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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11 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, over 3,000 Muslims have fled a business hub outside New Delhi this month, fearing for their lives after Hindu-Muslim clashes and ongoing sporadic anti-Muslim attacks, meanwhile in Myanmar, the bodies of 23 Rohingya Muslims have been recovered with 30 still missing after a boat capsized in the sea during an attempt by refugees to flee the country, and in the U.S., Muslim families in Northern California are still reeling from a hate motivated attack in which the perpetrator yelled racial slurs and attempted run over the parkgoers, which included women and chilren. Our recommended read of the day is by Akhil Ranjan for BBC on a growing social media trend involving Indian creators producing scripted videos, which often make “false claims that stoke religious hatred and misogyny,” that are being shared online as true events. This and more below:


Staged videos fuel religious hate and misogyny in India | Recommended Read

In a video shared and watched by millions of people in India, a man is seen attacking a person who is wearing a black burka and holding a child. He then forcibly removes the burka to reveal a man. The message accompanying the clip warns in Hindi that people should "be aware" of criminals using the burka - a veil used by Muslim women around the world - to disguise themselves and "kidnap children". The video, published on YouTube earlier this year, has been viewed more than 29 million times before it was deleted. But it did not show real events. It was a dramatisation - a scripted performance with amateur actors. Scripted videos, apparently created for entertainment, are increasingly being shared on social media as true events in India. Often accompanying the videos are false claims that stoke religious hatred and misogyny. India has witnessed growing tension among religious communities, particularly between Hindus and Muslims, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May 2014. Many of the false narratives that target these communities also encourage moral policing against women. Many of the staged videos show people wearing burkas in order to kidnap children. This could have real-life consequences - over the past few years, authorities in many Indian states have had to issue warnings against fake news after several people were attacked by mobs believing them to be kidnappers. read the complete article

Are Muslims in India’s Haryana facing ‘ethnic cleansing’?

Near India’s capital, in Haryana state, the demolition of about 1,200 homes and shops in a Muslim-majority area has followed clashes that killed six people. The demolition drive has been halted for now. But the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made strong observations, asking if the act was an exercise of “ethnic cleansing” by the state. The clashes and demolitions are seen by many Muslims as the latest in a trend of violence in India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nine years in power. So what space exists for Muslims in India? read the complete article

Muslims flee Indian business hub after religious clashes, attacks

Over 3,000 poor Muslims have fled a business hub outside New Delhi this month, fearing for their lives after Hindu-Muslim clashes and sporadic attacks targeting them, residents, police and a community group said. Shops and shacks owned or run by Muslims and their houses in two large slum areas were padlocked when Reuters visited them more than a week after seven people were killed in clashes in Nuh and Gurugram districts in Haryana state, adjoining the Indian capital. The violence began on July 31 after a Hindu religious procession, organised by groups ideologically aligned with the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was targeted and a mosque attacked in retaliation. Police quelled the unrest in 48 hours. But minor attacks targeting Muslims have continued for days, scaring families who had moved to the new urban centre of Gurugram - where 250 of the Fortune 500 companies have offices - in search of a livelihood. The Gurugram president of Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind (Council of Indian Muslim Theologians) Mufti Mohammed Salim estimated that more than 3,000 Muslims had left the district after the violence. Four Muslim shopkeepers who also fled to their villages in eastern India said by phone that members of hardline Hindu groups had questioned them about their businesses and families. read the complete article

Manipur conflict drags ‘messiah of the poor’ Narendra Modi down to earth

During his near-decade in power, as India has convulsed with sectarian riots, mass protests at government policies, or popular rage at heinous crimes, Narendra Modi has hewed closely to playbook: say nothing, and stay above the fray. The Indian prime minister has never taken questions at a press conference in the country, declines interviews with critical journalists, and leaves daily commentary to his lieutenants or an army of online trolls. The grubby cut-and-thrust of electoral politics is for others; Modi instead is cast in loftier terms as the “messiah of the poor”. Now, something close to a civil war in a north-eastern Indian state has dragged him down to earth. On Thursday Modi was forced to give a rare address to India’s parliament to justify himself before a no-confidence motion, tabled by opposition lawmakers, who accuse the government of failing to quell months of violence in Manipur, a state on the border with Myanmar. The prime minister won the vote easily – his ruling Bharatiya Janata party holds a large majority in parliament – but the opposition hopes that by dragging him into even talking about Manipur, it can begin to tarnish his self-styled saintly reputation. read the complete article

United States

'It Was Scary': Man Allegedly Attempted To Run Over Several Muslim Families At California Park

