Muslim groups urge Gates Foundation to rescind award to Modi

NEW YORK, Sep 19 (APP):A coalition of Muslim and human rights organizations called on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to cancel its plans to award Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi its Global Goalkeeper Award, citing Modi’s revocation of the disputed Kashmir region’s special status.

On August 5, Modi announced plans to scrap the constitutional article giving Kashmir autonomy, putting down a repressive lockdown and cutting internet and communications services.

A letter sent by the coalition representing 52 civil and human rights, refugee and religious organizations, cited Modi’s associations with Hindu nationalists and the revocation of 1.9 million Bengali-speaking Muslims’ citizenship in the state of Assam, as well as his government’s backing of a citizenship bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for Hindu, Buddhist and Christian migrants from neighbouring countries but not Muslims.

“Leaders of Modi’s political party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been credibly accused of emboldening ‘communal violence’ and failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to recent mobs of violent Hindu nationalists lynching, murdering, and brutally beating minorities, especially Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and members of lower castes within India’s society,” the letter states.

“Since Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister in 2014, there has been a 400% increase in hate crime violence against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits,” it adds.

The letter’s signatories include the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross USA Province and the Yemeni American Merchants Association.

In a statement to The Hill, the foundation said “We have received the letter and respect the views of those who have signed it.”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children,” the foundation added.

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