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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14 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., sources in New Jersey have stated that two Hindu nationalist groups will be participating in this week’s India Day rally parade in the towns of Edison and Woodbridge, meanwhile in Denmark, another Quran burning has taken place in the Danish city of Copenhagen, with the alleged perpetrators streaming the incident on social media, and lastly, the popular EA sports video game FIFA 23 will now feature Moroccan football star Nouhaila Benzina wearing a hijab. Our recommended read of the day is by Astha Rajvanshi for TIME on how the practice and specter of bulldozing Muslim homes and businesses has become synonymous with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist regime. This and more below:


How India's Bulldozers Became a Vehicle of Injustice | Recommended Read

Over the past week, Nuh, a small, poor town in the northern state of Haryana, has become a heaped pile of rock and debris after authorities demolished hundreds of homes and shops with bulldozers. Many of the trampled buildings belonged to Muslims, who form 77% of the district’s local population, according to India's 2011 census. The demolition drive followed violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims on July 31 and continued over three days, killing at least six people and injuring several others. They began when Nuh’s Muslim residents began pelting stones at a hardline Hindu group passing through town during a religious procession, provoked by rumors that a notorious Hindu vigilante would be in attendance. The situation escalated into street riots, with angry mobs from both communities vandalizing property and torching cars before authorities intervened. Civil society groups say the demolition drive in Nuh is just one example among many of how bulldozers have become a major extrajudicial tool wielded by politicians from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to destroy homes, businesses, and places of worship of thousands of Muslims. In many BJP-governed states, especially in northern India, demolition drives have not only become a common tactic to quash Muslim dissent, but bulldozers have evolved as a Hindu-nationalist symbol. They feature during election victories, in parade floats in both India and abroad, on packets of chips, and in several Hindu nationalist anthems. Young men have even gotten the symbol tattooed on their arms in celebration of the BJP. read the complete article

Indian Muslims in Haryana face calls for economic boycott after violence

Hindu far-right organisations have called for an economic boycott of Muslim businesses and keeping Muslims out of villages after deadly communal violence broke out in India’s Haryana state. Sectarian clashes erupted in Nuh district on July 31 after a religious procession by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad organisation reportedly came under attack, killing six people including two security guards. The clashes soon spread to other districts. In Gurugram, a mosque was set on fire and its deputy imam, Mohammad Saad, 22, was killed. So far, Haryana police arrested 312 people and took at least 106 into preventive detention, said Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij. After the violence, there were protest calls by various Hindu groups. At one demonstration on August 2, in Hansi city of Hisar district, one speaker – Krishna Gurjar from Hindu far-right group Bajrang Dal – can be heard giving an ultimatum to local businesses to fire any Muslim employees working for them or face a boycott. Lawyer Shahrukh Alam, who recently challenged hate speech before the courts, called the economic boycott calls against Muslims “part of a pattern of structural violence against them”. read the complete article

In Riot-Torn Nuh, A Muslim Man Has Found It Impossible To Get His Complaint Registered

Ten days after communal violence erupted in Haryana on 31 July, Mohammad Talha, a 53-year-old Muslim shop owner, said the police told him to withdraw the complaint he had tried registering against Hindu rioters, who he said were members of a far-right Hindu nationalist group, who he accused of pelting stones on his house, causing him Rs 2 lakh worth of damage. Speaking over the phone on 9 August, four days after Article 14 met his lawyer in Nuh, a Muslim-majority district in the southern part of the state, which was the epicentre of the rioting, Talha said, “Today, the police called me to the Nuh city police station. When I went there, they verbally abused me and threatened to arrest me in a false case if I didn't take back my complaint.” Talha, a father to two daughters and three sons, said the police told him that his sons were involved in violence, and he was registering the complaint to save them. With one of his sons admitted to a cricket academy in Chandigarh, the other working as a doctor in Mohalla Clinic in Saket, and the third with him all day on the day of violence, Talha said the police could use their cell phone to track where they were. Talha said the seemingly impossible task of registering his complaint had traumatised him. “They forced me to sign a paper on which it was written that I don't want to take forward my complaint,” he said, naming one Bharat Singh as the policeman who coerced him. "They also wanted me to sign a paper on which it was written that I saw Muslims attacking policemen on 31 July. But I refused to sign it.” read the complete article

Renewed violence breaks out against India's Muslims in lead-up to general election

India's general elections, tensions have been rising between the nation's Hindu majority and its Muslim minority. Hindu extremist groups have been leading processions through Muslim-majority areas and chanting racist slogans, leading to reprisals on the part of Muslims. The latest violence erupted on July 31, when a group of Hindu men led a procession in the Nuh district of Haryana state. read the complete article


In a first, FIFA 23 video game features Morocco’s Benzina in hijab

The popular EA Sports video game franchise FIFA 23 will now feature Moroccan football standout Nouhaila Benzina wearing a hijab after a recent patch update. Before the update, Benzina's avatar lacked a hijab in FIFA 23's World Cup mode. However, EA Sports rectified this ahead of Morocco's Round of 16 clash against France on Tuesday. At the 2023 World Cup's group stage match, Benzina achieved a milestone by becoming the first player to wear the Islamic headscarf in a major tournament. Following the 2014 reversal of FIFA's head-covering ban, the 2016 under-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan witnessed Muslim players donning headscarves in an international FIFA event for the first time.Now young Muslim footballers around the globe say Nouhaila Benzina is their role model since she paved the way by wearing a hijab at the Women's World Cup. read the complete article

