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Modi's Malignant anti-Muslim Vision for India Is Becoming Reality

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Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, was deeply concerned with the fate of democracy in Asia. He was proud of the fact that Israel was founded, amidst regional violence, as a democracy in 1948, and believed India, founded a year earlier, offered great hope in Asia thanks to its democratic, secular and egalitarian ambitions.

For this, he credited Jawaharlal Nehru, who led India as its first prime minister until 1964. Meeting U.S. President John F.Kennedy, in May 1961, Ben-Gurion declared: "He is a great man. I admire him. There is democracy in India; it is the only country in Asia which is democratic, except Japan. If Nehru goes, I am not sure what will happen; but [for] now,it has democracy."

Ben-Gurion’s admiration for Nehru’s vision was not dulled by the fact that even a full decade after India recognized Israel in 1950, New Delhi was still reluctant to establish diplomatic relations. But now, under the premiership of Narendra Modi, precisely the values that Ben-Gurion and many other world leaders so admired are being systematically undermined in India.

Last week, Modi’s government passed an amendment to India’s constitution – the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAB) – which changed the criteria determining who can be a citizen of India. The three-page document is entirely detrimental to India’s founding secular democracy: it establishes religion as a key component of citizenship.

The law means that any person belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities who comes from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan can apply for Indian citizenship. Muslims from these countries are excluded.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 was passed by both Houses of Parliament with overwhelming support. Large number of political parties and MPs supported its passage. This Act illustrates India’s centuries old culture of acceptance, harmony, compassion and brotherhood.

The bill does not even bother to mention phrases like "minority communities" or "religious persecution" as a pretext for its revision of Indian citizenship. Modi and his most trusted lieutenant, Home Affairs minister and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, can’t conceive of India being any kind of refuge or home for Muslims in South Asia.

Shah’s language is explicit: He has serially called Muslim illegal migrants "termites" and "infiltrators," even vowing to throw them into the Bay of Bengal. The new law, of course, offers similarly illegal migrants full citizenship – as long as they’re not Muslim.

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© Haaretz