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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25 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the controversial anti-Muslim film The Kashmir Files has been awarded the prestigious Nargis Dutt Award for best feature film in India, sparking outrage with many calling the award politically motivated, meanwhile, Rohingya Muslims and rights organizations are calling for Facebook to be held accountable for the role it played in allowing anti-Rohingya sentiments and disinformation to fester on its pages, which resulted in real-life violence, and lastly in the United Kingdom, Muslim residents in the city of Belfast are on edge after Nazi paraphernalia appears outside a local mosque. Our recommended read of the day is by Anjana Sankar for The National on how today marks six years since the Myanmar military launched a genocidal campaign against Rohingya Muslims, killing some 10,000 men, women, children, and newborns, and leading to the forced exodus of over 700,000 to neighboring Bangladesh where they long for justice and safe path back home. This and more below:


The 'undesirables' | Recommended Read

Taker Hussein, aged 17 at the time, was shot in the right hand but managed to escape. His arm would later be amputated just beneath the elbow because of those wounds. Today, he lives with his wife and two children at the sprawling Camp 3, in Bangladesh’s Kutupalong – the world’s largest refugee camp . He is one of more than a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who remain stateless, with no real path to repatriation. Many are desperate to return home but fear for their safety in the country that persecuted and displaced them. Aisha Kutun, 45, was one of thousands of women who were separated from their families and brutally raped by soldiers. Ms Kutun’s husband and four of their children – aged between 12 and 22 - were killed by the army. “They shot them point-blank. It was a mindless attack without any provocation,” says Ms Kutun. She was among those chosen and led by soldiers towards the bushes “for questioning”, but they were instead each pinned to the ground and repeatedly raped. In 2019, a UN fact-finding mission determined the military was using rape and other forms of sexual violence as a weapon of war.To date, not one refugee has returned to Rakhine State through the repatriation mechanism agreed on by Myanmar and Bangladesh in November 2017. The Rohingya’s demands for citizenship, which they have historically been denied, and requests for security assurances, have gone unheeded by Myanmar's military junta. Six years on, survivors of attacks and sexual violence give their harrowing testimonies to The National in the hope that sharing their story would help lead to justice. read the complete article

Rohingya youth long for a future beyond the barbed wire

Six years have now elapsed since the world watched 700,000 Rohingya flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh in search of safety. About half of them were children and young people. What was expected to be a short-term refuge has become another protracted crisis. Those who fled as children have now reached the age of adolescence; those who were teenagers are now adults. Living in the world’s biggest refugee camp, surrounded by barbed-wire fences, Rohingya refugees are blocked from accessing formal education, earning an income, and moving freely through or beyond the camp. Many of the young Rohingya I have met as part of my work at these camps tell me they feel forgotten by the world. They tell me the barriers between them and the life they want for themselves engulf them with a sense of despair. They say their voices go unheard and that they have lost the right to dream. This sense of helplessness has a visceral impact on their mental health. A 2022 survey of 317 refugee youth and adolescents across 11 camps conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) found that 96 percent of the respondents were unemployed and that they constantly feel anxious and stressed. read the complete article

Six years on, still no justice for Myanmar’s Rohingya

Friday, 25 August, marks the sixth anniversary of the start of a massive offensive by Myanmar’s military against the mainly Muslim minority in Rakhine state. Some 10,000 Rohingya men, women, children and newborns were killed, more than 300 villages burnt to the ground, and over 700,000 forced to flee to Bangladesh in search of safety, joining tens of thousands who fled earlier persecutions. The then High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein called the brutal campaign to drive the community from their homes a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” In all, over a million Rohingya fled persecution and systematic discrimination to seek international refugee protection in Bangladesh, and approximately 600,000 remain within Rakhine state, where they continue to suffer severe rights restrictions and the threat of further violence. In a sign of their desperation, thousands more continue to attempt dangerous sea crossings from Myanmar and Bangladesh, too often ending in tragedy. read the complete article

