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Anti-Hindu prejudice is a negative perception or religious intolerance against the practice and practitioners of Hinduism. Anti-Hindu sentiments have been expressed by Muslims in Pakistanmarker, Bangladeshmarker, leading to significant persecution of Hindus in those regions, such as the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities by Pakistan, and the recent demolition of Hindu temples in Malaysia.

There are also allegations of Anti-Hinduism voiced by members of the Hindu diaspora in the West against their host societies, notably in the United States, where these form part of the so-called "culture wars", with cases such as the California textbook controversy over Hindu history.Hinduphobia is a term notably used by Rajiv Malhotra to describe an allegedly distorted representation of Hinduism in US mainstream, e.g. by the American Academy of Religion.

Stereotypes used by Anti-Hindus

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 uniquely blamed on Hindus and the religion of Hinduism. This is a common stereotype, as adherents of other religions such as Islam and Christianity have kept the practice of caste segregation in India (for details, see Caste system among South Asian Muslims). Some in India regard it as a social issue, rather than a religious one. Several organizations in India and abroad have been criticized by Hindu advocacy groups for these types of attacks.

The devotion to bovine animals (regarded as holy in Hinduism) is also used as a pretext to mock the Hindu people by many in the west. In addition, the Hindu tradition of cremating their dead is used to mock the people.

Anti-Hindu attacks often accuse Hindus of being "Blasphemers" for committing "idolatry" and "polytheism" (Hinduism is more accurately described as monistic or henotheistic than polytheistic depending on the sect or school of belief involved ). Some Anti-Hindus insist on an interpretation of Hinduism, relating to ancient polytheistic religions as opposed to one that relates to enlightenment or moksha. This accusation is prevalent among adherents of monotheistic religions like Islam and Christianity. Many Christian missionaries, particularly those of Fundamentalist Christianity, denigrate Hindu deities as "evil" or "demonic". Advocacy groups in the west, such as the Hindu American Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Centermarker have spoken against anti-Hindu bigotry and prejudice.

Historical instances of anti-Hindu views

During Islamic Rule in the Indian Subcontinent

Parts of India have historically been subject to Islamic rulers from the period of Muhammad bin Qasim to the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, as well as smaller kingdoms like the Bahmani Sultanate and Tipu Sultans kingdom of Mysore. In almost all of those regimes, Hindus have had an inherently inferior status to the Muslim overlords. Islamic law demands that when under Muslim rule "polytheists" or "infidels" be treated as dhimmis (from the Arab term) ahl-al-dhimma.


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 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.

Tipu Sultan

The attitude of Muslim Ruler Tipu Sultan towards Hindus has been the subject of acrimonious debate in India in recent times with historians questioning the generally held belief that Tipu Sultan had a secular outlook.

In the first part of his reign in particular he appears to have been notably more aggressive and religiously doctrinaire than his father, Haidar Ali. Malayalam writer V.V.K. Valath has claimed that Tippu Sultan was a religious persecutor of Hindus. In 1780 CE he declared himself to be the Padishah or Emperor of Mysore, and struck coinage in his own name without reference to the reigning Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. H. D. Sharma writes that in his correspondence with other Islamic rulers such as Shah Zaman of Afghanistanmarker, Tippu Sultan used this title and declared that he intended to establish an Islamic Empire in the entire country, along the lines of the Mughal Empire which was at its nadir during the period in question. His alliance with the French was supposedly aimed at achieving this goal by driving his main rivals, the British, out of the subcontinent.

C. K. Kareem also notes that Tippu Sultan issued an edict for the destruction of Hindu temples in Keralamarker.. The archaeological survey of India has listed three temples - throughout India - which were destroyed during the reign of Tipu Sultan. These were the Harihareshwar Temple at Harihar which was converted into a mosque, the Varahswami Temple in Seringapatam and the Odakaraya Temple in Hospet.. The list is incomplete and has not concidered temples such as in Keladimarker,Ikkerimarker and Sagar

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.

Whilst no scholar has denied that, in common with most rulers of his period, Tippu’s campaigns were often characterized by great brutality, some historians claim that this was not exclusively religiously motivated, and did not amount to a consistent anti-Hindu policy. Brittlebank, Hasan, Chetty, Habib and Saletare amongst others argue that stories of Tippu's religious persecution of Hindus and Christians are largely derived from the work of early British authors such as Kirkpatrick and Wilks, whom they do not consider to be entirely reliable. A. S. Chetty argues that Wilks’ account in particular cannot be trusted.

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 sending a silver palanquin and a pair of silver chauris to the Sarada Temple .

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 These claims not withstanding, one can see vandalized temples in Ikkerimarker to understand the fairness of arguments.

During Portuguese rule in Goa

During the Portuguese rule in Goa, thousands of Hindus were coerced into accepting Christianity by passing laws that made it difficult to practice their faith, harassing them under false pretences or petty complaints and giving favourable status to converts and mestiços in terms of laws and jobs . It is alleged that during the Goa Inquisition, thousands of Goan Hindus were massacred by Portuguese rulers, starting in the year 1560. The inquisition was proposed by St. Francis Xavier

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


The Hindu American Foundation, together with organizations like the American Jewish Committee, have worked to counter perceived biases against Hindus and Jews in college campuses like Stanford Universitymarker. Both groups claim to have identified cases of academic hostility against both minorities.


