Today in Islamophobia

A daily list of headlines about Islamophobia
compiled by the Bridge Initiative

Each day, the Bridge Initiative aims to bring you the news you need to know about Islamophobia. This resource will be updated every weekday at approximately 11:00 AM EST.

Today in Islamophobia Newsletter

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11 Apr 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a group of Catholics have condemned a diocese for screening a purportedly anti-Muslim film, meanwhile in the U.S., the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University was targeted by vandals who damaged several items including art pieces with Quranic verses, office equipment, and a Palestinian flag, and in the UK, Muslim doctors say they are being unfairly censored when expressing concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Our recommended read of the day is by Brooke Anderson for The New Arab on CAIR’s new report, which shows a total of 8,061 anti-Muslim incidents, a 56% increase from the previous year. This and more below:

United States

Major spike in bias incidents and hostile workplace against Muslims in US over Gaza war | Recommended Read

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has been tracking bias incidents against Muslims since the mid-1990s, has recorded more in 2023 than in any other year. Among the most high-profile cases was the 14 October fatal stabbing of Wadea al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian boy, by his family's landlord near Chicago. "It goes along at a pretty even clip, and then in October, it shoots through the roof," Corey Saylor, research and advocacy director at CAIR, told The New Arab. "There's no question in my mind, if the data doesn't tell the story, when somebody comes in and when the team deals with it, almost all the cases have to do with Palestine." In 2023, CAIR saw 8,061 complaints of anti-Muslim incidents, up 56 per cent from the previous year, with nearly half of the reported cases occurring between October and December, coinciding with the war on Gaza. The report shows an even higher number of anti-Muslim incidents than the spike that followed former President Donald Trump's Muslim ban. The 2023 incidents include discrimination in asylum, employment and education, as well as hate crimes and other bias incidents. The last major spike in such incidents was in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Though 2023 saw more reported bias incidents, according to CAIR's data, Saylor doesn't believe this period has seen more incidents than the post-9/11 era. read the complete article

Reports of anti-Muslim hate incidents at 30-year high

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) received 8,061 complaints of anti-Muslim incidents nationwide last year. Nearly half were received in the final three months alone, following the October Hamas attack. CAIR said that number is underreported. And still, it’s a bigger spike in complaints than after former president Donald Trump’s travel bans.The incidents range from hate crimes to discrimination in education, employment and immigration. San Diego State University student Mohamed Erekat said San Diego has not felt safe. We have seen our mosques being targeted,” he said. “We cannot even pray without armed security. Many do not even feel safe going to places of worship anymore. They do not feel safe gathering with their communities.” read the complete article

Vandal targets Islamic center at Rutgers University

At least one vandal broke into the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU) on 122 College Avenue in New Brunswick, New Jersey, at some point between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, police said. They then damaged several items inside the center, including art pieces with Quranic verses, windows, televisions, printers and the Palestinian flag, according to the CILRU. “We have been in direct contact with Muslim leaders across the state this morning to ensure that they know that they have our full and unwavering support during this difficult time,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin wrote. “Let me be clear: New Jersey will not tolerate acts of hate against the Muslim community. We will continue to work tirelessly, using every tool at our disposal to ensure that all New Jerseyans live without fear, knowing that our state’s diversity is supported, protected, and embraced.” read the complete article

After Islamophobic hate crimes, UW students demand action

At the start of a new quarter, most students’ focus is on their coursework. However, this isn’t the case for a group of BIPOC and Muslim students attending the University of Washington (UW), who say they are more concerned about their physical safety on campus. One of these students is UW sophomore Isha Hussein, who on Feb. 25, 2024, published a four-page statement describing her negative on-campus dorming experience. The letter, posted to her personal Instagram account, details how Hussein, who is Black and Muslim, was threatened and assaulted by her roommates. Hussein says she publicized her statement to garner attention and support after not receiving any from staff members within UW’s Housing and Food Services (HFS), who Hussein argues could’ve helped her leave a dangerous situation. According to Hussein, on Oct. 7, 2023, when reports first broke out about the Hamas attack on Israel, Roommate A — as Hussein refers to her — approached her to talk about the news. Roommate A questioned Hussein on who she supported, expressed her own need to join the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and proclaimed Israel had a right to defend itself. Hussein says on Oct. 9, Roommate A pulled a knife on her and said she would do so again while Hussein was praying. On Oct. 11, Hussein filed her first report with HFS. read the complete article

