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 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Italy, a public demonstration was organized by men and women in Trieste on Sunday to showcase solidarity with Muslim Women who were targeted by local residents for wearing fully clothed swimsuits, meanwhile in the UK, the Muslim community of West Belfast has expressed concern following the discovery of hateful signage outside a local mosque, and last week at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, several Hindu representatives complained about being unfairly tied to India’s right-wing policies. Our recommended read of the day is by Andrea Mazzarino for Salon on how the U.S. lead “Global War on Terror” has played a role in the increasing polarization and violence that has gripped the country at home. This and more below:

United States

How war divides us: The ways our twenty-first-century wars have polarized Americans | Recommended Read

Blame Donald Trump and all too many of his followers, but don't just blame him or them. In this country, in this century, violence has become as all-American as apple pie. In these years, it's been violence and more violence all the way, literally in the case of the Pentagon. Over the past two decades, however, it's a fact that Americans have grown ever more violent, as have our police. Mass shootings are spiking, for example. And despite the government's longstanding preoccupation with Islamist militants, over the past decade more than 75% of politically related murders in this country have been committed by far-right extremists, just like the ones tending their fields in my region who, being white, the police would never assume to be "not from here" and so, by definition, dangerously sympathetic to extremists. How did we get to this point of violence at home? If you held a gun to my head (no pun intended) and demanded an answer, I'd say that our decision to respond to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with the military invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq, as well as the launching of a "Global War on Terror," played a major role in shaping the sort of worldview that's now become all too American. In other words, while we've been spending ever greater sums to hurt others, in the process we've hurt ourselves, in part by spending far too little to make ourselves healthier, smarter, connected by stronger roads and bridges, and climate-resilient. read the complete article

Ron DeSantis and the Middle East: Trump 2.0 or a new foreign policy?

Late last year, the Florida governor was riding a wave of support, with some analysts even suggesting he was a superior Republican alternative to former US President Donald Trump. But the enthusiasm that once characterised his GOP campaign has subsided in a big way. His efforts to style himself as a Trump-style conservative without the Trump baggage have fallen on deaf ears. "Ron DeSantis: Iraq war veteran, JAG officer who dealt with terrorists in Guantanamo Bay," stated a campaign ad at the time. DeSantis studied history at Yale University, graduating magna cum laude before attending Harvard Law School, graduating in 2005. He went on to serve in the US military, a personal anecdote he relied on when he began his run for Congress. He is the only Republican running for president who has served in the military. DeSantis was also tasked as the only lawyer in the team to handle the detention of Iraqi men rounded up by coalition forces, according to Thorleifson. In his recently released book, he said that he also prosecuted cases in “military court martials”. DeSantis served in Iraq a few years after the Abu Ghraib torture and abuse scandal. In his book, he did not discuss the abuse that took place there, except saying that news outlets had a "field day with Abu Ghraib", using the expose' on the US military's torture of detainees as a partisan attack. In addition to serving in Iraq, a country he describes in his book as a "hot, miserable part of the world", he also was posted in Guantanamo between 2006 and 2007, a prison he refers to as a "terrorist detention camp" despite the fact that out of the 780 men and boys detained there, only seven have ever been convicted. Similar to Iraq, his time working at Guantanamo was shrouded in mystery, until former detainee Mansoor Adayfi spoke out earlier this year about interacting with DeSantis. Adayfi has claimed that when he was being force-fed at the prison to break his hunger strike, he saw DeSantis laughing and smiling with others. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Iman says Muslim community left 'intimidated' by Nazi flags placed near mosque in Belfast

The Muslim community in west Belfast has been left “intimidated” by Nazi flags placed near a mosque in the Dunmurry area, the area’s iman said. Flags bearing the SS and swastika symbols were pictured outside the Iqraa mosque on Wednesday morning. They were seemingly put there overnight and reported to police by people arriving at the mosque and community centre just after 8am. “It’s a place where we have children most of the time, at this community centre, mosque and community centre, with social programmes and educational programmes. So actually, the lady who reported this, she was bringing her children in the morning for a class and she discovered that and she phoned the police, you know, so you can imagine that it would be worrying for the parents.” Dr Iweida blamed the flag on a minority trying to offend and said most people in the area are supportive of the Islamic community. read the complete article


