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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07 Dec 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In China, the government has been carrying out a process of  “Sinicization,” which aims to fully “assimilate” Uyghur and other minority Muslim communities into dominant Han-Chinese society, meanwhile in the United States, both Muslim and Jewish students are reporting an increase in discriminatory acts and feelings of fear both on and off campus, and in India, “rape threats and sexual violence have become weapons of choice for India’s Hindu right, used for the explicit purpose of intimidating and terrorizing Muslim women.” Our recommended read of the day is by Shada Islam for the Guardian on the EU’s slow response in recognizing the dangerous rise of Islamophobia across the bloc, which not only includes increasing hate crimes but also the adoption of discriminatory and anti-Muslim rhetoric by mainstream European politicians and leaders. This and more below:


Islamophobia and antisemitism are equal scourges – and the EU is finally recognising that | Recommended Read

Like others who track Europe-wide racism, in the early days of the Israel-Hamas war I started asking why the EU was not doing more to coordinate urgent action to stem hate crimes and hate speech against European Muslims and Jews. In October, a survey by the EU’s fundamental rights agency alerted governments that people of African descent in Europe (including Muslims) faced “persistent racial discrimination, harassment and violence”. Up to 77% of people surveyed had had experiences of racial discrimination since 2016. Until very recently, however, despite these warnings and the UN description of Islamophobia as having reached “epidemic proportions” worldwide, the EU had made only passing references to the flare-up of anti-Muslim hatred across Europe. Instead, some EU governments linked terrorism, extremism and Islam; mainstream politicians continued to embrace the rhetoric of far-right and anti-Islam politicians such as Geert Wilders; and no one called out Hungary’s Viktor Orbán for linking migration to terrorism. Disturbingly, despite a history of German far-right violence against Jews, leading figures in Germany’s Social Democrat and Green parties – encouraged by the media – implicitly held all German Muslims (and all European Muslims) responsible for the rise in antisemitism in the country. By adopting, to varying degrees, the racist, xenophobic, anti-migration and Islamophobic views of Wilders, Orbán and France’s Marine Le Pen – and despite the current volatile geopolitical situation – many mainstream European politicians appeared hellbent on amplifying a depiction of European Muslims as permanent foreigners and outsiders, stigmatised collectively for the vile actions of an extremist minority. At the end of November, the EU finally issued a rare joint statement warning of rising Islamophobia. This welcome and long-overdue focus on anti-Muslim hatred and violence is an important indication of the work that needs to be done. read the complete article

EU pledges €30bn to protect mosques and synagogues amid hate crime rise

The European Commission has promised a €30bn (£26bn) fund to increase security at mosques and synagogues across the continent as it condemned a recent rise in levels of antisemitism and Islamophobia as “un-European”. Saying that tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war had provoked hostility “reminiscent of the darkest days of Europe’s history”, the commission called on social media companies to do more to remove hateful content. Announcing the new fund, which will mostly be used to step up security around public spaces, community centres and places of worship such as synagogues and mosques, Margaritis Schinas, the vice-president of the commission, said no European should tolerate fellow citizens feeling unsafe. read the complete article

‘Substantial volume’ of clothing tied to Uyghur forced labour entering EU, says study

A “substantial volume” of clothing tainted by the use of Uyghur forced labour is entering the European Union market, according to a report, as campaigners say the EU’s checks are not doing enough to weed out coercive work from large supply chains. Dozens of well-known brands including H&M and Zara are identified as being at high risk of sourcing materials, particularly cotton and PVC, made by Uyghurs compelled to participate in state-imposed labour transfer programmes, according to a report from Uyghur Rights Monitor, Sheffield Hallam University and the Uyghur Centre for Democracy and Human Rights. The researchers investigated four leading Chinese apparel companies that have “significant ties” to Xinjiang, via sourcing, subsidiaries, and manufacturing, and have links with western brands. Those companies have supplied brands including Zara and Primark, according to the report. read the complete article

United States

Swings, misses but no clear winner: five takeaways from the fourth Republican debate

Chris Christie again positioned himself as the anti-Trump candidate, pointing to Trump’s legal issues and calling him a “dictator” who would weaponize the justice department to settle his scores. Haley and DeSantis focused instead on specific policy issues. Haley said she opposed a “straight Muslim ban”. DeSantis avoided saying if Trump was unfit for office, but said the former president had not delivered on several promises, and the American people should want a young president. Christie chided his opponents for continuing to skirt around direct Trump attacks. The candidates, other than Ramaswamy, doubled down on their aggressive, pro-Israel rhetoric. Haley said she would introduce legislation to tie anti-Israel sentiment with antisemitism and made a comparison between pro-Palestinian protests and KKK marches. read the complete article

US officials alert religious groups on antisemitism, Islamophobia threats

The U.S. government issued security guidance for faith-based communities on Wednesday as the country faces a terrorism threat level so elevated it prompted the FBI director to say he sees "blinking lights everywhere." The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommendations are designed to protect against threats amid heightened antisemitism and Islamophobia since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and subsequent Israeli military retaliation in Gaza. The move comes as the U.S. is recording soaring levels of antisemitism and Islamophobia since the Israel-Hamas war began, with the Justice Department saying it was monitoring rising threats against Jews and Muslims. The DHS guidelines describe practical steps faith-based groups can take to be alert to the threat environment and to respond with cost-effective protective measures. Recommendations include developing a security plan, putting an individual or a committee in charge of security, completing risk assessment, coordinating with local community and identifying available resources. read the complete article