Muslim college student attacked while walking to campus from mosque, Texas advocates say

A Muslim college student was reportedly attacked as he was walking back to campus after praying at a local mosque, Texas advocates said. The student told the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that three men approached him and his friend and started mocking Islamic phrases and the Arabic language, according to a news release from the organization detailing the April 5 incident. The University of Texas at Austin student was wearing kurta shalwar, attire associated with the South Asian Muslim community, according to CAIR-Austin. The three men allegedly blocked their path and punched the student, CAIR said. The student suffered cuts and bruises as a result, according to a news release. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Gaza: Muslim doctors in UK feel censored and targeted for expressing concern over humanitarian crisis

Muslim doctors in the UK say they are being unfairly censored when expressing concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, leaders have warned. One in 10 of the more than 650 Muslim healthcare professionals who took part in a survey by the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) said that they had expressed opinions in their workplace on the Palestinian crisis and as a result had experienced problems, such as formal meetings with supervisors, disciplinary investigations, and referral to the General Medical Council. Nearly all the respondents (97%) said that the situation in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel had negatively affected their wellbeing, and only 12% said that their employer had offered culturally sensitive support. Many respondents said they thought there was a double standard in their workplaces, with employers who had made statements at the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine remaining silent on the situation in Gaza and many not offering the same level of support to staff. read the complete article

The Islamophobic Chronicle – The War on Gaza and the Weaponization of Antisemitism

In recent weeks, the London-based weekly newspaper The Jewish Chronicle (JC) began to target Palestinian and Muslim students for their solidarity with the victims of the Israeli genocide in the Gaza Strip. This campaign included a particularly vicious assault on our students and staff at the University of Exeter, which has relatively a large number of Palestinian students. As British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for extra vigilant policies against extremism and racism, he should have begun with the long Islamophobic tradition of JC. This paper, and quite a few other right-wing and pro-Zionist press, tend to target Arab and Muslim activists accusing them of antisemitism. If you think that accusing British Muslims of being terrorists, supposedly in the service of Hamas, only started after October 7, then you are wrong. In 2018, a report by the Muslim Council of Britain exposed the JC as the most Islamophobic publication in Britain. A year later, the JC reacted through an article by Melany Philips that claimed that Islamophobia was a bogus term and an anti-Jewish one. Since November 2022, the JC has shown loyalty to the extremist government which was elected in Israel, parroting Netanyahu’s false equation between Islam, terrorism and antisemitism. This equation is called by Israel the ‘new antisemitism’. It includes anyone daring to criticize Israel and its policies. With a front organization calling itself ‘Muslims against Antisemitism’, JC gave space for superficial and one dimensional representation of Islam in general, and its attitude towards Jews in particular. read the complete article

GP proud to wear hijab on Countdown despite racism

A GP who received racist abuse after appearing on Countdown said she remained proud to be a "woman of colour with a hijab" in dictionary corner. Dr Nighat Arif, from Chesham in Buckinghamshire, began making TV appearances during the pandemic and specialises in issues affecting women's health. She praised the production team for checking on her wellbeing, but admitted she was surprised to receive racist messages on social media. The TV doctor said: "It was mostly just vitriol of what I look like. Why is she wearing a hijab? What is that thing on her head? "All I did was sit in dictionary corner and share stories from my childhood." She shared comments she had received on her social media accounts. "We do have pockets - very small pockets of racism within this country, and misogyny and Islamophobia. On this occasion I thought, I'm going to tackle it," she said. read the complete article