United States

Exclusive: Hindu nationalist groups to assemble at India Day rally in New Jersey

At least two Hindu nationalist organisations will be participating in this week's India Day rally in the same New Jersey towns that saw anti-Muslim symbols paraded through the streets during a rally a year ago, Middle East Eye can reveal. According to several sources in New Jersey, the Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), designated by scholars as the overseas branches of their right-wing counterparts in India, will participate as part of a cohort of 21 organisations taking part in the annual India Day parade that marks Indian Independence Day on 15 August. The parade, in its 19th year, organised by the Indian Business Association (IBA), is set to take place Sunday afternoon in Woodbridge and Edison. According to scholars, the HSS is the overseas branch of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation that calls for India to be a Hindu state, while the VHPA is the American offshoot of India’s Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), considered the cultural wing of the RSS. Until 2018, the VHP was considered a “militant religious organization” by the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) World Factbook. Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of HfHr, said the inclusion of the HSS and the VHPA was akin to bringing a bulldozer to the rally. "The HSS and the VHPA are Hindu nationalist organisations with explicit roots in and links to Hindu nationalist organisations in India. It is their Hindu nationalist ideology that is fuelling India's democratic decline. "So having HSS and VHPA in the rally is no different, for us, than including a bulldozer," Viswanath told MEE. read the complete article

Parliament of the World's Religions seeks understanding and action

Anila Ali traces her interest in the interfaith movement to scripture. "God says in the Koran to Muslims," she says, "I have created you into tribes—different tribes—so that you may get to know each other." Ali says getting to know other religions needs to go beyond the superficial, which is why she left her job as a public school teacher in Southern California and is now president of the American Muslim and Multifaith Women's Empowerment Council. She says not enough people hear the real story of Islam, which leaves them relying on stereotypes rather than real knowledge. Part of setting the record straight is her participation in this year's Parliament of the World's Religions, which begins Sunday in Chicago. This year marks Ali's first time at the gathering, where she's slated to speak on women and Islam. The Parliament is one of the world's largest inter-faith gatherings and comes at a time when belief is often seen as a force that divides. But its progressive organizers want to send a different message. Some 10,000 participants from more than 80 countries and 200 religious traditions will convene in Chicago. read the complete article

Will Gitmo always be with us? The Forever War's forever legacy

There can be little question that the grim prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which still shows no sign of closing anytime soon, is a key legacy — in the worst sense imaginable — of America's post-9/11 forever wars. Then, in mid-June, the U.N. Human Rights Council followed up its own site visit by issuing a comprehensive, devastatingly critical report. Fionnuala Ni Aoláin, that council's special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, focused on the potential war crimes and "crimes against humanity" committed against the detainees during and after their time at that island prison, now in its 21st year of existence. Like its predecessors, Ni Aoláin's report reiterates the sins of Guantánamo: the physical and psychological abuse and outright cruelties committed there and the lack of any access to justice for its prisoners. She also reminds us that "the vast majority of the men rendered and detained there were brought without cause and had no relationship whatsoever with the events that took place on 9/11." She calls out the United States for its widespread ongoing violations of human rights and international law and mentions numerous times that the way it dealt with its detainees amounted to "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment." Her report, however, also potentially shifts the never-ending discussion of Guantánamo to new ground. read the complete article


Waiting to Be Arrested at Night review – the Uyghurs’ fight for survival in a society where repression is routine

The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority who live mainly in China’s north-western Xinjiang region. They have long faced discrimination and persecution. Since 2016, the repression has greatly intensified, with mass detention, forced sterilisation and abortion, the separation of thousands of children from their parents, and the razing of thousands of mosques. Yet support for Uyghurs has been equivocal, not least from Muslim-majority countries, many of which are outraged by the burning of a Qur’an in Sweden but remain silent about the detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, for fear of upsetting Beijing. Tahir Hamut Izgil’s Waiting to Be Arrested at Night, which recounts that conversation, is not, however, a bitter book. It is suffused, rather, by a deep sense of sadness, and of despondency even amid hope. “Yet our words could undo nothing here,/even the things we brought to be”, as one of Izgil’s poems laments. A poet and film-maker, Izgil is famed for bringing a modernist sensibility to Uyghur poetry. He did not set out to be a political activist. The very fact of being a Uyghur, though, in a country that seeks to erase Uyghur existence, both culturally and physically, turns everyday life into a political act. And for a poet living in a culture within which “verse is woven into daily life”, writing is necessarily also an act of witness and of resistance. Despite the subtitle of the book – “A Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide” – there are no depictions here of genocide, or of torture, or even of violence. We know all these things are happening, but off-page. Izgil’s memoir is a story about how to survive in, and to negotiate one’s way through, a society in which repression has become routine, and the power of the state is unfettered. read the complete article


Danish ultranationalists burn Quran in front of Turkish, Iraqi embassies

Members of the ultranationalist group, Danske Patrioter, or Danish Patriots have burned a copy of the Quran in front of Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen. The group then proceeded on Saturday to burn another copy of the Quran in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen. The members chanted anti-Islamic slogans during the provocative act, which took place under police protection. The gathering was streamed live by the group on their social media accounts. read the complete article


At least 23 Rohingya die after their boat sinks during attempt to flee Myanmar

At least 23 Rohingyas have died and 30 remain missing after a boat they were fleeing in from Myanmar, capsized in the Bay of Bengal. Local aid workers said eight people have survived the accident. The boat with more than 50 people on board had set off for Malaysia, a coveted destination for thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution and poverty in Myanmar and Bangladesh. At least 13 women were among those who died in the incident, BBC Burmese reported. Survivors of the capsized boat claimed the they were struck by a large wave near Sittwe — the capital of Rakhine state. Nearly 1 million Muslim Rohingyas fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar amid waves of violence starting in August 2017, when the military launched a “clearance operation” against them following attacks by a rebel group. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Aug 2023 Edition


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