Syed Khalique Ahmed
NEW DELHI—The zeenews.india.com website is spreading false information about the growth of the Muslim population in India.
The website, a part of the Zee News TV channel, has chosen the recently released report of the Washington-based Pew Research Centre to justify its anti-Muslim propaganda wrongly.
In the process, the website also defames the Pew study by ascribing to it what the US-based research think-tank has not said in its report. And yet, the Zee News claims that all “Facts, figures & projections are based on Pew study.”
Zee News headline screams: “Indians are tolerant, enjoy religious freedom, Islam rising fastest and Christians to remain the largest religious group in the world: Pew study.”
Under the sub-head “Major Projections of Pew Study,” the website quotes Pew, saying that “……Islam will grow faster than any other major religion…..” in India.
But even a cursory reading of the Pew study released on June 29 does not give any such information as the Zee News website claimed. The Pew study’s information under the sub-head of “Conversions in India” says that Muslim size is not impacted by conversion. This is because if 0.3 percent of people join Islam from other religions in India, the same percentage of people also leave Islam and identify themselves with other faiths. While admitting that religious conversions occur in India, the Pew report also claims that Hindus also gain from proselytization.
But the Zee News has quoted what does not exist in the Pew study.
And in a bid to substantiate its claim, Zee News has also played a blunder. While it should have hyperlinked the URL of the Pew report to prove its point, the Zee report has hyperlinked the URL of another document, that is, old news of its website (https://zeenews.india.com/world/miserable-situation-of-religious-freedom-in-pakistan-us-commission-on-international-religious-freedom-2356641.html). The hyperlinked document is a report about religious freedom in Pakistan based on the report of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). It nowhere mentions the growth of the Muslim population in India. Zee News seems to have avoided hyperlinking the Pew URL because the Pew study does not speak anything about what has been published by Zee News. Had Zee News hyperlinked the Pew report, it would have exposed the falsehood of the Zee News. This shows how Zee News is spreading canard about Muslims in a very clever way.
But the website has not stopped at this fiction only.
The website quotes the Pew study having said that “the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world” by 2050, but the Pew study has not mentioned this information in its report. And Zee News has hyperlinked another old document of its website published in April 2020. The URL of the documents is : https://zeenews.india.com/video/india/dna-analysis-of-biggest-misuse-of-religious-freedom-in-india-2273235.html . This seems to have been done in its bid to hide its falsehood.
There are many other falsehoods in the Zee News report about Muslims and Islam, and all claimed to be sourced from the Pew study though the latter nowhere mentions any of these things in its report.
These canards ascribed to Pew study are:
– “In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population”.
– “Muslims will be more numerous in the US than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion” by 2050.
– “The Pew study further stated that if current demographic trends continue, Islam will nearly catch up by the middle of the 21st century”.
– “According to the Pew study, by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history”.
What is Pew Study (https://www.pewresearch.org/)?
The Pew research is based on a face-to-face survey of 29,999 Indian adults conducted between late 2019 and early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic. It takes a closer look at religious identity, nationalism and tolerance in Indian society. The survey was conducted by local interviewers in 17 languages and covered nearly all of India’s states and union territories. The key findings of the report were released on June 29, 2021.
The key findings of the Pew study are: 1. Indians value religious tolerance, though they also live religiously segregated lives 2. For many Hindus, national identity, religion, and language are closely connected, 3. Among Hindus, views of national identity go hand-in-hand with politics 4. Dietary laws are central to Indians’ religious identity. 5. Muslims favour having access to their own religious courts. 6. Muslims are more likely than Hindus to say the 1947 partition establishing the separate states of India and Pakistan harmed Hindu-Muslim relations. 7. India’s caste system, an ancient social hierarchy with origins in Hindu Writings, continues to fracture society 8. Religious conversion is rare in India; to the extent that it is occurring, Hindus gain as many people as they lose. 9. Most Indians believe in God and say religion is very important in their lives 10. India’s religious groups share several religious practices and beliefs.