What the myth of ‘love jihad’ tells us about the Hindu Right – By Audrey Truschke
A popular story among the Hindu Right is “love jihad”, in which Hindu girls are claimed to be at risk of corruption and Hinduism itself at risk of extinction due to interreligious marriages that result in forced conversions to Islam. The Hindu Right’s feverish devotion to this narrative has resulted in violent assaults against Muslims, laws against interfaith marriage and more in recent years.
“Love jihad” and its alleged threat to Hinduism are myths. In June, the Pew Research Center published the results of a large-scale study showing that interfaith marriages are vanishingly rare in India these days. The same study concludes that more Indians convert into Hinduism rather than out of it.
But stories do not need to be true to hold truth. The myth of love jihad offers insights – not regarding its purported subject, namely Indian Muslims – but, rather, regarding its tellers: the Hindu Right. It underlines their vicious Islamophobia, investment in controlling female sexuality, and a preference for religious segregation. It also speaks to their projected fragility and desire to maintain social dominance, including by inventing a persecution story….