PM Mahathir speaks out against India’s new citizenship law. On Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad opposed a proposed Indian citizenship law banning Muslim immigrants.
Mahathir said India is a secular state at a news conference following the conclusion of an Islamic summit in Kuala Lumpur, and people’s religions should not prohibit them from attaining citizenship.
“I think it’s unfair to exclude Muslims from becoming people, even though due process,” he said.
Since Parliament passed the law on December 11, at least 14 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters, with critics saying it discriminates against Muslims and violates India’s secular constitution.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with his ministerial council on Saturday to discuss security measures to end violent protests against the rule of citizenship, government sources said for his Hindu nationalist government in one of the biggest crises yet.
The uproar is Modi’s biggest showing of opposition since he was first elected in 2014.
Notwithstanding curfews and a harsh law, demonstrations continued on Saturday to shut down protests.
India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has witnessed the worst violence in hospital conditions with nine people killed so far and several more.
Rights activists in Uttar Pradesh said police raided their homes and offices to prevent fresh protests from being held. When fresh demonstrations erupted on Saturday, authorities also shut down schools across the province.
Uttar Pradesh is ruled by the nationalist party of Modi and has seen long-standing tensions between the Hindus majority and the Muslim minority.
Family members waited outside a police station in the capital city of Delhi to demand the release of hundreds of arrested demonstrators.
More protests are expected in several parts of the country, including in Assam’s northeastern state, where people are upset that the legislation makes it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to acquire Indian citizenship prior to 2015.
Resentment against Bangladeshi illegal immigrants has cooked for years in Assam, one of India’s poorest states, where outsiders, Hindus or Muslims, are accused of stealing jobs and property.
“Thousands of women are taking part in the protest in Assam. The agitation against the act is gaining momentum by the day,” told Reuters Sammujal Bhattacharya, a member of the All Assam Students ‘ Union.
Anger with the law comes from being seen as discrimination against Muslims in other parts of India, and making religion a prerequisite for citizenship in a country that has taken pride in its secular constitution.
“This piece of legislation hits at the heart of the constitution, seeking to make India an entirely different entity,” influential historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in The Telegraph, an Indian newspaper.
“So, so many people from so many different walks of life raised their voices against it.” Guha was released from police custody after being arrested in the southern city of Bengaluru for demonstrating against the law.
Political opposition to the law has swelled with regional leaders vowing to block its enforcement in their nations.
The government has said that there is no possibility of repealing the law. News report on PM Mahathir speaks out against India’s new citizenship law