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HOBOKEN, N.J. — Audrey Truschke, a professor of South Asian historical past at Rutgers College, by no means concept her paintings may just lead to loss of life threats and cruel vitriol.

But Truschke, a student, mother, spouse and writer of 3 books, now now and again wishes armed safety at public occasions.

The e-newsletter of her first e-book, in 2016, difficult the fundamental belief of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Mughal kings — Muslim rulers who’re extensively vilified through Hindu nationalists — put a goal on her again. Her e-mail used to be bombarded with hate mail. Her Twitter account used to be inundated with threats. Other folks wrote letters to information retailers about her.

“It felt like the arena exploded at me,” stated Truschke, pushing again her darkish hair to show the salt and pepper streaks that body her face. “This used to be my first brush with hate e-mail. I’m certain it might appear to be not anything to me now.”

A long way-right Hindu nationalism, additionally known as Hindutva, is a political and extremist ideology that advocates for Hindu supremacy and seeks to turn out to be a mundane and numerous India into an ethnoreligious Hindu state. Hindu nationalism has been round for over 100 years and used to be to begin with impressed through ethnonationalism actions in early Twentieth-century Europe, together with the ones in Germany and Italy. Champions of Hindutva have viciously centered spiritual minorities together with Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, and feature sought to silence critics akin to lecturers and activists.

Hinduism, the religion, isn’t Hindutva the far-right motion. However the label Hindu can also be categorised as a non secular, political or racial identifier relying on who’s the usage of it, defined Manan Ahmed, a professor and historian of South Asia at Columbia College. Hindu nationalists, he stated, are morphing the spiritual, political and racial into one id with the intention to advance a supremacist, majoritarian schedule.

Other folks impacted through Hindutva within the U.S. say the motion has crept into their hometowns and places of work, making lifestyles extra unhealthy for them and dangerous to make their communities much less numerous and tolerant. The ideology has deep ties to white nationalist actions around the globe, and the goals of nationalist teams warn that the affect may well be fatal if Hindutva isn’t addressed and defeated.

“We see Hindu nationalism as an ideology which seeks to turn out to be India from a pluralistic secular democracy to a Hindu state during which non-Hindus are observed at easiest as second-class electorate and at worst goals for extermination and disenfranchisement of every kind,” stated Nikhil Mandalaparthy, the deputy government director of Hindus for Human Rights, a nonprofit group devoted to selling pluralism and human rights in South Asia and within the U.S.

“It’s a imaginative and prescient that we predict is in direct opposition to a large number of the values of Hindu spiritual traditions,” he added.

Professor Audrey Truschke shows some of the hate mail she has received at her home on Monday afternoon.
Professor Audrey Truschke displays probably the most hate mail she has gained at her house on Monday afternoon.

Natalie Keyssar for HuffPost

A Other Sort Of Extremism

In India, Hindu nationalism can also be traced again to the Twenties. The formation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, in 1925 fortified the core trust in a Hindu state for Hindus, regardless of India’s secular charter and the lengthy historical past of ethnic and spiritual minorities within the nation. The RSS has been banned thrice because it used to be established, together with after a former celebration member assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

It used to be out of the RSS that India’s ruling political celebration, the Bharatiya Janata Birthday party, or BJP, emerged. It has held energy since High Minister Narendra Modi used to be elected in 2014.

Since then, the crackdown on India’s minorities, specifically Muslims, has intensified with little to no duty.

In April, bulldozers razed homes in majority-Muslim neighborhoods underneath doubtful pretenses. Faculties have banned Muslim scholars from dressed in a hijab. Courts and executive our bodies have overturned convictions or withdrawn instances that accused Hindus of involvement in violence in opposition to Muslims. Hindu mobs automatically assault Muslims with little to no condemnation from the federal government.

“Hindu nationalism has redefined the Indian mainstream,” Truschke stated. “It’s a fantastic luck tale. Fifty years in the past, no first rate Indian sought after to the touch it. It used to be simply utterly verboten because of the Hindutva include of violence and hate, and now it’s the dominant political place in India.”

Different portions of the arena, together with the U.S., have now not been proof against rising enhance for Hindutva.

Indian American citizens make up the second-largest immigrant workforce in the US, with just about 4.2 million other people of Indian foundation residing within the nation, in step with knowledge from the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace. The neighborhood is a various one, comprising each immigrants and American-born electorate who come from plenty of spiritual and socioeconomic backgrounds. The Carnegie ballot signifies that no less than 54% of Indian American citizens file belonging to the Hindu religion, one of the vital biggest and oldest religions on this planet. There are about 1 billion Hindus all over the world, and just about 94% are living in India. Round 2.5 million Hindus are living within the U.S. on my own.

