One would think educated individuals would know better than to boycott someone over their religion. Yet time and again, we've seen Islamophobic narratives among people in power, but had hope in the younger generation in countries across the world. Students in the northern Indian city of Varanasi, though, diluted that thin string of hope we had left in humanity.
At the beginning of November, students at the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in the Indian city staged a sit-in outside the vice-chancellor's office in protest of a Muslim professor hired to teach Sanskrit, the ancient classical language of Hinduism.
Two days after Firoz Khan took the job, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a rightwing student organization with a Hindu nationalist ideology, demanded his dismissal from the post.
"A Muslim cannot teach us our religion," one placard read. To Khan, the discrimination he faced was disheartening, to say the least.
"Since my childhood, till the completion of my studies … I never faced any discrimination because of my religion. This is so disheartening. A group of students don't want me to teach them Sanskrit because I am not a Hindu," he said.
According to The Guardian, Khan went into hiding following the incident. New media reports revealed that the educator will soon appear for an interview to teach Ayurveda - the oldest healing science - at the university. This came to be despite the fact that university officials stood firm by their decision.
"The idea behind the establishment of the university was to contribute in nation-building by providing equal opportunity of study and teaching to all deserving people without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, gender and sect," a statement by BHU administration read.
Other professors have also stood in solidarity with the 29-year-old educator amid the hate.
"The Urdu department also has Hindu professors. Religion and language are two totally different things," said Aftab Ahmad Afaqi, head of the Urdu department at BHU.
In ancient India, Sanskrit was the main language used by scholars; today, it is spoken by less than one percent of Indians, according to the BBC. It is used in some academic spheres and during Hindu and Buddhist religious ceremonies.