President Trump Praises India Amid Religious Persecution, Says He Discussed Religious Freedom With Prime Minister

President Trump holds a press conference in India.
Screen capture from White House video

NEW DELHI (BP) — As religious liberty advocates point out India’s religious persecution, U.S. President Trump praised India and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday (Feb. 25) ending a two-day visit there.

“We did talk about religious freedom, and I will say that the prime minister was incredible on what he told me. He wants people to have religious freedom, and very strongly,” Trump said Tuesday while announcing a $3 billion trade deal with India at a press conference in New Delhi. “And he (Modi) said that in India they have worked very hard to have great and open religious freedom.”
India is listed as 10th on persecution watchdog Open Doors 2020 Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution, having risen from a 2013 ranking of 31 after Modi gained power in 2014 with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Open Doors CEO David Curry told Baptist Press he questions whether the U.S. could have any reputable trade alliance with India.

“When you have a country that has significant human rights issues — not allowing their people to worship freely, is trying to force people into a Hindu system — I think that’s a significant problem and makes me question whether they’ll be the partner we hope they’ll be,” Curry told BP Tuesday. “I think we have to understand that for us to have a friendly relationship, friends don’t let friends commit human rights abuses, and this administration in India has a very serious track record of abuse against Christians.”

India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has drawn concern from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, USCIRF wrote in a February 2020 legislation factsheet on India. The law has sparked violent protests and is widely viewed as a tool to exclude Muslims from citizenship. USCIRF lists India as a Tier 2 country of particular concern in its 2019 annual report.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Trump declined to discuss the CAA, saying it was an item for India to handle. Trump described Modi as a “very religious man” whom he admires tremendously, and described India as “an incredible country with unbelievable energy.”

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Source: Baptist Press