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US lawmaker laughs off criticism after terming Modi the ‘new Pinochet’

Omar questions Biden administration’s perceived reluctance in criticising India

ilhan omar Ilhan Omar | Via Twitter

Democratic politician Ilhan Omar has made a name for herself as an outspoken supporter of leftist causes during her time in the House of Representatives since 2019.

Omar, who is of Somali descent, is one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the US Congress. On Wednesday, Omar criticised the human rights situation in India under the Narendra Modi government and also the Joe Biden administration’s perceived reluctance in criticising India.

Omar participated in a hearing of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday on Restoring American Leadership in the Indo-Pacific. The hearing involved testimony by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

In her remarks, Omar said that a “profound moral and strategic mistake” of US policy in the “last Cold War” was its support for brutal dictators in the name of having a common enemy.

She referred to authoritarian leaders such as Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Suharto of Indonesia. “What worries me is that this time we seem willing to let Modi be our new Pinochet,” Omar said.

Acknowledging that China's human rights record is “atrocious”, Omar argued, “But what about Modi in India? How are we promoting a free and open region by supporting Modi?”

She asked Sherman, “Why has the Biden administration been so reluctant to criticise Modi's government on human rights”. Sherman assured that human rights was central to Biden's foreign policy.

Omar asked Sherman “How much must the Modi administration have to criminalise the act of being Muslim in India for us to say something? What will it take for us to criticise outwardly the actions the Modi administration is taking against its Muslim minorities?” Omar tweeted “Why has the Biden Administration been so reluctant to criticise Modi’s government on human rights? What does Modi need to do to India’s Muslim population before we will stop considering them a partner in peace? These are the questions the Administration needs to answer.”

Not surprisingly, her comments evoked criticism on social media. Omar, however, was undeterred. She shared a tweet by a user who questioned US reluctance to criticise Saudi Arabia and China on human rights, adding a laughing smiley. Omar tweeted “I am sorry, but this line of attack is really funny to me.”

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