefore easy to deal with either deported or placed in special camps.

• The result that surprised the radical Indian government was that the majority of immigrants were Hindus.

• Here the Government considered amending the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955, by introducing an article that says India will accept immigrants from three neighboring countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, provided that they are Hindus, Buddhists, Christians or Sikhs, excluding Muslims.

• The law is humane, based on the fact that it came in order to provide protection and assistance to religious minorities (Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, etc.) persecuted in neighboring Muslim countries.

• The Citizenship Act was amended this month (December) to introduce this provision, so that Indian citizenship could be granted to these immigrants except Muslims, and the ruling party was able to pass the law by exploiting its majority in parliament.

India‘s Muslims sensed the imminent danger of this law, and its aim was to turn millions of them into “Bidun” in their country.

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• The plan is that any Hindu who is deprived of his nationality because of his failure to provide the required documents will be given citizenship through the back door using this new article, while Muslims will be deprived of this.

• The renewal of the National Citizenship Register will begin next April and will end next November. The papers of the entire population of India will be checked during the field survey.

• The Indian Government has planned to expel these people or allocate concentration-like areas to them, or at least deprive them of all the privileges enjoyed by citizens.

• The demonstrations began in Assam because they found that the law did not serve them in the idea of preserving their culture and their employment opportunities, which were originally their first demands.

• The demonstrations extended to many areas and Muslims participated in defending their identity and in anticipation of the targeting they were being targeted.

• Some Hindus, particularly opposition parties, took part in the demonstrations, who considered the law to be detrimental to India‘s image as a secular state.

The Indian street has been the subject of mass demonstrations that have begun since parliament passed a law on Indian citizenship on December 11.

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