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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08 Jan 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, the boy who was left orphaned after an Islamophobic attack that killed his parents, grandmother, and sister, detailed how the attack changed his life in a victim impact statement read by his cousin in court, meanwhile in India, the country’s top court restored life prison sentences for 11 Hindu men who raped a Muslim woman during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, and in the UK, a recent interview conducted by TalkTV host Julia Hartley-Brewer has ignited a firestorm of criticism online, as her behavior and rhetoric towards the show’s guest, a Palestinian politician, has been called ‘racist’ by critics. Our recommended read of the day is by Sravya Tadepalli & Sunita Viswanath for Scroll on how right-wing Hindus in the United States have weaponized claims of “Hinduphobia” to silence critics of the Narendra Modi government and its atrocities.This and more below:

United States

How ‘Hinduphobia’ is being weaponised in the US | Recommended Read

In 2021, dozens of scholars from more than 53 universities planned an online academic conference, “Dismantling Global Hindutva”. The conference would discuss the impact of Hindu nationalism (or Hindutva ideology) on human rights, science, law, and other areas where Hindu extremism has affected the world. A month before the conference, thousands of right-wing Hindus attacked organisers and participants with ferocity. They sent death threats that forced some scholars to pull out. Hindu nationalist groups including the Hindu American Foundation, the Coalition of Hindus of North America, and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh mobilised their bases to send hundreds of thousands of emails to universities decrying the conference as Hinduphobic. The attacks started well before the programme and the participants were announced – the conference was targeted simply because of the name, “Dismantling Global Hindutva.” By arguing that Hindutva was Hinduism and that the conference would make Hindu students feel unsafe on campus, right-wing Hindus were able to create significant anxiety around sponsorship of the conference. The weaponisation of “Hinduphobia” to shut down any criticism of the current Indian government and the growth in the term’s purchase reveals the extent to which right-wing Hindus have depended on claims of discrimination to legitimise their own discriminatory agenda. Hinduphobia accusations have gained popularity over the last few years because they are an easy way for Hindu nationalists to silence criticism of Hinduism or Hindu nationalism. Nobody wants to be a racist, and well-meaning non-South Asian liberals too often take the bait of believing that criticism of Hindutva or caste discrimination is out of place and neocolonialist. Challenging this agenda will require both active condemnation of histrionic efforts by the Hindu right to paint anti-Hindutva sentiment as discriminatory as well as active compassion for Hindus who have been marginalised because of their religion. read the complete article

Why the US Supreme Court should allow Muslim man on No Fly List to sue FBI

This week, on behalf of an innocent American Muslim unjustly targeted by our government’s secret list of Muslims, I will argue Yonas Fikre’s case at the US Supreme Court. The case is about the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)'s decision to put our peaceful, law-abiding client on a list—the No Fly List—that has for years prevented him from flying home to the United States from abroad after what was supposed to be a short business trip. Years after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a lawsuit, the government removed Fikre from the list without explanation and has repeatedly asked the courts to end the case. The No Fly List is a secret list that the US government makes and distributes to prevent the people listed from boarding a flight that travels through US airspace. There are hundreds of thousands of names on this No Fly List and, based on our close study of a leaked copy of the list, we estimate that about 98 percent of the listed names are Muslim names. For example, the name Muhammad appears more than a half million times. This is overwhelming evidence that the list is aimed at Muslims only. The No Fly List sounds ominous, but in reality, the government arrests people, as opposed to merely “listing" them, when it has meaningful evidence of criminal wrongdoing. That’s just how government officials behave, and so the No Fly List - surprisingly - isn’t actually a list of dangerous people. It’s something else. We believe the US government often uses the No Fly List to build and expand its network of informants in the Muslim community. That’s exactly the kind of sinister proposition the FBI made to our client here: spy on the Muslim community or we’ll keep you on the No Fly List. read the complete article

Hate crimes reached record levels in 2023. Why 'a perfect storm' could push them higher

