17/12/2019 1:02 PM IST | Updated 17/12/2019 3:17 PM IST

CAA: How Foreign Media Covered The Protests

A headline on 'The New York Times' read 'As Protests Rage, Is India Moving Closer to Becoming a Hindu Nation?'

Francis Mascarenhas / Reuters
Students hold placards and shout slogans in solidarity with Jamia Millia Islamia university students, in Mumbai on December 16, 2019.

The passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by the Parliament has evoked widespread condemnation with the United Nations Human Rights Office and US lawmakers voicing concerns.  

The United Nations Human Rights Office said that the new citizenship law was “fundamentally discriminatory in nature” by excluding Muslims and called for it to be reviewed.

After the bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha, a federal US commission had sought sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah if the bill was passed in both houses of Parliament. 

The United States is concerned about the implications of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India, a top American diplomat responsible for monitoring international religious freedom said, according to PTI.

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“One of India’s great strengths is its Constitution. As a fellow democracy, we respect India’s institutions, but are concerned about the implications of the CAB Bill,” Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, said in a tweet.

Protests have been raging against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act since its introduction by Shah in the Lok Sabha and the outrage has only grown in recent days.

Here’s how foreign media covered the agitation in India and what the new law means:  

The Guardian carried three reports on the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act with two (see here and here) detailing how the protests have spread and the unrest in several states. The third was titled, “India citizenship law: shock at crackdown may unite Modi opponents”. It said that the protests against the CAA were becoming “the most significant show of dissent in the nearly six years since Narendra Modi took office”. 

“The images of students and Muslims, two groups who claim to be targeted by the Modi government, coming under attack by police, appear to have crystallised a wider feeling of unease about the direction of the world’s largest democracy. In an extraordinarily diverse country, they may provide a rare national rallying point for discontent.”

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The New York Times’s headline read, “As Protests Rage, Is India Moving Closer to Becoming a Hindu Nation?”

“Critics are deeply worried that Mr. Modi is trying to wrench India away from its secular, democratic roots and turn this nation of 1.3 billion people into a religious state, a homeland for Hindus.”

The New York Times’s article also said that the political opposition in India, including the Congress party, had become “disorganized” and “shaky”. The citizenship law has “galvanized the opposition”, it said, rival opposition leaders who usually can’t agree on anything are planning protests together.

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Al Jazeeratalked to the women who were seen confronting armed police officers in New Delhi in a video that went viral. The women were protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act when a police contingent began chasing the demonstrators. 

“Police used abusive language as we were rescuing our friend. They even hit us as well with their sticks,” one of the women told Al Jazeera.

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South China Morning Post carried an opinion piece which was titled “Why India’s new citizenship law has sparked an outcry – even among those it sought to please”.

“The bill is an infringement of the Indian constitution, which, under Article 14, guarantees not just “equality before the law” but also “equal protection of the laws” of the country. Further, Article 15 prohibits the state from discriminating against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”

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The Telegraph’s piece from Monday talked about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi doubled down on the passing of the act telling a rally his decision was “1,000 percent correct”. 

“It is the latest in a string of actions the government, led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has taken against India’s Muslim population.”

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The New Yorker has a piece titledHas Narendra Modi Finally Gone Too Far?

“The street protests now sweeping India appear to be validating one of the oldest and most trusted maxims of politics: sooner or later, authoritarians will go too far. The authoritarian in this case is Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister.”

It added that since his re-election victory, last May, Modi “has mounted an aggressive campaign targeting the country’s Muslim minority, which numbers two hundred million”.

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(With PTI and Reuters inputs)

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