New Delhi, India – India averaged practically two anti-Muslim hate speech occasions per day in 2023 and three in each 4 of these occasions – or 75 % – occurred in states dominated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Social gathering, revealed a report launched Monday.

In 2023, the hate speech occasions peaked between August and November, the interval of political campaigning and polling in 4 main states, in accordance with a report launched by India Hate Lab (IHL), a Washington, DC-based analysis group.

As India heads for a nationwide vote within the upcoming months, a first-of-its-kind report by the IHL maps the unfold of anti-Muslim hate speech throughout the nation. The group documented a complete of 668 hate speech occasions.

Final month, the web site of India Hate Lab was rendered inaccessible in India after the federal government blocked it below the controversial Data Expertise (IT) Act, 2000. The federal government additionally blocked the web site of Hindutva Watch, an unbiased hate-crime tracker additionally run by the IHL’s founder.

The brand new report – the primary time a analysis group has tracked hate speech occasions in India over a 12 months – tracks how these occasions unfold geographically throughout India, the triggers behind these occasions, and once they happen.

That are India’s hate speech hotbeds?

The group documented a complete of 668 hate speech occasions throughout 18 states and three federally ruled territories. The highest-ranking Indian states for these occasions had been: Maharashtra within the west with 118 incidents, Uttar Pradesh within the north with 104 incidents, and Madhya Pradesh in central India with 65 incidents.

These three states are among the many greatest voter bases, are presently dominated by the BJP, and collectively account for 43 % of the entire hate speech occasions recorded in 2023.

However comparatively smaller states, like Haryana and Uttarakhand in northern India, weren’t immune both.

Whereas Haryana witnessed 48 hate speech occasions, or about 7.2 %, occasions in Uttarakhand made up 6 % – each states are among the many rising hotbeds for anti-Muslim violence as properly. Seven individuals died and over 70 had been injured in violence in the Nuh region of Haryana in August 2023; earlier this month, five Muslims were killed in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, whereas protesting in opposition to the demolition of a mosque and a non secular college within the city.

Prem Shukla, a nationwide spokesperson of the BJP, advised Al Jazeera that the social gathering has been opposing the “Islamic fundamentalist forces” and alleged that the IHL knowledge represented a “biased image of the scenario”.

“The opposite so-called secular states are focusing on the Hindu majority neighborhood by hate speeches, however nobody will discuss it,” Shukla mentioned in a cellphone interview. He additionally dismissed the IHL report, alleging that these behind it “have sworn to destroy the BJP”.

Who guidelines states with essentially the most hate speech?

As per the report, 498 hate speech occasions, which make up 75 %, occurred within the states dominated by the BJP or in territories that it successfully governs by way of the central authorities. Among the many 10 states with essentially the most hate speech occasions, six had been dominated by the BJP all year long. The opposite three states, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh had legislative elections in 2023, by which energy modified arms: Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh moved from the opposition Congress social gathering to the BJP, and Karnataka from the BJP to the Congress. Bihar, the final of the ten states with essentially the most hate-speech occasions, was dominated by an opposition coalition till final month, when its chief minister switched sides to hitch a BJP-led alliance.

Greater than 77 % of speeches that included a direct name of violence in opposition to Muslims had been additionally delivered in states and territories ruled by the BJP.

A 3rd of all hate speech occasions documented by the IHL had been organised by two far-right organisations, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, that are related to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP. In 2018, the US Central Intelligence Company tagged the VHP and Bajrang Dal as “non secular militant organisations”.

“Our evaluation exhibits that anti-Muslim hate speech has been normalised and change into a part of India’s socio-political sphere,” mentioned Raqib Hameed Naik, founding father of the IHL. “We foresee rampant use of anti-Muslim hate throughout the upcoming normal elections to polarise voters.”

What are the provocations used for hate speech occasions?

The report documented that 63 % of the entire 668 hate speech occasions referenced Islamophobic conspiracy theories.

The theories included “love jihad”, an alleged phenomenon the place Muslim males lure Hindu ladies into marrying them and changing to Islam; “land jihad”, which alleges Muslims are occupying public lands by constructing non secular constructions or holding prayers; “halal jihad”, which views Islamic practices because the financial exclusion of non-Muslim merchants; and “inhabitants jihad”, which alleges that Muslims reproduce with the intention of finally outnumbering and dominating different populations.

All of those conspiracy theories have been debunked: The federal government’s personal knowledge, as an example, exhibits that Muslim fertility charges are dropping quicker than these of some other main neighborhood in India.

Over 48 % of the occasions occurred between August and November, a interval that noticed state elections in 4 main states.

Reacting to the IHL report, Amnesty Worldwide known as on Indian authorities to place an finish to the rise in speeches calling for violence and hatred in opposition to non secular minorities.

“[The authorities] should take concrete measures to counter stereotypes, eradicate discrimination, and foster larger equality,” Aakar Patel, chair of the board at Amnesty Worldwide India, advised Al Jazeera.

Activists from varied leftist organisations shout slogans throughout a protest in opposition to hate speech in New Delhi on December 27, 2021. [Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

What’s the most recent hate weapon getting used in opposition to Indian Muslims?

Since October 7, Indian far-right teams have been weaponising the Hamas attack on southern Israel, and Israel’s ongoing conflict on Gaza to stoke anti-Indian Muslim fears and hate.

From October 7 to December 31, 2023, one in each 5 hate-speech occasions invoked Israel’s conflict, a phenomenon that peaked in November, in accordance with the IHL report.

Pravin Togadia, founder and present president of the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad, mentioned in an occasion in Haryana on November 20: “As we speak it’s Israel’s flip. That very same Palestine is rising in our villages and our streets. Saving our prosperity, our ladies, from them is an enormous problem for us.”

In the identical month, Kapil Mishra, a BJP chief, mentioned: “What Israel confronted is what we have now been going through for 1,400 years.”

Different analysts have discovered that India has additionally emerged as an epicentre of disinformation on Israel’s conflict on Gaza, spreading by way of the web.

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