The Seattle City Council in the United States on Monday unanimously passed a resolution opposing India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. The resolution, introduced by Indian-American City Council member Kshama Sawant, asked the Indian Parliament to repeal the amended law and stop the National Register of Citizens. It asked India to uphold the Constitution and take steps towards helping refugees by ratifying various United Nations treaties.
Reaffirming Seattle as a welcoming city and expressing solidarity with the city’s South Asian community regardless of religion and caste, the resolution “resolves that the Seattle City Council opposes the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, and finds these policies to be discriminatory to Muslims, oppressed castes, women, indigenous, and LGBT people”.
The changes in the 1955 law were approved on December 11, and it was notified on January 10. The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The government’s critics fear that the amended law and the proposed National Register of Citizens would be misused to harass and disenfranchise Muslims.
“Seattle City’s decision to condemn CAA should be a message to all who wish to undermine pluralism and religious freedom,” Ahsan Khan, president of Indian American Muslim Council, told PTI. “They cannot peddle in hate and bigotry, and expect to have international acceptability at the same time.”
Javed Sikander, spokesperson for the Seattle chapter of the Indian American Muslim Council, called the amended citizenship and the proposed NRC divisive and draconian. “These acts are unconstitutional and designed to disenfranchise several million Muslim, Dalits and other minorities in order to create a fascist state,” he added, according to FirstPost.
Seattle City Council became the first legislative body in the US to take a stance on CAA and NRC. In Seattle, hundreds from the South Asian community and allied organisations have spoken out against the amended law and NRC.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan of Equality Labs welcomed the resolution, and hailed the Seattle City Council “for standing on the right side of history”. She added: “At a time when members of the Indian ruling party sided Trump, the Muslim ban, and his war on immigrants as justification for targeting hundreds of millions of Indian minorities, Americans have a unique responsibility to stand up and speak about this human rights crisis. We are glad that Seattle is leading the way on this.”