|Freedom of religion|
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- 1 Anti-Hindu sentiments
- 2 Historical instances of anti-Hindu views
- 3 In the West
- 4 In South Asia
- 5 Other countries
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
- 8 Further reading
Individuals in the Indian diaspora have begun to protest that Western scholars "distort their religion and perpetuate negative stereotypes". Historically, such stereotypes were promulgated during the British Raj by several Indophobes in South Asia as a means to aggrandize sectarian divisions in Indian society, part of the divide and rule strategy employed by the British. Such allegations have seen a rise with the Hindu right using them for politics.
The Indian Caste System, a social stratification system in South Asia which has been criticized for its discriminatory problems, is often seen as a uniquely 'Hindu' issue rather than a cultural one. This is a common stereotype, as adherents of other religions such as Islam, Sikhism and Christianity have kept the practice of caste segregation in India (for details, see Caste system among South Asian Muslims).
Christian missionaries denigrate selected features of Hindu practice—most notably image worship, suttee, and child marriage (the first two were also criticized by Muslims).
According to the religious dialogue activist P. N. Benjamin, some christian evangelists denigrate Hindu gods and abuse Hindu rituals as barbaric, and such attitudes have caused tensions between religious communities.
Akbaruddin Owaisi, a leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party in Hyderabad, known for his aggressive & "vitriolic" speeches, has been charged several times with hate speeches over comments denigrating Hindu gods and inciting violence. A Muslim preacher apologised for insulting Hinduism in 2014 after an uproar.
Historical instances of anti-Hindu views
Under Muslim rulers in India
Under the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Muslim cleric Ziauddin Barrani wrote several works, such as the Fatwa-i-Jahandari, which gave him a reputation as a "fanatical protagonist of Islam" and wrote that there should be "an all-out struggle against Hinduism", advocating a militant and dogmatic religiosity. He developed a system of religious elitism to that effect.
Historian Hayavadana C. Rao wrote about Tippu in his encyclopaedic work on the History of Mysore. He asserted that Tippu's "religious fanaticism and the excesses committed in the name of religion, both in Mysore and in the provinces, stand condemned for all time. His bigotry, indeed, was so great that it precluded all ideas of toleration". He further asserts that the acts of Tippu that were constructive towards Hindus were largely political and ostentatious rather than an indication of genuine tolerance.
He also corresponded with the Sringeri Shankaracharya – expressing grief and indignation at a raid by Maratha bandit horsemen (called Pindari), which killed many and plundered the monastery of its valuable possessions, patronised the Melkote temple (which has gold and silver vessels with inscriptions indicating that they were presented under the Sultan), for which a Kannada decree was issued that the Shrivaishnava (Hindu sectary) invocatory verses there should be recited in the traditional form. Tipu Sultan also presented four silver cups to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale and probably presented the Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatana with seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner. The Sringeri Sharada Peetham has in its safe possession some 24 letters written by the Sultan who also sent a silver palanquin and a pair of silver chauris to the Sarada Temple as well.
Tipu sent a letter on 19 January 1790 to the Governor of Bekal, Budruz Zuman Khan. It says:
"Don't you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed Rama Varma (Rajah of Travancore) very soon. Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now."
Although the attitudes of Muslim ruler Tippu Sultan have been criticized as being anti-Hindu by Indian historians, left-wing historians note that he had an egalitarian attitude towards Hindus and was harsh towards them only when politically expedient. Former IAS Officer, Praxy Fernandes has mentioned in his book that Tipu Sultan displayed reverence to the head of the Hindu Shringeri Mutt, by
Irfan Habib and Mohibbul Hasan argue that these early British authors had a strong vested interest in presenting Tippu Sultan as a tyrant from whom the British had "liberated" Mysore. This assessment is echoed by Brittlebank in her recent work
During the British Raj
During the British rule of the Indian subcontinent, several evangelical Christian missionaries spread anti-Hindu propaganda as a means to convert Hindus to Christianity. Examples include missionaries like Abbe J.A. Dubois, who wrote "Once the devadasis' temple duties are over, they open their cells of infamy, and frequently convert the temple itself into a stew. A religion more shameful or indecent has never existed amongst a civilized people."
