Washington, Oct 27 (PTI) An Indian American, nominated by the Biden administration for position of the international religious freedom envoy, on Tuesday pledged to hold China accountable over the repression of ethnic and religious minorities and also work with Muslim-majority countries to protect the rights of religious minorities there.
Rashad Hussain, Ambassador-at-Large nominee for International Religious Freedom made the remarks while speaking to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing.
"I will leverage my existing relationships within Muslim-majority countries to protect the rights of religious minorities there. I will redouble efforts to broaden the coalition to hold China accountable for its horrific crimes against the Uyghurs and its repression of other ethnic and religious minorities," he said.
If confirmed, Hussain would be the first ever Indian American and a Muslim to hold this position. His family came to the United States from India where his father was raised in a village with no electricity, Hussain said.
He said that far too many people around the world continue to face arrest, torture, discrimination and even death on account of their beliefs. Anti-semitism, Christian persecution, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance are on the rise, Hussain said.
"A staggering eighty per cent of people worldwide live in environments with high or severe restrictions on religious freedom," he said.
Hussain said these are not just statistics and bad laws, but individuals taken from their families and he highlighted the plight of the patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church unable to leave his home to tend to his flock, the Saudi government whipping and jailing blogger Raif Badawi for encouraging debate online and the Nigerian government letting atheist Mubarak Bala sit in prison without charge for months.
He also gave the example of the Panchen Lama being disappeared by the Chinese and stolen from the global Tibetan Buddhist community and the stories of Christians in Vietnam, the Ahmaddiya in Pakistan and the Baha'i in Yemen, he said.
"Their faiths may be different but they share a common experience of persecution. I am committed to fighting, day in and day out, for their rights," he told the senators.
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