EXPOSED – Fact checking the “Hindutva In Britain” report

INSIGHT UK news desk reviews the latest propaganda targeting Hindus. In this piece, we fact-check the Hindutva in Britain report and expose its authors – The Bridge Initiative and Georgetown University.

Hinduva in Britain Rebuttal
Hindutva in Britain Rebuttal

Who are the organisations behind the report?

The Bridge Initiative promotes themselves as a research project on Islamophobia housed at Georgetown University.

The organisation often disseminates hysteric articles about Hindus and spreads misinformation through its online channels; in one publication it absurdly claims that a genocide of 200 million Muslims is underway in India [1]. Not only is this far-fetched, but it contradicts Pew data that finds Muslims in India feel free to practise their religion and suffer far less discrimination than some minorities in the USA [2].

The Bridge Initiative has published articles dubbed as “research” that covers any criticism of Islam, with the narrative appearing to portray that any critique or protests against Islam are immediately Islamophobic [3].

The organisation has recently gained a large social media following but their content often fails to balance views with genuine experiences from a range of voices from both sides. The angle of their report appears to blame Hindus.

The report was flanked by a lesser-known British Muslim organisation called The Community Policy Forum. On its LinkedIn page, they claim to be an independent “think tank” with 2-10 employees. 

It recently made a call on social media for Prevent to be scrapped, an organisation that aims to stop people from becoming extremists, merely because Prevent shares data with airports [4]. It has also worked closely with Chris Allen [13][14], an individual that many Hindu organisations refused to work with during the Leicester unrest due to past biases.

It is hard to take both these organisations seriously when they have such a strong and partial vision. Their content is more likely to appeal to their own echo chambers and only solidify their own audiences’ confirmation bias, a strategy used to keep them in a constant state of being enraged. 

Nevertheless, it is important to check misinformation online and provide reliable and empirical data rather than anecdotal evidence, so that Hindus, Muslims and any other readers are informed of errors in the report.

Debunking the “Hindutva in Britain” report

The report starts by making a glaring mistake in defining Hindutva. It claims the term is distinct from Hinduism, however, this is incorrect as most Hindus define Hindutva and Hinduism synonymously. Hindu-ism is a Western-defined name, however, Hindu organisations including the World Hindu Congress have clearly defined Hindutva as the term for Hinduism [15].

When a whole publication starts by failing to correctly define what the research is about, it raises questions about the credibility of the rest of its contents. It goes on to make artificially inflated narratives that Hindus align with Zionists and Nazis, sometimes based on what social media hashtags are being used in India. It would be extremely dubious to make this claim purely on trending posts. 

It also attempts to incorrectly align Hindutva with Nazis with vague quotes but conveniently ignores that some Muslim clerics were very cosy with Hitler and his ideology [9][10] and even Prince Philip’s sisters married Nazis. 

The misappropriation of Hindutva with Naziism is further evidenced by the fact that anti-Semitism (which is often a hallmark of Naziism) is not associated with Hinduism per se (for example, Jews have lived and flourished in India under Hindu protection and support for several centuries), but rather, anti-Semitism is associated with radical Islamist worldviews. The report accuses Hindus of being both anti-Semitic and Zionist at the same time. 

The term Hindutva is much more nuanced than the report would have you believe, defining it from the tunnel vision the report uses, would be like unfairly defining Islam solely from events from a single decade. 

It makes misleading claims about the Citizenship Amendment Act in India excluding Muslims, when in fact it was a historical Act defined to help fleeing persecuted Hindus in Islamic countries like Pakistan, to gain citizenship in India. Why the authors of this report would be looking to criticise a law made to help Hindus fleeing religious violence from extremist Islamic regimes, is perhaps a question for them.

The report goes on to make claims around anti-Muslim sentiment from political leaders and other think tanks in the UK questioning Islamist organisations, without actually quoting any real prejudice or lawbreaking, other than surmises, conjectures, and suppositions. 

One quoted example from the report is “…Littlewood may have an agenda against mainstream British Muslim organisations as her research often targets and essentially seeks to delegitimise the work of politically-active and vocal Muslim-led groups” 

However, the authors of the report fail to quote the evidence put forward as to why it’s wrong to question Islamism in the UK and make it appear as Islamophobic simply for being questioned. Reporting on Islamism in the UK does not make one Islamophobic. Making this statement the word “may” is merely a supposition.

Their publication also presents questionable research on British Hindu organisations, with an attempt to link them to Hindu nationalism. The people or organisations mentioned in the report have never been stopped by the Home Office for travelling from or to India, nor have they had any legal action taken against them for breaking the law. 

