Hindus in the region face challenges to their religious identity as they adapt to the arrival of immigrants, as well as the rising tide of immigration, according to the first of two studies published by the United Nations.
The studies, titled “The New Hindu,” were released Wednesday in the United States, India and the United Kingdom and were funded by the Pew Research Center.
They found that the overwhelming majority of Hindus in India are members of the Muslim community, though they also form a sizeable minority in some places.
Hindus in south-eastern India have seen a significant number of Muslims arrive from Pakistan and Bangladesh, where they are more likely to be victims of violence.
The Hindu community in south Asia is estimated to be as high as 50 percent.
“We see this in many places, particularly in India and Pakistan, where the Indian diaspora has been relatively large,” said Nadeem Shah, who leads the Pew research project.
In the United Arab Emirates, where Hindus are the largest ethnic group, only about a third of the population is Hindu, according the Pew study.
In Saudi Arabia, the vast majority of the country’s 3.3 million people are Muslim, and the country has experienced a steady rise in religious tension, as the kingdom grapples with a civil war that has claimed more than 250,000 lives and prompted a wave of arrests.
Shah said the growing Muslim population in India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is also a major challenge for the Hindu community.
“They have to deal with the influx of Hindus that are coming from countries that are increasingly accepting of their religion and their cultural identity,” he said.
“When you have these populations, you have a challenge to the Hindu identity as a way of life.”
Hindu communities have faced discrimination, harassment and even death.
In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Hindus have been attacked by mobs of Muslims.
In Bangladesh, a Muslim man was killed in 2016 when he and a Hindu woman, wife and child, were attacked in a bar in Dhaka, a city where Hindus and Muslims live side-by-side.
The violence was captured on video by a group of bystanders, who recorded it on their mobile phones.