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.

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15 Apr 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, residents of Sydney are mourning the death of five women and a “courageous” Pakistani security guard killed in a stabbing attack at a Sydney shopping centre, meanwhile in the UK, Channel 4 presenter Rachel Riley has issued an apology after spreading false claims that that the Sydney attack was a result of “Islamic extremism,” and in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government are increasingly wielding strong-arm tactics to subdue political opponents and critics ahead of general elections beginning this week. Our recommended read of the day is by Mirna Alsharif for NBC News on how advocacy organizations across the U.S. have documented a rise in anti-Arab hate crimes since the start of Israel’s war in Gaza. This and more below:

United States

Anti-Arab hate, harassment and threats loom over this year’s Arab American Heritage Month | Recommended Read

Arab American Heritage Month is intended to commemorate and honor the achievements of the some of the roughly 3.7 million members of the community residing in the U.S. But this year, many Arab Americans don’t feel inclined to celebrate. Instances of anti-Arab hate and sentiment have been on the rise in the U.S. since the start of the war in Gaza in October, according to experts, who have received an influx of reports. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said it received 2,500 reports of anti-Arab hate from October to March, a sharp uptick from the under 500 reports it received in the same time period last year. The Council on American Islamic-Relations also reported receiving the highest number of bias reports in its 30-year history in 2023, with nearly half of them coming in the final three months of the year following the escalation of violence in Gaza. While not all Arabs are Muslim, “Muslim and Arab identities have long been conflated, particularly by those who seek to villainize both, making anti-Muslim hate part and parcel of anti-Arab” racism, according to the organization. read the complete article

This Is a Crucial Moment to Stand Up to Islamophobia. Instead, Democrats Are Caving.

A 6-year-old Palestinian American boy, murdered in his Chicago home for being Muslim. Three Palestinian American college students, shot at in Vermont while out for a walk. An Arab American student hit by a car, while wearing a T-shirt with Arabic writing on it at Stanford University in California. Since Oct. 7, when Hamas led a violent attack against civilians in Israel, there’s been a surge in reports of Islamophobic bias—the largest uptick since Donald Trump announced his Muslim ban in December 2015, according to Corey Saylor, director of research and advocacy at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Islamophobia tends to spike when there’s “any media exposure to Muslim-related issues,” according to one 2016 study by the University of Texas at Austin—and that’s been the case in the U.S. since the Israel-Hamas war began, leaving American Muslims afraid for their safety at home as they’re grieving the bloodshed abroad. (The war in Gaza has since killed upwards of 30,000 Palestinian civilians and left many more hungry as famine grips the enclave.) This is the kind of time when you might expect Democrats—the party that has in recent decades identified themselves with equity and social justice—to recommit to fighting Islamophobia. Instead, they’re allowing Islamophobia to sabotage the judicial nomination of a highly qualified candidate: Adeel Mangi, an attorney from New Jersey, who, if confirmed, would become the first-ever Muslim attorney to sit on a federal appeals court. read the complete article

YOUNIS: The danger of dehumanizing language

According to the University, it aims to graduate a diverse range of students who have been genuinely included and valued in this community and who go on to become leaders who are able to face the multicultural complexities of our world. This language theoretically demands supporting Palestinian students, yet the University’s actions are at odds with its stated commitment, particularly amidst rising Islamophobia and xenophobia. The administration’s failure to condemn blatant discrimination only leads to more discrimination, fostering an atmosphere that misinterprets pro-Palestinian sentiments as support of terrorism — leading to a rise in harassment that targets Muslim and Arab students. read the complete article


A nagging doubt plagues world leaders wooing India: whose side is Narendra Modi really on?

The risk of India becoming a democracy in name only – an “electoral autocracy” – is undeniable. Opposition politicians are in jail or face abusive official intimidation. The courts, police and newspapers mostly toe the government line. The unbiddable BBC is blatantly targeted. “Modi has centralised power in his office to an astonishing degree, undermined the independence of public institutions such as the judiciary and the media, [and] built a cult of personality around himself,” wrote Krea university’s Ramachandra Guha in an excoriating essay. “The facade of triumph and power that Modi has erected obscures a more fundamental truth: that a principal source of India’s survival as a democratic country, and of its recent economic success, has been its political and cultural pluralism, precisely those qualities that the prime minister and his party now seek to extinguish.” Modi’s strength, as embodiment and chief beneficiary of Hindu majoritarianism, is also weakness. Intolerance feeding violence against religious minorities is a BJP hallmark. Human Rights Watch accuses it of “systematic discrimination and stigmatisation” of Muslims and others. Echoing his time as Gujarat’s chief minister, when hundreds died in anti-Muslim riots in 2002, Modi initially ignored Hindu attacks on Christians in Manipur last year. Kashmir is another blackspot. “The prime minister’s central ideological project is the creation of a Hindu nationalist country where non-Hindu people are, at best, second-class citizens,” wrote Yale’s Sushant Singh. “It is an exclusionary agenda that alienates hundreds of millions of Indians.” This, it is argued, is fatally weakening the bonds holding India together. read the complete article

‘I was told I’d be killed if I didn’t leave’: Himalayan state is a testing ground for Modi’s nationalism