Concerns of Islamophobia and antisemitism cause fear among students

After the escalation of the Palestine-Israel conflict in October with the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, both Muslim and Jewish students have reported an increase in discriminatory acts and feelings of fear both on and off campus. Zainab Mozawalla, a junior political science, economics and global studies triple major, expressed that after the Oct. 7 attack, she noticed a rise in hate towards Muslims. Mozawalla is a hijabi Muslim and a member of the Muslim Student Association and the Middle Eastern North African Student Association, among other organizations on campus. In an instance off-campus shortly after the attacks, Mozawalla was approached by an unknown woman who yelled at her, “You support terrorism. You are a terrorist. You are a murderer,” which was then followed by a man repeatedly saying, “Shut your mouth.” “As a 19-year-old, when a grown man is being so aggressive with you, you are scared,” Mozawalla said. In the moment, she was frightened but didn’t recognize the severity of the situation until later. “It was more of the effects after that really traumatized me because when I would go out anywhere, I started noticing more of the looks and the little things,” Mozawalla said. “Any time I walked out of my house, I would look around because I feel so unsafe,” Mozawalla said. “After Oct. 7, it triggered this domino effect.” Mozawalla’s other hijabi friends on campus shared with her that they also noticed an increase in suspicious looks from others as they went about their day. As a result, they have felt unsafe both on and off campus. “This just happened to me, but I know so many people who are scared to say their story,” Mozawalla said. “I know two hijabis who were hate crimed on campus. I do not know their stories, though, because they were even scared to tell me.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

Hindutva and the Leicester Disturbances

A year on from the disturbances that took place between Hindu and Muslim communities on the streets of the English city of Leicester, Georgetown University’s the Bridge Initiative and the Community Policy Forum have published a new report, “Hindutva in Britain”, which sheds light on the pivotal role of Hindu nationalism – also known as Hindutva – in the unrest. The result of the convergence of international and local dynamics, the report sets out how an ideology with origins in India has been able to exacerbate longstanding inter-community tensions. Highlighting how online voices (both locally and globally) used social media to inflame tensions and spread mis- and dis-information, the report also found that those associated with the Hindutva movement amplified Islamophobic tropes and stereotypes as a way of shifting the narrative away from the danger they posed. While decades old, Hindutva is a term that will be known to many and new to some. This article responds to this, drawing on findings from the report and my own experience from being appointed to lead the Independent Review into the Leicester disturbances in an attempt to better understand Hindutva in today’s Britain. It does this by first explaining what Hindutva is and where it came from, tracing its evolution from the past to the present. From here, it contextualises Hindutva in relation to last year’s disturbances and importantly, to Britain more widely. Finally, it reflects on the future potential for Hindutva to not only continue to amplify Islamophobia but to catalyse further disturbances. read the complete article


China’s campaign to crack down on Islam, explained

Islam has been in China for more than 1,300 years, and Muslims there have a long and storied history. But that legacy is currently under threat, as China’s 22 million Muslims face an ongoing “Sinicisation” process that aims to fully assimilate this minority into the majority Han-Chinese society. The suppression of the Turkic Uighurs in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region has long been discussed and documented. But Chinese-speaking Muslims (the Hui) and Islam in China’s interior provinces have similarly, if not more quietly, been subject to a fierce campaign. In the past five years, some 1,700 mosques in China have been destroyed or modified to remove their iconic minarets and domes, according to a striking new report. Meanwhile, some local municipalities have banned Chinese students under the age of 18 from entering mosques or learning about Islam. Muslim bookstores have been closed and religious publications are prohibited. Even Halal signs in Arabic have been removed from Muslim restaurants. To understand this phenomenon, one has to understand the history of Islam in China and China’s political dynamics associated with its Marxist ruling ideology. read the complete article


Warning hate symbol ban could affect Muslims, pro-Palestinian protests

Islamic groups fear Labor's hate symbols ban could mean Muslims are over-policed for expressing their faith, and warn expanded powers may create a crackdown on legitimate pro-Palestinian protests. But Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus insists the plan, which became law on Wednesday evening, has already been altered to address concerns previously outlined by the Muslim community. The government is attempting to outlaw the public display of hate symbols, such as Nazi signs and those used by proscribed terror organisations, this week before politicians leave Canberra for the last time in 2023. Labor's original wording specifically referenced the flag of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), which includes two symbols commonly used in Islamic artwork and architecture - the shahada, a key profession of faith, and the Seal of the Prophet Muhammad. The bill provides a range of exemptions, including for genuine academic and religious use. read the complete article


In Narendra Modi’s India, Hindu Nationalists Celebrate Violence Against Minority Women

Late last year, eleven Hindu extremists walked free from a prison in India’s Gujarat state. Their crime: brutally gang-raping a pregnant Muslim woman and murdering fourteen members of her family in 2002, during one of the worst outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence in recent Indian history. They served just fourteen years in prison — but far from criticizing such leniency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) congratulated the men on their release. After November 25’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, it’s time for the world to take a long, hard look at India. It’s no secret that the country has long struggled with troubling levels of violence against women, most notably against low-caste Dalit women. But under the influence of Modi and Hindutva, a supremacist ideology that believes that India should be a Hindu ethnostate, it has become mainstream to dehumanize, vilify, and inflict violence on minorities, with Muslims in particular labeled as enemies of Hindus and India. As an extension of this climate of violence, rape threats and sexual violence have become weapons of choice for India’s Hindu right, used for the explicit purpose of intimidating and terrorizing Muslim women. read the complete article


Suspect wanted after person wearing a hijab threatened in downtown Toronto

Police are searching for a suspect who allegedly threatened a person wearing a hijab in downtown Toronto. The incident, which is being treated as a “suspected hate-motivated offence,” happened on Oct. 27 near Bay and Front streets. Investigators said that a male approached a person wearing a hijab and allegedly made derogatory comments before uttering threats. The victim was not injured. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Dec 2023 Edition


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