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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast Asia‘Muslims Are Foreigners’: Inside India’s Campaign to Decide Who Is a Citizen

‘Muslims Are Foreigners’: Inside India’s Campaign to Decide Who Is a Citizen

Authors: Karan Deep Singh and Suhasini Raj

Affiliation:  The New York Times

Organization/Publisher:  The New York Times

Date/Place: April 4, 2020, USA

Type of Literature: Reportage


Keywords: India, Communalism, Islamophobia, India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, Anti-Islam bias, Assam


The article draws attention to anti-Muslim sentiments in India materializing in citizenship tribunals under state pressure to declare Muslims as foreigners. It identifies how government intervention and pressure tactics are rendering hundreds of thousands of Muslims stateless in one of the provinces in the country ruled by Hindu zealots. India is also running tribunals in north-eastern Assam province which are checking credentials of citizens to declare whether they are “Indians” or not. In interviews with former officials employed to check documents, they reveal that they were pressured to declare Muslims as “foreigners.” Even policemen deputized in these tribunals emphasized that Muslims are foreigners. The latest survey released by the Hindu nationalist government says nearly 1.9 million are stateless. Over 700,000 were Muslims. Indian politicians have made statements indicating that such tribunals will be held across India though its Prime Minister Narendra Modi has denied it will do so. If declared stateless, these Muslims cannot get Indian citizenship because of the new citizenship law passed in December, which grants citizenship to all migrants except Muslims who came to India until 2014. India claims its Muslim minority population illegally came to the country. Even if not expelled from the country, the fundamental rights of these residents will be suspended, and they will subsequently be detained in large detention centers currently being constructed by the government.

By: Riyaz Ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate



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