The naming of these organisations seems a feeble attempt to create a narrative that Islamophobic organisations in the UK exist because of apparent flaky links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or for even speaking about the RSS.

The RSS is not very well known in the UK as it has no presence here, but as an organisation in India, it has members from every religious community in India and a dedicated Muslim wing [6]. There are many examples of Muslims appreciating, supporting and indeed being part of the RSS [7][11].

Further, the Head of All India Imam Organisation, the representative voice of the community of Indian Imams, said that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is the “Rashtra Pita” meaning “Father of the Nation”. This shows that Muslim leaders have great respect for him and the RSS. 

The RSS leader himself has said Muslims and Hindus are one [8]

The RSS and “Hindu nationalist” bogeyman is used repeatedly in the “Hindutva in Britain” paper. For example, it claims Sewa UK was diverting funds raised for the 2001 Gujarat earthquake and channelling them to Hindu nationalist organisations. However, this can easily be debunked. INSIGHT UK conducted research on the UK Charity Commission website archives and found the Commission was satisfied that the funds had been properly expended [12]. Such a key point was missed in the report.

It would be a conjecture for an academic house and “think tank” to produce out-of-date research and use it to justify some sort of narrative that Sewa UK is a Hindu nationalist organisation operating in the UK. It would not be surprising if some of the organisations mentioned do not consider taking up litigation. 

Alongside Sewa UK, there is partial or incorrect information on other organisations including documentation around social media posts from INSIGHT UK. There were claims that INSIGHT UK’s publication covering the role of Muslim extremists in the Leicester unrest was “misinformation”. Amusingly, the authors of the “Hindutva in Britain” contradict themselves by recording attacks on Hindus in Leicester in their own writing.

They quote posts from INSIGHT UK on protesting against an author receiving death threats, as “Islamophobic propaganda”. The author’s only mistake was writing a book on the sexual grooming of girls by Islamists. 

The Bridge Initiative and Community Policy Forum also took objection to INSIGHT UK social media posts calling out Pakistan as a hub for Islamist terrorism and religious persecution. 

They said it “serves as a means to smear Pakistan and by extension, Muslims”. However, it is well known that Pakistan has appeared on the FATF grey list multiple times in past years including in the top 10 of the “Global Terrorism Index” [26]. Attempting to conflate criticism of Pakistan as criticism of Muslims has no intellectual merit and it is known that people who spread misinformation during the Leicester unrest, like Majid Freeman, tried to do the same.

It could however serve as an attempt to shut down any criticism of Islamist terror. The paper fails to balance the fact that India shares a very warm relationship with nearly all Muslim countries except for Pakistan. 

Indian PM Modi has been given many awards by Islamic nations [27] with many Indian Muslims saying they feel safer in India than Pakistan [28][29]. Muslim organisations in India have also praised PM Modi for empowering women and minority welfare [30].

INSIGHT UK found many heart-warming stories of Muslims appreciating his leadership, with one Muslim woman in UP naming her son after him [31]. Narendra Modi’s family also welcomed a Muslim boy to live in the same house as them in the 1970s [32] when the Indian Prime Minister was younger.

The report also covers outdated research on the Godhra riots, which mistakenly blames it as an accident. In-depth research found Muslim extremists responsible for an arson attack on Hindu pilgrims that triggered riots in Gujarat.

After the report was released another think tank called the Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies (CIHS) wrote a publication countering the report [18]. The CIHS report questions where the “Hindutva in Britain” report authors obtain funding and states:

“Bridge Initiative associated with Georgetown University has been repeatedly spreading misinformation and biases, particularly in relation to Hindutva organisations and Hindu faith.” 

It also covers that the April 2021, Bridge Initiative was implicated in a situation where Al Jazeera published stories accusing the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and other Hindu American groups of misappropriating COVID-19 relief funds. These claims were reported as false. In response, HAF filed a defamation suit against individuals making these false claims.

Inaccurate depiction of events during Leicester unrest 2022

The report states that initial reports during the Leicester unrest showed a Sikh man being mistakenly identified as a Muslim after a cricket match, however, it completely misses key incidents circulated at the time on social media. 

The video footage from August 2022 shows India cricket fans celebrating in Leicester, with no context of their religion. They were then approached by an aggressive man who was later found to be drunk. Attempts were made to calm the man down, however, he stole an India flag from a fan and tried to run off. At which point he was stopped and his T-shirt was ripped off. 

The India fans then came to the man’s assistance to ensure he received help, there is no evidence of them making any reference to Muslims or Islam.