In Charles Grant's highly influential "Observations on the ...Asiatic subjects of Great Britain" (1796), Grant criticized the Orientalists for being too respectful to Indian culture and religion. His work tried to determine the Hindu's "true place in the moral scale", and he alleged that the Hindus are "a people exceedingly depraved".
In the West
By the late 19th century, fear had already begun in North America over Chinese immigration supplying cheap labor to lay railroad tracks, mostly in California and elsewhere in the West Coast. In xenophobic jargon common in the day, ordinary workers, newspapers, and politicians uniformly opposed this "Yellow Peril". The common cause to eradicate Asians from the workforce gave rise to the Asiatic Exclusion League. When the fledging Indian community of mostly Punjabi Sikhs settled in California, the xenophobia expanded to combat not only the East Asian Yellow Peril, but now the immigrants from British India, the Turban Tide, equally referred to as the Hindoo Invasion (sic).
The rise of the Indian American community in the United States has brought about some isolated incidences of attacks on them, as has been the case with many minority groups in the United States. Attacks specific to Hindus in the United States stem from what is often referred to as the "racialization of religion" among Americans, a process that begins when certain phenotypical features associated with a group and attached to race in popular discourse become associated with a particular religion or religions.The racialization of Hinduism in American perception has led to perceiving Hindus as a separate group and contributes to prejudices against them.
In addition, there have been anti-Hindu views that are specific to the religion of Hinduism as well as mistaken racial perceptions. Pat Robertson in the United States has made remarks denouncing Hinduism as "demonic," believing that Hindus, when they "feel any sort of inspiration, whether it's by a river or under a tree, on top of a hill, they figure that some God or spirit is responsible for that. And so they'll worship that tree, they'll worship that hill or they'll worship anything." These remarks were widely condemned and rebutted by Indian Americans and many non-partisan advocacy groups. Evangelical leader Albert Mohler defended Robertson's remarks, saying "any belief system, any world view, whether it's Zen Buddhism or Hinduism or dialectical materialism for that matter, Marxism, that keeps persons captive and keeps them from coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, yes, is a demonstration of satanic power."
In 2001, an American talk show host Tony Brown, made several derogatory anti-Hindu remarks in his talk show on WLS 890 AM that began with the concern among American workers about the influx of software engineers from India. He evoked anti-Hindu canards such as exaggerating the importance of the Caste System in Hinduism, and made patent falsehoods about Human Rights in India. Protests by Indian-American community leaders led to the radio host publicly apologizing for his remarks against Hindus and Hinduism.
In July, 2007, The United States Senate conducted its morning prayer services with a Hindu prayer, a historical first. During the service, three disruptors, named Ante Nedlko Pavkovic, Katherine Lynn Pavkovic and Christian Renee Sugar, from the Fundamentalist Christian activist group Operation Save America protested that the Hindu prayer was "an abomination", and that they were "Christians and Patriots". They were swiftly arrested and charged with disrupting Congress.
The event generated a storm of protest from Christian right groups in the country, with the American Family Association (AFA) opposing the prayer and carrying out a campaign to lobby senators to protest it. Their representative attacked the proceedings as "gross idolatry" The AFA sent out an "Action Alert" to its members to e-mail, write letters, or call their Senators to oppose the Hindu prayer, stating it is "seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god." The "alert" stated that "since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto One Nation Under God." The convocation by Zed was in fact disrupted by three protesters in the gallery reportedly shouting "this is an abomination" and other complaints.
Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the protest "shows the intolerance of many religious right activists. They say they want more religion in the public square, but it's clear they mean only their religion."
California Textbook Controversy
A controversy in the US state of California concerning the portrayal of Hinduism in history textbooks began in 2005. The protest was led by Vedic Foundation (VF) and the American Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) by complaining to the California's Curriculum Commission, saying the coverage in sixth grade history textbooks of Indian history and Hinduism was biased against Hinduism; and points of contention includes a textbook's portrayal of the caste system, the Indo-Aryan migration theory, and the status of women in Indian society as the main features of Hinduism.
