Asian Insider Podcast: Politics of hate fuelling religious majoritarianism across south Asia

Muslims shout slogans during a protest demanding the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Mohammed, in Kolkata, India, June 14, 2022. REUTERS

Synopsis: Every fourth Friday of the month, The Straits Times’ US Bureau Chief Nirmal Ghosh presents Asian perspectives of Asian domestic issues, and international relations. 

Across south Asia, a region of some two billion, right wing politics and religious majoritarianism, and the arms of the state, and the media, are coming together to threaten democracy and the health and longevity of states. The politics of hate in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is fuelling, and feeds off, religious majoritarianism.

In this episode, to discuss how and why, across a complex region, majorities are convinced that minorities are a threat, Nirmal Ghosh hosts Farahnaz Ispahani, former journalist, a former member of Pakistan’s parliament, and currently a senior fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington DC, and Salil Tripathi, author, journalist and member of the Board of PEN International.  

Highlights (click/tap above):

1:40 Why Pakistan is the worst among “religious majoritarian states” in South Asia; add to that a “nuclear-armed Pakistan with an economy in free fall”

3:40 On the history and similar trajectory in Bangladesh and also, how “the liberal Pakistani used to look up to India for its democratic roots and tradition, when now… if you’re Muslim, you can’t be safe in India.”

9:05 How the religious right and the political right have come together to make the majority feel they’re under threat from the minority

12:16 How this trend is happening, as our guest expert offers daily life examples in India

17:15 On how the media in these South Asia countries could amplify divisions

Produced by: Nirmal Ghosh (, Ernest Luis, Hadyu Rahim and Fa’izah Sani

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim and Fa’izah Sani

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