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Senator Lankford Statement on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Address to Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today released the following statement after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress:

“Our two democracies have a strong and historic partnership. India is an invaluable ally and shares many of our same values, including the protection of religious freedom, enshrined in both our nations’ constitutions. I am pleased that Prime Minister Modi stressed the importance to protect the fundamental right of every person to practice their faith peacefully.

“However, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom notes in its 2016 report that ‘religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority Communities…experience numerous incidents of intimidation harassment, and violence…’

“Clearly, the Indian government, especially at the local and municipal level, has significant work to do to realize the prime minister’s aspirations that every Indian may practice their faith peacefully without fear of persecution. I appreciate that Prime Minister Modi mentioned religious liberty in his address, and I hope his comments signal a renewed focus for all persons of faith. He can be assured that the United States stands as a willing and able partner in this effort.” 

In February, Lankford sent a letter to President Obama to ask him to reevaluate his decision to open diplomatic trade relations with India and Cuba because of their poor human rights and religious liberty record.