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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26 Jan 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., a Tennessee Muslim woman forced to remove her hijab for a booking photo over the summer wins a $100K lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being sued in a $2.8 billion lawsuit over its financing of a smear campaign against a Swiss businesswoman of Egyptian origins, and a senior Turkish ambassador has been appointed as a special envoy for combating intolerance and anti-Muslim hatred for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Our recommended read of the day is by Anant Gupta for The Washington Post on a spate of attacks being carried out by Hindu nationalists across India targeting Muslim and Christian places of worship, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s consecration of a Hindu temple built atop the site of a demolished mosque in Ayodhya.


Triumphant Hindu mobs stoke fears in India after Modi delivers temple | Recommended Read

In north India, Hindu nationalists clambered atop a mosque to plant the Hindu saffron flag. They did the same in central India, unfurling the standard of Lord Ram atop a Christian church. In the south, they burned down a Muslim fruit seller’s shop. And outside Mumbai’s financial capital, they pressured local police to bulldoze Muslim businesses. In the past week, a spate of attacks by triumphant Hindu nationalist mobs against minorities, chiefly Muslims, has raised fears across India of religious tensions flaring following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s consecration of a temple in Ayodhya that was seen in some quarters as a symbol of Hindu vengeance against India’s centuries-long oppression by Muslims. Modi’s party has pushed for a more explicitly Hindu vision of India’s identity in contrast to the post-independence leaders who saw the country more as a secular, multicultural democracy. From northern Uttar Pradesh to southern Telangana, each of the attacks in at least six Indian states followed a near-identical pattern: They erupted after men on motorcycles and jeeps waved Hindu nationalist saffron flags, blared loud devotional music from speakers and chanted the slogan “Jai Shri Ram,” or victory to Lord Ram, as they drove through Muslim neighborhoods. In each case, the violence either immediately preceded or followed the religious ceremony presided by Modi himself on Monday. In a soaring address from the temple premises, the prime minister, a staunch Hindu nationalist, congratulated citizens for successfully “untangling a historical knot” and building a “brighter future.” read the complete article

Too much poison’: Attacks on Indian Muslims grow after Ram temple ceremony

Driving through the Mira Road neighbourhood of Mumbai was a usual affair for 21-year-old Mohammad Tariq, who ran errands on his father’s white loading auto carrier. But on Tuesday, participants in a Hindu nationalist rally stopped the vehicle in the middle of the road. Young boys – mostly teenagers – dragged him out. They punched and kicked him and thrashed him with batons, flag staffs and iron chains, his 54-year-old father, Abdul Haque told Al Jazeera. Since then, Haque said, “[Tariq] has been terrified.” The rally, which was shared over multiple live streams, turned into a mob, targeting several Muslims in the locality, rampaging through their shops and damaging vehicles while chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to Lord Ram). Similar rallies, often to the beat of booming far-right pop music, took place outside mosques and Muslim neighbourhoods across several states in India. The trigger was the consecration of a Ram temple in the ancient city of Ayodhya in northern India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. The temple is being built on the site where the 16th century Babri Masjid stood until 1992, when Hindu far-right mobs tore down the mosque, triggering nationwide riots that killed more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims. As India celebrates its Republic Day on January 26, the inauguration of the temple, the Indian state’s role in it, and the violence and vandalism that religious minorities have faced since then are, to many, markers of a country that has moved away from the Constitution adopted this day in 1950. Soon after the consecration, a Muslim graveyard was set ablaze in the north Indian state of Bihar, a Muslim man was paraded naked in southern India, and a saffron flag representing militant Hinduism – was hoisted atop a church in central India. read the complete article


Veiled Threat: how Islamophobia and misogyny harm Muslim women

From France’s ban on the hijab and abayas in schools to Boris Johnson describing niqabis as “letterboxes”, Muslim women are no strangers to having their lives and freedoms reduced to topics to debate. They’re almost always seen as ‘the other’ or the problem that needs to be fixed in order to blend into Western society, and visibly Muslim women in particular face numerous challenges: blatant Islamophobia, racialised misogyny, the policing of their bodies and what they wear, and a great deal of pressure to be perfect Muslim role models. Nadeine Asbali is no stranger to this. Growing up as a young mixed-race girl with a Libyan father and an English mother, she found herself playing a balancing act, never entirely fitting into either identity. That is until a trip to Libya as a teenager inspired her to wear the hijab and forever changed her life. Asbali soon realised that her pre-hijab life had vanished and that Britain saw her now not as an ordinary teenager but as a threat incompatible with the British identity. Veiled Threat is part memoir, part political essay, detailing the hardships of growing up as a hijabi and how these struggles are interlinked to Britain’s systematic disempowering of its Muslim citizens. Over the course of the book, Asbali discusses topics such as the online Muslim alt-right (or “akh-right”, as she puts it), white feminism and its saviour complex, the representation of Muslim women on screen and why Muslim women deserve control over their voices. read the complete article

