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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15 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., GOP frontrunner and former President, Donald Trump praised self proclaimed white nationalist and Islamophobe, Laura Loomer, calling her “terrific”, meanwhile in Italy, a group of Muslim women were verbally harassed and prevented from entering the water by other beach goers, and in the United Kingdom, a man who threatened to behead and blow up Muslims as they attended a family event at a mosque has been jailed for four years. Our recommended read of the day is by Alishan Jafri and Kaushik Raj for Al Jazeera on a profile of Monu Manesar, the man who has become the poster boy of cow vigilantism and is suspected of being involved in the harassment and lynchings of a number of Muslims in India. This and more below:


Who is Monu Manesar, Indian vigilante accused of inciting Haryana violence? | Recommended Read

In February this year, two Muslim men were abducted and allegedly burned alive in their car by a group of cow vigilantes in India’s northern state of Haryana. As the charred skeletons of the two men – Nasir Hussain, 28, and Junaid Khan, 35 – were discovered inside an SUV in the state’s Bhiwani district, the main accused, 28-year-old Mohit Yadav, became a poster boy of cow vigilantism in India and a subject of extensive public scrutiny. Haryana is governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been accused of patronising Yadav, better known as Monu Manesar, and preventing his arrest in numerous such cases of cow-related attacks and even killings. Dozens of Muslims have been lynched on suspicion of killing or transporting cows since 2014 in attacks critics say were enabled by the rise of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power. In Nuh, Haryana’s only Muslim-majority district, Manesar heads the local cow protection unit of the Bajrang Dal, the far-right youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP), which in turn is affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor. His YouTube channel won a silver play button for having over 200,000 subscribers while his Facebook page boasted of more than 83,000 followers. His posts mostly featured videos of high-speed chases and crashes, men flashing firearms and firing at trucks allegedly carrying beef, and photos and videos of injured men, usually Muslims, attacked by his team. Some photos showed him with powerful politicians and officers, including Home Minister Amit Shah. read the complete article

The searing injustice of the Indian state’s broken promise to Muslims

“Everybody is so oblivious to the persecution of Muslims. I wake up to a new video of lynching, or another hate speech, or a genocide-enabling cartoon, but I go to office and find people discussing what place makes the best sushis and what place makes the best cheesecakes. There’s Secret Santa happening and there are people chalking out their growth trajectories, and I just look around the office, wondering what this place is, or if I’ve come to a different age,” he said. But then we worried about other friends who worked in outright communal workspaces, with colleagues needling them every now and then over their religious beliefs, and deduced that even an apathetic space was a privilege. And of course, we shuddered at the thought of what Muslims, especially the ones visibly so, in the informal sector – street vendors, rickshaw-pullers, etc – might be facing every day. The conversation then turned towards what has become the staple of every conversation between young, privileged Muslims: Should we leave India? Despite the progressive Constitution giving it nearly all the thrust it needed to become a secular state, it could never become that. On the contrary, it has now become quite a majoritarian state. If there was a metaphor for what the Indian state does to its Muslim citizens, it is that of the police torturing the 23-year-old Faizan during the violence that broke out in Delhi in February 2020. The man is lying on the ground, along with other Muslim men, writhing in pain, and the cops are forcing him to sing the national anthem while prodding him with sticks. Faizan dies later, quite apparently killed by the state. More than two years later, there is not a flower of justice on his grave. read the complete article


Sweden calls for vigilance abroad after Quran desecrations and protests

A senior Swedish official said Monday Swedes abroad and businesses linked to Sweden“should observe increased vigilance and caution,” following recent Quran burnings in the country and protests in the Muslim world. Henrik Landerholm, Sweden’s National Security Adviser, said there are signs of “a heightened threat” to the country and to Swedish interests abroad, adding the security situation has worsened. A recent string of public Quran desecrations by a handful of anti-Islam activists in Sweden — and more recently in neighboring Denmark -- has sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries. Sweden does not have a law specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of the Quran or other religious texts. Like many Western countries, it doesn’t have any blasphemy laws; Sweden’s were abandoned in the 1970s. Swedish officials repeatedly have condemned the desecrations and have also debunked claims that the government in Sweden grants permission for people to burn Islam’s sacred text or other religious books. read the complete article