The California Department of Education (CDE) initially sought to resolve the controversy by appointing Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus at California State University Northridge, as a one-man committee to review revisions proposed by the groups. Micheal Witzel and others revisited the proposed changed on behalf of the State Board of Education and suggested reverting some of the approved changes. In early 2006, the Hindu American Foundation sued the State Board over matters of process; the case was settled in 2009.
In South Asia
The extremist Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which enforced strict sharia (Islamic law), announced plans in May 2001 to require Hindus (and Sikhs) to wear identifying badges in public, part of the Taliban's campaign to segregate and repress "un-Islamic and idolatrous segments" of Afghan society. At the time, about 500 Hindus and 2,000 Sikhs remained in Afghanistan.
The anti-Hindu decree was seen as reminiscent of the Nazi Germany law requiring Jews to wear an identifying yellow badge. The order prompted international outrage, and was denounced by the Indian and U.S. governments, as well as by Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. Following international pressure, the Taliban regime dropped the badge plans in June 2001.
In Pakistan, anti-Hindu sentiments and beliefs are widely held among many sections of the population. There is a general stereotype against Hindus in Pakistan. Hindus are regarded as "miserly". Also, Hindus are often regarded as "Kaffirs" (lit. "unbelievers") and blamed for "causing all the problems in Pakistan". Islamic fundamentalist groups operating within Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan have broadcast or disseminated anti-Hindu propaganda among the masses, referring to Hindus as "Hanood" ('Hindu' is singular and Hanood is plural form in Urdu) blaming them for "collaborating with the foreigners" against the people of the region.
At the time of Pakistan's creation the 'hostage theory' had been espoused. According to this theory the Hindu minority in Pakistan was to be given a fair deal in Pakistan in order to ensure the protection of the Muslim minority in India. However, Khawaja Nazimuddin, the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan stated: “I do not agree that religion is a private affair of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic state every citizen has identical rights, no matter what his caste, creed or faith be".
Separate electorates for Hindus and Christians were established in 1985—a policy originally proposed by Islamist leader Abul A'la Maududi. Christian and Hindu leaders complained that they felt excluded from the county's political process, but the policy had strong support from Islamists.
The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a coalition of Islamist political parties in Pakistan, calls for the increased Islamization of the government and society, specifically taking an anti-Hindu stance. The MMA leads the opposition in the national assembly, held a majority in the NWFP Provincial Assembly, and was part of the ruling coalition in Balochistan. However, some members of the MMA made efforts to eliminate their rhetoric against Hindus.
The public school curriculum in Pakistan was Islamized during the 1980s. The government of Pakistan claims to undertake a major revision to eliminate such teachings and to remove Islamic teaching from secular subjects. The bias in Pakistani textbooks was also documented by Y. Rosser (2003). She wrote that
in the past few decades, social studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used as locations to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy makers have attempted to inculcate towards their Hindu neighbours", and that as a result "in the minds of generations of Pakistanis, indoctrinated by the 'Ideology of Pakistan' are lodged fragments of hatred and suspicion.
A study by Nayyar & Salim (2003) that was conducted with 30 experts of Pakistan's education system, found that the textbooks contain statements that seek to create hate against Hindus. There was also an emphasis on Jihad, Shahadat, wars and military heroes. The study reported that the textbooks also had a lot of gender-biased stereotypes. Some of the problems in Pakistani textbooks cited in the report were:
Insensitivity to the existing religious diversity of the nation"; "Incitement to militancy and violence, including encouragement of Jihad and Shahadat"; a "glorification of war and the use of force"; "Inaccuracies of fact and omissions that serve to substantially distort the nature and significance of actual events in our history"; "Perspectives that encourage prejudice, bigotry and discrimination towards fellow citizens, especially women and religious minorities, and other towards nations" and "Omission of concepts ... that could encourage critical self awareness among students". (Nayyar & Salim 2003). The Pakistani Curriculum document for classes K-V stated in 1995 that "at the completion of Class-V, the child should be able to "Understand Hindu-Muslim differences and the resultant need for Pakistan. [p. 154]
A more recent textbook published in Pakistan titled "A Short History of Pakistan" edited by Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi has been heavily criticized by academic peer-reviewers for anti-Hindu biases and prejudices that are consistent with Pakistani nationalism, where Hindus are portrayed as "villains" and Muslims as "victims" living under the "disastrous Hindu rule" and "betraying the Muslims to the British", characterizations that academic reviewers fond "disquieting" and having a "warped subjectivity".
