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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08 Aug 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, at least seven people have been killed in clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the state of Haryana with violence continuing over the weekend, meanwhile in Canada, an organization called the Muslim Athletic Association is providing a safe and productive space for Muslim women athletes to compete in an environment free from intimidation and discrimination, and in the France, a legal challenge to a southern French town’s ban on the burkini has prevailed in court. Our recommended read of the day is by Alishan Jafri for Al Jazeera on how a staggering number of Indian Muslim homes and businesses being demolished over the weekend in the BJP ruled state of Haryana is yet another instance of collective punishment of the Muslim community by the government. This and more below:


Muslim homes, shops bulldozed; over 150 arrested in Nuh in India’s Haryana | Recommended Read

Abdul Rasheed says police locked him in a bus as a bulldozer demolished his shops in India’s northern Haryana state where a Muslim-majority district saw communal clashes last week. “I was heartbroken. My family and children depended on the rent we received from the shops. We had rented shops to both Hindus and Muslims,” he told Al Jazeera on Sunday, adding that the authorities “gave no notice or showed any order, and bulldozed everything”. “This is vengeance. They are destroying hotels, shops and homes. There is no appeal and hearing,” the 51-year-old said. “We have been handed a begging bowl.” Rasheed’s is among more than 300 Muslim homes and businesses bulldozed by Haryana’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government since Thursday in yet another instance of collective – and selective – punishment of a community over religious violence. The clashes began after a procession organised by a far-right Hindu group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, reached Haryana’s Nuh district, about 85km (52 miles) from New Delhi. The two organisations, affiliated with the ruling BJP, often make headlines for their violent rallies targeting India’s religious minorities, mainly Muslims and Christians. The Hindu groups blamed Muslims – who form nearly 77 percent of Nuh’s 280,000 residents, according to the last census conducted in 2011 – for starting the violence. They said their procession was pelted with stones and their vehicles torched, leading to clashes between the two communities. Muslims say the trigger for the violence was a Facebook video released by Monu Manesar, a notorious Hindu vigilante accused of killing two Muslim men earlier this year for allegedly transporting cow meat. read the complete article

Hindus, Muslims clash in India's Haryana as trouble spreads

Hindus and Muslims have clashed in the Indian state of Haryana a week after violence erupted during a Hindu procession in a Muslim neighbourhood, with a tomb and several vehicles torched and shops ransacked, police said on Monday. At least seven people have been killed in the clashes, including the cleric of a mosque set on fire last week in the district of Gurugram. The violence has been spreading with the latest beginning on Sunday and continuing into early Monday when several people set fire to a Muslim tomb, police officials said. No one was hurt, they said. The latest trouble comes as some members of the Muslim community say they are unfairly treated by the government of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government rejects the accusations. Despite the latest trouble, the district magistrate of business hub of Gurugram lifted prohibitory orders in place since last week, saying that "normalcy has returned". But for many Muslims the clashes have brought fear. Some have left towns to return to their villages or have gone to live with friends and relatives in other areas, media has reported. Some Muslims in Gurugram say men have been coming to their communities and threatening them with violence unless they leave. "They told us to get out of our house or they'll burn it down. We are leaving because we're afraid," resident Amuta Sarkar, told the ANI news agency, in which Reuters has a minority stake. read the complete article


French court overturns 'Islamophobic' burkini ban in town of Frejus

A French court has overturned a ban on the full-body women's bathing suit known as the "burkini" in the southern town of Frejus following a legal challenge submitted by the Human Rights League. The prohibition, which was enacted by Frejus Mayor David Rachline, a member of the far-right National Rally, was ostensibly aimed at ensuring hygiene and safety for swimmers. This was rejected by the French court, which stated the ban infringed on a number of personal rights and freedoms protected in the country, including freedom of conscience. Following the verdict, the head of the local branch of the Human Rights League, Isabelle Le Buzulier, welcomed the decision saying she was "pleased to see these freedoms thus preserved". The burkini was designed to allow women to swim while complying with Islamic requirements of modesty. read the complete article


Chocolates and a chat: A peaceful response to Quran burnings in Sweden

On a rain-trodden sandy beach in an affluent, suburban area of Sweden’s capital, Husam El Gomati, a sociable entrepreneur originally from Libya, gently placed his hand on the arm of an exasperated, physically imposing young man. “You’re right, you’re right,” El Gomati said in a soothing voice as the man shouted at a woman from behind a line of stone-faced Swedish police officers, pleading with her not to burn a copy of the Quran. The woman, an Iranian refugee with a bright red Coca-Cola-branded baseball cap, was holding the holy book above a series of burning wooden logs. She laughed dismissively at the man as she tore pages from the Quran and scribbled haphazardly over it with a ballpoint pen. El Gomati decided to come to ensure that any member of the Muslim community, in the face of provocation, did not feed elements of society that would be looking for any material that could play into what he describes as Islamophobic narratives. Over the past few months, in the face of numerous Quran burnings, El Gomati and several other members of the Muslim community have taken it upon themselves to shift the lens from the agitators seeking to garner attention by burning the Quran and to instead focus on engaging in friendly dialogue with the media, bystanders and the police. read the complete article

