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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18 Apr 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, the Islamophobia Register Australia recorded a “significant spike” in reports of incidents, with 46 reported since Saturday since the false speculation that the Bondi attack was perpetrated by a Muslim, meanwhile in the UK, a Muslim pupil has lost a court challenge against a top London school’s ban on prayer rituals in a case about freedom of religion in schools that has captured national attention, and in India, Hindu nationalism, once a fringe ideology, is now mainstream with Prime Minister Narendra Modi close to securing a third term in office. Our recommended read of the day is by Sahar Aziz for on how the vicious Eid attack on the Rutgers Center for Islamic Life demonstrates a serious need to address growing Islamophobia on college campuses. This and more below:

United States

Rutgers Islamic Center's vandalization shows our need to combat Islamophobia | Recommended Read

For Muslim students at Rutgers University, a day that was supposed to be celebratory quickly turned terrifying. When they arrived for Eid prayer the morning of April 10, Muslim students found the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, or CILRU, vandalized. Islamic art with Quranic scripture lied shattered on the ground. Windows were broken and televisions were destroyed. And the Palestinian flag on display at the Islamic center was stolen. The criminals’ message was clear: Muslims are not safe or welcome at Rutgers University. I wish I could admit surprise this hate crime occurred at Rutgers. To the contrary, it is the predictable outcome of six months of pro-Israeli groups engendering anti-Muslim hate on college campuses under the guise of combating antisemitism. Universities have become ground zero for the weaponization of antisemitism to legitimize infringing on free speech rights. Anything short of quashing campus protests, prohibiting lectures by Palestinians, firing Muslim professors, and shutting down academic centers that criticize Israel constitutes antisemitism, according to these special interest groups. read the complete article

Islamophobia Awareness Week kicks off with informational event

Tulane University’s inaugural Islamophobia Awareness Week began Monday in an effort to educate students on discrimination and acknowledge its harms to society. Annelise Singh, chief diversity officer and professor of social work, and Shelby Norman, program manager for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion led the first event. They invited members of the Tulane community to listen and engage in a discussion that defined Islamophobia, its relevance to Tulane and its societal impact. Presenters defined Islamophobia based on the United Nations’ definition as the attribution of biased hatred towards Muslim-identifying people. This prejudice comes in various forms like violent hostility, hate crimes and discriminatory rhetoric that occurs throughout the media and the real world. Islamophobic ideas often associate Muslim people with terrorism and radical support for their identity. read the complete article

Will the ‘cancel culture’ crowd speak up about the silencing of Asna Tabassum? Don’t hold your breath

If you want to get ahead in life then I have some advice: keep your mouth shut about Palestine. Or, if you must say something, then make sure it is nuanced like – I’m just paraphrasing a former Mossad agent here – no Palestinian over the age of four is an innocent civilian and they all deserve to be starved to death. Certainly make sure you don’t use controversial words like “genocide” or “occupation”, even if those are accurate descriptions according to international law and UN human rights experts. Best to avoid considering Palestinians as humans altogether, rather think of them as Israel’s defense minister does – “human animals” – if you want to avoid unpleasantness. Asna Tabassum, a first-generation south Asian American Muslim from near Los Angeles, is the latest person to learn this lesson the hard way. Instead of being recognized for her academic achievements, Tabassum found herself in the middle of a controversy which brings together some of the most emotive issues of the moment: the war on college campuses, the anti-Palestinian assaults on free speech, and the one-sided nature of “cancel culture”. People who support the attacks on Gaza seem free to say the most depraved and racist things possible about Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians without facing any consequences whatsoever. The comedian Sarah Silverman, for example, shared (and later deleted) an online post arguing that it was OK to cut off water to the entire population of Gaza, which is very much a war crime. Her career has faced no consequences. A long list of American politicians have openly called for Palestinians to be slaughtered without seeing any real pushback to their speech. The British TV presenter Rachel Riley recently falsely blamed Palestinians for the stabbing attack in Sydney and has faced no career consequences at all. The proliferation of dehumanizing language about Muslims and Palestinians has had violent consequences: there has been a rise in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes across the US, including reported offenses on college campuses. There has also been a rise in antisemitism: a very real problem that shouldn’t be minimized or tolerated. What also shouldn’t be tolerated are the dangerous attempts by pro-Israel extremists to label any remotely pro-Palestinian speech, or any criticism of Israel’s actions, as automatically antisemitic. read the complete article

