In communal appeal to Muslim voters, Biden raises Kashmir in religious context

By Arul Louis

New York, Jun 28 (IANS): In an openly communal appeal to Muslim voters, Joe Biden, the Democratic Party candidate for President, has dragged Kashmir into his campaign in a religious context rather than as a foreign policy or a general human rights issue.

His "Agenda for Muslim American Communities" published by his campaign also criticises the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

Biden is assured of being formally nominated by the Democrats as its candidate at the party's national convention in August to challenge President Donald Trump in the November election as he has won the required delegates in the primary elections.

Unlike in India, parties are allowed to openly appeal to voters on the basis of religion.

Turning what are foreign policy or general human rights matters into a religious issue, Biden's Muslim agenda says: "In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people of Kashmir. Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the Internet, weaken democracy."

Turning to other contentious issues, the agenda, which is the basis for outreach to Muslim voters, says: "Joe Biden has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) into law.

"These measures are inconsistent with the country's long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy."

While criticising the CAA, Biden's Muslim agenda, however, is silent on a US legislation similar to the CAA. Tucked into the US budget bill, the Specter Amendment excludes Muslim refugees from Iran from getting preferential asylum as religious refugees.

The Biden campaign has not issued so far an agenda for Hindu-Americans or Sikh-Americans or Buddhist-Americans.

But separately, Biden has taken up the issue of persecution of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan.

After a terror attack on a gurdwara in Kabul killed at least 25 Sikhs in March, Biden issued a statement expressing concern over the "intense persecutiona of the members of the two religions in Afghanistan and urged the State Department to consider refugee protection for them.

Trump officials have declined make a commitment to allowing Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan coming to the US as refugees to avoid persecution.

Biden's Agenda for Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities, which is not religiously-oriented, mentioned Hindus and Sikhs, along with Muslims, as victims of "discrimination and hate" in the US and said the situation was made worse by "Trump's dangerous rhetoric".

The Muslim agenda noted that the administration of former President Barack Obama in which he was the Vice President began to separately monitor hate crimes against Hindus and Sikhs.

It said that the Obama-Biden administration "added 'Anti-Sikh' and 'Anti-Hindu' to the Department of Justice's hate crime reporting categories".

It said "his (Biden's) Justice Department will prioritise prosecuting hate crimes".

But the Obama-Biden administration had failed to act on anti-Hindu hate crimes like the placing of a severed cow's head at a Hindu cow sanctuary in 2016 in Pennsylvania.

Biden's focus on Kashmir, the CAA and the NRC is driven by the ascendancy of the left in the Democratic Party, which is led by House of Representatives members like Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes.

Ocasio-Cortes has tried to link US arms sales to India with communal violence. She tweeted: "President Trump is engaging in arms deals with Modi while his administration is ethnically cleansing the country's religious minorities. We must not enable this rise in sectarian violence."

Jayapal and Omar have been at the forefront of the criticism of India in Congress.

A Hindu member of the campaign has been attacked personally and Biden has been asked to remove him because he is considered sympathetic to Modi and his father, according to some media reports, was linked to the Overseas Friends of the BJP.

But Amit Jani, the Asian American Pacific Islander outreach director for the Biden campaign continues so far on the job.

An organisation called Equity Labs published an open letter that said: "To hire a supporter and friend of Narendra Modi opens the door to embracing anti-Muslim and Hindu nationalist politics.

"Progressive Asian Americans and South Asian Americans cannot stand by a candidate with relationships to fascists, here or abroad."

A online petition calling for Jani's removal received 6,668 signatures as of Saturday night.

Such pressures would make it difficult for Biden, if he is elected, to work with India in the global context, even when the interests of the two countries intersect.

How the pressures from the left would translate into Biden policy is an open question and will have to await a better and comprehensive articulation of his foreign policy.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims make up 0.9 per cent of the US population and Hindus 0.7 per cent.

Although their numbers are not that far apart, Muslims exert more open influence in the Democratic Party for two reasons: African-Americans, a group that is important in the party and vocal make up an important segment of American Muslims, and the party's left wing that is very articulate and increasing in importance is both pro-Muslim and critical of India.

The Democratic Party has not made overt overtures to Hindus as it has to other religious groups.

On the other hand, Trump attended a Hindu Republican rally during his 2016 campaign.

