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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04 Jan 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., CAIR-Michigan has filed a lawsuit against the Kent County Sheriff’s Office after a Muslim woman was forced to remove her headscarf while being processed with her photo displayed on the office’s website, meanwhile in Chicago, the father of slain 6-year old Palestinian-American boy Wadea Al-Fayoume spoke out publicly at a vigil in advance of his son’s alleged killer’s trial asking Americans to reject bigotry and “embrace diversity”, and in Canada, a sentencing hearing is slated to begin today for the man who was found guilty of killing four members of the Afzaal family with his car back. Our recommended read of the day is by Mohammad Amaan Siddiqui for Global Network on Extremism & Technology on the origin and motives of the ‘love jihad’ narrative in India, and how it seeks to “make Hindus feel victimized, oppose Muslims, and maintain control over both Hindu and Muslim women’s bodies.” This and more below:


Mapping Hindutva Discourse in India: Exploring ‘Love Jihad’ Narratives on X | Recommended Read

Over the last year, Indian politics has been infested with debates around ‘love jihad’ – the alleged Muslim mission to forcefully convert Hindu women to Islam with false promises of marriage. Between November 2022 and March 2023 alone, at least 50 rallies occurred in the state of Maharashtra against so-called love jihad at the behest of local Hindutva nationalist organisations. The rallies and rhetoric bolster decisions made by officials that further endanger Muslims, interfaith couples, and Hindu women’s autonomy. In recent years, the allegation has included alleged incidents of premarital physical relationships, sexual assault, murders, and other crimes, where it is claimed that a Muslim man ‘trapped’ a Hindu woman in a relationship. Love jihad is just one among many supposed jihads that Hindutva nationalists accuse Muslims of engaging in. However, it spreads the most because it effectively evokes core feelings of safety, security, women’s honour, and patriarchy among Hindus, compared to other jihad accusations that have fewer layers and background work done for them. Nevertheless, the idea of ‘economic jihad’, the conspiracy that the Islamic Halal food certification exists to drive out Hindu businesses, has also gained traction, resulting in a ban on Halal-certified product sales in Uttar Pradesh. So far, laws around love jihad exist in several states—Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Haryana, and Assam—all of which are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Maharashtra has also expressed intentions to enact love jihad laws tracking inter-faith marriages. Despite being bogus claims, love jihad narratives have continued to spread; they are part of broader structures of majoritarianism and patriarchy. Love jihad narratives seek to make Hindus feel victimised, oppose Muslims, and maintain control over both Hindu and Muslim women’s bodies. However, this Insight is more interested in parsing the frames used in spreading such narratives. Through data mining and content analysis on X/Twitter, this Insight outlines prominent frames in nationalists’ online discussions of love jihad. read the complete article

United States

CAIR-MI files federal lawsuit after Muslim woman forced to remove hijab for booking photo

The Michigan chapter of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) announced Wednesday it filed a federal lawsuit against Kent County, Kent County Sheriff's Office, and the Kent County Sheriff, Michelle LaJoye-Young. CAIR-MI, a local chapter of the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization said the lawsuit is over the forcible removal of a Muslim woman's hijab in 2023 when she was arrested and detained in the Kent County Jail. Jannah Hague was arrested and taken to jail where she was told to remove her hijab for a booking photo that was published on the Kent County Sheriff's Office public website, CAIR-MI said. She was later released from the Kent County Jail without charge, according to a press release. CAIR-MI said it issued a notice of claim after the arrest to the Kent County Sheriff's Office to inform them of the civil rights violation by Hague and requested compensation. The chapter said it tried to resolve the issue with the sheriff's office by attending meetings and sending correspondence but nothing worked. Hague's booking photo without her hijab remains on law enforcement databases where it was uploaded by Kent County, creating a permanent public record, CAIR-MI said. read the complete article

Father of slain 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume makes emotional plea for justice in alleged hate killing

