Recognizing Hinduphobia – A Canadian Perspective (Part 8)

This is one of the 10-part series of posts is based on the author’s detailed brief for the Human Rights Commission of Ontario highlighting the rising anti-Hindu sentiment in Canada in general, and Ontario in particular.

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Hinduphobia in the Media

The media is quick to report hate crimes related to racial slurs; for example, a cab driver was subjected to a racial slur for asking the client to wear a mask (2020); the family was told by the police to ignore the racist slur and refused to take any action. [1] Here are two other examples of racial slurs that were covered by the media. In Surrey, BC, an Indian man was called an “f…ing brown Paki.”[2] Similarly, an Indian man on the golf course in Georgetown, Ontario, faced a racial slur.[3]

However, when it comes to being a leading influence in the creation of the grand narrative about India, the media has predominantly presented it as Hinduphobic. Hindus suffer daily onslaughts of Hinduphobia and anti-India bias in the news from Canadian and international media. On a daily basis, they brace themselves to read and listen to news about India (which is about 80% Hindu) which negatively stereotypes the Hindu religion as being exotic, superstitious, and oppressive against women and minorities, and so on.

A recent example is from April 2022; the Toronto Star carried a deeply Hinduphobic opinion article.[4] In this article, Hindus expressing frustration about the September 2021 conference called “Dismantling Hindutva” were portrayed as violent, fascists, or extremists. The reporter had exposed her Hinduphobic bias because she failed to report that the speakers at the conference had actually talked about “Dismantling Hinduism”. One speaker even presented a list of Hindu surnames, such as Sharma, declaring them to be fascists. Hindus across Canada were deeply concerned about several professors from Canadian universities writing in support of the conference.[5]

As well the report supported the view of those who not only outrightly denied the well-document persecution of Kashmiri Hindus.[6]

To further add to the Hinduphobia, the reporter also lend support to speakers who not only claimed that Hindus were exaggerating the persecution of Hindus in Kashmir but that the Hindus were themselves oppressors of the Muslims of Kashmir. The lone Hindu, Gopala Krishna, who spoke about the Hinduphobic agenda of the media in general, and the Dismantling Hindutva conference in particular, was accused and presented as an aggressive person who went after a female academic. Misrepresenting those who speak up for Hindu human rights as violent, abusive, or aggressive is a classic example of Hinduphobia.[7]

This 2019 Hindu Human Rights report gives details of the persecution of Hindus in India – stories which Canadian media never covers or misrepresents.[8]

Hindus are deeply hurt when Canadian media ignores the plight of Hindus in other countries, for example, in Pakistan and Bangladesh.[9]

On April 1, 22, the Toronto Star published an article titled, Anti-Muslim “Kashmir Files” A dangerous step in India’s descent into hate,” which represents a blatant attempt to deny the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus using the guise of Islamophobia. Incredibly, the author attempts to present the Kashmiri Hindus as the perpetrators of hate against Muslims when they actually experience genocide, and over 250,000 of them had to leave their homes to save their lives.[10]

Overall, despite Canada’s increasingly multi-ethnic character, the primary Canadian image portrayed in the mass media remains White Euro-Canadian. It’s the reason why Hindus, due to their brown color, are consistently asked, “Where they are from?” a question white immigrant is rarely asked.

The increasing tendency of the media to sensationalize negative news from India leads to an unfair negative image of Hindus. People of Indian origin have become targets for racist attacks in Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary, for example, where they form an increasingly visible sector among new immigrants. Violence towards them on subways, in schoolyards, or wherever they can be singled out for “Paki” abuse provides a normal aspect of the news of the day for television and newspaper audiences.

The important point here, with regard to the critical role of the media as an agent of cultural discrimination, is that the white Euro-Canadian audience sees, hears and reads mostly negative news about Indians. Such repeated images do not induce sympathy in the community. Rather it leads to the dehumanizing of Hindus, which serves as a platform to discrimination and hate crimes against Hindus. It was this kind of negative stereotyping and prejudice that led the Govt of Canada initially to refer to the people who were killed in the terrorist attack on the Air India plane in 1985 as ‘Indians’ rather than Canadians.

  5. More information about their concerns is explained here
  6. The history of Kashmir Hindu Genocide and forced exodus is available on this website
  7. To learn the Hindu point of view about the Dismantling Hindutva conference please read here.
  9. Here is a report on the plight of Hindus in Pakistan.
  10. For a proper understanding of the Kashmir Hindu genocide please view this video

Go directly to specific parts of this series
  1. Part 1: Hinduphobia in Ontario and Canada – Introduction
  2. Part 2: Why HRC does not fully address the problem of Hinduphobia
  3. Part 3: What is Hinduphobia?
  4. Part 4: A Theoretical framework to understand Hinduphobia
  5. Part 5: Generalized Hinduphobia
  6. Part 6: Appropriation and lack of acknowledgment of positive contributions of Hindu civilization
  7. Part 7: Canada’s White Only History policy: overcoming a legacy of Racism
  8. Part 8: Hinduphobia in the Media
  9. Part 9: Hinduphobia in Academia/Universities
  10. Part 10: Examples of Hinduphobic Incidents in Canada

Dr. Ragini Sharma, PhD, has worked for over 25 years with individuals, families and communities of diverse backgrounds to support their human dignity and for their economic, social and political rights. She is a passionate educator of Hinduism and has represented Hindu perspective at numerous interfaith events.

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