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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02 Jan 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Brazil, a survey by the Anthropology Group on Islamic and Arab Contexts found that an estimated 70 percent of Brazilian Muslims said they knew someone who experienced religious intolerance since October 7, meanwhile in India, an executive member of the RSS appealed on Sunday to Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs to chant prayers to the Hindu deity Ram in mosques and churches on the upcoming Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya later this month, and in the United States, the young Palestinian-American college student from Vermont who was shot over the Thanksgiving weekend opens up about his experience and the physical and mental scars that he lives with amidst a nationwide spike in violence targeting Muslim and Palestinian Americans. Our recommended read of the day is by Umar Lateef Misgar for Al Jazeera on how both the Conservative and Labour party in the United Kingdom are losing credibility and support among British Muslims, who constitute 6.7 percent of the population, as a result of their failure to call for a ceasefire regarding Israel’s war in Gaza. This and more below:

United Kingdom

‘Completely alienated’: British Muslims on Labour, Tory stance on Gaza war | Recommended Read

More than two months later, the United Kingdom’s support for Israel’s war has remained largely unqualified, even as Israeli bombs and artillery firing have killed more than 21,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 8,000 children. But whatever a “win” might look like for Israel, Sunak’s Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party, whose leader Keir Starmer has also backed Netanyahu’s war, have both lost voters like Ala Sirriyeh, a senior lecturer in sociology at Lancaster University. “It has shown very starkly who they are prepared to throw under the bus to get elected, whose welfare matters and whose does not,” she told Al Jazeera. “As a Palestinian, I feel completely alienated from the major political parties [in the UK] and will not be voting for either of them in the near future.” She is not alone. As Israel continues to bomb Palestinians in Gaza, a coalition of political groups, worker’s unions, students, healthcare professionals, journalists, writers, and common people from all walks of life have been organising in the UK, urging their political leadership to call for a ceasefire. The protesters, day in and day out have occupied public spaces and weapons factories and marched across city centres and university campuses. Thousands of people have signed petitions calling for a ceasefire. Yet, as leaders across both major parties have stayed firm in their support for Israel, they face a particular crisis of credibility among British Muslims, who constitute 6.7 percent of the population and traditionally largely vote in support of the Labour Party. In a survey involving 30,000 Muslim participants conducted in late October by the Muslim Census, an organisation based in the UK, only 5 percent of the respondents said they would vote for Labour in the next general elections. That is much lower compared with 71 percent of British Muslims who voted for the party in 2019. The Conservative Party, which drew 9 percent of the Muslim vote in 2019, would get less than 1 percent of the votes of those sampled in that survey. In another survey of 1,032 Muslims across the UK, more than two-thirds expressed dissatisfaction with the British government’s response to the Israeli assault on Gaza. Nearly half of the respondents conveyed similar sentiments regarding Starmer’s approach to the crisis, though a majority still backed the Labour Party. read the complete article

Claudia Winkleman on the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia: ‘It’s all horrendous’

Claudia Winkleman has discussed antisemitism and Islamophobia in the UK amid the Israel-Gaza war. The 51-year-old presenter, who is Jewish, was speaking in an interview to promote the new series of BBC One competition show The Traitors. When asked by The Sunday Times Magazine if she thinks about antisemitism more than usual at the moment, she replied: “Definitely. But I also think about Islamophobia more than I used to as well. The truth is that it’s all horrendous. I can’t dress it up. Antisemitism and Islamophobia both feel as if they’re on the rise around where I live.” Winkleman, who lives in London, said she is not tempted to speak out about the topic on social media. “The problem [with social media] is there is zero nuance,” she said. “Twitter is like a bar fight. So I choose not to go there. What happened to conversation?” There has been a 1,350 per cent increase in hate crimes against Jewish people as the Middle East crisis erupted, the Metropolitan police said in October. Meanwhile, in November, charity Tell MAMA reported that there has been a 600 per cent increase in Islamophobic hate crimes since the Hamas attack on 7 October. read the complete article

United States

Doctors, teachers, others facing discrimination over Gaza advocacy

Doctors and teachers in the US are facing employer backlash for supporting Gaza, with many terminated since October 7, says a Muslim advocacy group. CAIR says it has received hundreds of complaints from employees across the country who were “terminated” or “disciplined” for speaking in favour of Palestinians or sharing pro-Palestine content online. read the complete article

