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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29 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, police forces are reporting a drastic rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic cases across the country, meanwhile in the United States, the Biden administration’s push to create a strategy to counter Islamophobia is facing reluctance amid a spike in hate-fueled incidents against Arab and Muslim Americans, and in occupied East Jerusalem, an Israeli man has been arrested for desecrating a Muslim cemetery by hanging the head of a donkey in its grounds. Our recommended read of the day is by Rupam Jain for Reuters on how scores of cow vigilantes in India are “transferring their clout into grassroots political power, where they are pursuing a hardline majoritarian agenda.” This and more below:


India's far-right cow vigilantes bolster clout before high-stake elections | Recommended Read

Vishnu Dabad attributes his rise from poverty to powerful local politician to an animal: the cow. The 30-year-old is one of many Gau Rakshaks, or cow protectors: activists who have taken Indian laws banning cattle slaughter and beef consumption into their own hands since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 at the head of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Scores of cow protectors in recent years have been accused of using violence to carry out extra-judicial activities, often finding themselves at odds with law enforcement, even as many won acclaim for defending the Hindu faith. Now some of these operatives are transferring their clout into grassroots political power, where they are pursuing a hardline majoritarian agenda, according to interviews with more than 90 activist-vigilantes, as well as senior leaders of the BJP and other parties, government officials and political analysts. They described how cow vigilantism has become a finishing school for the young men who mobilise large groups against alleged cattle smugglers and used the resulting popularity to catapult into politics. Many are now campaigning and preparing for elections in 2024 that the BJP and allied right-wing parties are favoured to do well in. read the complete article

United States

Some Muslim American advocates express hesitancy to work with the White House on strategy to counter Islamophobia

The White House's push to create a strategy to counter Islamophobia is facing reluctance amid a spike in hate-fueled incidents against Arab and Muslim Americans since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel. CBS News spoke with several Muslim and Arab American advocates who voiced frustration with the Biden administration's response to the situation in Gaza, citing the increasing number of civilians that have been killed and President Biden stopping short of calling for a cease-fire. Muslim American advocate Salam Al-Marayati has worked with the Biden White House in the past. But despite the Biden administration's efforts to craft a strategy to counter Islamophobia in the U.S., he's skeptical about working with them in the future. "At this moment in time, it is very hard to even imagine how a national strategy to counter Islamophobia will work, Al-Marayati, the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which is also a member of the American Muslim Community Coalition, told CBS News. "American Muslims here in the United States feel unsafe and unsupported as they witness the horrific attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. Muslim families, students, and employees are afraid to speak out for fear of retribution as many who have spoken out have faced retaliatory action including loss of employment, suspension, censorship, trolling, bullying, and targeted violence." read the complete article

Don’t Stop Speaking About Palestine

Every Muslim American knows that speaking up for justice in Palestine means you are punished twice: You face Islamophobia as a Muslim and are defamed as antisemitic for criticizing Israel’s violations of Palestinians’ human rights. The ample evidence of this backlash against Muslim American legislators such as Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar is instructive. Each time they seek to humanize Palestinians, the attacks on their character are based on an Islamophobic trope that falsely presumes Muslims are taught to hate Jews. This racist stereotype is squarely debunked in a recent groundbreaking report Presumptively Antisemitic: Islamophobic Tropes in the Palestinian-Israel Discourse by the Center for Security, Race, and Rights. This report gives Muslim Americans and the broader global human rights movement a well-researched frame for exposing bad faith attempts to silence Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims from engaging in human rights advocacy. In the past months. Americans have witnessed how structural and institutional Islamophobic backlash causes people to lose jobs, Palestinian Americans to be shot and stabbed, and protesters to be jailed simply for expressing the view that Palestinians deserve human rights. And when Americans courageously participate in protests calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, New York City Mayor Eric Adams shamefully describes his constituents as extremists. Universities such as Columbia and Rutgers have suppressed student’s speech on Palestine by suspending Students for Justice in Palestine. read the complete article

