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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24 Apr 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the US, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee have filed a civil rights complaint against Rutgers University, claiming a “pattern of bigotry” against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, meanwhile in India, the general elections are underway in the world’s largest democracy as PM Narendra Modi, whose Hindu nationalist agenda has resulted in increased hostility against Muslims, seeks a third term, and in Australia, Violet Roumeliotis notes the media’s double standards when it comes to the two recent attacks in the country, where the media focused solely on the perpetrator in the Bondi Junction attack, but in the case of the Assyrian congregation, the focus has been entirely on the attacker’s religion. Our recommended read of the day is by Edward Ahmed Mitchell and Robert McCaw for Common Dreams, who note that despite their organization (CAIR) sending a letter to House Committee members to investigate not just antisemitism, but also Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism on college campuses, the committee has failed to take any action on investigate the targeting of Muslim and Palestinian students. This and more below:

United States

House GOP Plays Politics With Campus Antisemitism While Enabling Islamophobia | Recommended Read

During last week's widely covered hearing, many committee members followed a predictable playbook: mischaracterize any pro-Palestinian student activism as antisemitic, ask incendiary "gotcha" questions about imaginary incidents of antisemitism, and then pressure college leaders to silence young people who advocate for Palestinian human rights. House committee members like Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) have mastered this artform, which gives them an opportunity to go viral in right-wing media, smear pro-Palestinian students, and virtue signal that they oppose any form of bigotry even as their political party enables nearly every form of bigotry. Months ago, the civil rights and advocacy organization we serve—the Council on American-Islamic Relations—sent a letter to House committee members encouraging them to hold comprehensive hearings focused on not just antisemitism on college campuses, but also incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Palestinian racism. Since then, the House committee has not made any efforts to investigate the targeting of Muslim and Palestinian students despite the fact that it keeps happening with sometimes violent consequences. read the complete article

American Muslims, Especially Students, Most Likely to Experience Religious Discrimination

The crisis in Gaza, which as of this writing has claimed the lives of around 1,200 Israelis and more than 32,000 Palestinians, has captured the attention of the world. Since October 7, several surveys have captured American public opinion on the situation. These studies examined the views of the old and young, Democrats and Republicans, men and women, college-educated and non-college-educated. The missing voice has been that of religious groups, particularly Muslim and Jewish Americans, who are often perceived as on opposing sides of this crisis. This article, the third in a three-part series, is focused on the experience of religious discrimination in the past year, in general and in various settings, among Muslims, Jews and the American public in general. Our sample size did not allow us to examine the experiences of subgroups within religious communities like Arab Muslims for example. Since October 7 and the ensuing crisis in Gaza, Muslim and Jewish Americans have reported a surge in bias incidents. For Muslims, some of these incidents have been life-altering or lethal. Even prior to October 7, in 2022 when we last polled on experiences with religious discrimination, Muslims were the most likely to say they faced discrimination because of their religion, followed by Jews. read the complete article

Arab anti-discrimination groups file civil rights complaint against Rutgers alleging ‘pattern of bigotry’

Two Arab anti-discrimination groups on Tuesday lodged a federal civil rights complaint against Rutgers University, claiming a “pattern of bigotry” against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, especially since October. The move comes as campuses nationwide, including Columbia and NYU in New York City, explode with protests against Israel’s continued bombing of the Gaza Strip in the wake of the attacks by Hamas last fall. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in unremitting air and ground assaults since the war began. The complaint, filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), accuses Rutgers of “ongoing, patterned anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim bigotry.” The 57-page complaint cites alleged instances of doxxing and other harassment that were met with little or unsatisfactory response by the university’s administration in a “practice of direct and indirect discrimination” in which Rutgers exhibited “deliberate indifference to a hostile learning environment on its campuses for students who hold, are perceived to hold, or are affiliated or associated with Palestinian identity.” As a result, “Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims have become de facto second-class students on their own campuses,” the complaint claims. read the complete article


Islamophobia gains ground in Indian election campaign

It didn't take long for the mask to fall off. Two days after the opening of polls for the parliamentary elections due to end on June 1, Narendra Modi, leading the campaign for his party, went on an openly Islamophobic rant. On Sunday, April 21, at a rally in Rajasthan, in the tribal region of Bhanswara, the Indian prime minister targeted and stigmatized Muslims, without naming them. His allusions echoed an old refrain of Hindu nationalists and a theory they have developed, the Great Replacement theory, known as "love jihad." His party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), argues that Muslims – around 200 million people in India – pose a demographic threat to Hindus, as they are said to have a strategy to take control of India, by having children and overtaking Hindus demographically. read the complete article

Why elections in India, the world’s largest democracy, are crucial to watch

Last summer, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood next to President Biden in the White House and said regarding India’s democracy, “there is absolutely no space for discrimination.” He was speaking during a rare press briefing and was challenged by an American journalist on concerns regarding India’s democratic values and discrimination against its Muslim citizens. Over the weekend, in an election campaign rally in northwest India, Modi referred to Muslims as “infiltrators.” His critics have called it hate speech. When he travels abroad, he speaks proudly of India’s pluralistic values and stakes claim to Gandhi’s legacy, but at home, he echoes a high-pitched, anti-Muslim rhetoric. With the latest speech and the last decade of his rule, Modi’s vision for the country has been clear. In January, when he inaugurated an unfinished, but grand Hindu temple at the site where an ancient mosque was demolished by a Hindu mob, Modi’s aim to advance his Hindu nationalist party and ideals were evident. read the complete article

