Myths about Indian Muslims

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: India

Publishing organisation: Rohit Upadhyay Mediaworks (OPC) Pvt. Ltd.

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-05-23

Language: Hindi, English

Authors: Rohit Upadhyay


I am an independent journalist, documentarian and YouTuber from India. I cover news related to rural issues, minority rights, environmental issues, human rights, and culture. My work has been published in The Wire, Outlook (Indian magazine) and BBC Hindi (India). I am one of the 49 journalists selected for Youtube’s Creator Program For Independent Journalists worldwide.

Project description:

With a population of 20 crore, Muslims make up India ’s biggest minority. And yet, in any discourse on the community, misinformation, and sometimes disinformation, often takes centerstage. From their views on the institution of marriage and procreation to a woman’s status as laid down by Islam, it is largely preconceived notions that inform Indians’ understanding of the religion and the people. But how much of it is fact and how much is fiction? In a series of stories I have tried to bust these some popular myths about Indian muslims.

Impact reached:

I did a series on the topic of “Myths about Indian Muslims, which became very popular on social media. This series of twenty story’s got more than 13 million views on my social media platforms. People appreciated my efforts to debunk the myths about the miniroties of India.

Techniques/technologies used:

In this video series I have quotes data from international organisations, government research instituetes, NGOs. I have also done ground reports and cross check the claims made by the ministers in the parliament.

Context about the project:

India is a secular nation. It is called a land of unity in diversity where people of different sects, caste, and religion live together. But the expansion and consolidation of the Hindu Right’s political power has raised legitimate concerns about the future of India’s secularism.

Since 2014, there have been many cases of mob lynching, evictions, and arrests targeted at people from specific minority groups and activists in India. In 2021, over 30% of all detenues in Indian prisons were Muslims even though the community’s share in the population is only 14.2% (as of 2011). This over-representation of Muslims in jail is the reflection of the communal bias of the police. Such organised crime has affected human rights in my home country.

As a journalist I have been very vocal about such issues. I have been making videos in one of our regional languages to make people aware of their constitutional rights and show them how rising hate can destroy the social fabric of India. My documentary film ‘Footloose’ also tells a story about rising hate in India through the eyes of Pakistani Hindus and Rohingya Muslims who have settled in India as refugees due to their persecution as a result of similar hate in their respective countries.

My work has mostly revolved around spreading information to debunk myths and bring people together. I always try to put information in words that people can find convincing and moving. In the process, I have been living with minority communities and creating short videos to bring people together and spread the message of love and unity through social media. These videos are watched and shared by millions of people. Fortunately, the feedback is very positive. I usually see people mentioning in comments how much they would like to explore places and meet those people. In a country where minority communities are being targeted every day, I started an explainer series on debunking the myths about the Muslim community which was well-received.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

After this project I feel that reporting, spreading awareness and advocating against rising communalism and hate is very important and also as an independent journalist we can use social media to publish our stories.

Project links: