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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03 Jan 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said that “Canadians can and must do more to make each other feel safe” when it concerns hate-motivated crime, meanwhile in India, Foreign Policy writer Salil Tripathi analyzes the legacy and impact Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had on religious minorities in India as his power and influence grows since his election to public office in 2014, and in the United Kingdom, journalist Peter Oborne warns that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Conservative party “will take another giant step towards the far right” ahead of the upcoming elections. Our recommended read of the day is by Yousef Al Helou, Meena Masood, and Leah de Haan for Al Jazeera on how the explicit refusal to count and grieve the deaths of Palestinian men results in erasing their humanity as it portrays them collectively as “dangerous brown men” and “potential terrorists,” and thus justifies their killing. This and more below:


Palestinian men are not ‘terrorists in the making’ | Recommended Read

In media coverage and reports by human rights organisations, international institutions and NGOs, especially in the West, attention has mainly been drawn to Israel’s attacks on Palestinian women and children. Examples include the often-cited figure of more than 8,000 children having been killed and reports of many children having undergone amputations without anaesthesia. Even governments allied with Israel have voiced concern about the ever increasing number of dead Palestinian women and children. Through this refusal to explicitly count and grieve their deaths, Palestinian men are denied civilian status. Their humanity is erased and they are portrayed collectively as “dangerous brown men” and “potential terrorists”. This, in turn, permits Israel’s killing of Palestinian men. Their killing is permitted precisely because they are Palestinian men. Their gendered and racialised status, specifically their blanket designation as “Hamas terrorists”, eclipses their civilian status, deeming them killable and un-grievable. Their killing is excused and justified within the context of “counterterrorism”. The blanket demonisation of men – underpinned by narratives about brown, especially Arab, men being inherently untrustworthy, dangerous and radical – is not new. These narratives, currently being used by Israel and its allies to excuse genocidal violence in Palestine, have consistently been used to justify the mass killing of brown men and boys over the years, including in the context of the so-called global “War on Terror” and the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not a coincidence. Colonialism and genocide require the erasure of people’s humanity and history. Israel’s settler colonialism maintains dominance through violence and it legitimises this violence by denying the existence of a Palestinian nation and designating Palestinians as less than human. read the complete article

Biden under pressure to act amid new fears of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Gaza

Rights advocates in the United States are urging President Joe Biden to end his administration’s “complicity” in Israeli rights abuses after key members of Israel’s government backed the idea of pushing Palestinians out of Gaza. Far-right Israeli ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich said this week that Israel should “encourage emigration” from the coastal enclave, home to an estimated 2.3 million Palestinians. Israel has been carrying out a military offensive in Gaza since October 7, resulting in an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians being internally displaced, according to the United Nations. “If there are 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs in Gaza and not two million Arabs, the entire discussion on the day after [the war ends] will be totally different,” Smotrich said on Sunday, calling for the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians. A day later, Ben-Gvir, who oversees national security, made a similar appeal, saying it was “a correct, just, moral and humane solution”, Israeli media outlets reported. Their remarks are the latest by Israeli officials alluding to the prospect of resettling Palestinians outside of Gaza. Human rights and legal experts have warned that forced displacement constitutes a war crime under international law and could lead to ethnic cleansing. “It’s not really ‘voluntary’ when you’re bombing homes and starving the entire population,” said Rasha Mubarak, a Palestinian American organiser. read the complete article

Pro-Israel sources fund global Islamophobia network, says US professor

Who is a major funder of anti-Muslim hatred in the world? Hatem Bazian, lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a research. Listen to what he has found. read the complete article

You’ll Never Guess Who Bibi Wants at Hague Genocide Hearing. Actually, You Will.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly wants former Donald Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz to represent Israel at the upcoming hearing at the Hague about the war in Gaza. As a defendant, Israel is entitled to pick one judge to the 15-member court—and Netanyahu wants that person to be Dershowitz, Axios journalist Barak Ravid reported Tuesday. A longtime friend and advisor of Netanyahu, Dershowitz has defended Israeli settlements, downplayed the horrors of civilian casualties, and attacked liberal Jewish groups. Dershowitz repeatedly defended Trump during the former president’s time in office. Dershowitz backed Trump’s controversial ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries. Dershowitz argued that the ban was actually constitutional and didn’t really target Muslims, even though then–Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted the order came about after Trump asked him how to do a Muslim ban “legally.” Dershowitz has also claimed that Islamophobia does not exist on college campuses. In the wake of rising Islamophobia and antisemitism, the result of the Israel-Gaza conflict, Dershowitz said in November, “Oh, we have to fight antisemitism and Islamophobia." “Let me tell you who the antisemites are,” he then continued. “They are largely, not completely, the radical Muslims who claim to be victims of Islamophobia. This is a one-sided issue.” “There is no Islamophobia at any university in the United States. It’s a fake. It’s virtue parading.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK election 2024: Sunak’s far-right movement is a threat to political stability

Expect British politics to lurch towards the extreme right in 2024 as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak battles for political survival. Opinion polls predict Sunak will suffer a landslide defeat at the next general election - which must be held by January 2025 at the latest. In its fight for survival his Conservative party will resort to ever more desperate measures. In the absence of any meaningful plan to sort out Britain’s problems, Sunak has already adopted a policy of stimulating hatred and division through the so-called "war on woke". In my opinion, this method, associated with the right-wing political adviser Lynton Crosby, is used to create an illusory sense of purpose and activity, while distracting voters from real economic and social problems. This technique involves targeting minorities, especially Muslims. At the heart of it is an attempt to make immigration the fulcrum issue of the next general election. This became obvious after Sunak’s massively significant, but mysteriously under-reported, decision to fly to Italy on 13 December to join a political festival in Rome organised by Italian premier Giorgia Meloni’s hardline Brothers of Italy. Previous speakers included Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Sunak warned that immigration would "overwhelm" Europe and talked of changes in international law to fight the problem. Sunak’s language thus strayed close to the great replacement theory - an idea already advocated by neo-fascist parties across Europe. The great replacement theory is a racist, white nationalist conspiracy theory which holds that foreigners are taking over Europe. Sunak's flirtation with far-right European politicians suggests he means to place it at the heart of the Tory election campaign. In 2024, Sunak’s Tory party will take another giant step towards morphing into a far-right movement with more in common with National Rally in France or the AFD in Germany. These parties are not Conservative in the British sense of the term. They are extremist insurgent groups driven by xenophobia and nationalism and often contemptuous of institutions, such as parliamentary democracy and the law courts, which bind countries together. read the complete article


Singh calls for solidarity, respect as hate crimes targeting Jewish, Muslim communities spike

Canadians can and must do more to make each other feel safe as reports of hate crimes spike during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, federal New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said. Recalling his own experiences of being targeted over his identity, Singh said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press that people need space to express their fears, worries and political opinions without provoking hateful conduct. "I think we can be better as a country," Singh said in a phone call from Toronto. "We need to come to a place of respect for each other, a place where we can be who we are, and we can be celebrated for our identity and not be afraid." Singh said he recently spoke to Jewish and Muslim Canadians who have expressed concerns about their safety amid an uptick in hate-motivated violence, and who are worried about wearing religious symbols that are part of their identity. "They're afraid (for their kids) to wear anything that identifies them as Jewish. They're nervous to wear their yamaka or Star of David. These symbols are part of their identity, and they're afraid of that," he said. He added that he's heard members of the Muslim community describe the current climate as "a reminder of post-9/11," a time of significant "suspicion and negativity." "If a woman wears a hijab, she's even more nervous to be in public," Singh said. read the complete article


