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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03 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, Muslim groups and experts have voiced alarm at the federal government’s push to ban a flag associated with Islamic State, saying it risks criminalizing legitimate displays of Islamic imagery, meanwhile in India, a court has ruled that officials can conduct a scientific survey to determine if a 17th-century mosque in the country’s north was built over a Hindu temple, and in the United Kingdom, the Leicestershire police force is facing calls to revoke an award it presented to a Hindu preacher who has advocated for India to be a Hindu-only nation. Our recommended read of the day is by Arbab Ali for Al Jazeera on the deadly violence that occurred in a suburb of New Delhi this week, after far-right Hindu mobs torched Muslim-owned shops, a mosque, and killed its imam, leaving the Muslims in the area in great fear. 


Muslims in fear in India’s Gurugram after attacks on mosque, businesses | Recommended Read

The Anjuman Jama mosque in Gurugram’s Sector 57 is deserted. About 10 police officers stand in front of the concrete structure, which used to host up to 450 worshippers but is now a mound of debris and ashes. The mosque – one of the few places for Muslim worship in Gurugram, a predominantly Hindu suburb of India’s capital, New Delhi – came under attack on the night of July 31, allegedly by a Hindu far-right mob. The assailants set the mosque ablaze and killed Mohammad Saad, a 22-year-old naib (deputy) imam who was inside at the time. The attack took place hours after deadly communal violence erupted in the neighbouring Nuh district in Haryana state. Authorities in Haryana have deployed additional troops, imposed a curfew and suspended the internet in the wake of the unrest. But the measures did not stop Hindu mobs from attacking Muslim-owned shops, roadside eateries, properties and places of worship in Gurugram as well as in nearby towns such as Sohna, residents said. read the complete article

Right-wing group calls for ban on namaz in open spaces in Gurugram

Even as parts of Gurugram remained on edge amid communal violence, members of a right-wing Hindu outfit on Wednesday sought a complete ban on namaz being offered in open spaces from August 11. In a meeting with Gurugram Deputy Commissioner Nishant Yadav, members of Samagra Hindu Seva Sangh, Haryana, demanded that the permission given to the Muslim community to offer namaz at six designated open spaces in the city be revoked. The letter comes after clashes that began in Muslim-dominated Nuh district on Monday spread to parts of Gurugram a day later. A day after Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders held a panchayat in the neighbouring village of Manesar and allegedly called for Muslims to “leave as soon as possible”, the right-wing body announced a similar mahapanchayat on Wednesday. However, the mahapanchayat was not held after the district administration denied permission for the same. Over 100 VHP workers gathered at a temple in Manesar demanding that their outfit’s detained members be released. They also threatened the administration with “dire consequences”. read the complete article

Burning books, mosques and Muslims: India’s bloody burden for the future

A part of the Indian state where I live is on fire. Barely 77km (48 miles) from the university where I teach in Haryana state, a mob set a mosque on fire on early Tuesday and shot dead a young imam in a neighbouring district. It’s the latest bloodstain on India’s social fabric, which is already in tatters. If history’s any guide, these stains will haunt India — and Indians — for decades to come. In India, we are watching the rapid poisoning of the collective mind with propaganda that the ancient glory of Hindus was tarnished by Muslim rulers. That contemporary India’s rise is being held back by Muslims — who are blamed for everything from the country’s large population and the spread of the coronavirus to anti-women practices and even inflation. From the withdrawal of scholarships for Muslims to amendments to the citizenship law that discriminate against Muslim asylum seekers, the ruling party is leaving no stone unturned to fan the fuels of division. Periodic violence and lynchings, as in Haryana this week, help push Muslims further and further into ghettos. Muslim women’s organisations working towards domestic equality, Muslim youth trying to adopt a liberal way of life away from the community gaze, and children trying to get education and economic mobility are all pushed back into the ghetto. They are then compelled to live a Muslimness that is defined by others — the Hindu right and self-proclaimed Muslim leaders determine how a Muslim should look, behave and dress. Fanatics from both sides debate over it, clash swords over it. The voices of the common Muslim – youth, children, women, men and professionals — are lost. As a result, an unchanging target is preserved for the merchants of hate. read the complete article

Indian court allows survey of a 17th-century mosque to see if it was built over a Hindu temple