By the late 19th century, fear had already begun in North America over Chinese immigration supplying cheap labor to lay railroad tracks, mostly in Californiamarker 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 Punjabmarker 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 Statesmarker 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. Christian televangelists such as Pat Robertson in the United States has made remarks that are regarded as anti-Hindu, if not racist, denouncing Hinduism as "demonic" and evoking similar canards against Hinduism. These remarks were widely condemned and rebutted by Indian Americans and many non-partisan advocacy groups. Other Fundamentalist Christian evangelicals such as Albert Mohler have defended the anti-Hindu remarks and made disparaging statements about Hinduism as "satanic", laced together with anti-Buddhist and Islamophobic rhetoric.

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 his apology, Brown said:

After his apology, Brown also invited Swami Atmajnanananda of the Washington branch of the Ramakrishna Mission and an Indian journalist based in Chicago, J V Lakshmana Rao, to participate in the talk show. Atmajnanananda said one must draw a distinction between caste and casteism. He said:

Refuting Brown's statement that lower castes were being persecuted in India, Rao spoke of affirmative actions in favor of the lower castes by the Government of India.

On April 28, 2004, an article on the Denver Post, authored by thoracic and general surgeons and a commentator on National Public Radio in USA Pius Kamau, portrayed the entire Indian community and the Hindus with "bigoted views". Widespread letter-writing and protests from the Indian American community, the Denver post responded by conveying the writer and editor's apologies.

On May 6 of that year, Denver Post also published a strong rebuttal to the original article By P.K. Vedanthan titled "Healing ethnic wounds".

In 2005, The Hindu American Foundation protested against the defamation of Hinduism in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle alleging the false anti-Hindu canard of rape being a "just punishment for criminal behavior". The author removed the statement following the protest.

In the same year, HAF also protested against an anti-Hindu article published in the Los Angeles Times where the writer, Paul Watson also equates Hinduism with the worship of cows and snakes.

On July, 2007, The United States Senate conducted its morning prayer services with a Hindu prayer, a historical first. The prayer was delivered by Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Renomarker, Nevadamarker. 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 [261623] 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 Fundamentalist Christian groups in the country, with the American Family Association posting lengthy anti-Hindu diatribes on their website.[261624] Their representative attacked the proceedings as "gross idolatry"[261625]

The chairman of the United States and India Political Action Committee, Sanjay Puri, has circulated a letter to the organization protesting the move as an act of bigotry. He writes:

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who had invited Zed to conduct the service, responded to the protest by defending his actions. He said:

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."[261628]

In South Asia


The Taliban regime in Afghanistanmarker was known for its extremist attitudes and views on Islam, including their strict enforcement of Islamic sharia law in the society. The Taliban regime declared that Hindus would be required to wear badges in public identifying themselves as Hindus, ostensibly to "protect them". This was part of the Taliban's plan to segregate "un-Islamic" and "idolatrous" communities from Islamic ones.

The decree was regarded as an anti-Hindu one by several lawmakers and congressmen in the United Statesmarker, as well as by the Indianmarker Government. There were widespread protests against this decree in both India and the United States. In the United States, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman compared the decree to the practices of Nazi Germany, where Jews were required to wear labels identifying them as such. In the United Statesmarker, congressmen wore yellow badges on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in Afghanistan.


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 "Kaffir" (lit. "unbelievers") and blamed for "causing all the problems in Pakistan". Islamic fundamentalist groups operating within Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan have broadcasted or disseminated anti-Hindu propaganda among the masses, referring to Hindus as "Hanood" and blaming them for "collaborating with the foreigners" against the people of the region.

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 (Rosser 2003)

The bias in Pakistani textbooks was studied by Rubina Saigol, Pervez Hoodbhoy, K. K. Aziz, I. A. Rahman, Mubarak Ali, A. H. Nayyar, Ahmed Saleem, Y. Rosser and others.

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: [pg154]

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.


In Bangladesh, the Bangladesh National Party is regarded as an anti-Hindu party, and reportedly encourages anti-Hindu views and sentiments among the Muslim majority. Prominent 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) (eg, see Agence-France Press report of 18 November 1996, "Bangladesh opposition leader accused of hurting religious sentiment").

Even the supposedly secular 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.


Extremist fringes within the broader movement for Dalits, such as Dalit Voice have expressed anti-Hindu views and sentiments, demanding the eradication of Hindus and expressing support for various Islamist groups around the world.

Other countries

South Africa

South Africa is home to a small Hindu minority. 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".

Anti-Hindu crimes

See also persecution of Hindus

Hate crime statistics against Hindus in North American countries are unavailable. However, it is believed that sporadic bouts of communal and institutional hatred against Hindus have occurred, though their frequency may have decreased in recent years. In the late 1980s a Jersey Citymarker street gang calling themselves the "Dotbusters" targeted, threatened and attacked South Asians, specifically Hindus.

On July 20, 2006, The Hindu American Foundation represented Hindus as a part of a coalition of civil rights, educational and religious submitting comments to the Department of Justice on its implementation of the Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA). Enacted by Congress in 1990, the HCSA requires the Justice Department to acquire data on crimes which "manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity" from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual report of its the findings.

More recent anti-Hindu violence

There have been a number of more recent attacks on Hindu temples and Hindus by Muslim militants. Prominent among them are the 1998 Chamba massacre, the 2002 fidayeen attacks on Raghunath temple, the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack allegedly perpetrated by Islamic terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, the 2006 Lahore temple demolition, and the 2006 Varanasi bombings (supposedly perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Toiba), resulting in many deaths and injuries.

Further reading

External links

See also


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