Muslim leaders expand campaign to abandon Biden in 2024 over Israel-Hamas war

Muslim leaders announced on Saturday that they are going national with an effort to dissuade voters from reelecting President Joe Biden in 2024 due to his failure to call for a cease-fire in Gaza. The #AbandonBiden campaign officially began earlier in December, led by Muslim leaders in swing states like Michigan, Minnesota and Arizona, who disapproved of Biden’s support for Israel’s counterattacks against Hamas. The counterattacks have come at the cost of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian lives. Now, the coalition intends to expand the pressure campaign to all 50 states. “We will save America from itself, by punishing Biden at the ballot box,” said lead organizer Jaylani Hussein in a statement. “There is a likelihood that our votes may weaken the Democrats that the Republicans may win,” Hussein said. “We’re not fools about that.” The #AbandonBiden campaign is willing to take that risk, he said: “We will risk an unknown four years of Trump.” Trump’s track record on protecting Muslim freedoms does not garner optimism though and the former president has been vocal about his plans to pick up where he left off. Should Trump win a second term, he said he wants to reintroduce and expand his Muslim ban, which prohibited U.S. entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Still, Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war has been a blight to his reelection campaign so far, especially among key voter demographics that helped put him in office four years ago. Young voters sunk Biden’s approval rating to an all-time low in a November NBC poll, due centrally to his foreign policy actions in the war. And Muslim-Americans in battleground states, who helped win Biden his thin margin of victory in 2020, have said they would rather vote for a third-party candidate or not vote at all this time around. read the complete article

Opinion The decades since 9/11 prepared Muslims like me for 2023’s Islamophobia spike

My faith was largely invisible growing up. I don’t wear a hijab, and my town had very little Muslim presence. By the time the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened, my Pakistani immigrant parents were well settled in the states, with three small children. I’d go to public school and then come home to my evening Quran lessons. As a first generation Pakistani American, I was aware of the divide between my life outside the home and inside the home; having “two lives,” so to speak, just came with the territory. At some point after Sept. 11, 2001, that divide began to converge in more apparent ways. Ignorant Islamophobic hate erased and contradicted the core teachings of peace at the center of Islam. Without mainstream visibility or the equalizing power of platforms like social media, Muslims, especially immigrants, felt siloed and powerless to defend themselves and their faith. Nearly 20 years later, Muslim Americans are still fighting many of the same battles. Indeed, 2023 was defined in part by spikes in bigotry targeting both Muslims and Jews following Hamas’ terrorist attack on Oct. 7. The subsequent murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, and the shooting of three Palestinian and Palestinian American men in Burlington, Vermont, were frightening reminders of the deadly impact of Islamophobic rhetoric. On Oct. 25, the Council on American Islamic Relations reported receiving “774 complaints, including reported bias incidents, since the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine on Oct. 7,” adding that the “number of complaints is the largest wave of complaints CAIR has received in a similar time period since then-candidate Donald Trump first announced his desire to implement a Muslim ban.” Meanwhile, Trump has retaken the campaign stage and is once again using the politics of rage and xenophobia to garner support. But while the hate may feel sadly familiar, the Muslim American community’s ability to counter and disarm that bigotry highlights something more hopeful. read the complete article

'Always felt threatened': Palestinian-American student opens up after being shot in Vermont

It's been one month since Kinnan Abdalhamid and his two childhood friends survived a shooting Thanksgiving weekend in Burlington, Vermont, which is being investigated as a possible hate crime. "I'm doing okay regarding physical recovery. Psychology recovery is very hard," says Abdalhamid. That's because the war in Gaza is weighing heavy on his mind. "It is very hard to process the shooting when your psyche is all really focused on what's happening in Gaza and Palestine. It is very hard to witness a blatant genocide in modern times," explains Abdalhamid. The night of the shooting, the three young men, Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali Ahmed and Abdalhamid, were headed back to where they were staying, speaking and mix of Arabic and English, and wearing keffiyehs, the traditional Palestinian scarf, when they were shot at close range. The suspect is 48-year-old Jason Eaton. He faces three counts of attempted murder. Abdalhamid says the shooting demonstrates the rising anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment across the country. And with it, the challenges many students face. "I always felt threatened on an intellectual level," he says. "Sharing your truth, sharing your history, for sharing what Palestinians have experience for 75 years of oppression, could get you in trouble. Usually due to rash actions based on ignorance by others." He says students at Haverford College where he is studying biology on the pre-med track, have been very supportive of him and Palestinian sentiments. So, too, has the college administration. But he adds, some school officials "have failed to see the collective reason events like this and violence towards Palestinians, have happened. Rather, they see it as an individual (case)." read the complete article


Religion used as an 'excuse' in Gaza war | Centre Stage

In this episode of Centre Stage, Dr Omar Suleiman talks about the oppression of pro-Palestinian voices in the west, and the growing Islamophobia and how it lends itself to racism. read the complete article


The ongoing conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel is playing out on screens like never before. Through social media, millions are witnessing the violence that has killed thousands since Oct. 7. People have turned to social media to learn about the history and politics of the region. And increasingly, many are using it to learn about Islam after witnessing the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, giving rise to a movement around exploration of the religion. In particular, TikTok has seen a spike in posts, livestreams and discussions about the Qur’an, with many citing the displays of Islamic faith they’ve seen in Gazans as their inspiration. TikTok analytics show the hashtag #Islam has rapidly gained popularity since early October. In that time, videos using the hashtag have garnered more than 35 billion views globally, one billion views in the United States and 360 million in Canada, with the majority of viewers aged 18-24. In November, I spoke with six North American TikTokers who have taken part in the online movement by posting content about their faith journey. They shared insights about what they’ve learned, reactions from their audiences and their thoughts on the crisis in Gaza. read the complete article