An Indian court on Thursday ruled that officials can conduct a scientific survey to determine if a 17th-century mosque in the country's north was built over a Hindu temple. The Gyanvapi mosque in the holy Hindu city of Varanasi, an area Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents in India's parliament, is one of several mosques in northern Uttar Pradesh state that some Hindus believe was built on top of demolished Hindu temples. The dispute over land ownership had been one of India’s most heated issues between India’s 80% majority Hindu community and Muslim minority, which makes up nearly 14% of the country’s 1.4 billion people. The Muslim petitioners objected to the survey saying it would damage the structure. Khalid Rasheed, a Muslim petitioner, said the mosque committee has the option to appeal Thursday’s decision in India’s Supreme Court. ``We are hopeful that justice will be done as the mosque is 600 years old and Muslims have been praying there for long," Rasheed told reporters. The Muslim body, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, contends that the survey is contrary to provisions of a 1991 Indian law protecting places of worship. read the complete article

Deadly communal violence flares in India a month before world leader summit

Separate outbreaks of violence this week, including the alleged shooting of three Muslim men by a police officer on a train, have exposed the deep communal fissures in India weeks before it welcomes Group of 20 (G20) leaders to the capital. Violence erupted in the northern state of Harayana state on Monday after a right-wing Hindu organization led a religious procession in the Muslim dominated region of Nuh. Clashes spread to several districts of the finance and tech hub, Gurugram, also known as Gurgaon, home to more than 1.5 million people and hundreds of global firms, where violent mobs predominantly targeted Muslim-owned properties, setting buildings ablaze and smashing shops and restaurants. At least six people died, including two police personnel and a cleric who was inside a mosque that was set alight, and more than 110 people have been arrested, authorities said. The image of India that Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) want to project is one of a confident, vibrant, and modern superpower – and it will be one they want on display in India when G20 leaders meet in New Delhi next month. But analysts say these scenes of violence underscore an uncomfortable reality as the BJP’s Hindu nationalist policies gain momentum in the world’s largest democracy after nearly a decade of Modi’s rule. read the complete article

United States

Ex-inmate exposes torture, discrimination against Muslims at Guantanamo

The physical and psychological torture of inmates was a common practice at the US Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, a former Yemeni detainee who spent 15 years there due to his name being similar to that of a terrorist suspect has said. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mansoor Adayfi highlighted how the US spy agency CIA used unreliable information from local informants to transport people from Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen as well as other countries to Guantanamo. Adayfi underscored that the US deliberately designed Guantanamo prison to evade legal restrictions, saying the US denies any wrongdoing concerning the facility. “Guantanamo has a bigger goal. It turned out to be a military lab for experimenting on prisoners. At the same time, (then-US president) George W Bush and his administration invaded Afghanistan and announced the war on terror. "They needed to show some results, so they brought people in orange jumpsuits and shipped them to Guantanamo as the worst of the worst. The only prisoners who are there are Muslims,” he said. Emphasising that Guantanamo represents a standardised form of anti-Muslim sentiment, Adayfi said guards provoked inmates through insults and disrespect towards Islam and its sacred values. He said that following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the US attempted to cover up its foreign policy failures by stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, adding that inmates feared reporting the increased instances of discrimination against Muslims at Guantanamo. read the complete article

Muslim-American advocacy group objects to “Islamaphobic” PragerU content in Florida schools

Last week, a spokesperson for the state Department of Education said that videos from PragerU Kids had been reviewed by the department and that their content “aligns” with state education standards guiding civics and government instruction. “PragerU Kids is no different than many other resources, which can be used as supplemental materials in Florida schools at district discretion,” department spokesperson Cassandra Palelis said in an email. The PragerU Kids videos cover topics such as America’s system of government, various historical events and religious stories. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and its Florida chapter on Tuesday asked the state education department to “clarify and reject any relationship between the Islamophobic Prager University and Florida schools.” CAIR in a news release pointed to a “factsheet” published by the Georgetown University Bridge Initiative, which is described on its website as “a multi-year research project on Islamophobia” housed at Georgetown. “A number of PragerU’s videos spread anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories,” the document, published in 2020, said. read the complete article


It’s been six years since former president Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigration from Muslim-majority countries. It’s been two years since President Biden rolled back the ban. But many Minnesota refugee families are still waiting to be reunited. Sahan Journal reporter Hibah Ansari joined MPR News host Emily Bright to give a sense of the scale of the family reunification backlog. Ansari: So as of March, there are about 20,000 refugee family reunification petitions that are at the initial stage of the application process. And then there’s another 25,000 cases that are towards the end of the application process, which is when your relatives abroad are interviewed and go through medical screenings and things like that. Most cases are actually kind of stuck at this last stage. And since 2017, which is when the refugee ban had first started, the median processing time for these cases has since tripled to a little over two years. Now of course, that’s a median. So there are definitely cases that are taking longer than that as well. And then locally in Minnesota, you might see some cases dating as far back as 2011 for families trying to sponsor their relatives to join them here in Minnesota. read the complete article


