HAF Submits Complaint to BBC About Bias in Reporting on Communal Violence

On July 10, 2019 HAF's Director of Communications submitted a complaint to the BBC regarding a recent article discussing attacks on Muslims in India.

I am writing on behalf of the Hindu American Foundation, the largest nonprofit advocacy organization for Hindus living in the United States, to raise serious concerns about the recent BBC News article “Jai Shri Ram: The Hindu chant that became a murder cry”, published 10 July 2019.

The concern is one of editorial standards.

In focusing solely on attacks on India’s Muslim community by Hindus — something which we as an organization wholeheartedly condemn — your article omits entirely the fact that in the same period discussed in the piece, there have been a number of attacks on Hindus and Hindu temples by Muslims. In fact we could not find any BBC reporting on these incidents, though they have been amply covered by Indian media.

By not providing this context, BBC readers are left with a one-sided picture of ground realities in India. Sadly, no one religious community in India has been spared being made the victim of attacks, nor is any religious community above reproach for instigating them.

It’s also worth pointing out that despite the perception of rising violence in India, as a nation of some 1.3 billion people, it has a remarkably low amount of violent crime per capita.

Putting the spotlight only on Hindus has consequences.

The overwhelming majority of Hindus in India, the UK, and the US deplore vigilantism. Yet, similar to the way in which the Muslim community as a whole often takes the blame for the acts of extremists engaged in terrorism, there is the risk here in the Hindu community wrongly being associated by the violent acts of a few in the mind of the non-Hindus.

As we know all too well in the United States, such wrong associations can lead to more violence. Already the Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities here have been the victim of hate crimes stemming from such misperceptions.

In future reporting on communal violence in India, it would serve the BBC’s readers and viewers for articles to abide by your own Editorial Guidelines in order to provide a broader, more accurate view of the situation with more nuance in their details.