Author Describes What Prompted Her to Write Gendered Islamophobia: My Journey With a Scar(f)

“I AM TELLING a story about how wearing a head scarf can be literally dangerous,” writes Monia Mazigh, in her new book Gendered Islamophobia: My Journey With a Scar(f), recently nominated for a Governor General’s Award. While Mazigh’s previous works were all published initially in French, her second language, this memoir is in English because, for her, French represented the language of the colonizer. “France is probably the only country that really demonizes the scarf and Muslim women who wear it,” Mazigh said. She explained that France’s condemnation of the hijab is part of its politics. Mazigh, who lives in Ottawa, was at the Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival recently and sat down with the Washington Report to discuss what motivated her to pen her most recent work and the ongoing challenges Muslim women face, not just in North America, but globally, including what she calls “the normalization of hate.” read the complete article


RSS leader urges Muslims to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' during Ram Temple inauguration

RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar on Sunday appealed to Muslims to chant "Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram" at mosques, dargahs and madrassas on the occasion of the Ram temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya on January 22. Speaking at an event here, he said "about 99 percent" of Muslims and other non-Hindus in India belong to the country. "They will continue to be so because we have common ancestors. They have changed their religion, not the country." The RSS leader appealed to the people practising Islam, Christianity, Sikhism or any other faith to join the consecration ceremony in Ayodhya by offering prayers at their respective religious places for "peace, harmony and brotherhood". Kumar, who is also the chief patron of RSS-linked Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), said, "We have common ancestors, common faces and a common dream identity. We all belong to this country, we have nothing to do with foreigners." "The MRM has appealed, and I am reiterating today, that chant 'Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram' 11 times at dargahs, maktabs, madrassas and masjid, 11 times. For the rest you follow your way of worship," he said. read the complete article


How Denmark's ban on Quran burnings could be a double-edged sword

After months of passionate controversy, Denmark recently enacted a law banning "inappropriate treatment of writings with significant religious importance for a recognised religious community". Publicly tearing, burning or defiling texts such as the Quran is now punishable by a fine or up to two years in prison. Muslim countries and their governments have forcefully condemned such provocative stunts. Ambassadors have been summoned and large crowds have expressed outrage. Several terrorist plots have been foiled, and by the end of summer, Sweden's terror alert had been raised to "high" (the fourth level on a five-level scale). Clearly, public order was under threat. In such circumstances, Denmark's government could not stand idly by as provocateurs sowed discord and put the nation at risk, both at home and abroad. Thus, the Danish government was forced to try to strike a delicate balance between its genuine commitment to free expression, and its national security and international interests, which seem to have been the law's primary driver - ahead of considerations for the religious sensitivities of Muslims. The ban does not signal a strong stance in defence of Islam and Muslims, or even respect for this community; nor does it inscribe itself in a policy against Islamophobia. Nowhere in the official justifications, declarations and texts can such words and motivations be found. The government is simply afraid of retaliation and blowback, amid concerns over its domestic security and foreign policy. Furthermore, the law will be reviewed in three years and may turn out to be temporary. Indeed, rather than fighting anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia, this law may prove counterproductive in many ways, potentially harming Muslims themselves. By restricting free speech, including the expression of hatred of or resentment against religions - to be distinguished from hatred against people, since laws are supposed to protect people but not religions, ideologies or texts - it could fuel the narrative of those on the far right who have always claimed that Islam is inherently incompatible with the values of our democratic, pluralistic societies, and that Muslims do not acknowledge these principles and thus do not belong in our "western civilisation". read the complete article


‘Outraged’: Brazilian Muslims face growing Islamophobia over Gaza war

As the war in Gaza grinds on, Brazil is one of many countries facing increased fears about religious discrimination, particularly towards its Muslim community. A survey released last month from the Anthropology Group on Islamic and Arab Contexts — an organisation based at the University of São Paulo — found that reports of harassment among Muslim Brazilians have been widespread since the war began. An estimated 70 percent of respondents said they knew someone who experienced religious intolerance since October 7, when the Palestinian group Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel, killing 1,140 people. Israel has since led a military offensive against Gaza, a Palestinian enclave, killing more than 21,000 people. That response has raised human rights concerns, with United Nations experts warning of a “grave risk of genocide”. While Palestinians are an ethnic group — and not a religious one — the University of São Paulo’s Professor Francirosy Barbosa found that the events of October 7 resulted in incidents of religious intolerance in Brazil, as Palestinian identity was conflated with Muslim identity. She led November’s survey of 310 Muslim Brazilians. Respondents, she explained, reported receiving insults that reflected tensions in the Gaza war. “Many Muslim women told us they are now called things like ‘Hamas daughter’ or ‘Hamas terrorist’,” she told Al Jazeera. The survey, conducted online, also found that many of the respondents also had firsthand experience with religious intolerance. “About 60 percent of the respondents affirmed that they suffered some kind of offence, either on social media or in their daily lives at work, at home or in public spaces,” Barbosa said. Women in particular, the study noted, reported slightly higher rates of religious intolerance. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Jan 2024 Edition


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