Posted on April 21, 2023

Muslim Pupils Tell Hindu Classmates to Convert to Islam to Avoid Bullying

Neil Johnston, The Telegraph, April 18, 2023

Muslim pupils are telling their Hindu classmates to change their religion to avoid bullying and make their lives easier, a think tank has found.

The study by the Henry Jackson Society found that Hindu pupils are being “held responsible” for the actions of India and facing xenophobic slurs from white pupils.

It comes after disorder broke out in Leicester between the Hindu and Muslim communities, which the report warned the same tensions are fuelling discrimination in schools.

Half of Hindu parents said their children had suffered hatred in schools with incidents including a pupil having beef thrown at her by classmates, the report found.

Hinduism is the third most common religion in the UK, with around one million people identifying as Hindu.

Links to Leicester unrest

The document, authored by Charlotte Littlewood, a research fellow and former Prevent counter-extremism co-ordinator, spoke to 988 Hindu parents and surveyed more than 1,000 schools around the country.

Police in Leicester made 55 arrests last September after weeks of disorder which included vandalism of property, assaults, stabbings and attacks on places of worship. The think tank previously found that the tensions were linked to conflict between young people from Muslim and Hindu communities and false narratives claiming there was Hindu extremism in Leicester.

The report found that Hindus faced discrimination from pupils from varying backgrounds but there were clear similarities between incidents in the classroom and the disorder in the Midlands.

“Some of the discrimination exhibited in the classroom showed similarities to the manifestations of hate witnessed during the unrest in Leicester between Hindus and Muslims,” it noted.

“There were numerous instances of derogatory references made towards Hindus, such as mocking their vegetarianism and belittling their deities, which were also made by Islamist extremists rallying against the Hindu community in Leicester.”

The reports said Hindu pupils were being “held responsible for politics and social issues in India reminiscent of the treatment of Jews with regard to Israel and of Muslims in the post-9/11 climate”.

‘We will eat you up’

It found that Muslim pupils called for Hindus to convert or face “threats of hell for disbelievers” using terms such as “kaffir”.

In one example a child “was harassed and told that if they convert to Islam, their life will become so much easier” and in another told: “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.”

Another parent said children were told to watch videos of an Islamic preacher and to “convert because Hinduism makes no sense”.

Researchers also found evidence of xenophobia including from Christian pupils, with one child told: “Jesus will send your Gods to hell.”

‘Religious education fostering discrimination’

The report found that religious education was “fostering discrimination” against Hindus with inappropriate references to the Indian caste system and misconceptions over the worship of deities which students felt made “a mockery of them”.

While other religions were given days off for celebrations, Hindu pupils were often not given a holiday for Diwali.

The study noted that anti-Hindu hate was poorly reported, with only one per cent of schools recording incidents while only 15 per cent of parents surveyed believed schools adequately address anti-Hindu related incidents.

Ben Everitt MP, said the findings were “damning” and called for urgent improvements to religious education.

“The findings in this report are damning and shed light on the varying themes and forms which anti-Hindu discrimination materialises in the classroom,” he said.

He said that as well as discrimination taking the form of anti-Hindu slurs there was “a problematic approach to teaching Hinduism which may be feeding into prejudice, and whether incidents of bullying and discrimination are being adequately dealt with by each individual school”.

He added: “If we want to make real, sustained, long-term progress in reducing discrimination towards those of minority faiths in our schools, then we need to make sure that young people are receiving the best possible education about the many faiths which are woven into the fabric of our diverse United Kingdom.”