Facebook should pay for what it did to my people, Rohingya

When I was a child, there was no communal violence in our lives and we had no major problems with our neighbours, even though we were Muslim Rohingya and they were Buddhist Rakhine. For the past six years, since the Myanmar military started conducting “clearance operations” on Rohingya villages, I have been living across the border in Bangladesh, in a refugee camp called Cox’s Bazar. It is the largest such settlement in the world. About a million of my people are now crammed into this place, living in tiny shelters made from bamboo and tarpaulin. Our life here is a daily struggle. We often do not have enough food or clean water. There have been fires, there have been killings. We do not feel safe here. How did we end up here? I blame Facebook, its parent company Meta, and the man behind it all, Mark Zuckerberg, for helping create the conditions that allowed the Myanmar military to unleash hell upon us. The social media company allowed anti-Rohingya sentiments to fester on its pages. Its algorithms promoted disinformation that eventually translated into real-life violence. Sure, the history of tensions between Rohingya and Rakhine communities in Myanmar is long. But, in my personal experience, there was no substantial day-to-day animosity between our peoples until smartphones, and Facebook, entered into our lives and allowed politicians, bigots and opportunists to propagate hate against my people in real time. read the complete article

United States

The Rise of Vivek Ramaswamy

In late February of this year, a newcomer entered the Republican field for president. On paper, his CV seemed pretty on par with that of presidential candidates: a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a J.D. from Yale, and an estimated net worth of $1 billion. Except he was different — he was 38 years old, a devout Hindu, and his name was Vivek Ramaswamy. Since February, Ramaswamy has steadily inched upward in GOP primary polls by combining extreme right-wing policies with a younger generation’s dose of charisma. To many progressives and conservatives alike, Ramaswamy is an enigma: a brown man with far-right views who’s a practicing Hindu. But to Indian Americans like myself, if we’re honest, he’s no anomaly. The same rhetoric that’s made Ramaswamy the newest GOP darling? We’ve heard it all before, usually from that one uncle whose Saturday night pastimes are Glenlivet and ghastly pontifications about the world around him. If anything, Ramaswamy’s rise just highlights how the Indian American voter is a sorely understudied — but increasingly powerful — phenomenon in modern American politics. In short, Ramaswamy, in many ways, is a product of his community. read the complete article

Coney Island community board chair called out for alleged anti-Muslim remarks amid casino fight

Alfadila Community Services, a community non-profit based in Coney Island called on city pols to have the chairperson of Community Board 13, Lucy Mujica Diaz, removed from her position after she allegedly made anti-Muslim remarks on a public social media post opposing the proposed Coney Island casino. In a letter addressed to Mayor Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and Council Member Ari Kagan, Alfadila Community Services claimed the chairperson’s posts “spewed rhetoric of hate towards Islam, Muslims” and the program’s executive director and co-founder, Marie Mirville-Shahzada. “This was a coordinated and calculated series of hateful posts towards Alfadila Community Services’ executive director, a Muslim Black Woman with the explicit intent to bully, intimidate and humiliate her solely because of the perceived perception that she was in favor of a proposed project in Coney Island that she and her cohorts of are opposed to,” the letter said. read the complete article

Exploring the Nexus: White Supremacy and Hindu Nationalism in America

In a special interview, journalist Bhasha Singh spoke with Choeeta Chakraborty, Anthropology Professor at Florida State University, to understand the connection between the white supremacy-Islamophobia combine and the surge of aggressive Hindu nationalism within the Indian diaspora community. read the complete article