Under Modi, India’s Democracy Is on Its Last Legs

Modi, who has been in power since 2014, presides over the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has effectively dislodged the progressive secular Indian National Congress (INC) as the country’s traditional power broker. To his critics, Modi is a walking controversy and wannabe despot; to his admirers—who are, in India, a much larger group—he is a compassionate leader unwavering in his commitment to governance. According to Morning Consult, Modi has the highest approval rating of any democratically elected leader in the world, at 78 percent, as of late November 2023. Analyzing the debacle in Foreign Policy, writer Salil Tripathi pointed out that, for Modi, “the documentary brings back ghosts of the past.” That’s because Modi has inflamed religious tensions in India like no other leader to date. Now the world’s most populous country—with over 1.4 billion people—India is majority Hindu but still home to many religious minorities, including the world’s third-largest Muslim population and a sizable Sikh community. Modi, keen to rekindle what he sees as a glorious pre-colonial Hindu legacy, has weaponized anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu nationalists to produce big victories at the polls. He has also enacted policies that advocates say are motivated by Islamophobia. As just one example, in 2019, the BJP passed a law that limits Muslim immigrants’ access to Indian citizenship. In pre-pandemic March 2020, as demonstrations against the measure were ongoing, FP’s Anchal Vohra reported from Meerut, India, that police appeared to be “setting Muslims and Hindus against each other” and then “stood by during violence—or actively sided with Hindus.” Guha’s assessment of the situation is grim. “[I]f it lasts much longer, the Modi regime may come to be remembered as much for its evisceration of Indian pluralism as for its dismantling of Indian democracy,” he wrote in his essay. Modi’s Hindu nationalism, known as Hindutva, has also extended to his foreign policy. In 2019, Modi amended the Indian Constitution to revoke Muslim-majority Kashmir’s semiautonomous status, cutting off communications and deploying troops to the region. He’s also boosted ties with Israel, seeing in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government a similar animosity toward Islam. read the complete article

United States

Protecting Students From Antisemitism and Islamophobia

Political leaders, organizations, and campus communities are calling on college and university officials to assess and find ways to improve the campus climate and protect students from antisemitism and Islamophobia amid a rise in tensions during the Israel-Hamas war. The public is reporting an alarming uptick in incidents of discrimination or harassment based on perceived or actual religious affiliation or nationality. Antisemitic incident reports in the U.S. increased 388% since the Hamas attack on October 7, through October 23, reports the ADL (Anti-Defamation League). Around this time, a 300% increase in calls for help and reports of bias were reported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Violent attacks on college campuses are also making national headlines. In October, an Israeli student at Columbia University was beaten with a stick. On November 3, an Arab Muslim student was struck by a vehicle at Stanford University. Over Thanksgiving break, three Palestinian students attending Haverford College, Trinity College, and Brown University were shot and injured while walking near the University of Vermont campus. Individuals are also reporting instances of doxxing, a form of harassment involving the publicizing of someone’s personal information and identity. As the Department of Education investigates more than half a dozen colleges and universities for alleged discrimination against Jewish and Arab students under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, higher education administrators face accusations of failing to protect the social and academic campus environment and mishandling incidents of bias and violence. read the complete article


China targets friendly media, diplomats to ‘tell story of Xinjiang’

Accounts from people who had fled the area as well as reports from human rights organisations were painting a picture of human rights abuses being perpetrated on a massive scale. Muslim minorities in Xinjiang – the majority of whom are Turkic-speaking Uighurs – were reportedly being deprived of basic freedoms, their cultural and religious heritage was being destroyed and at least 1 million of them had been interned in a vast network of detention camps. The international community had taken notice and the United Nations had raised its concerns. But Jazexhi was unconvinced. “I was certain that the stories were a scheme constructed by the US and the West to discredit China and divert attention away from their own human rights records regarding Muslims,” he told Al Jazeera. To see the truth for himself, Jazexhi contacted the Chinese embassy in Tirana about visiting Xinjiang. He was soon invited to join a media tour for foreign journalists mostly from Muslim countries and in early August 2019, he was on a plane bound for China. In the first few days in Xinjiang, he and other foreign journalists had to sit through a series of lectures given by Chinese officials about the history of the region and its people. “They were portraying the indigenous people of Xinjiang as immigrants and Islam as a religion that was foreign to the region,” Jazexhi said. “It was incorrect.” His disillusion only continued when he and other journalists were taken by their Chinese hosts to one of the so-called vocational training centres outside the regional capital of Urumqi. “They said it was like a school but it was clearly a high-security site in the middle in the desert,” Jazexhi said. “They also told us that the people staying there were not allowed to leave so it was obviously not a school but a prison and the people there were not students but prisoners.” Once they entered the site, Jazexhi had a chance to interact with several Uighurs and it quickly became clear they were not the “terrorists” or “extremists” Beijing had claimed. Chinese media have reported about at least five such media tours taking place in 2023, with Xinjiang visits also arranged for foreign diplomats and Islamic scholars. Since as early as 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for “telling the story of Xinjiang” and “confidently propagating the excellent social stability of Xinjiang“. Canadian-Uighur activist Rukiye Turdush sees the media tours as integral to that mission. “He wants to change the narrative about Xinjiang,” she told Al Jazeera. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Jan 2024 Edition


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