Indian American citizens dangle blended critiques at the provide trajectory of India’s democracy, however just about part — specifically Republicans, Hindus and the ones now not born within the U.S. — approve of Modi’s efficiency as India’s high minister. In Texas, greater than 50,000 other people accrued to look him throughout a 2019 tournament referred to as “Hey Modi.”

In some ways, the upward push of Hindu nationalism mirrors the upward push of white nationalist extremism.

Anders Behring Breivik makes a Nazi salute as he arrives in court on Jan. 18, 2022, in Skien prison, Norway. The mass murderer, who said he was fighting a "Muslim invasion" in Europe, was sentenced in 2012 to at least 21 years in prison for terror attacks that killed 77 people. Under Norwegian law, Breivik was entitled to a review in court for possible release on parole after serving the initial 10 years of his sentence, but his parole was denied.
Anders Behring Breivik makes a Nazi salute as he arrives in courtroom on Jan. 18, 2022, in Skien jail, Norway. The mass assassin, who stated he used to be preventing a “Muslim invasion” in Europe, used to be sentenced in 2012 to no less than 21 years in jail for terror assaults that killed 77 other people. Underneath Norwegian legislation, Breivik used to be entitled to a evaluation in courtroom for imaginable liberate on parole after serving the preliminary 10 years of his sentence, however his parole used to be denied.

OLE BERG-RUSTEN by means of NTB/AFP by means of Getty Pictures

Norwegian police search Utoya island on July 24, 2011, after Anders Behring Breivik's deadly terror attacks in Norway.
Norwegian police seek Utoya island on July 24, 2011, after Anders Behring Breivik’s fatal terror assaults in Norway.

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Pictures

Anders Behring, the far-right Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 other people, lots of them youngsters, in 2011, reportedly praised Hindu nationalist teams who attacked Muslims in his manifesto.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an Indian baby-kisser who turned into the face of Hindu nationalism within the Twenties, as soon as applauded Hitler and stated that India will have to deal with Muslims the similar approach Nazis handled Jews.

Like white supremacists, Hindu nationalists have propagated a revisionist historical past constructed on the concept India, regardless of its secular charter, as soon as used to be and will have to nonetheless be a Hindu state and that individuals of different spiritual teams don’t seem to be true natives of the rustic.

“Once we speak about threats to democracy and threats to multicultural, pluralist, way of living, in fact, right here within the U.S., our fear is white supremacy and Christian nationalism,” Mandalaparthy stated. “However there are such a large amount of techniques during which the Hindu nationalist motion right here is attempting to best friend itself with white supremacist teams and with teams who’re in search of to smash democracy right here on this nation.”

Many Indian American citizens, together with those that are Hindu, have confronted hate crimes and discrimination as minorities within the U.S. However Hindu nationalists continuously use “Hinduphobia” as a disingenuous declare to close down legitimate complaint of Hindu nationalist political ideology, Mandalaparthy stated.

“It’s unhealthy to give a contribution to this narrative of emerging anti-Hindu sentiments since the people who find themselves the usage of this language probably the most are then turning again on individuals of our personal communities and people who discuss out in opposition to Hindu nationalism or caste or Islamophobia,” he stated.

“There are such a large amount of techniques during which the Hindu nationalist motion right here is attempting to best friend itself with white supremacist teams and with teams who’re in search of to smash democracy right here on this nation.””

– Nikhil Mandalaparthy, deputy government director of Hindus for Human Rights

Give a boost to of Hindutva can take more than a few bureaucracy, whether or not it’s applauding the violence happening in India on social media or funneling donations to political figures who reward Hindu nationalism. No less than 5 American organizations with ties to Hindu nationalist teams obtain federal investment, in step with a file through Al Jazeera.

It could actually additionally imply threatening individuals who lift consciousness concerning the ideology.

In March 2021, two months after Truschke started researching U.S.-based Hindu nationalism, she started to obtain an onslaught of assaults. She had gained hate mail sooner than, specifically after her e-book revisiting the legacy of Aurangzeb, a contentious emperor who dominated India for just about 50 years.

However the severity of the brand new assaults, which Truschke stated felt unprovoked, used to be remarkable. She gained a staggering quantity of hate mail and tweets, with about one tweet coming in each and every minute, she stated. Other folks made memes out of her pictures and laced their messages with antisemitism and misogyny. They threatened her and her kids, promising they’d in finding her circle of relatives if she persevered to talk out.

