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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12 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, new data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reveal a dramatic spike in reported incidents of both antisemitism and Islamophobia in the two months since the events of October 7th, meanwhile in Canada, the Muslim community of Victoria B.C. is still in shock after a man drove his vehicle into a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters last week, and in France, a Muslim high school in the city of Lille, the first of its kind in the nation, is to be stripped of funding by the state, with reporting coming out of Reuters citing the reasoning being tied to anti-Muslim sentiment. Our recommended read of the day is by Kate Connolly for the Guardian on how many German Muslims and those who support Palestinian rights are finding that their voices are being silenced and protest activity banned, as the state seeks to emphasize its support of Israel in the wake of the October 7th attacks. This and more below:


‘I no longer feel at home here’: German Muslims frustrated by Israel backing | Recommended Read

Lobna Shammout, like many Muslims, has watched with increasing frustration as Germany emerges as one of Europe’s most unconditional backers of Israel’s strategy. The country’s political leaders have spoken repeatedly and without apparent hesitation about Germany’s Staatsräson, or reason of state, a principle that places support for Israel at the core of national identity. “I respect Germany’s history,” Shammout said. “I really understand the support for Israel as a state, as a safe place for Jews, and saying ‘never again’ can the Holocaust happen. It’s a part of being German. But when this historical responsibility is used as an excuse for justifying massive human rights violations, for breaking international law, then it saddens and maddens me and I do not accept this so-called Staatsräson.” Since the Hamas attacks, Germany has been in a state of heightened tension. While pro-Palestinian marches have been banned in many towns and cities, others have been allowed to go ahead, with strict guidelines. Last month, before a two-day annual conference bringing together politicians, Muslim groups and representatives of the Christian and Jewish communities, the interior minister, Nancy Faeser, called on Muslim groups to clearly condemn the Hamas attacks and distance themselves from antisemitism. “I expect Muslim organisations to clearly position themselves and uphold their responsibilities in society,” she told German TV. They should condemn Hamas’s attack, “and not just with a ‘yes, but’,” she added. “It must be quite clear we stand on Israel’s side.” But many Muslims, part of the second biggest religious group in Germany with 5.5 million people, say they are being unfairly targeted. A large increase in Islamophobic attacks has also been registered, and it is suspected that many more have gone unreported. Numerous attacks on mosques have been reported, including the depositing of burnt Qur’ans, pig cadavers and excrement on their grounds or in their letterboxes. In Magdeburg, Muslim graves were smeared with swastikas. “Messages of hate are regularly posted into our letterboxes, which state, most commonly, ‘you are not part of Germany’, ‘Islam is not part of Germany, go back home’, ‘you’re responsible for importing the antisemitism that is poisoning our country’. They have increased in line with the negative reporting of the media … attributing the antisemitism only to Muslims,” Khalid said. “There is a blanket of suspicion over us all.” read the complete article

United States

Reports of antisemitism, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias continue to surge across the US, new data shows

New data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reveal a dramatic spike in reported incidents of both antisemitism and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias. The ADL said it recorded 2,031 antisemitic incidents in the two months after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, including reports of physical assault, vandalism and “anti-Israel rallies that included classically antisemitic, anti-Zionist and/or terror-supportive rhetoric.” The new data, released Monday, reflects a more than 330% increase in reported incidents of antisemitism from the 2022 timeframe, the ADL said. CAIR said it has tracked a similarly troubling rise in requests for help and reports of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias. After recording an “unprecedented” spike in bias incidents during the first month of the war, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group said 2,171 requests for help and reports of bias have been made to its national headquarters and chapters across the country since October 7. Those reports include incidents of hate crimes and hate speech, as well as workplace discrimination and incidents described as “violations of an individual’s right to free speech and expression,” the group said. In a statement shared with CNN Thursday, Corey Saylor, research and advocacy director at CAIR, said the surge in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias has been “staggering.” “From Burlington to Chicago and elsewhere, innocent Americans are suffering the consequences of this wave of bigotry,” Saylor said. “Until our nation stops the violence overseas and rejects bigotry here at home, we fear that both Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism will continue to spin out of control.” read the complete article

Muslim activists say they feel emboldened to speak up

Soon after Heba Macksoud posted an image stating “I stand with Palestine” in a local Facebook group for residents of Marlboro, N.J., she began receiving an onslaught of hate. Members of the group started giving her family-owned pharmacy negative reviews, calling her a “Jew hater,” and sending death threats to her niece’s car detailing business in nearby Manalapan. Someone even posted a video of her at a pro-Palestine protest and Macksoud, who wears a hijab, is now using a hat to cover her hair when she goes out. “I stopped going out in public without somebody with me. I feel people staring at me like I’m inferior. I felt this way after 9/11,” said Macksoud, who is 52. “It definitely has not made me want to be quiet. I’m going to keep speaking up.” New Jersey saw a seven-fold spike in acts of bigotry against Muslims in the four weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel and Israel’s subsequent bombardment of Gaza, according to The Council on American-Islamic Relations of New Jersey (CAIR NJ). The organization typically receives two to four reports of anti-Muslim bigotry in a week. Since Oct. 7, they’ve been receiving about 25 calls per week, per spokeswoman Dina Sayedahmed. read the complete article


Muslims view French secularization laws as "discriminatory"