United Kingdom

'Hypocrisy' of a London school's Muslim prayer ban

"Denying my right to pray is denying my identity to be a Muslim". British imam and presenter Ajmal Masroor criticised a school's decision to ban a Muslim student from praying, arguing that if a school is avowedly secular, would they also ban Christmas or Easter holidays or the national anthem that includes religious references? He asserts that denying Muslims the right to pray fundamentally breaches human rights. This criticism follows a decision by Michaela Community School in northwest London to ban a British Muslim student from prayer rituals. The student challenged the school in a High Court case about freedom of religion, which garnered national attention. The student argued that the school's policy was discriminatory and unfairly targeted her faith due to its ritualistic practices. She argued that the school's prohibition on prayer, a fundamental aspect of Islam, contributed to the alienation of religious minorities in society. In response, the school defended its prayer policy as "justified" and "proportionate," citing past threats of violence linked to religious observance on site. read the complete article

Muslim pupil loses UK court bid over Michaela school prayer rituals ban

A Muslim pupil in the United Kingdom has lost a court challenge against a top London school’s ban on prayer rituals in a case about freedom of religion in schools that has captured national attention. The student, who cannot be named, took legal action against Michaela Community School in northwest London, saying the policy was discriminatory and “uniquely” affected her faith due to its ritualised nature. She argued the school’s prohibition of on-site prayer unlawfully breached her right to religious freedom and was “the kind of discrimination which makes religious minorities feel alienated from society”. In a written ruling, Justice Thomas Linden on Tuesday dismissed the pupil’s arguments, ruling that by enrolling at the school she had effectively accepted being subject to restrictions on manifesting her faith. He concluded that the prayer ritual policy was “proportionate” and its aims and ability to achieve them “outweighs” any “adverse effects” on the rights of Muslim pupils at the school. read the complete article

The Bridge Street Press triumphs for 'powerful polemic' from cabinet minster Sayeeda Warsi

The Bridge Street Press has won a four-way auction for Sayeeda Warsi’s Muslims Don’t Matter, a "powerful polemic" on Islamophobia. Publisher Sameer Rahim acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Tracy Bohan at the Wylie Agency for publication on October 3rd 2024. Written in Warsi’s "trademark warm voice", Muslims Don’t Matter "will pull no punches in its analysis". Warsi is Britain’s first Muslim cabinet minister and hosts the podcast "A Muslim and Jew Go There", with David Baddiel. She commented: "Years in the frontline on the battle against anti-Muslim racism have led me to the dangerous and disturbing conclusion that Muslims Don’t Matter. "From government, to sections of the media, from public polling to depictions in mainstream culture we are witnessing a climate of hostility, this book is my siren call urgently asking us to change course.” read the complete article


India Election 2024: What you need to know about Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi’s humble beginnings in Gujarat state didn’t limit his ambition. He joined politics in his twenties, and rose through the ranks of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2001, he became the chief minister of his home state, then in 2014 he was elected prime minister of India. After almost a decade in power, his popularity has only increased, with analysts saying he’s likely to win a third term. Mr Modi’s visits to important Hindu temples are often broadcast by the media, which energises his supporters. However, Muslim groups say they often face discrimination and attacks, and have been forced to live as "second-class" citizens under Mr Modi's rule - an allegation the BJP denies. In January, Mr Modi opened the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Millions of Hindus supported the construction, which is said to mark the birthplace of Lord Ram. It is built at a site where a mosque once stood, before it was torn down by right-wing groups in 1992. His critics say that his government has clamped down on dissent, favours the rich and that under him, there has been a rise in violence against Muslims and other minorities. read the complete article