GOP to NJ judge pick: Muslims need not apply | Editorial

In case you missed it, we just scored a top-notch New Jersey nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit: A lawyer from Jersey City known as a defender of civil rights and religious freedom, who has support from both the Muslim and Jewish communities. This should have been an historic moment – Adeel Mangi, picked by Joe Biden, would be the highest ranking Muslim judge in American history. His young kids were there for his recent confirmation hearing before the Senate, sporting ties. But what we got instead was an ugly spectacle, and an insult to New Jersey. Instead of asking about his impressive qualifications or landmark cases, Senate Republicans shouted at and relentlessly interrupted Mangi with irrelevant, salacious questions about Israel, Hamas – even whether he celebrated 9-11. Notably, another judicial nominee being vetted at the same hearing, who is Jewish, was not asked about Israel, or any of this. It’s just the new litmus test for Muslims, apparently – no matter if the man happens to be Pakistani American. They all look the same, right Tom Cotton? “It was a heartbreaking scene for the first Muslim American federal circuit judicial nominee to face relentless questioning on Israel, terrorism including September 11th, and the Holocaust,” said Sheila Katz, who heads the National Council of Jewish Women, one of the leading Jewish organizations to condemn this behavior from Republicans. “He answered with grace and respect, and with the temperament of a federal judge, despite the persistent bombardment of biased queries,” she told us. “But it was deeply upsetting, it was Islamophobic, and it was very important for us, as a Jewish organization, to actually say: Not in our name.” These attacks from folks like Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley made it clear that Republicans have nothing of substance to use against Mangi, a graduate of Oxford and Harvard Law School endorsed by the major Bar Associations; so they had to reach far and repeat themselves over and over, she noted. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Police record rise in religious hate crimes after Israel-Gaza war

Antisemitic hate crimes rose sharply in the month after the Hamas attack on Israel, figures from some of the UK's largest police forces suggest. Some forces also recorded a rise in Islamophobic offences, though the picture is more mixed. The Community Safety Trust, a Jewish charity, has called the figures "shocking". Meanwhile, campaigners against anti-Muslim abuse have described them as "deeply worrying". Greater Manchester Police recorded 74 antisemitic incidents compared with 15 during the same period the previous year, while the number of Islamophobic offences dropped to 34 from 43. Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police recorded 53 antisemitic offences, up from 10 in 2022. Islamophobic offences rose to 49 from 29, it said - representing the biggest increase in such incidents. West Midlands Police reported 22 antisemitic offences in the month to 7 November, compared with one in 2022, while Islamophobic offences fell to 25 from 33 in 2022. Merseyside Police said the number of antisemitic incidents had risen from four to 20. Islamophobic offences there rose from six to 10. The greatest increase, however, was recorded by the British Transport Police - noting 87 antisemitic offences up from eight over the same period in 2022. Islamophobic offences jumped from from two to 22, it said. read the complete article


The cost of wearing a keffiyeh in France: Arrest, strip search, deportation

What exactly is a keffiyeh? Is it merely a traditional Middle-Eastern scarf, a symbol of Palestinian resistance, a perceived threat to Jewish communities, or a conspicuous target for hate crimes? Depending on the context, wearing a keffiyeh may signify all. In France, for instance, donning this cultural garment is viewed by the government as a potential threat to its Jewish citizens. As Farid Hamrat, a 48-year-old language teacher and permaculture enthusiast, found out to his utter surprise and dismay. He was wearing his keffiyeh on a trip to Paris last month, where he was scheduled to volunteer at an organic farming exhibition called Salon Marjolaine. But things didn't go as planned. The day after landing in Paris, he stepped out of his accommodation wearing his keffiyeh and attempted to hail a taxi to reach the exhibition venue. Only to find two heavily-armed policemen approaching him. "If I made the wrong move, they would have…they would have shot me," Farid recalls those moments in an interview with TRT World. After he was frisked for concealed weapons, the policemen asked for his ID and address and then, without any explanation, handcuffed and escorted him to the nearest police station. Later, he learned that he was reported by two French Jewish citizens who described him as being "weirdly dressed", resulting in his arrest for being a "threat to public peace". "It took me hours, if not a day or so, to understand what they meant by 'weirdly dressed' because I was dressed normally, like any French person would. But I had this (the keffiyeh)," he adds. read the complete article


Israeli settlers hang donkey head on Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem

An Israeli man has been arrested for desecrating a Muslim cemetery by hanging the head of a donkey in its grounds in occupied East Jerusalem. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Dec 2023 Edition


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