One of the sessions of the Republican National Convention that nominated him opened with a Sikh prayer.

The State Department has expressed concerns about the detentions and other restrictions in Kashmir, but in a non-religious context while also acknowledging India's democracy.



Comment on this article

  • Concerned citizen, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Effect of howdi modi event where our pm appeal indian conmunity to bat for Trump.

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sunil K, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Whoever wins the US Presidential race this November - we Indians want a President who curbs the terrorism by Pakistan and trade aggression from China by dumping its cheap and inferior quality products everywhere. Hillary took a pro-Pakistan stand in 2016 and was disliked by many in India. So far Biden seems to be on the same course.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • John, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Finally biden might be selling his country to the communists, these use race and religion only for self gain and to bring their godless communism. Communists are masters in that to destabilise country with race, religion, virus, vaccine, abortion, same sex marriage, euthanasia... for depopulation then bring their ruthless godless communist style government. (Already with this virus they have wrecked the economy and jobs, whatever Trump developed is half lost now)

    Democratic party ( to support socialists or socialism) is called democrats for sometimes back now already becoming demon crats by supporting anarchy going on for vote bank politics. Finally creating a godless nation so assisting russians and chinese to take over whole world, bringing their communist rule everywhere.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Naveen, Tulunad Rajya

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    It's not communism but The US Govt. which has destabilized many countries. You may be suffering from communism phobia.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • John, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Mostly during Democratic presidents' time these destabilisation have taken place. Mostly in wars and revolutions in middle east and africa, why beacause they wanted mass migration into Europe from these places so that communists can take control of Europe by bring chaos and anarchy into Europe also Already in Italy spain and even France left leaning coalition is ruling. Russia is waiting for an opportune time.

    Trump is the first businessman, previous rest mostly politicians were mostly puppets of communist leaning elites specially Soros, Rothschild, Rockefeller... So all previously government almost same. If Hillary had come this virus they would have released in 2016/ 17 to bring forth godless one world government. That's why through the Divine intervention Trump came into power.

    See how communist cunningly managed to close religious institutions with this virus and by promoting fear. Virus or viral bound to infect mostly all with minor infections in majority and but those with less immunity and elderly it is a bit more deadly and here and there some odd cases.

    This is all communists, elite, their left leaning democrats plan to decimate population and bring their style of control and godless government. They may be definitely having a cure but rest will have to suffer and ruthless communist least bothered even if they loose their one city as rest of the world, they think, it will come into their hand or control.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Francis, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020


    DisAgree Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Regardless of any claims by the Gujju-bhai supporters...

    What the President of USA decides will have serious consequences on India.

    2018 figures (goods + services):
    US exports to India $58.7 billion; India exports to US $83.9 billion.

    So if Biden becomes the President, and expects more rights to the Kashmiris, what will the Gujju-bhai Government do?

    (a) Have the exports to US drop down by $20 billion, or
    (b) Satisfy Biden on Kashmir?

    Gujju-bhai is a new kid on the block. There is much to learn. His age (in 3 months he is 70) is not an excuse.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Biden is the next President of USA ...

    DisAgree [11] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shankar, Mangaluru

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    I think Biden is making the win easier for Trump!

    DisAgree [3] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Biden is the next President of USA ...

    DisAgree [7] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sudesh pai, MANIPAL

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    GREAT India has shaken the world after 370 and citizenship act evertop leader having sleepless night

    DisAgree [27] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • David Pais, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    dirty game from Democrats.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Krishna, Udupi

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    dnt worry, he will use them for votes and throw as happening in India for 70 year

    DisAgree [1] Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • anthony, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Modi has himself to be blamed for the Democrats turning against India. Modi's chant in Howdy Modi drama in America where he has publicly endorsed Trump (Agli Baar Trump Ki Sarkr) would have angered the Democrats.

    the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) into law are inconsistent with the country's long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy."

    The CAA and NRC have alienated India across the world.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rathan, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 28 2020

    Thus clearly shows the agenda behind Democrats. Let them first settle their problem in USA. They restrict VISA and now tell us how to handle CAA it is none of their business to meddle in our internal matters

    DisAgree [29] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse


Title : In communal appeal to Muslim voters, Biden raises Kashmir in religious context


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