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Modi visa: Muslim bodies hail US move

March 19, 2005 00:00 IST

"The United States is sending a subtle message by cancelling the visa of Narendra Modi. The message is that the US does not approve of the sectarian strife and communal violence in India," Kalim Kawaja, a leader of the Indian Muslim Council-USA, said.

"Frankly we did not expect such a move from the State Department. It was quite a surprise for us too. We welcome it and we are happy that the US has taken a clear stand on the communal issue," he said.

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"The State Department did not condemn or issue a statement when the Gujarat riots killed many people. Only the annual human rights report of the state department mentioned the killings. So this is a major change in the attitude of the State Department," he said.

But he was cautious in his reaction.

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"Supporters of Modi may unleash their anger on his opponents," he said.

"What happened in Gujarat was very similar to Kosovo. There were large scale violations of human rights," he said.

"As soon as Modi came to power, the attacks began. First it was against Christians and later Muslims," he said.

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Kawaja said he did not expect the State Department revoke the decision.

"They took the decision after carefully considering several factors. It was a very conscious decision. So chances of a revocation are not high."

"This decision may not change many things. But it will evince discussion on the issue. In a sense this decision is good for India and the US," he said.

"It was not taken to appease the Muslims, but it was aimed at the sectarian agendas of some," he said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations applauded the decision.

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"This case demonstrates what can be accomplished when Muslim, human rights and minority groups work together for a common purpose," said CAIR executive director Nihad Awad.

"We would like to thank those groups and thousands of people worldwide who took action by contacting the State Department, the White House, Congress, and the media in defense of the victims of Gujarat."

IMC-USA president Dr Shaik Ubaid, said: "It is a great  victory for pluralism, justice and rule of law. Celebrate we must and celebrate we will. We will  continue our struggle till the victims of pogroms in India get justice and the supporters of Hindutva ideology are thoroughly defeated in the US and  India."

"The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was launching Modi as their next Vajpayee, their next Prime Minister. The launch site has now become the burial ground of this sinister plan. I congratulate the members of Coalition Against Genocide for their historic achievement."

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The Coalition Against Genocide was planning a rally on Friday evening as a dress rehearsal for the proposed protest on March 20 in front of the Madison Square Garden in New York, where Modi was supposed to speak.

"The rally is changed to a victory rally," secretary of CAG George Abraham said.

George Joseph in New York