Bengaluru: Prabha (name changed) is a girl studying in first standard at a private school in Bengaluru. Last week, as she was taking a stroll in a park along with her mother, she exclaimed “Amma, look Muslims are coming our way. Be careful.”

Lasya (name changed) is a girl studying in ninth standard at a private school in Gadag, Karnataka. A few months ago, when two Muslim salesmen arrived at their residence to sell sweet boxes, she asked her mother not to buy them.

When a correspondent, who was coincidentally privy to both these incidents, quizzed both the kids for their appalling behaviour, pat came the replies:

Prabha said, “Muslims are bad people. We must maintain distance from them.”

Lasya said, “Muslims have this mindset to kill all Hindus. So, we must be cautious.”

Such an environment has been witnessed in educational institutions as well.

“Yes, there was antipathy towards Muslim students from a small section of students. It is entirely due to their ignorance. After seeing such things, I have not accepted their comments on face value. It is not correct to paint an entire community like that,” says AS Chandramouli, a former principal of a degree college in South Bengaluru.
But what on earth prods such young minds to paint an entire community as sinister?

Dr A Shridhara, a psychologist explains.

“All kinds of media influence the thinking pattern of adults. They in turn discuss it at different levels. They create a milieu of a negative attitude and kids become a part of this unintentionally. It becomes a part of their knowledge. Whenever peers discuss issues, there is an amount of emotions involved. Most of the time, these emotions have to do with safety, and negative characteristics attributed to outside groups.”

While this trend of certification of a particular community continues, the Modi government, with a view to bringing Muslim kids to the mainstream and shrugging off its anti-

Muslim tag has brought scholarship schemes to help the marginalised community.

Apart from all these, it is heartening to note that a survey by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) revealed that 77% of Muslims considered themselves to be “highly patriotic.”

And the story is far from over until there is some correction.

Maqsood Imran Ras Hadi, a cleric says, “Islam is a religion of peace. Its followers spread peace and harmony. These days, there are many rumours against Islam. That is why you can see ‘hate Islam’ propaganda all over the world. One you study the religion you will understand that there is no need to fear Islam.”