She reported a number of threats to the police, and one used to be even forwarded to Fatherland Safety ultimate July. After receiving a number of credible threats, venues that hosted Truschke employed armed safety to be through her facet at public occasions.

“Stay loving Mughals and we’ll stay loving Hitler you silly jew,” learn one tweet.

“I wouldn’t thoughts if this feminine whinge is beheaded,” learn any other remark.

“Be in your house, you don’t know from the place you’re going to be abducted,” learn a message despatched to her on Fb.

“I will be able to chop ur head if I am getting a possibility,” learn any other.

A screenshot of a hateful message directed at Professor Audrey Truschke for her research and writing.
A screenshot of a hateful message directed at Professor Audrey Truschke for her analysis and writing.

Natalie Keyssar for HuffPost

In September 2021, organizers of an internet instructional convention on Hindutva have been additionally bombarded with hundreds of threats of rape, violence and loss of life. A number of individuals withdrew from the convention out of concern. Dozens of organizers and audio system stated violent threats have been made in opposition to their households. Greater than 30,000 threats have been despatched to 1 college, inflicting the server to crash.

Information accumulated through Columbia College’s Ahmed and different researchers point out that almost all of tweets deployed in opposition to the convention organizers and individuals have been generated through people, now not bots.

It’s now not simply on-line threats. Tensions have manifested into sour communal rigidity and bodily clashes around the nation. In New Jersey in August, organizers of the native India Day parade got here underneath fireplace for bringing bulldozers — symbolic of the bulldozers that experience centered Muslims in India — decorated with the faces of Modi and the hard-line Hindutva BJP minister Yogi Adityanath.

That very same month in Anaheim, California, an Indian Independence Day parade became bodily when movies captured males shoving a gaggle of protesters whilst shouting Islamophobic slurs and nationalists chants.

The alignment between Hindu nationalism and right-wing nationalist teams is thriving within the U.S., which “doesn’t bode smartly for any marginalized teams,” Mandalaparthy stated. “That is very a lot a home factor now and it’s very a lot a neighborhood factor.”

In lots of instances, the ones wearing out violence in opposition to spiritual minorities — Muslims, however different spiritual teams as smartly, together with Christians, Sikhs and Dalits — really feel direct enhance from India’s governing celebration. The USA Fee on World Non secular Freedom, a central authority company, advisable this 12 months that India be placed on its purple checklist for “serious violations of non secular freedom.”

“The federal government persevered to systemize its ideological imaginative and prescient of a Hindu state at each the nationwide and state ranges thru using each current and new regulations and structural adjustments antagonistic to the rustic’s spiritual minorities,” the fee stated in its file.

After two nights in police custody, <a href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/4axgjj/india-muslim-activist-afreen-fatima-bulldozer-politics" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Indian teenager Somaiya Fatima" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="6352d3efe4b04cf8f38360e4" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://www.vice.com/en/article/4axgjj/india-muslim-activist-afreen-fatima-bulldozer-politics" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="24">Indian teenager Somaiya Fatima</a> was released in time to watch live footage of an excavator claw smashing into the walls of her childhood home. The residence is among scores of dwellings and businesses flattened by wrecking crews this year in India.
After two nights in police custody, Indian youngster Somaiya Fatima used to be launched in time to look at are living pictures of an excavator claw smashing into the partitions of her adolescence house. The place of abode is amongst ratings of dwellings and companies flattened through wrecking crews this 12 months in India.

SANJAY KANOJIA by means of Getty Pictures

People protest against the demolition of the house of activist Afreen Fatima and her father, Javed Mohammad, on June 13, 2022, in New Delhi, India.
Other folks protest in opposition to the demolition of the home of activist Afreen Fatima and her father, Javed Mohammad, on June 13, 2022, in New Delhi, India.

Salman Ali/Hindustan Instances by means of Getty Pictures

Preserving Onto Their Id

For greater than 30 years, Minhaj Khan, a 48-year-old tool engineer from South Brunswick, New Jersey, has prioritized giving again to his Indian neighborhood. To start with, it used to be within the type of charity, particularly correct after transferring to the U.S. within the past due Nineteen Nineties. He visited India continuously, particularly since his prolonged circle of relatives and sister nonetheless resided there.

However quickly that charity turned into advocacy, and advocacy turned into a non-public accountability. As an American, an Indian, and a Muslim, Khan couldn’t glance clear of the human rights violations going down in his house state.

