When it comes to defusing Hindu-Muslim tensions, college kids may know best

by | Nov 9, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — When Shreya Aher moved to the United States to study international relations as a college student in 2021, she was shocked to find a distinct divide between faith groups she saw cohabiting every day back home in the central state of Maharashtra, India. “It was very different for me to see how polarized this society is in comparison with the society that I grew up in,” said Aher, a junior at Drew University in New Jersey. 
In India, Aher pointed out, Hindus and Muslims often live in the same towns and neighborhoods, praying in temples and mosques that are often on the same street. “We are all just humans. We all have different faiths, but if we remove that element, it’s just us and our emotions,” said Aher.
Hindu and Muslim leaders are now working to convince their communities of just that with an initiative called the Interfaith Harmony Student Fellowship. A collaboration between the progressive Hindus for Human Rights and the Indian American Muslim Council, the program has brought together 10 students, five Muslim and five Hindu, to host interfaith events on their campuses. 
Interfaith Harmony fellows visit a Hindu temple in Chicago in August 2023. (Photo by Nancy Fowlkes)
The inaugural group includes students who attend Drew, Columbia University, Fordham University, College of William and Mary and the University of Illinois Chicago.
While Hindus and Muslims live mostly harmoniously in daily life in India, religious tensions have been on the rise as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his …

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