U.S on Religious Freedom

China Taking Extreme Steps To Suppress Uighurs: U.S.

Parul Chandra New Delhi 18 December 2018

Repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province of China will only lead to further problems, the U.S. government has said.

Noting that China is a country the United States is very concerned about, Knox Thames, who is the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia in the US department of state, said “under the guise of checking terrorism, the Chinese government has taken extreme measures like putting hundreds of them in prison to suppress them (Uighurs)”.

Thames is currently on a visit to New Delhi and was speaking at the Observer Research Foundation.

However, the U.S. official was more cautious in his response to questions about the targeting of minorities in India in the context of lynchings over cow slaughter or being branded a terrorist and if this was a cause for concern. “Absolutely concerned,” he said, adding that the US worked in countries the world over to address issues of religious freedom.

In this regard, he also drew attention to the annual report on the freedom of religion that State Department comes out with which is facts-based, he noted. The report is then submitted to the US Congress.

In his opening remarks, Thames called upon India to play a tremendous role in the region as the world’s biggest democracy and amid the expectations the world has from it.

To another question on the fight against terrorism being conflated with a fight against Islam, Knox acknowledged that the threat of terrorism has led governments to overreact and “our advice would be to be very targeted in your response and separate theology from politics”.

The U.S. official also expressed concern about the role of social media in spreading intolerance. “It’s a new frontier that didn’t exist until 5 or 10 years ago. How do we navigate this? There are no clear answers,” he said. One way of tackling a hateful speech on social media was to condemn it and say it was unacceptable, he said.

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