For centuries it has been known as the “land of the gods”. Stretching high up into the Himalayas, the Indian state of Uttarakhand is home to tens of thousands of Hindu temples and some of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites. Yet as Hindu nationalism has become the dominant political force in India under prime minister Narendra Modi over the past decade, the government is accused of weaponising Uttarakhand’s sacred status for politics, making the state a “laboratory” for some of the most extreme rightwing policies and rhetoric targeting the Muslim minority. As India’s mammoth election starts on 19 April, stretching across a six-week period, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are expected to return to power. Over the past decade, as India has grown to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, Modi’s government stands accused by rights groups of growing authoritarianism and pursuing Hindutva [Hindu-first] policies that have eroded the rights and freedoms of minorities, in particular India’s 200 million Muslims. The BJP is expected to march on with its Hindutva agenda if re-elected. While Modi has denied allegations that it will rewrite the secular constitution to enshrine India as a Hindu-first country, political observers have pointed to Uttarakhand as a stark window on what a Modi third term could mean for India’s fragile secular democracy. read the complete article

In Modi’s India, opponents and journalists feel the squeeze ahead of election

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are increasingly wielding strong-arm tactics to subdue political opponents and critics of the ruling Hindu-nationalist party ahead of the nationwide elections that begin this week. A decade into power, and on the cusp of securing five more years, the Modi government is reversing India’s decadeslong commitment to multiparty democracy and secularism. The Modi administration says the country’s investigating agencies are independent and that its democratic institutions are robust, pointing to high voter turnout in recent elections that have delivered Modi’s party a clear mandate. Yet civil liberties are under attack. Peaceful protests have been crushed with force. A once free and diverse press is threatened. Violence is on the rise against the Muslim minority. And the country’s judiciary increasingly aligns with the executive branch. To better understand how Modi is reshaping India and what is at stake in an election that begins Friday and runs through June 1, The Associated Press spoke with a lawyer, a journalist, and an opposition politician. read the complete article

India elections: ‘Our rule of law is under attack from our own government, but the world does not see this’

Since first coming to power in 2014, Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have embarked on an agenda of majoritarian Hindu nationalism. Led by the ideology of Hindutva, which perceives India’s history to be inextricably linked with Hindu religious practice, and with the help of a hand-picked committee of advisers, they have pursued a vision of India as a country run by Hindus for Hindus. Over the past decade, India has seen a proliferation of verbal and physical attacks against religious minorities and Dalits (the lowest caste of people in India, formerly known as “untouchables”). Some BJP politicians have described Muslims as “traitors of the nation”. Since Modi came to power, lynchings of Muslims and Dalits by vigilante groups who condemn the skinning of cattle and the transport or consumption of beef are reported to have increased significantly. However, one aspect of Modi’s growing power has received comparatively little attention: his creeping capture of India’s legal machinery. As a legal anthropologist who has spent the past ten years researching human rights and hate crime law in India, I have witnessed the erosion of the country’s once robustly democratic legal system by Hindutva forces. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Rachel Riley says 'wasn't my intention' after Channel 4 fans demand 'sacking'

Countdown star Rachel Riley has issued a lengthy apology over a tweet row as Channel 4 faces calls to sack her. Rachel has issued an apology for her now-deleted tweet about the Sydney mall stabbings with her being accused of perpetuating Islamophobia. Former BBC Strictly Come Dancing star Rachel wrote: "Just to clarify, my intention with this tweet was not to say this attack was caused by any ideation or to link it to Islamic extremism. At the time we did not know who the attacker was, and as such I made no reference. " My aim was to highlight the weekly calls for ‘intifada’ being tolerated in London and around the world, which in actuality means violence on our streets. For 6 months now, I have avoided taking the tube, or going with my kids to anywhere near the marches each Saturday, and each week we see the extremist chants on proud display with little outcry. read the complete article


Macron’s explosive home front in the Gaza war

French society is a powder keg of tensions, with regular eruptions of violence in disaffected, predominantly Muslim suburbs, rising antisemitism and terrorist attacks in the past decade that have increased a sense of insecurity and fueled anti-Muslim sentiment. Over the past years, France has pushed for more laws and rules safeguarding secularism against Islamic radicalism, which have also alienated many French Muslims. Experts and diplomats deny France’s diplomacy is determined by Macron’s attempts to navigate the complexities of domestic politics laden with resurgent antisemitism, widespread Islamophobia and fears of terrorism. But the longer the Israeli-Palestinian conflict carries on, the more France resembles a flashpoint. read the complete article


Australia mourns five women, Pakistani guard killed in Sydney mall attack

Australians are mourning the death of five women and a “courageous” Pakistani security guard killed in a stabbing attack at a Sydney shopping centre. Police on Sunday said they were yet to confirm any motivation or ideology behind the attacks in Sydney’s Bondi Junction but are investigating if the killer deliberately targeted women. Speculations that the “perpetrator was Muslim or Palestinian emerged within minutes”, leading to “anti-Muslim hatred” in the comment threads of leading Australian media outlets, the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) said on Sunday. An article on another News Corp site remained online with the headline “Was this a terrorist attack? Question all of Australia is asking” on Sunday night. A “story about the perpetrator being a different person with a Jewish name emerged, also false”, AMAN said, adding that “our hearts go out to the victims’ families and the baby who has lost her mother”. Sarah Schwartz from the Jewish Council of Australia said “right-wing Islamophobic groups” had “[exploited] this tragedy to push their hateful agenda”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Apr 2024 Edition


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