India is the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, the US said on Tuesday.
While addressing reporters, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said, “India of course, is the world’s largest democracy. It’s home to a great diversity of faiths. Our annual report on international religious freedom outlines some of the concerns we’ve taken note of when it comes to India. And we continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes India.”
“We encourage and will continue to encourage the Indian government to hold its commitment to protecting religious freedom for all,” Price added.
“We engage officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom. As the world’s two largest democracies, the United States and India, we’re also committed to an enduring project,” he said.
This statement came after the Biden administration released the name of countries that are designated under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement, said, “Finally, I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group based on its actions in the Central African Republic as Entities of Particular Concern.”
Blinken also said that Cuba and Nicaragua were added to the list of countries of “Particular Concern”, and China, Russia, Iran, Burma, Eritrea, North Korea and Pakistan remain on the list, according to the statement released by the US Department of State.
“Today, I am announcing designations against Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, the DPRK (North Korea), Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom,” Blinken said in a statement.
“I am also placing Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam on the Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom. Finally, I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group based on its actions in the Central African Republic as Entities of Particular Concern,” the statement quoted Blinken as saying.
US announcement of these designations is in keeping with the values and interests to protect national security and to advance human rights around the globe. Countries that effectively safeguard this and other human rights are more peaceful, stable, prosperous and more reliable partners of the United States than those that do not.