India Hate Lab reports surge in anti-Muslim hate speech incidents across India News
Muhamad Izzul Fiqih, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
India Hate Lab reports surge in anti-Muslim hate speech incidents across India

India Hate Lab, a Washington-based research group, released a report Monday documenting the rise of anti-Muslim hate speech incidents in India, particularly in states governed by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The report provides insights into the prevalence and distribution of hate speech across the country.

According to the report, out of 668 documented hate speech incidents targeting Muslims in 2023,  75 percent occurred in states under BJP rule. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh emerged as the top three states with the highest number of hate speech events, collectively accounting for 43 percent of the total incidents. Notably, 15 percent of hate speech events featured speeches by BJP officials. Hindu extremist influencers and religious leaders, particularly affiliated with organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, organized 32 percent of hate speech events in 2023.

Geographically, hate speech events were widespread across 18 states and three federally governed territories, with smaller states like Haryana and Uttarakhand also experiencing a notable increase in such incidents. The report indicates a concerning trend of hate speech peaking between August and November, coinciding with political campaigning and assembly elections in several states.

Furthermore, the report highlights the exploitation of international conflicts, such as the Israel-Gaza war, to fuel anti-Muslim sentiments in India. Moreover, the report mentions the alleged phenomenon of “love jihad,” which refers to a conspiracy theory propagated by Hindu nationalist groups that accuses Muslim men of converting Hindu women to Islam through romantic relationships.

In addition to these findings, the report underscores the broader socio-political context in India, citing the revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir and instances of demolitions of Muslim properties and bans on wearing the hijab in classrooms in Karnataka during the BJP’s tenure. As India approaches national elections, concerns are mounting over the potential exploitation of hate speech to polarize voters and perpetuate communal divisions.

Rights groups have voiced alarm over the mistreatment of Muslims under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, pointing to discriminatory policies and escalating violence targeting minority communities. The report emphasizes the broader implications of hate speech, including its role in perpetuating communal tensions and undermining social cohesion.