“Once we use our loose speech right here, it makes a distinction at the different facet of the arena,” Khan stated. “No one is best than us presenting those problems to the American other people.”

Khan and Mohammed Jawad, the president of the Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy group, led a marketing campaign in opposition to the bulldozer that used to be paraded in Edison, New Jersey, this summer season. Within the days after the parade, individuals of IAMC and different organizations met with individuals of the state’s Division of Justice and its Workplace of Fatherland Safety and Preparedness, in addition to with the state lawyer normal’s place of work. The group additionally raised considerations after a neighborhood church invited a Hindu nationalist to talk. The church later canceled the development.

The crowd’s paintings hasn’t long past ignored. The IAMC gained a summons from certainly one of India’s decrease courts as a result of its activism, even though it has no felony grounds within the U.S.

“In case you like variety, should you consider people who find themselves other and who practice other religions will have to are living in combination and that we’re all American citizens, Hindutva is a risk to that.”

– Audrey Truschke, professor of South Asian historical past at Rutgers College

Khan recalls solidarity between his circle of relatives and his Hindu neighbors when he used to be rising up in India.

“Muslims and Hindus, we have been at all times in combination, facet through facet. They got here to our position, we went to their position,” he stated. “We by no means differentiated amongst ourselves. We lived conveniently.”

However with Hindu nationalism on the upward push, the ones relationships are being strained, specifically in New Jersey, which has the most important South Asian inhabitants of any state within the U.S. In some towns within the state, South Asians make up round 40% of the inhabitants.

Khan adjusts the sleeves of his brown button-down this is cuffed at his elbows, revealing a inexperienced trend that fits the colour of his eyes. He’s specifically considering how Hindu extremism will affect his kids.

“I’m extremely proud to be an American Muslim. That is the land of freedom. That is the land of justice. I’m a loose Muslim. I will be able to follow my religion right here in The us most likely easiest as in comparison to anyplace on this planet. I’m similarly pleased with my Indian foundation, the land of my beginning,” Khan stated. “This is why it pains us to witness the present regime in India attempting to remove probably the most stunning facet of the land — its richness, variety and inclusivity — and now export it even to The us.”

For Truschke, the assaults on her lifestyles and on her paintings have best emboldened her to pursue her paintings head-on. As a substitute of focusing best on historical past, she is recently dedicating a analysis undertaking to the current and the way forward for Hindu nationalism within the U.S.

Instructional freedom, an uptick in violence, and increasingly more polarized communities are all primary considerations, she stated. Truschke and her colleagues labored with a gaggle referred to as the South Asia Student Activist Collective to submit the Hindutva Harassment Box Handbook, a useful resource for lecturers and others whose paintings would possibly lead them to goals of the Hindu nationalist motion.

“Hindu nationalism is threatening American multicultural values,” Truschke stated. “In case you like variety, should you consider people who find themselves other and who practice other religions will have to are living in combination and that we’re all American citizens, Hindutva is a risk to that, and it’s rising. It isn’t going away. It’s prone to worsen.”

Professor Audrey Truschke at her home in New Jersey on Oct. 16, 2022.
Professor Audrey Truschke at her house in New Jersey on Oct. 16, 2022.

Natalie Keyssar for HuffPost

Hindu nationalists have centered Truschke’s employer and co-workers over her paintings. Rutgers College instructed HuffPost in an emailed commentary that it stood through Truschke’s paintings, pronouncing “scholarship is now and again debatable, most likely particularly when it’s on the interface of historical past and faith, however the freedom to pursue such scholarship, as Professor Truschke does carefully, is on the center of the educational endeavor.”

“Simply as strongly, Rutgers-Newark emphatically affirms its enhance for all individuals of the Hindu neighborhood to review and are living in an atmosphere during which they now not best really feel secure, but additionally absolutely supported of their spiritual id,” the commentary persevered.

Truschke’s eldest daughter is beginning to understand that her mom is getting consideration, and it used to be a dialog Truschke by no means imagined having.

Nonetheless, Truschke stated, she doesn’t have plans to prevent researching and talking out about Hindutva. She doesn’t know what the longer term holds — as an educational, she a lot prefers learning the previous to predicting the longer term, however for now, she is aware of her scholarship will stay.

“They would like me not to do my process. However how can I in all probability do this? How can I in all probability exchange my analysis pursuits, or God forbid, soft-peddle issues?” she stated. “Lecturers have to inform the reality.”





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