OIC concerned over Indian citizenship law, Babri Masjid verdict

Published December 23, 2019
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Gauhati, India, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. — AP/File
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Gauhati, India, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. — AP/File

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed concerns over discriminating legislation on citizenship rights in India and the verdict of the Babri Masjid case, in which India's apex court allowed construction of a temple at the site of a centuries-old mosque.

The OIC said in a statement on Sunday that the body has been closely following "recent developments affecting Muslim minority in India".

The body reiterated its call to ensure the safety of the Muslim minority and the protection of Islamic holy places in India.

"The general secretariat [of the OIC] reaffirms the crucial importance of upholding the principles and obligations enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and relevant international covenants that guarantee the rights of minorities without any discrimination," read the statement.

"In this regard, any action, contrary to these principles and obligations, may lead to further tensions and may have serious implications on peace and security across the region," it added.

Earlier on Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticised the new citizenship law in India that excludes Muslim immigrants.

At a news conference following the conclusion of an Islamic summit in Kuala Lumpur, Mahathir said India is a secular state and the religions of people should not prevent them from attaining citizenship. "To exclude Muslims from becoming citizens, even by due process, I think, is unfair," he had added.

The new Indian law grants citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan prior to 2015. Passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill triggered widespread protests in eastern state of Assam, as protesters said it would convert thousands of illegal immigrants into legal residents.

Muslims also protested against the law as it does not give them the same rights to citizenship as members of other faiths, a move critics say undermines the secular constitution.

But passage of this bill was a key election promise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, re-energising his nationalist, Hindu support base.

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