Turkish ambassador named OSCE special envoy to combat anti-Muslim hatred

A senior Turkish ambassador has been appointed special envoy for combating intolerance and anti-Muslim hatred for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Evren Dagdelen Akgun has been appointed by Malta, which holds the 2024 OSCE chairpersonship, as the “Personal Representative of the Chairpersonship on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims," said the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday. The ministry welcomed the appointment of a Turkish national to this role once more, highlighting Türkiye's "active" and "resolute" commitment to combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, the statement said. The organisation in 2002 acknowledged the danger of growing public intolerance against Muslims in a Ministerial Council decision that renounced such discrimination. Participating States have since expressed their commitment to combating intolerance against Muslims. read the complete article

UAE sued for $2.8bn in US over ‘dark’ Islamophobic smear campaign

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being sued in a $2.8 billion lawsuit in the US over its financing of a smear campaign against Swiss businessman of Egyptian origin, Hazim Nada. Abu Dhabi has been accused of bankrolling a “dark public relations” operation that falsely linked an American oil trader to terrorist financing. The lawsuit filed yesterday by Nada in the District of Columbia alleges that, starting in 2017, the UAE paid a Geneva-based private intelligence firm, Alp Services, to “seriously damage” his reputation and business in a sweeping smear campaign. Nada is seeking damages worth $2.77 billion over the campaign that tipped his commodities trading firm, Lord Energy, into bankruptcy, his lawyers said. Details of the UAE smear campaign was uncovered by the New Yorker Magazine last year. Titled “The dirty secrets of a smear campaign”, investigative journalist, David D Kirkpatrick, exposed the desperate and often criminal lengths to which the UAE, an absolutist tribal Gulf monarchy, has gone to crackdown on political opponents. The shocking revelations not only shed light on the dark and murky world of UAE’s smear campaign and the trail of shattered lives left in its wake; Kirkpatrick’s investigation also served as a warning to democracies about the threat from authoritarian regimes which appear to have no qualms whatsoever about targeting the citizens of another country read the complete article

United States

Woman forced to remove hijab for mugshot wins $100K — and photos ‘destroyed,’ lawyer says

When a devout Muslim woman pleaded with Tennessee deputies to allow her to keep her hijab on for a booking photo, they refused, according to a newly settled federal lawsuit. Sophia Johnston was threatened with indefinite jail time in August if she didn’t remove her hijab for the mugshot as she was booked in Rutherford County on a six-year-old outstanding warrant connected to driving on a suspended license, the lawsuit said. She saw no other option but to comply, as she has eight children and “could not afford to be incarcerated indefinitely,” according to a complaint. Five men were present when she removed her hijab for the photo, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit accused the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, which published her mugshot online, of denying her request for religious accommodation. Now the county has agreed to pay Johnston $100,000 to settle the case, her lead attorney Daniel A. Horwitz said in a Jan. 24 news release. The county has also “destroyed” her mugshots, Horwitz said. read the complete article

Florida activists push for commission on rise in Islamophobia

As Florida lawmakers continue their push for a commission for what they say is a rise in antisemitism in the wake of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, some organizers say a commission is needed to protect the state’s Palestinian and Muslim communities. Between Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, the Council on American-Islamic Relations received 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias across the country, compared to 406 complaints within an average 29-day period in 2022. Anti-Muslim discrimination had already been on the rise in 2020 and 2021, which organizers attribute to increased volatility in domestic politics at the time, though reports decreased in 2022. Muslim organizers told Prism that some of the bullying is coming directly from government officials. On Jan. 4, Florida state Rep. Randy Fine filed House Resolution 1209, which called on all state and local government agencies—including state universities, school districts, and law enforcement—to end any and all contact with CAIR, calling them a terrorism advocacy organization. “This alleged violence and hate have absolutely no place in Florida,” said CAIR-Florida Media and Outreach Director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz in a public statementfollowing an anti-Muslim hate crime in the state. “We will make sure to follow up on this and any other case to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent to deter others from engaging in this criminal anti-social behavior targeting anyone, regardless of their race or religion.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK withdraws interfaith charity funding over Muslim Council of Britain links

The British government intends to stop funding an interfaith charity because one of its trustees is a member of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which the British government refuses to engage with. Communities Secretary Michael Gove told the Inter Faith Network (IFN) on 19 January that he is “minded” to withdraw its funding due to the “reputational risk” posed to the government by an MCB member serving as one of the IFN’s trustees. The MCB member in question is Hassan Joudi, formerly an MCB assistant secretary general. He was appointed as an IFN trustee in July 2023. The IFN said in a statement on Wednesday that its board did not seek Joudi’s resignation and “affirmed his role as a valued colleague”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Jan 2024 Edition


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