MJ Akbar & European parliament MPs discuss CAA in Geneva
A panel made up of European and Indian parliamentarians along with religious leaders held a discussion over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the situation of Muslims in India on the side-lines of Human Rights Council in United Nations, Geneva.
Veteran journalist & MP MJ Akbar said India’s most important characteristic was its plurality and the Constitution gives equal rights to every citizen irrespective of religion.
He added that Muslims are as much part of India as any other citizen from any other religion.
Akbar took a dig at Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and said that “sometimes when you are in opposition you tend to make rhetorical points and Tharoor is far away from reality”.
Watch | Plurality of culture most important in India: CAA discussed in Geneva
Akbar quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say, “Hindus and Muslims are one. God created them and no one can separate them.”
Fulvio Martusciello, a member of European parliament clarified that CAA will result in several rights including electoral and educational for the innocent people facing religious persecution in their native countries neighbouring India.
The Chief Imam of India, Umar Ahmed Ilyasi, who is among the first Indian Muslims to support CAA, said “India has the second largest number of Muslims in the world and it is providing equal citizenship for everyone, India is a secular democracy,” he said.
Ilyasi lashed out at Pakistan and said it shouldn’t interfere in New Delhi’s internal matters and added that the Muslims in India were safer than anywhere else in the world. He said Indian laws allow any Muslim to apply for citizenship under the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955.
Atika Farooqui, a Journalist covering minority issues in India stated that CAA has no provision to take away citizenship of current citizens of India by any means and said that “We, Indians, are just curious and hardworking people with Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Hindu sounding names”.
Paulo Casaca, Executive Director, South Asia Democratic Forum and Former member of european parliament said there was a disinformation campaign in Europe and added that the EU institutions were feeding hatred and chaos. He said EU must change its attitude towards the refugees at its borders first before interfering in India.
Casaca said the CAA provides a special fast track procedure to certain groups from certain neighbouring countries.
The discussion panel was moderated by Brian Toll, who is the former Director of the European Commission and the South Asia Expert.
Toll said the Indian Constitution provides equal opportunity to every citizen irrespective of their religion, creed or caste. He added that India is only country in entire world to have accepted people from all cultures, religions etc with open arms and embraced their ethos in its plurality.