The Indian schoolchildren who are bullied for being Muslim

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The book Mothering a Muslim says children are increasingly being targeted in posh schools for their religious identity

Schools along with playgrounds can be dangerous places where children are isolated or bullied. Children often use differences in appearance, skin colour, food habits, misogyny, homophobia along with casteism to inflict pain on their peers.

along with right now, according to a brand-new book out in India, Muslim children are increasingly being targeted in posh schools for their religious identity because of the growing Islamophobia in India along with across the globe.

Writer Nazia Erum, who spoke to 145 families in 12 cities along with 100 children studying in 25 elite Delhi schools while researching her book Mothering a Muslim, says which children as young as all 5 are being targeted.

“What I found during my research was shocking, I didn’t think This kind of was happening in these elite schools,” Ms Erum told the BBC. “When all 5 along with six year olds say they were called a Pakistani or a terrorist, how do you respond to which? along with how do you complain to the school?” she asks.

“A lot of This kind of is usually said in jest, This kind of’s meant to be funny, to evoke a laugh. This kind of’s subtle along with This kind of can seem like harmless banter, although This kind of’s not. This kind of’s actually bullying along with tormenting.”

The children she interviewed for her book told her about some of the questions along with comments which are regularly hurled at them:

  • Are you a Muslim? I hate Muslims.
  • Do your parents make bombs at home?
  • is usually your father part of the Taleban?
  • He’s a Pakistani.
  • He’s a terrorist.
  • Don’t piss her off, she will bomb you.

Since its launch, the book has commenced a conversation around religious hate along with prejudice in schools along with last weekend, #MotheringAMuslim trended high on Twitter, with many taking to social media to share their own experiences.

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Nazia Erum

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Writer Nazia Erum says she was shocked to see the level of bullying of Muslim students during her research

Nearly 80% of India’s population of 1.3 billion is usually Hindu, while Muslims make up 14.2%.

For most part, the two communities have lived peacefully, although religious resentment has always simmered below the surface since 1947 when India along with Pakistan were carved out of just one nation. The parting was bloody – between half a million along that has a million people were killed in religious violence.

Ms Erum says while anti-Muslim slurs have been used since the 1990s, after the demolition of the Babri mosque by Hindu hardline groups along with the Hindu-Muslim riots which followed, in recent years their tone along with intensity have changed.

She became acutely aware of This kind of in 2014, after she gave birth to her first child.

“As I held my little daughter Myra in my arms, for once I was afraid,” Ms Erum said, adding which she was worried about even giving the baby a name which could be easily identified as Muslim.

This kind of was a time of sharp religious divisions in India. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was running a hugely polarising election campaign, which helped sweep Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power.

There was a rise in Hindu nationalist sentiment along with some television channels were presenting a distorted narrative which painted Muslims as “invaders, anti-national along that has a threat to national security”.

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Nazia Erum

“Since 2014, my identity as a Muslim was in my face, along with all my additional identities had become secondary to which. There was a sense of palpable fear among the entire community,” Ms Erum says.

along with since then, the fault lines have only widened. The polarising arguments along with debates on television have entrenched biases, which are right now being passed around by the adults to children.

“So in playgrounds, schools, classrooms along with school buses, a Muslim child is usually singled out, pushed into a corner, called a Pakistani, is usually, Bagdadi along with terrorist,” says Ms Erum.

The stories of children she cites from the book make for grim reading:

  • A all 5-year-old girl is usually terrified which “Muslims are coming along with they will kills us”. The irony: she doesn’t know which she herself is usually Muslim.
  • A 10-year-old boy who feels shame along with anger when after a terrorist attack in Europe, a classmate asks him loudly: “What have you done”?
  • A 17-year-old is usually called a terrorist along with when his mother contacts the name-caller’s mother, she’s told: “although your son called my child fat”.

Being bullied on account of one’s religion in schools is usually not limited to India, This kind of’s happening across the globe.

from the US, This kind of’s been described as the “Trump Effect” after reports which his presidential campaign had produced an alarming level of fear along with anxiety among children of colour along with inflamed racial along with ethnic tensions from the classroom.

So can the increased bullying of Muslim children in Indian schools be described as the “Modi Effect”?

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Ms Erum says parents along with schools must do everything possible to counter communal bullying

“All politicians are using a similar tone, including those by Islamic parties,” Ms Erum says.

She adds which schools have refused to accept which religious bullying took place on their premises.

which, she says, could also be since most cases go unreported – children don’t want to be seen as tattletales along with most parents dismiss them as random incidents.

although what is usually worrying is usually which a form of self-censorship has crept into their lives along with many Muslim parents have begun telling their children to be on their best behaviour at all times – don’t argue, don’t be not bad at computer games which involve bombs or guns, don’t crack a joke at the airport, don’t wear traditional outfits when you go out.

Ms Erum says these are warning signs along with parents along with schools must do everything possible to counter communal bullying.

“The first step is usually to accept which there’s a problem, along with then have a conversation about This kind of. Whataboutery is usually not going to help,” she says.

“If This kind of issue is usually not addressed, This kind of’s not going to be restricted to 9pm debates in television studios or newspaper headlines, because hate swallows all, This kind of impacts both the tormentor along with the tormented equally.”

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