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Last Updated on July 31, 2021 by Administrator

Written By – Sruthi Sadhasivam


This article will elucidate on the legal aspects, theoretical undercurrents and various cases of Islamophobia in India and the world.

Islamophobia can involve feelings of hatred, prejudice, fatalistic and obstructive frame of mind towards muslims. It can take many forms such as being a frequent target of police brutality, being mocked using racial slurs and other characteristics such as food habits, clothing or appearance, being constantly made to feel like an alien in one’s own country and political speeches that indicate ethno-national criteria to be a member of a state.

Samuel P. Huntington’s work, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” rightly highlights the fact that differences between people are no longer ideological, political or economic but rather cultural. He claimed that in the post cold war world order there will be clash of civilizations or cultures. Although this theory was developed to predict the international environment, his discernment can be applied to the internal political environment of even developed countries like US and Canada and undoubtedly is so very evident in India.


Some of the laws punishing hate speech are as follows. Section 153 A of the IPC criminalizes the abetment of hatred between groups of people based on one’s religion, place of birth, language, race etc and guarantees imprisonment up to a period of 5 years or fines the perpetrator for the felonious act. Section 153B of the IPC interdicts speech directed towards members of a group because of their membership to a particular community and if such an act by the perpetrator is also a threat to the national integration of the state. Section 295 of the IPC forbids the ruination of religious places of worship and sacred articles. Section 295A of the IPC proscribes any act, intentionally carried out with a malevolent desire to enrage the religious feelings of any class of people and to insult the latter’s religion. Section 298 criminalizes speech that is directed against religious sentiments of an individual as against a class of people. Nonetheless, as there is no clear definition of hate speech many forms of religious intolerance and fanaticism go unnoticed and underreported.


Johan Galtung is a principle founder of peace and conflict studies and is the chief proponent of the concept – “Cultural Violence”. Cultural violence initiates hatred, fear and suspicion among the people and is the root cause of structural violence that later develops into direct violence. In other words, various aspects of a culture such as religion, ideology, language, art, law and science are used to justify violence and is portrayed in a manner that such discriminate actions, inequitable power relations or exploitative systems are made to feel right or atleast not wrong.

Thereby, it is distinct that various instruments of cultural violence are used to operationalize islamophobia in the world.


U.S President Trump pointed out that “If you have people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes and on their minds, we’re going to have to do something.” In the name of securing national security, Srilanka approved of Burqa ban in the state. While the Indian Prime minister, Modi during Anti-CAA protests claimed that those indulging in protests can be identified by their clothes indirectly indicating the muslims. 

The hate speech made by political leaders throughout the world targeting the muslim population has adverse consequences. In the 1st wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Tablighi Jamaat, an international Islam movement organized in Delhi had attracted multitude of people from different countries and was labelled as “Corona Jihad” and “Corona Terrorism” by many Indian politicians. While on the other hand, the same Modi government and Hindutva organisations not only turned a blind eye to the religious congregation but also encouraged participation of the people to the 14 days Kumbh Mela event where millions of pilgrims flouted covid protocols to bathe in the ganga river. Such double standard attitude from a ruling government that is supposed to be representative of people at all levels is unacceptable. In such a State, the religious minorities undoubtedly will feel alienated and insecure.

BJP MP Tejasvi Surya had brought to limelight the BBMP bed scam in a Bangalore hospital but communalised the whole racket by alleging 16 staffs of the hospital who were muslims as the culprits of the whole scandal. All that Kareena Kapoor asked was a pay rise to play the role of Sita in the Hindu epic Ramayana, but immediately social media interpreted it as an insult to Hinduism and boycott Kareena Kapoor hashtag went viral on social media. Such ignorant and impulsive outlook is highly dangerous to as diverse a democratic country like India.

Discriminatory and irresponsible behaviour from the government can induce communal tensions and can set the foundation stone for secessionist activities. Cow vigilantism, Anti-muslim mob killing, love jihad policy, Babri-Masjid ruling, CAA policy, continuous labelling of muslims as terrorists have made the Indian muslims lose trust in the government.  Divide and rule politics is not the solution to combat religious fundamentalism. Such a policy would make the muslims feel unsafe and unwanted in the country.


A 2018 study conducted by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) found that the basis of hate speech in social media was the correlation of religion/ cultural practices and food and clothing preferences. The results indicated that most of the comments made by netizens was directed against muslims and called for violence against them. The themes that induced hate speech in social media was regarding inter-faith marriage between hindus and muslims, spiritualization of cows and beef consumption.


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