The father of a 6-year-old Muslim boy killed in a stabbing attack officials said was fueled by Islamophobic hate, made an emotional plea Wednesday for justice and exhorted Americans to reject bigotry and "embrace the diversity that makes our nation so beautiful." Odai Al-Fayoume spoke at a vigil outside the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Illinois, that was held before a pretrial hearing for Joseph Czuba, the 71-year-old Air Force veteran accused of stabbing his son, Wadee Al-Fayoume, 26 times and knifing the boy's mother in an October attack at their suburban Chicago apartment. "Wadee deserves nothing less than that. We owe it to him to seek justice," Al-Fayoume said. "However, I also want to take a moment to address a larger issue that we cannot ignore: My son was the victim not only of violence but also of prejudice and hatred. He was targeted because of his faith, because he was Muslim and that is something we must confront as a society." He added, "My son's memory will serve as a reminder that we must keep working to create a more inclusive society. Let his life inspire us to reject bigotry and to embrace the diversity that makes our nation so beautiful." Czuba allegedly stabbed Shahin multiple times, prompting her to lock herself in a bathroom and call the police, prosecutors said. While Shahin was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, Czuba allegedly turned rage toward her child, stabbing him repeatedly with the seven-inch blade of his "military-style knife," prosecutors said. read the complete article

Imam killed in shooting outside Newark mosque, shooter at large, authorities say

A New Jersey imam was gunned down outside his mosque before dawn Wednesday, leaving authorities hunting for a shooter and saying they’ve found no evidence yet that an anti-Muslim bias played a part in the shooting. Imam Hassan Sharif was in his car when he was shot more than once at about 6 a.m. near the Masjid-Muhammad Mosque in Newark, the state’s largest city, Essex County Prosecutor Ted Stephens said at a news conference. He was taken to a nearby hospital but died in the afternoon. “I know that in light of global events and with a rise in bias directed at many communities we’re experiencing across our state — particularly the Muslim community — there are many in New Jersey right now who are feeling a heightened sense of fear or anxiety at the news of this slaying,” Attorney General Matt Platkin said. Despite that, Platkin said law enforcement has stepped up outreach to houses of worship, particularly Jewish and Muslim ones, explicitly acknowledging the tensions unfolding in many parts of the world amid the fighting in Gaza since the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel. read the complete article


Unlocking an Alternative to Bigotry and Intolerance

The endless stream of violent acts — some deliberate and methodical, others random and senseless — showcases the worst of human behavior. Much of this brutality stems from ignorance, fear, and bigotry, creating a self-perpetuating epidemic of polarization that erodes human rights. Since Oct. 7, the world has witnessed how relentless violence and war in Palestine and Israel is feeding a torrent of Islamophobia and antisemitism. From the heinous killing of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Chicago, to the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Vermont, to physical attacks and threats of gratuitous violence against Jewish students at Cornell University, the spike in Islamophobic, antisemitic, and anti-Arab vitriol is jarring. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Islamophobia, the spread of neo-Nazi and white nationalist movements, and other forms of ethnic, national, and religious intolerance proliferated around the world. Prominent public figures including entertainers, business leaders, and politicians have fueled a culture of ignorance and fear that can contribute to horrific hate crimes and violence. read the complete article

From Guantanamo to Palestine: MEMO in Conversation with Anas Mustapha

In this week’s conversation, MEMO speaks with CAGE about the organisation’s 20-year long journey from advocating for Guantanamo Bay detainees to tackling systemic injustices like the criminalisation of pro-Palestine solidarity. We discuss trends of repression via counter-terrorism laws, how inflated terrorism rhetoric compounds discrimination, the thinking behind CAGE International and its latest report on the crackdown on pro-Palestine solidarity in light of events in Gaza. Anas Mustapha is the head of Public Advocacy at CAGE UK, guiding media strategy and pioneering high-impact research and reports. He is a speaker and advocate against the abuse of state power, specialising across the breadth of UK Counter Terrorism. Anas holds a degree in English language, is a native Arabic speaker and a student of Islamic sciences. read the complete article


Sentencing hearing today for man found guilty in London attack on Muslim family

A sentencing hearing is set to begin today for a man who killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont. Nathaniel Veltman, 23, was found guilty in November of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for hitting the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk on June 6, 2021. His trial was heard in Windsor, Ont., but the sentencing proceedings –including the delivering of victim impact statements – will be taking place in London, where the attack took place. Forty-six-year-old Salman Afzaal; his 44-year-old wife, Madiha Salman; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna; and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed, while the couple's nine-year-old son was seriously hurt but survived. The attack devastated the city and triggered national calls to combat Islamophobia. Veltman's trial was the first where Canada's terrorism laws were put before a jury in a first-degree murder trial. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Jan 2024 Edition


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