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Resolution Before The Albany Common Council Tonight To Condemn India’s New Citizenship Laws

Albany City Hall at twilight.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Albany City Hall at twilight.

A resolution goes before the Albany Common Council tonight expressing solidarity with the city's South Asian community.

They say all politics is local, and Albany city lawmakers will be asked to weigh in on an international question tonight.

Muslims make up almost 15 percent of India's population of 1.3 billion and they've been under attack the last several weeks, particularly in New Delhi, as a result of that country's recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act, which is often compared to President Trump's immigration ban because it blocks naturalization for Muslims.

Many city residents display this lawn sign.

Syed Zahur  is with the Muslim Advocacy Council of New York.   "We in Albany just work together to pass a resolution. This resolution will be a symbolic thing, but it be like a voice that has to be heard by the Senators, by the Congressmen, that we the people of Albany will not be quiet. We will raise our voice for justice. And we want to make sure that this resolution has text in there that condemns the new citizenship act that has been passed in India. And it is also, we are saying that, they have to keep the religious freedom. They have to stop violence against their minorities."

Council President Corey Ellis says resolution coming before the Common Council reaffirms Albany as a welcoming city and expresses solidarity with its South Asian community regardless of religion and caste.    "Basically, they're standing up for their brothers and sisters in India, where I guess the government is now requiring people to show proof of identity. And when you start seeing that, it concerns you, when a government wants people to show proof with birth certificates, who they are and their identity. And so this this group feels like this is the start of dividing the country. It could be the start of something even bigger that they're trying to prevent. And we've known in past when governments begin to try to identify people by birthrights and things of that nature, that things have happened. And so I think this group is standing up against the government and trying to say ,in trying to get as many partners throughout, not just in Albany, but everywhere to say this, you know, this practice is wrong."

"India is marching towards genocide." ~ Syed Zahur with the Muslim Advocacy Council of New York

The resolution urges the Indian Parliament to uphold the Indian constitution by repealing the CAA, stopping the National Register of Citizens, and taking steps to help refugees by ratifying various UN treaties on refugees.   "Because we have a large Muslim population in Albany, a very large mosque on Central Avenue who, who continue to be a part of the Albany community. I think they want their elected officials, their local elected officials to, you know, see where they stand and be a voice on this issue. Because many of them have relatives living in India. So it's also part of recognizing that they're trying to also support and be protective of the loved ones that they still have who live there."

Zahur  says time is running out in India.   "India is marching towards genocide. Like the same thing happened if you look at it, all the steps that have been taken by government in India, they have been the same steps like how Germany, Nazi Germany in 1930s and 1940s, marginalized the hate speech, identified and eventually massacre of the Jews. This is the same thing happening against the minorities, especially the Muslims in India."

The legislation resolves that the Common Council opposes existing Indian policies discriminatory to Muslims, oppressed castes, women, indigenous, and LGBT people.

Similar resolutions have already been passed by Cambridge, Massachusetts and Portland, Oregon. A related bill in the U. S. House of Representatives is pending.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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