Asif, a father of four who works in the health care industry, took his family to a California park for a farewell potluck dinner on Sunday. A friend was leaving town, and nearly 25 family members and friends gathered to give them a proper send-off. Instead, the gathering ended in fear when a 33-year-old man allegedly began threatening the Muslim families, hurling racist remarks and even attempting to run over several people, including children. The man, later identified by authorities as Robert Avery, first approached the women in the group, yelling obscenities and racial remarks, said Asif, who is being identified by a pseudonym. He said the men of the group quickly intervened, attempting to shield the women and children, and called 911. Avery allegedly continued to harass the families, using racial slurs and demanding they leave. Police said he also threatened to bring his gun and “shoot and bomb” the Muslim families, before leaving briefly and returning a few minutes later with his vehicle. Video footage posted to YouTube by CAIR, a Muslim civil rights group, shows a silver car driving through a picnic area adjacent to a sports field as an adult lifts a child out of the way. People can be heard screaming in the background as a member of the group calls 911. read the complete article


Activists raise alarm over Hindu nationalist presence at Parliament of World Religions

Activists and scholars have sounded the alarm over the presence of a Hindu nationalist leader linked with India's far-right at next week's Parliament of World Religions convention in the US city of Chicago. Nivedita Bhide, the vice president of Vivekananda Kendra, a Hindu nationalist social service and "nation-building" organisation, is scheduled to address a plenary session at the conference on 16 August. Bhide, who was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award by the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017, has routinely shared the rhetoric of right-wing Hindu nationalists who demonise prominent Indian activists. Targets have included Afreen Fatima, a researcher and activist; Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub; and the late Christian Priest, Father Stan Swamy. Activists and scholars told Middle East Eye that Bhide is routinely present in events either hosted or endorsed by the RSS, a Hindu paramilitary organisation that aims to turn India into a Hindu state, and she actively promotes disinformation, conspiracy theories, and Islamophobia on social media. She was also accused of amplifying support for the widely condemned anti-Muslim propaganda films The Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story, and for spreading conspiracy theories about Rohingya refugees or a so-called "holocaust" against Hindus under Muslim rule in India. read the complete article

Rohingya: At least 23 dead, 30 missing after boat sinks

The bodies of 23 Rohingyas who were fleeing Myanmar's Rakhine state have been recovered after their boat sank. Thirty others are still missing, while eight people are reported to have survived the mishap. Every year thousands of Rohingyas attempt the perilous sea journey to Malaysia or Indonesia. They are escaping persecution in Myanmar and overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh. Those who died this week include 13 women and 10 men, all Rohingya Muslims, a rescue team told BBC Burmese. The Muslim Rohingyas are an ethnic minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Many of them fled to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a campaign of genocide launched by the Burmese military. Those remaining in Myanmar too have been trying to flee since the military coup in 2021. They are willing to take the risk - and often sell their only assets, such as land, to fund the trip - because of the unrelentingly grim conditions in which they are forced to live, either as refugees in appallingly crowded camps over the border in Bangladesh, or subjected to discrimination and restrictions on their movement in Myanmar. read the complete article

What was once a safe haven for those fleeing China is now a more dangerous place

A Uyghur Muslim rights activist who tried to escape oppression by fleeing his homeland with his family says the tentacles of the Chinese state followed him to Turkey and then Morocco, where today he sits in a solitary jail cell. Chinese authorities have accused Hasan of being a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group the U.S. once classified as a terrorist organization during a period of increased U.S.-Chinese cooperation on counterterrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but which it now says has been defunct for more than a decade. China contends the ETIM remains active. Hasan’s family and human rights groups say he has merely helped Uyghurs in Turkey by translating and doing graphic design and worked for a diaspora newspaper documenting alleged abuses against his community back in China. According to Amnesty International, Hasan is at “high risk of being extradited to China where he will face a real risk of arbitrary detention and torture.” He is a victim of what Western governments and activists describe as a vast, global network of surveillance, intimidation and persecution by the Chinese government, one that stretches far beyond its own heavily repressive borders and onto the soil of friendly and hostile nations alike. One of those countries is Turkey, which for years was seen as a safe haven for Uyghurs fleeing Chinese repression. It shares religious, cultural and linguistic ties with this Turkic ethnic group and hosts its largest diaspora community of 45,000. But according to a new report by Spain-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders and shared exclusively for this article before publication, in recent years Turkey has been “losing its reputation as a safe haven” for Uyghurs as it “closely aligns itself with Beijing economically and politically.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Aug 2023 Edition


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