A recent study by Henry Jackson Society, London, has found that over half of Hindu parents surveyed reported that their child had experienced anti-Hindu hate in schools. This report is the first of its kind to examine anti-Hindu hate in schools in the UK. The study surveyed Hindu parents and queried schools with Indian pupils through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to better understand the nature and extent of anti-Hindu hate in schools.
The study cites rise of Hinduphobia, a prejudice or discrimination against Hindus or Hinduism, that can take many forms, including verbal abuse, physical violence, and vandalism.
The study found that over half (51%) of parents of Hindu pupils surveyed reported that their child has experienced anti-Hindu hate in schools.
The study also found that teaching on Hinduism has been reported by some participants as fostering religious discrimination towards Hindu pupils. This suggests that there may be a need for schools to review their teaching practices and ensure that they are inclusive of all religions.
Additionally, the study found that only 19% of Hindu parents surveyed believe that schools are able to identify anti-Hindu hate, while 15% believe that schools adequately address anti-Hindu-related incidents. These findings suggest that there is a lack of awareness and action on the part of schools in addressing anti-Hindu hate.
This study highlights the prevalence of anti-Hindu hate in UK schools and the need for schools to take proactive steps to address it. It suggests, that UK schools need to be more aware of the issue and work to create a safe and inclusive environment for all pupils, regardless of their religion. This includes reviewing their teaching practices and ensuring that they are inclusive of all religions and cultures. By doing so, schools can help to prevent the discrimination and marginalization of Hindu pupils and create a more tolerant and inclusive society.
The study examined the prevalence of discrimination against Hindu pupils in schools in the UK and found that it is present in the classroom. Incidents, in the main, emanate from peers but there have been concerns that some schools’ approaches to teaching Hinduism are fostering prejudice.
Below are some of the examples of the Hinduphobia experienced by children in schools
References to Idol worship
“You don’t know about your own religion, you have so many gods. Your religion is idol worship (even though they were corrected to say deity worship, and they continued to insist that it’s the same). When teachers say these things, they undermine the students and make a mockery of them.”
Negative references to polytheism Negative references to religious practices
“My child went to school with a religious symbol on his forehead. He was bullied until he no longer wanted to attend school. Over the years we have had to change his school three times within East London.”
“My daughter was bullied at school and had beef thrown at her by classmates as she is a Hindu.”
Typical xenophobic tropes such as ‘go back home’ and negative references made to skin colour have been coded as ‘far right’. This means they reflect far right inspired thinking not that the pupil necessarily identifies as such.
Negative references made to skin color – Reference to Christian supremacy
“Jesus will send your Gods to hell.”
Xenophobic racist slurs
“Shouting ‘Go back home you Paki’; white kids gang up and don’t talk to Hindu kids.”
Terms such as ‘kaffir’
Requests for pupils to convert to Islam/Asserting Islamic supremacy
“Harassed and told that if they convert to Islam, their life will become so much easier (i.e. bullying will stop).”
“You aren’t going to survive very long… If you want to go to paradise, you’ll have to come to Islam… Hindus are the herbivores at the bottom of the food chain, we will eat you up.”
Linking Hindu Pupils to India
Holding pupils responsible for politics in India
“Other students tried to bully my daughter that she is Hindu – saying ‘why you people break our mosque, why you people attack us?’ So we changed the school.”
“Child has faced bullying from other children on many occasions specifically after PM Modi’s rise in India and after article 370 was revoked.”
Linking Hinduism to the caste system
“Lots of bullying from other pupils about different God and even shaming my children about caste system and about Modi in India. Some children try and tell my children to watch videos of Zakir Naik and convert because Hinduism makes no sense.”
The Study recommends Independent Adviser for Social Cohesion and Resilience to build resilience against anti-Hindu hate and to better support victims, local authorities and civil society to counter it. It calls upon Dame Sara Khan, the Independent Adviser for Social Cohesion and Resilience, should ensure that her work involves understanding the harm anti-Hindu hate is causing to local communities and provide guidance and support to local authorities and their employees in their understanding of anti-Hindu hate where it does not fall within the remit of Prevent. It also calls to facilitate faith specialists to train schools with relevant demographic makeups on what hate facing their community looks like, including anti-Hindu hate. In addition it recommends providing support to schools in their approach to sectarianism, anti-Muslim hate and antisemitism, in addition to anti-Hindu hate.
Rohit Sharma is a Senior Journalist who has lived in Washington DC since 2007. He currently is a contributor to Dainik Bhaskar, the world's third largest newspaper by readership. His opinion pieces feature on News 9 and The Quint. He has been invited as guest on the BBC, NDTV, India Today, AajTak, Times Now, Republic, Zee news and others. His work has featured in six Indian Languages.