Why Did Modi Call India’s Muslims ‘Infiltrators’? Because He Could.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his power at home secured and his Hindu-first vision deeply entrenched, has set his sights in recent years on a role as a global statesman, riding India’s economic and diplomatic rise. In doing so, he has distanced himself from his party’s staple work of polarizing India’s diverse population along religious lines for its own electoral gain. His silence provided tacit backing as vigilante groups continued to target non-Hindu minority groups and as members of his party routinely used hateful and racist language, even in Parliament, against the largest of those groups, India’s 200 million Muslims. With the pot kept boiling, Mr. Modi’s subtle dog whistles — with references to Muslim dress or burial places — could go a long way domestically while providing enough deniability to ensure that red carpets remained rolled out abroad for the man leading the world’s largest democracy. Just what drove the prime minister to break with this calculated pattern in a fiery campaign speech on Sunday — when he referred to Muslims by name as “infiltrators” with “more children” who would get India’s wealth if his opponents took power — has been hotly debated. It could be a sign of anxiety that his standing with voters is not as firm as believed, analysts said. Or it could be just a reflexive expression of the kind of divisive religious ideology that has fueled his politics from the start. read the complete article


The Gaza genocide: The “war on terror” on speed dial

The 2001 attacks on the American mainland were not yet a year gone; Afghanistan had been overrun and occupied; draconian policies enforced and institutionalized in a network of intelligence gathering, imprisonment and abduction, renditions and torture, that ran the gamut from Guantanamo Bay and Helwan to Saydnaya and Jaslyk; and the war drums were pounding for an invasion of Iraq. Side by side with this war was the crackdown on a budding Palestinian insurgency by its brutal Israeli occupants – then ruled, as today, by the far-right Likud Party, whose links to the American government were close, and barely concealed, even by Israel’s standards. As part of its crackdown, Israel located and struck by air Hamas military commander Salah Shihadeh in his home, killing neighbours and kin along with him. Even the United States – more firmly prejudiced in Israel’s favour than ever – saw it necessary to condemn the attack, taking place as it did far from any battlefield and in the middle of a densely crowded city. Israel, comfortably aware that this would not imperil unconditional American support, continued along, assassinating any number of Palestinian leaders with scant regard for bystanders. Sure enough, the United States not only fell silent on Israeli assassinations but actively employed the tactic in their “war on terror”; within a decade of the Israeli assassinations, assassination airstrikes were a hallmark of American wars from Afghanistan to Somalia, occasionally killing militant commanders and more often incinerating local bystanders. read the complete article

How to justify the genocide of Palestinians in 14 easy steps: A graphical guide

Step 4: Dehumanise Palestinians. Use words that play into pre-existing anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim stereotypes. read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK man arrested after pro-Palestine protest 'abuse' video

A man has been arrested after footage emerged of a women leaving a pro-Palestine protest in the London suburb of Romford being racially abused last Saturday went viral. Police said a 55-year-old man was charged with religiously aggravated intentional harassment after they launched an "urgent investigation" into the video. In the footage, a white man in glasses can be seen following three women, two of whom are visibly Muslim and wearing keffiyehs in solidarity with Palestinians, through a busy shopping area in Romford. He shouts insults and abuse at them including, "You Muslim f***ing c***s, you f***Muslim s***s." After one woman tries to stop him, he says: "Firing Katyusha rockets into Israel every f***ing day of the week, you think that’s normal? We don’t want you here." The man then continues his abuse, saying: "F*** off back to Muslim [sic]… we are a Christian country." It happened after the women left a small pro-Palestine demonstration outside a Barclays bank branch in Romford. read the complete article


A tale of two attacks: Sydney stabbings expose our double standards

While the Bondi perpetrator has been treated as a lone attacker, the stabbing at the Assyrian congregation by an Islamic teenager has led to knee-jerk judgments and generalisations being made about entire groups of people. It has become a trial for the entire Muslim community, but particularly for Muslim women whose faith is displayed in obvious public markers like the hijab and niqab. At our organisation, we have been forced to review security at our offices in western Sydney following reports of threats and intimidation towards members of our community. With the Bondi attack, the media took a deep dive into the attacker as an individual, looking at his mental health history, his ex-partners, his parents – even going as far as dissecting his Google reviews. The narrative was clear: this was an individual who had committed an unspeakable act. But with the attack on the Assyrian congregation, the focus has been entirely on the attacker’s religion. Granted he is underage so there are restrictions on his identification, but it has become apparent that in the court of public opinion, the individual is not on trial – it’s the entire Muslim community. This comes at a time of already heightened Islamophobia. The most recent figures from Islamophobia Register Australia shown over 30 reports of Islamophobia a week, up from 2.5 before Hamas’ October 7 attack. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Apr 2024 Edition


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