Ameer Hamza, a leader of the banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba, wrote a highly derogatory book about Hinduism in 1999 called "Hindu Ki Haqeeqat" ("Reality of (a) Hindu"); he was not prosecuted by the Government.
According to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute report 'Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible' A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace a non profit organization in Pakistan, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy-makers have attempted to inculcate towards the Hindus. 'Vituperative animosities legitimise military and autocratic rule, nurturing a siege mentality. Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbour' the report stated. 'The story of Pakistan's past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious.' Further the report stated 'Textbooks reflect intentional obfuscation. Today's students, citizens of Pakistan and its future leaders are the victims of these partial truths'.
An editorial in Pakistan's oldest newspaper Dawn commenting on a report in The Guardian on Pakistani Textbooks noted 'By propagating concepts such as jihad, the inferiority of non-Muslims, India's ingrained enmity with Pakistan, etc., the textbook board publications used by all government schools promote a mindset that is bigoted and obscurantist. Since there are more children studying in these schools than in madrassahs the damage done is greater. ' According to the historian Professor Mubarak Ali, textbook reform in Pakistan began with the introduction of Pakistan Studies and Islamic studies by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1971 into the national curriculum as compulsory subject. Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq under a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. 'The Pakistani establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion – that's why they don't have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe-out all of them.'
According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physics professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the "Islamizing" of Pakistan's schools began in 1976 when an act of parliament required all government and private schools (except those teaching the British O-levels from Grade 9) to follow a curriculum that includes learning outcomes for the federally approved Grade 5 social studies class such as: 'Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan,' 'Make speeches on Jihad,' 'Collect pictures of policemen, soldiers, and national guards,' and 'India's evil designs against Pakistan.'
Political leaders frequently fall back on "Hindu bashing" in an attempt to appeal to extremist sentiment and to stir up communal passions. In one of the most notorious utterances of a mainstream Bangladeshi figure, the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, while leader of the opposition in 1996, declared that the country was at risk of hearing "uludhhwani" (a Bengali Hindu custom involving women's ululation) from mosques, replacing the azaan (Muslim call to prayer) (e.g., see Agence-France Press report of 18 November 1996, "Bangladesh opposition leader accused of hurting religious sentiment").
Even the supposedly secular Bangladesh Awami League is not immune from this kind of scare-mongering. The current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, was alleged to have accused Bangladeshi Hindu leaders in New York of having divided loyalties with "one foot in India and one in Bangladesh". Successive events such as this have contributed to a feeling of tremendous insecurity among the Hindu minority.
The fundamentalists and right-wing parties such as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jatiya Party often portray Hindus as being sympathetic to India, making accusations of dual loyalty and allegations of transferring economic resources to India, contributing to a widespread perception that Bangladeshi Hindus are disloyal to the state. Also, the right wing parties claim the Hindus to be backing the Awami League.
As widely documented in international media, Bangladesh authorities have had to increase security to enable Bangladeshi Hindus to worship freely following widespread attacks on places of worship and devotees.