Spain has stopped the far-right Vox party, for now

Spain held parliamentary elections on 23 July and, contradicting most of the polls ahead of the vote, the centre-right Popular Party and the far-right Vox party failed to secure a parliamentary majority. The presence of Vox in the Spanish government would have had dire consequences for migrants and the Muslim minority in Spain, which represents around 5 percent of the population. In the years that led to Vox’s entry into parliament in April 2019, the party was influenced by figures such as Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon. Trump himself expressed his support for Vox in a short video in 2022. The far-right party has long espoused a strong anti-immigration discourse that calls for the deportation of undocumented migrants living in Spain. Vox leaders portray immigration as an ‘invasion’ or a ‘jihadist threat’. The dehumanisation of migrants by the far right is particularly extreme against those who cross from North Africa to Spain searching for a better future, often fleeing war and prosecution. Vox has suggested that Spanish coastguards should reject assistance to distressed embarkations with migrants headed to Spain if they are not in Spanish waters, even if the Spanish coastguards could represent the only chance of their survival. read the complete article


Muslim groups alarmed by push to ban flag used by Islamic State

Muslim groups, religious leaders and experts have voiced alarm at the federal government’s push to ban a flag associated with Islamic State, saying it risks criminalising legitimate displays of Islamic imagery and infringing Muslims’ right to practise their religion. The government has introduced legislation that would ban the terrorist group’s flag as well as the display of Nazi symbols such as the swastika. The Australian National Imams Council said the push to ban the IS flag was analogous to banning the display of the Christian cross because it had been misappropriated by the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group. “The bill places Australian Muslims in jeopardy of having their religious practices policed and even criminalised,” the imams said in a submission to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, which is scrutinising the bill. The religious leaders said the terrorist group had deliberately sought to hijack core elements of Islamic imagery to further its violent agenda. “Accordingly, we urge against the banning of these symbols or them being considered as a hate symbol,” the imams said. read the complete article


Sweden and Denmark consider ban on Quran-burning protests as security fears rise

A spate of Quran-burning protests in Sweden and Denmark has caused angry demonstrations in Muslim-majority countries, heightened security fears at home and left both Scandinavian nations questioning whether they need to review their liberal laws on freedom of speech. Sweden sparked an international spat after allowing a protester to burn a copy of the Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm in June, which coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, one of the most significant events in the Islamic calendar – an incident that angered Turkey and jeopardized Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Several Qurans have also been burned outside foreign embassies in the Danish capital Copenhagen over recent weeks. While some of the protests have been staged by individuals, a number have been carried out by far-right groups that are growing in influence in the two countries. The right to freedom of expression has been enshrined in the Swedish and Danish constitutions for centuries. But both countries signaled Sunday that they are exploring legal ways to prevent such protests, amid security and geopolitical concerns. read the complete article

‘It’s a very proud moment’: British Muslim women cheer hijab at World Cup

On Sunday the Moroccan player Nouhaila Benzina made history by becoming the first football player to wear a hijab in a World Cup game. Bringing Benzina off the subs bench was more than just an opportunity for the 25-year-old player; it proved that the hijab is no barrier to playing football at the highest level despite having been subject to a ban on health and safety grounds until 2014. Muslim women and girls who play grassroots football said they hoped Benzina’s appearance would inspire the next generation of hijabi football stars and persuade clubs to explicitly adopt inclusive clothing policies. “It’s a very proud moment. I knew it was going to happen at one point but I didn’t think it was going to happen so soon – we’re going in the right direction,” said Yasmin Hussain, the head coach of Frenford & MSA, a large grassroots women’s team in east London with strong links to the local Muslim community. read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK: Leicestershire police face backlash for presenting award to Hindu preacher

The United Kingdom's Leicestershire police force is facing calls to revoke an award it presented to a Hindu preacher who has advocated for India to be a Hindu-only state. Leicestershire police presented the award to Dhirendra Krishna Shastri, also known as Bageshwar Dham Baba, on 22 July, after he spoke at an event in a Hindu community centre in the English city of Leicester. While hundreds of locals gathered outside the venue, Shastri, a self-proclaimed spiritual healer, referred to India as a "Hindu Rashtra" or a pure Hindu state - a common rallying cry among Hindutva activists who advocate for a state without any Christians or Muslims. The decision to grant Shastri the award garnered criticism from politicians and members of the Muslim community, and comes as the Indian government continues its crackdown on religious minorities, particularly members of the minority Muslim population. Claudia Webb, a member of parliament for Leicester East, called the decision to present Shastri the award "divisive and questionable", and also criticised the police's handling of the event which was marred by scuffles. "This is viewed amongst many in the community and internationally as an endorsement of Mr Shasti’s views. This causing additional and significant disquiet, unrest and tension," she added. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Aug 2023 Edition


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