BY ARUL LOUIS
United Nations, May 19 (IANS) After a UN human rights official criticised BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, saying that the latters alleged statements about Muslims were “extremely alarming”, the BJP lawmaker sought source clarification.
Earlier, Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng said on Monday that alleged statements attributed to Swamy like “all people are not equal”, and that “Muslims are not in an ‘equal category’ as others” were extremely alarming.
Dieng added, “Hate speech and the dehumanisation of others go against international human rights norms and values.”
However, the BJP lawmaker, while speaking to IANS, shot back and demanding to know “the source or medium” of the alleged statement attributed to Swamy by Dieng. Swamy asked, “Or is it cut and paste fake news?”
Meanwhile, Dieng, who is also the special adviser on the prevention of genocide, said he was concerned by “reports of increased hate speech and discrimination against minority” since the adoption of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Interestingly, he described the violent attacks on non-Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh as “alleged persecution”. Dieng claimed that the expedited citizenship given to non-Muslim minorities should be extended to Muslims in order to be non-discriminatory.
Excluding Muslims “is contrary to India’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular on non-discrimination,” he said, without explaining how a measure to explicitly protect religious minorities from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are officially Islamic countries, and Muslim-majority Bangladesh would apply to the members of the majority religion there.
“While the objective of the act, to provide protection to minority communities, is commendable, it is concerning that this protection is not extended to all groups, including Muslims,” Dieng said.
Strikingly, while he called the minorities’ experience in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh “alleged persecution”, his statement was silent on the killing of 25 Muslims in Afghanistan in March during an attack on a gurdwara.
He said that he was concerned “over reports that demonstrations against the law, which occurred across some regions of India since its enactment, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, had reportedly resulted in the injury and death of civilians, attacks on religious sites, as well as an increase in expressions of hate against India’s Muslim community.”
However, Dieng said that he welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that Covid-19 “does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or border before striking and that our response and conduct should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood.”
The statement said that that he “would continue to follow developments (in India) and expressed his readiness to support initiatives to counter and address hate speech.”
“In these extraordinary times brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, it is more important than ever that we stand united as one humanity, demonstrating unity and solidarity rather than division and hate,” he added.
However, with Swamy seeking an explanation from him over the source of his alleged comment, the ball is now in Dieng’s court.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed @arulouis)