India took a major step toward the official marginalization of Muslims on Tuesday as one house of Parliament passed a bill that would establish a religious test for migrants who want to become citizens, solidifying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist agenda.
The measure would give migrants of all of South Asia’s major religions a clear path to Indian citizenship — except Islam. It is the most significant move yet to profoundly alter India’s secular nature enshrined by its founding leaders when the country gained independence in 1947.
The bill passed in the lower house, the Lok Sabha, a few minutes after midnight, following a few hours of debate. The vote was 311 to 80. The measure now moves to the upper house, the Rajya Sabha, where Mr. Modi seems to have enough allies that most analysts predict it will soon become law.
Muslim Indians are deeply unsettled. They see the new measure, called the Citizenship Amendment Bill, as the first step by the governing party to make second-class citizens of India’s 200 million Muslims, one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, and render many of them stateless. [Continue reading…]