IAMC Condemns Illinois Law Describing India as Non-Muslim to Exclude Muslims from Commission

Date:

The IAMC objected to Section 5 of the HB4070 law which states: “‘Indian’ means a person descended from any of the countries of the subcontinent that are not primarily Muslim in character, including India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.”

Press Release

CHICAGO – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a US-based advocacy organisation dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned an Islamophobic law enacted in the Illinois state that falsely claims India to be a “primarily non-Muslim” country in an attempt to exclude Muslims from a government commission for Indian Americans.

The Illinois Indian American Advisory Council Act (HB4070), passed in June 2022, is a clear attempt by Hindu supremacists to influence the Illinois state to carry forward the bigotry and Islamophobia in the United States.

The IAMC objected to Section 5 of the HB4070 law which states: “‘Indian’ means a person descended from any of the countries of the subcontinent that are not primarily Muslim in character, including India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.”

“It is shocking that Illinois State would describe India as a “primarily non-Muslim” country when India’s own constitution does not discriminate its citizens on the basis of religion, and accords equal rights to all citizens, regardless of their faith,” said IAMC’s Executive Director, Rasheed Ahmed, who is based in Chicago. “India is not primarily non-Muslim. India is primarily for all the faiths that live there and have lived there for centuries.”

The law abuses the definition of India only so that Muslims can be excluded from the Indian American Advisory Council that was created by this law, Ahmed said. “Even more ridiculous is that this unconstitutional law describes Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan as Indian, which none of these countries is,” he added.

This Council has been created to “advise the [Illinois] Governor and the General Assembly on policy issues impacting Indian Americans and immigrants; to advance the role and civic participation of Indian Americans in this State; to enhance trade and cooperation between Indian-majority countries and this State; and, in cooperation with State agencies, boards, and commissions, to build relationships with and disseminate information to Indian American and immigrant communities across this state”.

Ahmed said it was “extremely disappointing and disturbing to see a law of this discriminatory nature being passed in Illinois. This law was pushed to be passed by many legislators who have been friends of the Muslim community and have had their campaigns supported by Muslims. This law is not only a violation of our first amendment rights, but a blatant step in advancing Hindu supremacism in the United States. It must be widely condemned”.

The House Sponsors of the legislation are Representatives Seth Lewis, Deanne M Mazzochi, and Jonathan Carroll. The Senate sponsors are Senators Ram Villivalam, Laura Ellman, Julie A. Morrison, Kimberly A. Lightford, Mike Simmons, David Koehler, Cristina Castro, Meg Loughran Cappel, Suzy Glowiak Hilton, Mattie Hunter, Karina Villa, John Connor, and Laura Fine.

Muslims should not be denied their nationality due to religious beliefs. We urge the Illinois State Legislature to look into the hateful and discriminatory nature of this law and demand that changes be made to include Muslims in the Council.

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