The report mentions that in the coming weeks, Hindu men were marching through the streets of Leicester but does not focus on plans disseminated on social media beforehand to “land in Leicester” by Islamist groups from across the country. 

The paper fails to report on similar incidents across the country in past years, which follow a pattern of Hindus being intimidated by Islamists and that Leicester is not new to Islamist extremism [16][17].

It is worth noting the report takes an excerpt from a piece written by Chris Allen for the Community Policy Forum in 2022, the same organisation behind this report. However Hindu organisations across Leicester had already refused to work with a review that had Allen on the panel due to his past biases on the matter [13]

Allen was criticised widely for making prejudgements and being close to key Islamists who spread misinformation during the unrest [14]. As a result, local Hindu organisations lost confidence in the review and the whole Leicester review had to be conducted by an independent government panel.

Despite this, the Community Policy Forum continues to choose him as a source of evidence.

The final conclusions of the report miss the elephant in the room. During the Leicester unrest, not a single Mosque was attacked and all apparent attacks on Muslims were found to be misinformation. However, there is evidence of Hindu homes and temples being attacked. The conclusion avoids blaming core events on Islamists but attempts to point the finger at Hindus instead. 

There is also a claim that under the BJP leadership, there are voices attempting to make India into a Hindu nation. Indian PM Modi has never said this nor is it in any previous BJP manifesto to change the national constitution. Indeed, it must be emphasised that many Muslims support and are indeed active in the BJP government apparatus, and the BJP has taken many steps to improve the rights, livelihoods, wealth, education and freedoms of Indian Muslims.

Who are the names mentioned in the report and behind the organisation?

The authors and collaborators in the report have a number of conflicts of interest and evidence of previous prejudices and biases that undermine the credibility of the whole report.

Sharmen Rahman (Senior Policy Analyst – Community Policy Forum)

Sharmen Rahman
Sharmen Rahman

Sharmen Rahman was a councillor during the Leicester unrest. She was removed from standing for office shortly after the events in Leicester by the local Labour government [20]

There was no specific reason given for her and other Councillors being deselected but it was widely speculated that some leaders were removed after complaints that they spread misinformation.

Rahman appeared as a panellist for the Community Policy Forum whilst she was acting Councillor [21] however it is later apparent that she now works for the same organisation behind this erroneous report on Hindus in the UK.

Mobashra Tazamal (Associate Director – Bridge Initiative)

Mobashra Tazamal
Mobashra Tazamal

Mobashra has often tweeted far-fetched articles, for example, ones that claim Hindutva and Zionism use the same playbook to target Muslims [19]

Her X (formerly Twitter) account has a plethora of clickbait articles aimed at Indian PM Modi [22] often covering unproven fear-mongering news pieces about “Hindu nationalism”, that do not reflect ground realities in the UK or India.

Chris Allen (Academic)

Chris Allen
Chris Allen

Perhaps the most telling piece of this report is the presence of now-debunked “research” from Chris Allen in the report. He was also present in the Bridge Initiatives webinar covering the report where he bizarrely conflates a Hindu response to Islamists marching in Leicester, with White nationalists [23]

UK-based researcher Wasiq Wasiq, notes that counts of Islamist extremism in the UK widely outweigh any cases of Hindutva extremism and White nationalist extremism [25]

Allen has made a number of appearances for the Community Policy Forum, but his work is rarely balanced in covering the role of Islamists who have attacked Jews and Hindus. 

Allen is perhaps most well known for having to step down from a review into the Leicester unrest after a group representing Hindu and Jain temples had said they would not take part in the review. The organisations felt previous comments on the disorder by Allen undermined his impartiality [23].

Final thoughts

India has minorities as heads in every section of Indian society, from presidents, army chiefs, chief justices, intelligence chiefs and cricket captains. The media has strong Muslim representation, including in Bollywood. Minorities, in fact, enjoy several privileges in education and other fields, rising to the top in all professional and vocational domains. 

The US and UK-based organisations behind this report should perhaps look if they can match such representation before pointing fingers.

It is our opinion that the focus on Hindus in the UK is perhaps a feeling of “projection” by the authors of the report. Hindus make up some of the lowest prison population rates in the UK and very high education attainment rates. It is rare to hear Hindus commit acts of terror, grooming or sex trafficking. Diverting the attention onto Hindus, using partial research and incomplete information, could be a strategy to deflect attention from Islamists. 

Hindus are extremely vulnerable to further attacks after the events in Leicester and to having further hatred incited against them. This report fails to highlight this and the numerous hate attacks on Hindus across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India, including the Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus in the early 1990s, triggered by Islamists.



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