Associated Press: India announces the implementation of a controversial citizenship law that excludes Muslims

Written by Reem Abdel Hamid

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 11:53 AM

She announced India Implementing a controversial citizenship law, which has been widely criticized for excluding Muslims, according to the Associated Press.

The rules of the law were announced on Monday, and represents a religious test for immigrants of all religions and beliefs in South Asia other than Islam. Critics argue that the law is further evidence that Modi’s government is trying to shape the country as a Hindu state, marginalizing its 200 million Muslim population.

What is the new Citizenship Amendment Act?

The Associated Press reports that the CAA offers a fast track to naturalization for Hindus, Sheikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who fled to Hindu-majority India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before December 31, 2014. The law excludes Muslims, who are the majority in the three countries.

It also amends the old law, which prevents illegal immigrants from becoming Indian citizens, and marks the first time that India, an officially secular country with religious diversity, has introduced a religious criterion for citizenship.

The Indian government said that those who qualify can apply for Indian citizenship through an electronic portal.

Implementing the law was one of the main promises of Modi’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janat, in preparation for the general elections, scheduled to be held next May.

Modi’s government rejected accusations that the law was discriminatory, and defended it as a humanitarian sign. It argued that the law was only intended to extend citizenship to religious minorities fleeing persecution, and was not used against Indian citizens.

Controversial law

The law was approved by the Indian Parliament in 2019, but the Modi government refrained from implementing it after bloody protests broke out in New Delhi and other cities, during which dozens were killed within days of clashes.

The nationwide protests that took place in 2019 were attended by followers of all faiths, who said that the law undermines India as a secular state. Muslims in particular were concerned that the government could use the law, along with a proposal to register citizens, to marginalize them.

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