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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31 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a Delhi public school teacher has been charged by police with making derogatory remarks towards a Muslim students during class, meanwhile in France, the country’s ban on wearing abayas in K-12 schools comes over two decades after hijabs were banned, furthering the public scrutiny of the country’s Muslim population, and in the United States, new guidelines announced by New York City Mayor Eric Adams will allow for the call to prayer to be publicly broadcasted on Fridays without the permit which was required in years past. Our recommended read of the day is by Helen Davidson for The Guardian on how international advocacy groups are calling on western tourism companies to stop selling package holidays that take visitors through Xinjiang, as human rights abuses continue to mount in the region against the Uyghur Muslim community. This and more below:


Travel firms urged to halt trips to Uyghur region over China rights abuses | Recommended Read

Uyghur advocates have called on western tourism companies to stop selling package holidays that take visitors through Xinjiang, where human rights abuses by authorities have been called a genocide by some governments. The request comes as China reopens to foreign visitors after the pandemic, and as its leader, Xi Jinping, calls for more tourism to the region. A report by the US-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), released on Wednesday, said western tourism to the region risked supporting the normalisation of Chinese government policies that were “intended to destroy the Uyghur identity”. China’s government has been accused of crimes against humanity and abuses including torture through its policies of mass detention, reeducation, surveillance, population control and oppression of religious and cultural expression in the region. It denies all accusations, saying its policies are aimed at countering extremism and alleviating poverty. Most of the package holidays – often marketed as Silk Road tours – stopped in the Xinjiang cities of Turpan, Kashgar and Urumqi, and some provided “problematic” experiences including visits to the Xinjiang Regional Museum, which UHRP said contributed to the “state erasure of Uyghur history, culture and identity”, and the Id Kah mosque, which research groups say has been made largely off limits to Uyghurs for prayer. read the complete article

TikTok deactivates money-making feature for serial Quran desecrater

TikTok has blocked Salwan Momika, who burned copies of the Quran in Sweden, from profiting from his content. TikTok officials confirmed that the platform has deactivated a feature that allowed users to give money to Momika, Radio Sweden reported on Tuesday. From now on, users will not be able to use TikTok’s "gift" feature when interacting with videos posted by Momika, who has desecrated the Muslim holy book in a series of anti-Islam protests that have sparked outrage in many Muslim countries. Speaking to the Swedish news agency TT, Momika, who lives in Stockholm, said his Quran burning videos get millions of views. Noting that he earned between $100 and $300 from TikTok in an hour during a livestream, he said he has no other income and that TikTok has turned off this income-generating feature. read the complete article

United States

Black Muslims plan to play a big role in the next election. Join us.

My city of Philadelphia has long been recognized as crucial to landing Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, but within that truth, there is a story about faith and political power that needs to be remembered as we head into the 2024 presidential cycle. Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have some of the highest per capita Muslim populations on the East Coast, most of them avid voters. Pennsylvania has 168,000 registered Muslim voters. Philadelphia alone has 50,223 registered Black Muslims. These numbers are vastly undercounted due to issues with the way Muslims are tracked demographically, but even with faulty counting, it’s clear that Muslims in Pennsylvania, with a voter turnout of about 75% in both 2016 and 2020, have the power to swing elections. It’s also clear that, given their tendency to vote for Democrats, Black Muslims had a key role in electing Biden president. Nationally, Black Muslims make up more than a quarter of the very diverse Muslim American community. They are an extremely influential voting bloc that in recent years has begun organizing itself in swing states across the country. There are networks of Black Muslim institutions, leaders, religious figures and organizations that may be tapped into to accomplish political and social goals. The reasons are many for Black Muslims’ engagement in political life. We have been in America for a very long time: Black Muslims were among the first to arrive in the country due to the transatlantic slave trade. Since that painful beginning, we have persevered against impossible odds to become prominent in business, politics, education and beyond. Our power is hard-won, and it has made us major stakeholders in the future of this country. This was possible due to our community’s steadfast commitment to civic engagement, political advocacy and mobilization over hundreds of years. read the complete article

Muslim call to prayer can now be broadcast publicly in New York City without a permit

The Muslim call to prayer will ring out more freely in New York City under guidelines announced Tuesday by Mayor Eric Adams, which he said should foster a spirit of inclusivity. Under the new rules, Adams said, mosques will not need a special permit to publicly broadcast the Islamic call to prayer, or adhan, on Fridays and at sundown during the holy month of Ramadan. Friday is the traditional Islamic holy day, and Muslims break their fast at sunset during Ramadan. The police department’s community affairs bureau will work with mosques to communicate the new guidelines and ensure that devices used to broadcast the adhan are set to appropriate decibel levels, Adams said. Houses of worship can broadcast up to 10 decibels over the ambient sound level, the mayor's office said. read the complete article

Time to reassess the war on terror

As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, candid public discourse about the “war on terror” is long overdue. “Our responsibility to history is already clear — to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil,” President George W. Bush said in a speech at the Washington National Cathedral three days after terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives. A week later, he told a joint session of Congress that the impending war “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” Such resolve was inspiring to many. But the president’s vow to “rid the world of evil” was an announcement of an absurd goal, and it amounted to declaring endless war on an inexhaustible supply of enemies. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the lone member of Congress to vote against a blank check for war, endured widespread vilification and death threats after she stood on the House floor on Sept. 14 and said: “Some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, let’s step back for a moment, let’s just pause, just for a minute, and think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control.” The Taliban regime in Afghanistan quickly fell, but the president who claimed that America had a responsibility to “rid the world of evil” was just getting started. Along the way, the U.S. government set up “black sites” in secret locations to confine and torture alleged terrorists, sometimes with mistaken identities, while warfare expanded to other countries. read the complete article