West to north India, the hate-mongering continues unabated

Hindutva leaders in different parts of India are fanning the flames of communal discord through inflammatory speeches and divisive agendas. These instances highlight the growing concern surrounding hate speeches and the propagation of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. That such propagandist hate speech is being generated with regular frequencies across the country when elections are due in four states in 2023 and the general elections next year, in 2023, tells its own sordid tale. Far-right leader Kajal Shingla recently delivered a hate speech targeting Muslims in Lalpur, Jamnagar. Speaking at an event organized by the Hindu Sena, Shingla indulged in fear-mongering and propagated anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Her divisive rhetoric adds to the escalating communal tensions within the region. The video was posted online on August 13, 2023. “Hindus should organise themselves. Rohingyan Muslims and Bangladeshi immigrants are here to destroy us,” she said in speech. Thereafter, she made a “plea” to financially boycott Muslims. “The money given to Muslims is contribution to terrorists”, she reiterated. She “blamed Muslims” for communal disturbances in Mewat. She alleged that Muslims pelted stones against the Shobha Yatra. The police reports rejected this claim and are yet to verify the sources. A video surfaced on Twitter on 13th August, 20023 in which Acharya Azad Singh Arya, the leader of the Haryana Gau Raksha Dal, can be seen taking to the stage at a Hindu Mahapanchayat in Pondri Village, Palwal. His provocative speech targeted Muslims in Mewat and called on Hindus to arm themselves with rifles instead of revolvers. read the complete article

‘Mockery of film awards’: National Award for 'The Kashmir Files' sparks row

The Kashmir Files has been at the centre of controversy ever since its release in March 2022. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, the movie is based on stories of what Kashmiri Pandits faced in the early 1990s when the insurgency peaked in Jammu and Kashmir. While the movie was a commercial success, there were calls to ban the film for “attempting to recast established history and propagating Islamophobia”. Agnihotri’s film triggered a controversy with two opposing narratives that emerged around it. One called it a true account of the atrocities committed on Pandits, while the other account labbled the labeled the film a "propaganda" production that fans anti-Muslim sentiment. On Thursday, 'The Kashmir Files' won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film in the National Integration category at the National Film Awards. Soon after the announcement, leaders from different parties criticised the award. Politicians, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, criticised the film getting the award and called it "shocking". Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin also criticised the film getting awarded and said, "The dignity of national awards should not be compromised for cheap politics." He added, "It is shocking that a film that was ignored by neutral film critics as a controversial film has been awarded the National Integrity Nargis Dutt award." read the complete article


My Childhood, My Country - 20 Years in Afghanistan

A unique, long-term project, the film tells Mir’s story against the backdrop of political developments in Afghanistan and ends with the withdrawal of international troops from the country in 2021. Award-winning filmmakers Phil Grabsky and Shoaib Sharifi have created a real-life coming-of-age epic in one of the world's poorest and most contested regions. "Look at the American planes!" shouts Mir - a mischievous boy of seven. He lives in a cave among the ruins of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. The filmmakers meet him in 2001, shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center. U.S. troops have just landed in Afghanistan. It is the beginning of a seemingly endless war, fought in one of the poorest countries in the world. The documentary follows Mir over the next two decades, telling a remarkably personal story marked by poverty, destruction, hope and progress. It is the story of a life in Afghanistan. Mir's personal journey is interwoven with the history of his country: The documentary also includes sobering comments from soldiers, politicians and journalists, to provide big-picture insights into the "war on terror". read the complete article

United Kingdom

Muslims fear far-right attacks after Nazi flags appear outside Belfast mosque

Nazi flags flown outside a mosque in Northern Ireland have sparked fear among the small, local Muslim community of potential attacks by far-right extremists. Three swastika flags and SS insignia were discovered on Wednesday morning close to the Iqraa Mosque in Dunmurry, West Belfast in an incident that is being treated by police as a "racially-motivated hate crime". Jamal Iweida, imam and chairperson of the mosque, said the "disgusting" incident has sparked fear among the congregation, particularly about the safety of children. "We feel that we have been watched by some people or some group," he told the BBC. "And we, of course, are worried about if this will lead to further actions." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Aug 2023 Edition


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