An overwhelming majority of Muslims in France believe the country's laws to uphold laïcité – the French form of separation of religion and State – are being used to penalize them. Some 78% of the five to six million French citizens who are followers of Islam believe that "laïcité as applied today by public authorities discriminates against Muslims", according to a new survey published December 8, one day before France – a country of 68 million people – marked the anniversary of the 1905 law than enshrined "the separation of the Churches and the State". The survey was conducted by the French polling institute IFOP on behalf of, a new secular Franco-Arab television channel. Other demands include the repeal of provisions preventing the expression of religion through ones' clothing in public spaces. For example, they overwhelmingly support the right of French athletes to wear religious head coverings at the next Olympic Games in France (75%). The survey showed that French Muslims overwhelmingly oppose the law passed in 2004 to ban conspicuous religious symbols in schools. Two-thirds of them (65%) say they are in favor of wearing religious head coverings (e.g. head scarves, yarmulkes, etc.) in public secondary schools. read the complete article

France to end contract with biggest Muslim high school amid fears of wider crackdown

France is to end funding for its biggest Muslim high school on the grounds of administrative failures and questionable teaching practices, a local official said on Monday, the latest in what some rights groups say is a wider crackdown on Muslims. Private school Averroes, the first Muslim high school to open in mainland France in 2003 in the northern city of Lille, has more than 800 pupils and has been under contract with the state since 2008. Pupils follow the regular French curriculum, and are also offered religion classes. But in an October report seen by Reuters, the interior ministry's local office said the school was suffering from administrative and financial dysfunction and that some teaching did not align with French republican values. Many Muslims feel France - home to the largest Muslim population in Europe - has become more hostile towards them, especially after France suffered a string of deadly jihadist attacks in 2015. In September, the education minister banned the abaya, the loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by some Muslim women, in public schools. Last year, a deportation order was given to an imam from the same area of northern France. Averroes headmaster Eric Dufour said he had yet to receive notification from the interior ministry's local office, but that the school intended to challenge the decision in administrative court. "When it comes to republican values, we do more than any other school," Dufour told Reuters last week in Lille, after he had been summoned to an education committee meeting in late November that made him fear the decision to end the school's contract was coming. Headmaster Dufour said that without public funding, the school would be unable to meet its budget needs. read the complete article


Muslim community still reeling after confrontation at pro-Palestinian rally in Victoria

It has been a week since a man drove his vehicle up onto a Victoria sidewalk at a pro-Palestinian rally at the B.C. Legislature, and some in the Muslim community say they are feeling a distinct lack of support. Shawn Ullah with the National Council of Canadian Muslims says it’s hard not to see Islamophobia as the reason behind the incident, and the entire community is frightened. “Had it been a Muslim person driving that car, this would be in Parliament right now,” he said, adding there would have been an outpouring of outrage instead of virtual silence, especially from political leadership. “It would be all over the news other than a tweet from the premier.” The young man confronted by the driver is a student suffering while trying to prepare for final exams, Ullah says. “They’re feeling terrified,” he said. “They have had flashbacks when they go out. They worry that they might be attacked again, that this may happen to them again.” read the complete article


More than 300 Rohingya Muslims arrive in Indonesia’s Aceh after weeks at sea

Two boats carrying more than 300 Rohingya Muslims, including emaciated women and children, arrived at Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh on Sunday morning after being adrift for weeks. One boat, which had been at sea for about one and a half months and carrying 135 passengers, arrived at a beach in Lamreh village in Aceh Besar regency. Shahidul Islam, a 34-year-old survivor, said they left their refugee camp in Bangladesh. “The boat was sinking. We had no food or water left,” he said. The other boat carrying nearly 180 people docked at a beach in Blang Raya village at Pidie regency. It has been adrift in the Andaman Sea without adequate supplies for about 27 days. About 740,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, following a brutal counterinsurgency campaign. Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of Rohingya homes, and international courts are considering whether their actions constitute genocide. read the complete article


Inside The Crisis Faced By Thousands Of Mosques In India

Thirty-one years ago, a mob of almost 150,000 Hindu extremists descended on the Babri Masjid, a 500-year old mosque in India’s Ayodhya city. Leading The mob were politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, who rallied members of notorious Hindu nationalist paramilitary groups to participate in the violence and later replace the mosque with a Hindu temple. The mosque, these groups claimed, was built on the precise spot where the Hindu deity Ram was born. Armed with hammers and tridents, the mob destroyed the mosque within a day, triggering an outbreak of nationwide anti-Muslim violence that led to the killings of over 2,000 people and the demolition of scores of more mosques, homes, and businesses. Today, the Babri Mosque demolition remains a lightning rod issue in India. To the Hindu right, the destruction of the Babri Mosque and its replacement with a temple was a victory for Hindutva, an increasingly mainstream supremacist ideology that seeks to violently erase religious minorities — their history, their beliefs, their lives — in order to claim India for Hindus. To Muslims, who have become the main target of Hindutva’s genocidal project, the Babri Mosque’s demolition is an evergreen threat. Hindu nationalist politicians frequently flaunt their destruction of the Mosque as evidence of Muslim’s powerlessness in India. Their message is this: We can always destroy more mosques and spark more anti-Muslim violence, whenever we want, which they continue to do with startling regularity. In this vein, the BJP and its supporters among the Hindu far-right have strategically exploited the Babri Mosque's demolition to maintain electoral power and instill fear among Muslims. Just as Hindu militant groups in 1992 claimed that the Babri Mosque was built on the birthplace of Ram, militant groups and BJP politicians today have popularized the wildly ahistorical claim that all of India’s Mughal-era mosques were built on the foundations of “razed temples.” Using this logic, which demonizes Muslims both past and present, far-right Hindu groups are threatening thousands of mosques throughout India with demolition. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 Dec 2023 Edition


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