‘Mutton, Mughal, Muslim’. Modi is casting the Opposition as un-Hindu & anti-Bharat

Sawan ke mahine mein mutton banane ka mauj le rahe hain’ – in the month of Sawan or the period of Navratri, they are cooking meat and having fun, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently pronounced, pointing fingers at the Opposition. Modi also accused the Opposition of possessing a “Mughal mindset.” And when the Congress released its manifesto on 6 April, he declared that it bore the “stamp of the Muslim League.” The Muslim League, founded in the early part of the 20th century by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, is held responsible for the Partition of India in 1947. Thus, in the Modi worldview, eating mutton is somehow against the interests of Indians. Eating fish is similarly anti-national, as was evident from the PM’s reaction to a video of Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav eating fish. Not only is eating mutton and fish anti-Hindu, but the Congress party itself, is, for some reason, akin to the Muslim League. The messaging here sounds patently absurd but is, in fact, cunningly communal. Come election time and Hindu-Muslim polarisation becomes reflexive for Modi, a politician whose career has been built on religious name-calling and polarisation. Accusing the Opposition of eating non-vegetarian food during Navratri and calling the Congress manifesto similar to that of the Muslim League is designed to “other” the Opposition and cast it as un-Hindu, anti-Bharat, and anti-national while stigmatising it as somehow ‘Muslim’. read the complete article

Once a fringe Indian ideology, Hindu nationalism is now mainstream, thanks to Modi's decade in power

Hindu nationalism, once a fringe ideology in India, is now mainstream. Nobody has done more to advance this cause than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of India’s most beloved and polarizing political leaders. And no entity has had more influence on his political philosophy and ambitions than a paramilitary, right-wing group founded nearly a century ago and known as the RSS. Modi's spiritual and political upbringing from the RSS is the driving force, experts say, in everything he's done as prime minister over the past 10 years, a period that has seen India become a global power and the world’s fifth-largest economy. At the same time, his rule has seen brazen attacks against minorities — particularly Muslims — from hate speech to lynchings. India's democracy, critics say, is faltering as the press, political opponents and courts face growing threats. And Modi has increasingly blurred the line between religion and state. At 73, Modi is campaigning for a third term in a general election, which starts Friday. He and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are expected to win. He's challenged by a broad but divided alliance of regional parties. Supporters and critics agree on one thing: Modi has achieved staying power by making Hindu nationalism acceptable — desirable, even — to a nation of 1.4 billion that for decades prided itself on pluralism and secularism. With that comes an immense vote bank: 80% of Indians are Hindu. read the complete article


Lebanese Muslim Association says mosques under threat following Sydney church stabbing

The father of the 16-year-old boy who allegedly stabbed an Assyrian Bishop at at Western Sydney church on Monday night was "shocked" and had not noted signs of extremism in his son, a community leader says. Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was allegedly lunged at by the 16-year-old boy during a mass service at Assyrian Orthodox Church, Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley on Monday night. Mr Kheir said the boy had never been a patron at Australia's largest mosque in Western Sydney's Lakemba, which the association oversees. He questioned whether labelling the stabbing of a bishop in south-west Sydney as a "terror incident" was too quick. Following the stabbing Mr Kheir said there have been threats to Lakemba Mosque and other mosques across Sydney that "thankfully didn't eventuate". The Islamophobia Register Australia recorded a "significant spike" in reports of incidents, with 46 reported since Saturday. Executive Director Sharara Attai said there was a spike since false speculation that the Bondi attack was perpetrated by a Muslim, and then rose even further after the Wakeley attack. "We've had bomb threats to mosques, we've had a Muslim woman who had her hijab pulled off, we've had online Islamophobia being reported to us, we've had vandalism and verbal threats," Ms Attai said. She said Muslim women, in particular, were scared to go out in public due to fears of Islamophobic incidents. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils issued an alert to Muslim leaders in light of "heightened tensions against the Muslim community". read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Apr 2024 Edition


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