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Surrey protest against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act


On Sunday, December 22,  about hundred people gathered to protest against the controversial bill passed in the Indian Parliament which discriminates against Muslims.

The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The bill excludes Muslims persecuted in neighbouring countries like Myanmar.

While protests and clashes have erupted across Indian, the Surrey protest was one of two held here in lower mainland as part of the internationals protests held across many countries and cities including Canada.

The citizenship law is just a  continuation of the discriminatory policies of the BJP govt. which  recently revoked the special status of the Muslim-majority Kashmir region and a court ruling clearing the way for the construction of a Hindu temple on the site of a mosque razed by Hindu zealots.

At least 100 people have been wounded and about twenty people have been killed in the crackdown.

Gurpreet Singh was one of the organizers under the Indians Abroad For Pluralist India says the new law is discriminatory.

"You cannot discriminate people on the basis of their religion," he said. "If you have accepted refugees, you cannot just say Muslims are not welcome, but everybody else can come."

Indians Abroad For Pluralist India also honoured Annie Ohana, who attended and spoke at the rally.

"State violence has really ramped up, and people are being killed over simple dissension to a law," she said.

She and others also want Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speak out against the citizenship law.

"Mr. Trudeau should break his silence," said Singh. "He should step up. He should say something, he has not uttered a single word."

Daud Ismail past President of BC Muslim Association said, “It is so sad that in the 21st century we have leaders who are dividing people.” He urged the United Nations to take swift actions.

Other speakers present were included Sikh activists Gian Singh Gill and Kulwinder Singh, besides Muslim activists Itrath Syed, Sayyad Wajahat, Furuqan Gehllen and Daud Ismail, and a Hindu Interfaith Chaplain Arun Chatterjee. Niovi Patsicakis from Global Peace Alliance and leftist activists Prabhjot Kaur Hundal, Joseph Theriault and Rawait Singh also addressed the gathering.