Quran burnings: Muslims, Christians take a stand in Swedish suburb

In Fisksatra, a quiet suburb in the Nacka municipality just outside Stockholm, Muslims and Christians have coexisted peacefully for years. Together, they have held “peace prayers,” organized cultural festivals, and even planned to establish their houses of worship next to one another. That spirit has been put to the test by the recent wave of attacks on the Muslim holy book in Sweden, but the people of Fisksatra are determined to overcome the challenge together. In July, members of the Muslim and Christian communities of Fisksatra stood side by side at the Medborgarplatsen square in Stockholm to protest the desecration of the Quran. Among those who turned out for the show of solidarity was Carl Dahlback, vicar of the Nacka community parish of the Church of Sweden. “It was touching. Many Muslims came to me and thanked me for participating in a protest against the burning of the Quran. They wanted to take pictures with me,” he told Anadolu in a video interview. The Islamic Cultural Circle of Sweden (ICC), a Stockholm-based Muslim organization, said the demonstration was the biggest such protest held so far and gave people a peaceful way to express their views. read the complete article


Muslim women harassed at northern Italian beach for wearing modest clothing

A group of Muslim women were about to enter the water at a beach in the northern Italian city of Trieste when women behind them started berating them about their clothing, claiming that they aren’t allowed to go into the water with clothes on. According to Italian media, a group of women started shouting “you can’t go in the water dressed like that” and prevented them from entering the water. Other beachgoers defended the Muslim women, stating that they have a constitutional right to dress as they please; others backed the actions of the women harassing them claiming that what the women were doing wasn’t “hygienic.” Beach security had to be called to calm the situation and the owner of the beach eventually intervened. It was not clear if the women left on their own accord or were made to leave. read the complete article

United Kingdom

'Racist' jailed for abusing Muslims at mosque, including threatening to 'slit throat' of five-year-old boy

A man who threatened to behead and blow up Muslims as they attended a family event at a mosque –including gesturing to slit the throat of a five-year-old – has been jailed for four years. Alexander Bolam waited outside Heaton Mosque in Tyneside as families collected children from an event, abusing them and threatening them. The 33-year-old became aggressive, threatening to 'cut your heads off', 'behead you all' and 'blow you all up', before pushing one man and then urinating in the door of the mosque. Bolam, from High Heaton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who has 26 previous convictions, has now been jailed for four years and given an extended licence period of a further three years after pleading guilty to racially aggravated assault, racially aggravated damage and making threats to kill. read the complete article

United States

Donald Trump Calls Far-Right, Anti-Muslim Extremist Laura Loomer ‘Terrific’ In New Video

Former President Donald Trump praised Laura Loomer, a self-described “Islamophobe,” as “terrific” and “very special” in a video posted Sunday. “You are a very opinionated lady, I have to tell you. And in my opinion, I like that,” Trump tells Loomer in the video she shared on X, formerly Twitter. “I appreciate all of your support.” Loomer, who said she spent time with Trump on Sunday at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, called it “the best day of [her] life.” The New York Times reported in April that Trump had met with Loomer and hinted at hiring the far-right activist for a campaign role. But the Trump campaign rebuked that report, saying it would not hire Loomer. Loomer, who has a history of calling Islam a cancer and Muslims “savages,” has long expressed her admiration for Trump. Throughout her campaigns, Loomer touted white nationalist and Islamophobic rhetoric that ultimately led her to being banned on multiple platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Uber, PayPal and Venmo. Her Twitter account was reinstated after Elon Musk bought the social media site last year. In March 2022, Loomer went on white nationalist Jared Taylor’s podcast and said she was “a really big supporter of the Christian nationalist movement,” and that she was “going to fight for white people.” In 2019, Loomer wrote on the platform Telegram: “Nobody cares about Christchurch. I especially don’t,” after a white supremacist killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. read the complete article


Canadian civil society urges Trudeau to act on human rights violations in India

The Canadian government must take a definitive stance against mounting human rights violations in India as well as against the rise of far-right Hindu nationalist groups in Canada itself, dozens of civil society organisations have said. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, the coalition of organisations made up of 80 groups from across the religious and political spectrum in Canada said it was necessary for authorities to take action, as conditions for minorities continue to deteriorate at a rapid rate in India. "As individuals and organizations dedicated to upholding Canada’s international legal obligations and human rights globally, we urge the Prime Minister’s Office to address the pressing issues outlined below and take diplomatic measures in response to the systematic discrimination and violence inflicted upon vulnerable minorities in India," the letter read. The letter, signed by groups like the South Asian Dalit Adivasi Network Canada and the South Asian Diaspora Action Collective, among others, also cautioned Trudeau's government to take note of the influence of Hindu right-wing groups, in particular, those affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is increasingly operating in the country. "RSS groups should be banned under Canada’s hate speech laws, due to the safety and discrimination issues they pose for Canadian Muslims and Indo-Canadians," the letter stated. "This ideology fuels a climate of hostility and animosity, leading to violence and widespread denigration of Muslims. "Allowing these groups to operate in Canada not only endangers the safety of Canadian Muslims but also contradicts the fundamental values of equality and respect for all individuals, regardless of their religious background," the letter added. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Aug 2023 Edition


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