Contrasting Cultural Relations

Muslim Populations and Majorities in the U.S. and India


In both the United States and in India, Muslims make up a minority of the total population. Due to recent, or not so recent, events, tensions between the majority population and the minority Muslims has risen. Since I have been around discussions on the subject in both countries, I find it interesting to point out the contrasting situations in the two nations.

The U.S.

In the U.S., much of the tensions between the two social groups has arisen due to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. It may be a polarizing topic, but based on my experiences, the conflict stems from a fear of further terrorist activity, thus leading to people blaming Muslims and their religion, causing more intolerance and tension between the two social groups. Although, some may argue that Islam is a faith that does not "fit" with Western culture, which they say is the real source of the tension. In America, the topic is brought up in the context of a much larger social issue, immigration. After looking at what the effects of the mass migration of Syrian refugees in Europe have been, many Americans are concerned about taking in Syrian refugees into the U.S. as well. Opponents of letting in Syrian refugees say that doing so could be a potential security threat and could lead to terrorist attacks on-level with the attacks in Europe, or much worse. Proponents, however, prefer to look at the emotional side of the problem and say that much of the conflict is religious intolerance and that we should be more accepting of Muslim immigrants.


Unlike the U.S., Muslims make up a much larger percentage of the populace in India. In fact, the percentage of Muslims in India is roughly equivalent to the percentage of black people in the U.S., 14.2% in India compared to 12.6% in America. In India, there is much more history behind the tension between Muslims and Non-Muslims. The tension started soon after Muslims invaders overtook the country and began to rule over it. It got worse when the new rulers began to implement oppressive and unpopular policies in India. After centuries of these policies, the conflict had remained constant, until the British began to rule India. As a condition of leaving India, the British wanted India to be partitioned into two different countries, Pakistan and India, where India was to be home to the Hindus and Pakistan was to be home to the Muslims. During the partition, many Hindus and Muslims began to riot, and violence had erupted. This partition has left a permanent scar on the psyche of many Indians and Pakistanis. In fact, India and Pakistan have gone to war several times ever since partition. So, in India, the conflict has existed for a longer time than in the U.S. Thus, due to the long history of conflict, the tension between the two groups is deeply rooted in the society of India. Even to this day, riots between the two and violence are extremely common in some parts of India. The recent landslide victory of the right-wing, Hindu-nationalist, Narendra Modi of the BJP Party could lead to even more conflict due to his policies, as some of his opposition like to point out.


The tension between the minority Muslims and majority populations in the U.S. and India both stem from a series of historical events. Although these developments in the U.S. have occurred over the past two decades, in India, these events have occurred over the past millennium. The relations between the two groups in these two countries are fundamentally different and are possibly deteriorating with each passing year. Hopefully, tolerance will prevail and we can soon see a shift in the other direction.

Works Cited

"Hindus Drop below 80 Percent of India's Population." Al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera English, 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

United States Census Bureau. "QuickFacts." United States Census Bureau. United States Census Bureau, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.