Unveiling Shadows: Guantánamo Prisoners and the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Despite the fact that the United States has routinely and openly violated the human rights of its own citizens as well as communities across the globe, the government rarely has any qualms about condemning the violations of other countries. These condemnations, almost always hypocritical, however, often do more to shine light on its own abuses and the lack of accountability. This year, the U.S. government will almost certainly release yet another statement to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, once again erasing its own crimes. Although disappearances have less typically been associated with the United States, the U.S. has long deployed this abuse in the War on Terror—often disguising the practice through euphemisms and denials. After two decades plus of the War on Terror, however, it is imperative to shed light on the unresolved issue of Guantánamo prisoners’ disappearances and the CIA’s disturbing rendition, detention, and interrogation program that operated in the earlier days of the war. In the early days of the War on Terror, the CIA was given the licence to render and detain people in countries across the globe who were willing to host black sites. The program operated from 2002-2009, with at least 119 individuals enduring the violence of the CIA. Some never returned home; others were sent to Guantánamo Bay. Although the U.S. government has continued to use the term “render” as in render to justice, in practice, many of those subjected to this violence have effectively disappeared—leaving their families in an abyss of uncertainty, all while the U.S. government refuses to reckon with this legacy. On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the United States should reflect on its own violence, so there can finally be some semblance of accountability—including acknowledging wrongdoing, repairing the harm to the victims, and putting mechanisms in place that prevent this violence from recurring. read the complete article


“France’s ban on abayas in schools is the latest attempt to control Muslim women”

Over two decades after it banned the hijab in schools, the French government has announced that it will also be introducing and enforcing a ban on abayas – a loose-fitting dress most commonly worn by Muslim women and girls. The French education minister, Gabriel Attal, said that abayas would no longer be allowed in schools when the new term starts next week because they violated the French principle of secularism (laïcité). Attal went on to describe the abaya as “a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the [French] republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must be”. However, this ban on abayas is simply the latest restriction put in place that will disproportionately target Muslim women in France, effectively controlling their bodies in public spaces through their clothing. The French colonial authorities also staged mass ‘unveiling’ ceremonies, where Algerian women would have their veils removed to stand in solidarity with their “French sisters”. Many decades later, France is still attempting to unveil Muslim women through clothing bans. These restrictions on the clothing of Muslim women in France are rooted in gendered Islamophobia and the positioning of the veil as a political symbol. There’s no greater and more impactful image of the Other than the image of a veiled Muslim woman. It’s an image that’s regularly used in Western countries, especially in Europe, to drive home the message that Muslims are inherently different and alien to white people in historically Christian nations. An image of a veiled Muslim woman is perceived to be in direct opposition to everything that the West supposedly stands for – from equality to freedom of expression. But when you choose to wear the hijab or the abaya but the state blocks this choice, where is the equality or the freedom of expression? Where is the outcry from feminists? read the complete article


'Go To Pakistan': Delhi Govt Teacher Hurls Communal Slurs At Muslim Students

A Delhi government school teacher has been booked for making derogatory remarks against a community. 33-year-old Hema Gulati, who taught the Deshbhakti curriculum, allegedly made hateful remarks against Muslims and Islam inside a classroom. Delhi police have booked the teacher after the complaint, but she has yet to be arrested. read the complete article

Violence Is the Engine of Modi’s Politics

In the first week of August, the glitzy megacity of Gurugram, an hour’s drive from New Delhi, was burning. For much of this month, the city has been in a state of siege from Hindu mobs running amok, attacking Muslim homes, commercial establishments, and places of worship. Smoke billowed from buildings set ablaze, riot police trawled the streets, and multinational corporations ordered their employees to stay home. Large numbers of working-class Muslims, the human capital underpinning the city’s prosperity, took flight. The mayhem in Gurugram was a direct result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s growing sense of political insecurity. Two recent setbacks had rattled him and the Hindu-supremacist movement he leads. In May, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a chastening defeat in a high-stakes election in Karnataka, the southern-Indian state that is home to Bangalore and a powerhouse of India’s information-technology sector. With Karnataka, the Hindu right lost its only foothold in southern India, the country’s most prosperous and wealthy region. Then, in mid-July, two weeks before the violence erupted in Gurugram, the Indian opposition announced an electoral alliance to take on Modi in next year’s national elections. The big-tent coalition was a remarkable show of unity, something that had mostly eluded Modi’s rivals since his ascent to power in 2014. These twin events felt like political earthquakes. They cast doubt on what until recently had seemed certain: Modi’s reelection as prime minister for a third consecutive term in 2024. And as Modi and his party have begun to feel politically threatened, they have let loose the foot soldiers of the Hindu right upon India’s minorities. read the complete article


China: Unrelenting Crimes Against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pronouncement that China intends to maintain its counterterrorism policies in the northwestern Xinjiang region indicates continuing crimes against humanity there, Human Rights Watch said today. One year ago, on August 31, 2022, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a damning report finding that the Chinese government’s rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang “may constitute … crimes against humanity.” “Over the past year, Chinese officials have maintained their abusive ‘strike hard’ policies, crushing the rights of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims,” said Maya Wang, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “UN member countries should not stay silent in the face of crimes against humanity.” Since 2017, the Chinese government has carried out a widespread and systematic attack against Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. It includes mass arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, mass surveillance, cultural and religious persecution, separation of families, forced labor, sexual violence, and violations of reproductive rights. Human Rights Watch in 2021 concluded that these violations constituted “crimes against humanity.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 31 Aug 2023 Edition


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