Perceived Existential Threat to Communal Harmony

Bangalore City National Politics State Top Story

Hate crimes against Muslims have surged across the country.

By Sharathkumar Nair

Bengaluru, April 9, 2019

According to a recent report published by the Ministry of Home Affairs on communal violence incidents in the country, the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Karnataka topped the list with the maximum number of people injured in these clashes.

Another report published by Hate Crime Watch concluded that the year 2018 saw the most hate crimes motivated by religious bias in India. Of 81 incidents that were reported in 2018 and in which the religion of the victim was known, 60 percent involved Muslim victims.

Muslims account for 14 percent of the total population in India. The number of hate crimes against the Muslim community has surged in the past five years. Many blame it on the beef ban and cow vigilantism for the increase in hate crimes against Muslims. It is not the ban or vigilantism that is causing these attacks, but the fear of Islam.

Fear of Islam and Muslims which can be broadly categorized as Islamophobia is what motivates people to commit such heinous crimes against Muslims. Political parties and religious extremists groups often capitalize on this fear to proliferate hatred in the society against Muslims.

Ignorance and lack of knowledge about Islam and its practices create ambiguity among the non-Muslim population that leads to misinterpretation and manipulation. The non-Muslims start perceiving Islam as a threat to their culture. The media has to be blamed largely for portraying Muslims as jihadists who are on a warpath to spread Islam by all means necessary.

“Islam is a religion of peace. The major reason why Muslims are victims of hate crimes is the misinterpretation of Islam by the non-Muslims. They feel the Muslims are here to invade their country, culture and spread violence. However, Islam does not approve of violence nor does it approve of taking another man’s life. The extremists who propagate terror in the name of Islam are people who have manipulated the teachings of Islam for their personal gains,” said Eliyaz Ahmed, a volunteer who conducts Islam Awareness Camps in Bangalore.

“I had a lot of misinformation about Islam. I attended a few awareness sessions at the Salaam Centre in TilakNagar, Bangalore. After the sessions, I realized that my perception of Islam and the Muslim community was entirely wrong. I would recommend every non-Muslim to attend these sessions,” said Rahul V, an entrepreneur from Bangalore.

According to Anitha Kurup, a sociologist from IISC said,” When the number of people belonging to another community which is not native to the land is small in numbers, they are not perceived as a threat. However, when those numbers start increasing, they will be perceived as a threat. The major reason behind this goes beyond religion or culture. Increase in competition for jobs, business is the main reason that results in minorities such as the Muslims become victims of hate crimes.”