Bollywood makes a song and dance for Modi ahead of Indian elections

The Indian Hindi film industry, better known as Bollywood, has been cranking out films celebrating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his controversial Hindu nationalist policies ahead of the 2024 general elections. The plots mirror the Modi administration’s divisive politics, with virtuous Hindu heroes confronting villainous Muslims. Quantity may triumph over quality, but after a decade of crackdowns, a once pluralist industry is sticking to a nationalist script. read the complete article

Indian Catholics slam diocese for screening anti-Muslim movie

A group of Catholics in India have condemned a diocese for screening a purportedly anti-Muslim film for youths just before the general election, but a Catholic youth group said it plans to screen the film in three more dioceses. In an April 9 statement, the film's opponents said they condemned the “insensitive and unchristian act” of Idukki diocese in screening the movie, The Kerala Story, which they said was a propaganda movie that pro-Hindu groups created to spread hate against Muslims. The movie is a propaganda film "created to further the pro-Hindu narrative which is to destroy the secular nature of our country," said the statement signed by Christian leaders, including Catholic priests and nuns. read the complete article

This Eid, Muslims in India face repression and erasure of their cultural identity

Under the Hindutva regime, we simultaneously occupy two timelines, where the present is constantly in a state of compromise to accommodate the nostalgia of a politically constructed myth. For Indian Muslims, a targeted attack on their cultural identity is reflected in both how public spaces are reimagined, and how time is conceived within those spaces. Important celebrations, such as Ramadan and Eid, are being publicly stifled and marked by peaks of discriminatory violence. This Ramadan, five students at Gujarat University were injured after a Hindu mob attacked them, beating them with sticks and rods, while they were performing prayers on campus. The university subsequently issued new guidelines asking students not to use public spaces for religious purposes. This follows a pattern in which Muslims have been targeted for practising their faith, even in private spaces. Last year, in Moradabad and Greater Noida, both in Uttar Pradesh, residents faced strong objections for hosting collective prayer sessions in private warehouses and residences. Also in Uttar Pradesh, police cracked down on hundreds of people offering prayers on the streets of Kanpur during Eid. Such incidents have had a chilling effect. In Purola, Uttarakhand, which has faced campaigns by Hindu groups to evict Muslims from their homes, residents decided not to hold community Eid prayers last year for fear of further escalation. As the ambitions of Hindu nationalism grow, it is increasingly coalescing into a transformative force that seeks to mould a homogenous national and cultural identity, with iconoclastic campaigns waged against the vulnerable historical cultural markers of Indian Muslims. read the complete article


How Portugal has largely avoided racism and Islamophobia amid a migration boom

While an influx of Muslim migrants into a traditional vocation like fishing is the sort of event that would be potentially inflammatory elsewhere in Europe, in Portugal it seems to be working out without much fuss. “The Indonesians are quite well integrated in the community,” says another ship captain, Manuel Marques. “We were never against their culture. We did not ask them to change a single thing. We tried to make things as easy for them as if they were at home. We do need them, and we know it. There is a mutual respect.” Portugal stands out among European nations for its openness to migrants, expressed in policies and the attitudes of Portuguese people alike. And while experts warn that the growth of Muslim and South Asian communities in the country and the rise of far-right party Chega are starting to raise challenges, so far harmony seems to be winning out. Portuguese society has not suffered from the sort of construction of stereotypes around and tensions with Muslims that other countries in Europe have, says migration expert Jorge Malheiros at Lisbon University. There was racism and discrimination against some migrant groups, but Islam was long a nonissue. But “it’s no longer like that.” he adds. There is now “talk about the Islamization of Portuguese society.” One focal point for such talk is Mouraria, the historical Moorish quarter of Lisbon. It is the kind of place that the far right likes to point to while railing against “uncontrolled immigration,” due to the neighborhood’s multicultural character and history. Migrants from across Africa and Asia live in the Moorish quarter, bringing to it a mix of attire, languages, and cuisines otherwise foreign to Lisbon. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Apr 2024 Edition


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