Explaining the Hindu divide at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

At the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago last week with the theme of defending human rights, several Hindu groups complained that, at an event that celebrates common ground among religious communities, they were tied unfairly to India’s contentious religious politics. What those who complained didn’t address was that they, along with a growing number of Hindu organizations in India and in the United States, have tied themselves to those contentious and aggressive politics. These groups ought not to be surprised when their views on the relationship between religion and the nation-state is called out in public spaces, especially because these ideologies contribute to tension and violence in India and elsewhere. But the complaints aired after the parliament go beyond politics. They reflect a deepening divide between (at least) two ways of thinking about Hindu identity and the meaning of Hinduism as a religious tradition. These different ways of thinking about Hinduism are also present in relationships with other traditions. read the complete article


How Are India's Muslims Feeling?

The sudden but continuous rise of organized violence against Muslims in India ever since the Modi government came to power has reached such a level that there is a constant fear among ordinary Muslims of the country of losing their lives or livelihood. A Google search with the keywords ‘Indian Muslim in fear’ offers dozens of articles and reports written each year since the 2015 mob lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Over the past several years, this lingering fear has now become deeply ingrained in the minds of common Muslims, forcing them to change their style of living in order to save their lives. The fear is so deep-seated that almost every person who gave their comments for this report did so on the condition of anonymity. Sarah*, a native of Bihar’s capital city Patna, said, “The incidents on trains [previous lynchings and the recent shootout in the Jaipur-Mumbai Express] have shaken me to the core. I had already stopped carrying food during train journeys, and even if I did, I made sure that it did not look like meat. Sometimes, instead of having a proper meal, I only rely on snacks while travelling.” read the complete article

Vulnerable At Home: How To Make Sense Of Indian Variant Of Islamophobia

There is a growing perception that Indian Muslims are increasingly victims of targeted violence by various means such as lynching, assault allegedly for ‘love jihad, random acts of violence like the recent shooting carried out by a police constable on a Mumbai-bound train; and also in a more systematic fashion as part of ‘bulldozer justice’ mainly und­ertaken by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, etc. In a recent execution of bulldozer justice in the wake of the violence in Nuh, Haryana, close to 1200 structures were demolished. The Punjab and Haryana High Court while taking note of this ill­egality invoked ‘ethnic cleansing’ as a possible fallout. This series of violent incidents in various forms occurring over the span of the past few years is argued to be an outcome of growing Islamophobia. Does this indeed represent a pattern of Islamophobia? Or is there something more to it? The application of the concept of Islamophobia to analyse the violence against Muslims is rather a new app­roach to the analysis of Hindu-Muslim violence in India. This violence bet­ween two communities: Hindus and Muslims—has been occurring for a long time—particularly since the late 19th century. Though the idea of Islamophobia is rather new in its Indian usage, it has been widely used in the West—particularly after 9/11 and the Western response to the war on terror that followed. This was also exported to other parts of the globe including India as part of conversations on the war on terror. The observation, “all Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” is an outcome of the West-inspired Islamophobic interpretations of the war on terror. This phrase found currency in India’s public conversations during a few terrorist incidents that took place in India after 9/11 as well. read the complete article


Demonstrators in 'burkinis' -- Trieste supports Muslim women

A group of over 50 women -- and a few men -- bathed fully clothed at a local beach club in the northeastern Italian city of Trieste on Sunday (August 20) . The demonstration was organized in support of Muslim women who were criticized the previous Sunday (August 13) for wearing the all-in-one swimsuit known as burkini at the beach. The previous Sunday (August 13), a group of local beachgoers called for more freedom for women, accusing the Muslim female beachgoers of "scarce hygiene", saying they swam in "stinky clothes" they had worn at home or on public transport. At the protests over the weekend, demonstrators responded with banners saying: "Which one is more polluting -- a dress or a cruise ship?" referring to the huge cruise ships that dock daily in Trieste. Other signs said "Biodiversity is beautiful" and "We want to live in peace in Pedocin." Demonstrators went into the water fully clothed and formed a large "circle of reconciliation." Some beachgoers in the women's and men's sectors criticized the demonstrators, urging them to "go back home" and, in some cases, used sexist and racist slurs. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Aug 2023 Edition


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