Representational image of elementary school students | Wikimedia Commons
File image of elementary school students | Wikimedia Commons
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New Delhi: ‘Osama’, ‘Baghdadi’, ‘Mullah’, ‘Go to Pakistan’… These are some of the terms that kids are blurting out, often unknowingly, at their Muslim peers in primary schools, leaving parents in extreme distress over the impact of such bullying.

Such hate has come and gone cyclically in the past, but in the wake of the escalating India-Pakistan tensions, there has recently been a rise in Muslim kids being subjected to religious slurs, which has left mothers shaken.

Most of them squarely put the blame on jingoistic television channels, saying that their “hate mongering” is leading to discrimination and harassment.

The ‘enemy within’

Nazia Erum, author of the book Mothering a Muslim, spoke about the trend in a Facebook post.

“Getting information from various cities that there has been a sharp spike in children being singled out, bullied and being told to ‘go to Pakistan’. From my maid, cousins, friends to Twitter acquaintances — everyone reporting this in,” she had written, stirring up a conversation on social media.

Speaking to ThePrint, Erum said in the last few years, religious discrimination in schools had gone up drastically, prompting her to write the book in the first place.

“But it is these ‘nationalistic’ TV channels which have promoted hate, the worst-affected of which are the children,” Erum said.

“When these channels talk about ‘enemies within’, use street language and deplorably low-IQ content, kids are listening to that. They are angry and hurt. There is a limit to the number of jokes and jibes they can take.

“Unfortunately, for many, they are addictive. Such content lead to a slow scale hatred within communities. Mothers are scared of not just the psychological impact such bullying can leave on them in the long run, but also of any physical harm that the kids may be subjected to.”

A mother who did not wish to be identified said it was a ‘very recent’ trend.

“I can’t remember facing any religious slurs or bullying because of my religion when I was in school 15 years ago. I was in a co-ed school in Jharkhand. Religion is the last thing that came to our minds,” the woman said.


Also read: Not just rest of India, Pulwama attack also left Kashmiri students out of schools back home


“But I can’t say the same for my sons,” she said, adding they are often reminded of their religion in casual conversations.

“Even a simple question such as ‘Are you a Muslim?’ has an impact when asked to a five-year-old who is not conscious of his or her religious identity.”

Another woman took to social media, saying her daughter asked to change her name, because she didn’t want her name to reflect her religion, hinting at the possible harassment she could face because of her identity.

Need for a conversation

Erum said it was worrying that children wanted to hide their identities to evade bullying in schools. She emphasised the need for a conversation with the kids to ensure they are not affected, as early as possible, to avoid festering of such feelings as they grow older.

“It is unfortunate if kids are cornered for their religion. Not just Muslim parents, non-Muslim parents too should talk to their kids and tell them that it is not about their classmate,” she said.

Erum said she tells her five-year-old daughter to either ignore or laugh it off if anyone suggests she belongs to any other country but India.

“I tell her that if anyone calls her a Nepali or a Sri Lankan or a Pakistani, she should laugh it off to diffuse the attention on only Pakistan or her religious identity,” she said.


Also read: No room for Kashmiris in Deoband as councillor tells hostel owners to get students to leave


 

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8 Comments Share Your Views

8 COMMENTS

  1. The problem is for Muslim with passage of time they are not become part of local culture. When I was young so many Muslim play with us in Holi. Now a day’s hardly any Muslim is playing Holi. By wearing, name, food Muslim show they are different from Hindu. Now these are exploiting by some party for their electoral benefit. Desire for looking different then their fellow citizens is sole reason of Muslim facing discrimination.and this is not just India but in many advanced country.

  2. The the comment above by Durga.

    It was only one intolerant minister from punjab. He was widely condemned by the public and ministers alike for his comments. He apologized but was still forced to resign. Please Google for verification if you want. Give Pakistan credit where it is due.

    Recognize that post modi India is developing into a ticking time bomb due to his ultra nationalistic tirades emphasising religion that has ultimately torn apart the social fabric of India. You only need to watch the news to see the growing tide of hindutva hate for minorities in India.

  3. Similarly in Pakistan, whilst Imran Khan was claiming the release of Wing commander Abhinandan was a ‘peace’ gesture, openly racist Pakistani ministers called Hindus ‘Cow piss drinkers’ and threatedn India with further attacks. They claimed the terrorist acts was a war against Hindus. Clearly there are elements in both India and Pakistan who veer towards the right.

    The majority of Indians recognise that ethnic and religious diverstity in India is actually our strength. The Indian constitution created 70 years ago accords Muslims in India special status by giving preferential treatment with regareds to free education, reserved places in the Military and government demonstrating this. Unfortunately 70 years on, reserved places has created an imbalance on rights and the help needed for the underprivileged ordinary citizen. Therefore it has created resentment. Affirmative action should be for tribals and for citizens based on social economic status. Otherwise it divides us further.

    The inclusive nature of India’s democratic constitution reflects the fact Muslims have succeeded as politicians, the Military and in Universities to name but a few. So minor incidents does not mean Muslims in India are completely subjugated as minorities are in Pakistan.

    We should remember that Indians, irrespective of religion and state is working for India. For example jawan Aurangazeb who was a muslim Indian Kashmiri was murdered by the Islamic terrorists in the Indian state of Kashmir, whilst fighting as a soldier in Indian. Another Army officer Ummer Fayaz was kidnapped and murdered by Pak sponsored terrorists in Kasmir.

    Perhaps to increase communication between children, there should be constitution classes and schoolkids should be encouraged to learn about each other, from each other. Only with an United India, can India survive. I hope we do not become as racist as Pakistan.

  4. post 2014 has been the most disaster period in the history of democratic India. Bigots got a free hand to display their venom vehemently and shamelessly

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