United States

2 charged with hate crimes in attack of Muslim women in Milwaukee park

Two Milwaukee women have been charged with hate crimes after police said they attacked a group of Muslim women in a park late last month. Miracle Reed, 34, and Payton Smith, 30, face one felony and five misdemeanor charges after allegedly attacking the women on July 30 in Cathedral Square Park in downtown Milwaukee. Four Muslim women and about 10 children were in the park on Sunday afternoon. According to the criminal complaint, one of the women noticed someone giving them "dirty looks." After returning from praying, one of the Muslim women heard a nearby woman in the park say, "We're Black, aggressive women, and we're going to defend our own kind," according to the complaint. The Muslim women told police they tried to ignore the other women in the park, but one of the victims said the attacker grabbed her neck, put her in a headlock and started punching her. Another alleged attacker began punching another victim, according to the complaint. During the fight, the attackers allegedly ripped off the women's hijabs, the head coverings worn by many Muslim women in public. An older man broke up the fight in the park, according to the complaint. read the complete article


Article 370: Four years after India repealed it, Kashmiris still live in terror

In Zadoora, a leafy hamlet in southern Kashmir, native Muslim men almost mechanically rambled towards a local mosque along the dew-dashed pathways when dawn was yet dark, and all you could hear were the early melodies of a thrush. Soldiers of the 50 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) - a counter-insurgency force of the Indian military - intercepted the muezzin amid his prayer calling and forced him to chant the Hindu slogan "Jai Shree Ram", which translates to "victory to Lord Ram". The terror in the muezzin's voice could be heard as he chanted those words, his speech fading like the chuff of a distant train. Many other worshippers in the village acquiesced and partook in the chanting. According to Indian media, the soldiers had reportedly held up 10 villagers, beating up five of them. The incident in June prompted a rebuke from former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, the stern-faced Mehbooba Mufti, whose tweet was not without merit and very strongly worded: "Shocked to hear about army troops from 50 RR storming into a mosque at Pulwama and forcing Muslims inside to chant 'Jai Shree Ram'. Such a move when [Home Minister] Amit Shah is here and that too ahead of yatra [a Hindu pilgrimage] is simply an act of provocation." The incident was the first of its kind in many months, as the army has continued to downplay its hand in gross human rights violations across the Kashmir valley. The majority of the Kashmiri Muslim population has for generations experienced a tormented life, cowering in terror by one of the worst occupational crimes in human history. But with the rise of Narendra Modi's radical India, things took a sharp and ugly turn when on 6 August 2019, his government abrogated Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted autonomy to the state of Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state. The provision was put in place to fortify Kashmir's religious identity and even discouraged India's Hindu majority from settling there. read the complete article

Opinion: Decolonizing football will take more than better representation

The Women’s World Cup is telling the story of how women’s football is developing and thriving across the African continent, with three African countries advancing to the last 16 stages for the first time — Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco. More than any other time in the history of the women’s game, this World Cup is showcasing why real and meaningful representation matters. Morocco will take the field against France in Adelaide, having already defied all the odds to get to this stage, and in defender Nouhalia Benzina, the team has made history, fielding the first hijabi football player to represent at the World Cup. Benzina’s talents and and her hijab have grabbed media headlines around the world. Her stature is a huge win for Muslim women and girls who have never seen themselves represented in this way on football’s global stage. In France, Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab are banned from playing football; the county’s Senate upheld the hijab ban in sport on the eve of the World Cup kicking off. At the same time, many in France, rightly so, have vocalized their support for brave Iranian women fighting for their right to not be forced to wear the hijab by the Iranian regime. Still, the French state is forcing Muslim women to remove the hijab if they want to play the game they love. Make it make sense. The irony of all of this will be at the forefront of the minds of many Muslim women and girls and our sisters around the world as we tune into watch the game. read the complete article

Russia spreading 'fake news' in Arab world about Sweden Quran burnings

Russia is using its vast media empire to spread "fake news" in the Arab world about Quran burnings in Sweden, according to media reports, with the aim of scuppering Stockholm's bid to join NATO. The RT and Sputnik media outlets, which have millions of Arabic-speaking readers and viewers, have falsely claimed that the Swedish government supports the recent desecration of the Muslim holy book by far-right activists, The Guardian said. The incendiary coverage from Russian media came after Sweden sought NATO membership following Moscow's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Stockholm has faced flak from some Arab states, notably Iraq, after authorities allowed two Iraqi men, Salwan Momika and Salwan Najem, to torch a Quran outside a mosque, while NATO member Turkey has also slammed the recent burnings in Sweden and Denmark. Although the Swedish government condemned the desecration, it has argued that its free speech laws mean the far-right demonstrations cannot be banned, despite Muslims viewing the acts as highly offensive and reprehensible. Russian media have disseminated false stories saying that the Swedish government in fact backed the burnings, perhaps as a way of driving a wedge between the European country and Muslim-majority countries, including Turkey. read the complete article


This booming GTA sports league for women comes with modesty rules and prayer breaks

Malak Aiad has never had much trouble making the team. She spent her summers playing soccer in youth leagues across the GTA and is currently a member of the varsity rugby team at McMaster University. But it wasn’t until this summer, when she joined the Muslimah Athletic Association to play in their Division A soccer league, that she finally felt like she belonged in sport. “As you get into more competitive leagues as you get older, the diversity really decreases,” said Aiad, who plays on team Messi-ssauga. “Team culture in sports is alcohol-based, and a lot about partying … and for some time I was looking for a team and group of girls where I could be true to myself,” said Aiad. “I found that here.” The Greater Toronto Area has seen a significant increase in the number of sports leagues catering to Muslim women over the past two years, giving them the opportunity to play recreational sports in an environment focused on community as much as competition. Several leagues also provide Muslim women with a female-only environment where athletes who prefer to adhere to modesty rules can play in comfort with others who can relate. Some women may wear a head scarf, for example, while others may prefer an environment that discourages profanity and trash talk. Others want a league that understands the importance of prayer breaks, or simply a non-judgmental place to learn something new. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Aug 2023 Edition


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