CONTROVERSIAL INDIAN POLITICIAN MUST BE DENIED ENTRY TO U.S.
by Parvez Ahmed
American Reporter Correspondent
WASHINGTON -- Indian politician Narendra Modi must be prevented from entering the United States for his "campaign of extremism." Section 604 of the International Religious Freedom Act allows the State Department to bar the entry of any foreign official who has engaged in "particularly severe violations of religious freedom." Modi will be a good test case for this law.
If we care about America's image as an exemplar of human rights, then preventing the entry of this controversial politician is in our vital interest. Already reeling from the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo scandals, America's image can scant afford any further blemish.
Who is Narendra Modi and why must he be stopped from entering the U.S.?
Narendra Modi is the chief minister of India's western state of Gujarat. He belongs to a right wing Hindu party known for its extreme rhetoric towards India's minorities, both Muslims and Christians. The main charge against him is that his police force idly stood by as marauding Hindu mobs burned out entire Muslim communities and desecrated mosques. The riots left several thousands dead, hundreds of thousands homeless and were correctly described as "genocide."
Published newspaper reports cite that Modi's government in 2004 introduced a school textbook that stated, 'Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government' and 'Hitler instilled a spirit of adventure in the common people.'
The U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom has designated India as a "Country of Particular Concern," primarily due to its despicable record in Gujarat and subsequent efforts - or lack thereof - to bring the perpetrators to justice. The report concurs with the findings of other human rights organization that the attacks against Muslims and Christians (several churches were also destroyed) were well coordinated indicating advance planning.
Amnesty International in its 2005 report titled, "Justice - The Victim in Gujarat" wrote that the state of Gujarat (under the leadership of then and current chief minister Modi) had failed to protect its minority citizens, especially women and children. The fact that the government still refuses to acknowledge its mistake is a "further insult to victims."
The report also concludes, "Many women were burned alive after they'd been raped, leaving no trace of the crimes against them. Scores of other women never filed rape complaints - they were either prevented or were too afraid or ashamed to do so. These are the forgotten victims of the violence."
The Human Rights Commission in India has indicted Modi for his role in the Gujarat genocide and the Indian Supreme Court has officially reprimanded him for his failures as the chief law enforcement officer in Gujarat.
Modi has been invited to be a keynote speaker at a convention hosted by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). Despite being notified about Modi's dubious record, AAHOA insists on having Modi speak. Many other public figures, like Chris Matthews (host of MSNBC's Hardball), are also unsuspectingly caught in this controversy by agreeing to speak at the convention. AAHOA justifies Modi's visit by claiming that he will further their business interests in India. But surely this could have been accomplished by inviting any other Indian politician who does not have such a dismal record of protecting citizens in their own state.
All Americans must unite not only against terrorism but also against any action that restrict or violate fundamental human rights. At a time when America's image is significantly eroded all across the world, it is our collective the responsibility to ensure no further loss. AAHOA is apparently putting their business interests over the image of our nation. This is unfortunate, regrettable and unpatriotic.
Parvez Ahmed, Ph.D. is a board member for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, (CAIR). Visit them at http://www.cair.com. CAIR is headquartered in Washington D.C. and has 28 offices nationwide. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties advocacy group. Write Parvez at firstname.lastname@example.org.