A known Hindu nationalist will become prime minister of more than 10% of the world’s Muslim population on May 16. While they have been a topic of some discussion in this election, India’s estimated 176 million Muslims remain largely invisible and voiceless.
Hindus love to tell you that India does not have an “Islamophobia” problem.
Countless highly educated, otherwise thoughtful Hindus across the country and the diaspora say, as if in verbal lockstep, that the election is really just about economics.
But the fact that Narendra Modi can be repositioned as an “economics candidate” simply underscores the depth of Indian Islamophobia—a mere 12 years ago he presided over a state in which 790 (the official number, widely contested) of his Muslim constituents were murdered under the averted eyes of his police and local officials.
What is at play in India is a profound and decades-long erasure of the Indian Muslim face and voice. Long before the attacks, I heard my Chennai friends and relatives casually say dehumanizing things over dinner about the Muslims living among them—such as “they multiply like rabbits.” And yet, I have found no indicative research on the purported higher birthrate among Indian Muslims—how birthrates vary across Muslims in different Indian states or cities, or income levels.
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I don’t know about India, but Muslims certainly have a higher birth rate in the West. Statistics showing “Total Fertility Rate” by place of birth of mother have been released by the UK government. This post shows some statistics plus gives links to the source data.