On 28 February 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the Vice President of the Jamaat-e-Islami to death for the war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Following the sentence, activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir attacked the Hindus in different parts of the country. Hindu properties were looted, Hindu houses were burnt into ashes and Hindu temples were desecrated and set on fire. While the government has held the Jamaat-e-Islami responsible for the attacks on the minorities, the Jamaat-e-Islami leadership has denied any involvement. The minority leaders have protested the attacks and appealed for justice. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has directed the law enforcement to start suo motu investigation into the attacks. US Ambassador to Bangladesh express concern about attack of Jamaat on Bengali Hindu community. The violence included the looting of Hindu properties and businesses, the burning of Hindu homes, rape of Hindu women and desecration and destruction of Hindu temples. According to community leaders, more than 50 Hindu temples and 1,500 Hindu homes were destroyed in 20 districts. On May 5, 2014, A mob of almost 3,000 attacked Hindu households and a temple in eastern Bangladesh after two youths from the community allegedly insulted the Islamic prophet, Muhammad on Facebook.
The Dotbusters was a hate group in Jersey City, New Jersey, that attacked and threatened South Asians in the fall of 1987. The name originated from the fact that traditional Hindu women and girls wear a bindi on their forehead. In July 1987, they had a letter published in the Jersey Journal stating that they would take any means necessary to drive the Indians out of Jersey City:
"I'm writing about your article during July about the abuse of Indian People. Well I'm here to state the other side. I hate them, if you had to live near them you would also. We are an organization called dot busters. We have been around for 2 years. We will go to any extreme to get Indians to move out of Jersey City. If I'm walking down the street and I see a Hindu and the setting is right, I will hit him or her. We plan some of our most extreme attacks such as breaking windows, breaking car windows, and crashing family parties. We use the phone books and look up the name Patel. Have you seen how many of them there are? Do you even live in Jersey City? Do you walk down Central avenue and experience what its like to be near them: we have and we just don't want it anymore. You said that they will have to start protecting themselves because the police cannot always be there. They will never do anything. They are a week [sic] race Physically and mentally. We are going to continue our way. We will never be stopped."
In April 2006, local authorities demolished several Hindu temples to make way for developmental projects. Their excuse was that these temples were unlicensed and squatting on government land. Between April to May 2006, several Hindu temples were demolished by city hall authorities in the country, accompanied by violence against Hindus. On April 21, 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers.
The president of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam in Selangor had been helping to organise efforts to stop the local authorities in the Muslim dominated city of Shah Alam from demolishing a 107-year-old Hindu temple. The growing Islamization in Malaysia is a cause for concern to many Malaysians who follow minority religions such as Hinduism.
On May 11, 2006, armed city hall officers from Kuala Lumpur forcefully demolished part of a 60-year-old suburban temple that serves more than 1,000 Hindus. The "Hindu Rights Action Force", a coalition of several NGO's, have protested these demolitions by lodging complaints with the Malaysian Prime Minister. Many Hindu advocacy groups have protested what they allege is a systematic plan of temple cleansing in Malaysia. The official reason given by the Malaysian government has been that the temples were built "illegally". However, several of the temples are centuries old. According to a lawyer for the Hindu Rights Action Task Force, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.
Malaysian Muslims have also grown more anti-Hindu over the years. In response to the proposed construction of a temple in Selangor, Muslims chopped off the head of a cow to protest, with leaders saying there would be blood if a temple was constructed in Shah Alam.
Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam
In 2006, the son of an Islamic cleric named Ahmed Deedat circulated a DVD that denounced South African Hindus. The elder Deedat, former head of the Arab funded "Islamic Propagation Centre International" (IPCI), had previously circulated an anti-Hindu video in the 80's where he said that Indian Muslims were 'fortunate' that their Hindu forefathers 'saw the light' and converted to Islam when Muslim rulers dominated some areas of India. His video was widely criticized. While Hindus in South Africa have largely ignored the new anti-Hindu DVD circulated by Deedat Junior, he has been severely criticized by local Muslims, including other members of the IPCI. The IPCI said in a statement that Yusuf Deedat did not represent the organisation in any way. Deedat Junior, undeterred by the opposition from his own brethren, continues to circulate the material.He has placed advertisements in newspapers inviting anyone to collect a free copy from his residence to see for themselves "what the controversy is about".
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