The number of hate crimes reported to police in the nation's 10 largest cities rose again in 2023, according to preliminary data released Friday from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. The annual study found at least 2,184 hate crimes were reported across New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, and Austin last year, an increase of nearly 13% from 2022 driven in part by upticks in anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attacks amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. A larger analysis of 25 American cities found hate crimes increased an average of 17% from 2022, according to the study. New York and Los Angeles saw some of the largest increases in anti-Jewish hate crimes, rising 12.6% and 48% respectively, while Los Angeles and Chicago saw 40% and 300% increases in anti-Muslim hate crimes, according to the study. "It just explodes after October 7," Levin said, referencing the day Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 240 hostages. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Why won’t Rishi Sunak say this one word?

Today marks the three month anniversary of Hamas’s attack on Israel, and the escalation of the conflict has had a terrible impact on those in the area and beyond. Tensions have ramped up all over the world, harming both Jewish and Muslim communities. The UK is no exception to this and while most people are able to express their views peacefully and respectfully, we have sadly seen too many instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia. The Muslim Council of Britain has also noted a troubling surge in Islamophobic attacks, stating: ‘Over the course of this devastating conflict, we have seen a surge of hate crime, with a 140% increase in Islamophobic offences in London alone’. Yet, amazingly, according to Hansard records, Rishi Sunak has never once uttered the word ‘Islamophobia’ in the House of Commons – he has only referred to it as ‘anti-Muslim hate’. This doesn’t cut it. It is not good enough to redefine something – if we do not name the problem, we can’t possibly tackle it. Sunak shouldn’t shy away from using the word, in the same way he doesn’t with antisemitism, which he has mentioned in Parliament 16 times since the war started. It is imperative that from the Prime Minister down, the Tories need to start calling this hatred what it is – and invest time and more money in stamping out Islamophobia. I commend Rishi Sunak for his stand against antisemitism, this is important. He has condemned it on many occasions, on social media and in the House of Commons. But there has been no equivalent urgency, determination or effort evoked to tackle the scourge of Islamophobia and that is deeply disappointing – especially when the government will know as much as anyone how much it has increased. read the complete article

British TV Host Reeks of Islamophobia as She Yells at Palestinian MP During Live Interview

A recent interview conducted by TalkTV host Julia Hartley-Brewer has ignited a firestorm of criticism, with accusations of Islamophobia and unprofessional behavior directed at the British TV presenter. The controversial interview featured Palestinian politician Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, who appeared on the show following the assassination of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri. The clip from the show, shared by TalkTV, showcases Hartley-Brewer’s dismissive and extremely disrespectful attitude towards her guest Dr. Barghouti. Social media erupted with condemnation, with users expressing outrage at what they view as Hartley-Brewer’s racist treatment of her guest. Many argued that her behavior is emblematic of broader biases within Western media against Palestinians. read the complete article


Homemade bomb planted on car at Sydney home flying Palestinian flag

Bomb squad officers have been called to a south Sydney home after an improvised explosive device was planted on the car of its pro-Palestinian residents. The homemade device that appeared to be made of a jerry can with rags stuffed into it, a disposable lighter and large bolts was found on the vehicle’s bonnet in Botany on Friday afternoon. The car was parked in the driveway of a home where the Palestinian flag and a board with statements about the Gaza war were displayed on the front fence. A note taped to the side of the device read “Enough! Take down flag! One chance!!!!” Officers from the NSW police rescue and bomb squad attended and deemed the “suspicious item” safe. A bomb disposal robot could be seen in a police vehicle at the site. Nasser Mashni of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network said the act was “another alarming sign of the anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia that is rife” in Australian communities. “It’s appalling to see these attempts to terrorise members of the community into silence for their acts of solidarity with Palestinians,” he said. read the complete article


'I can't talk to my family anymore,' boy orphaned in anti-Muslim attack tells London, Ont., sentencing court

The boy left orphaned after an Islamophobic attack on the Afzaal family says he wishes he could still have his sister to fight with, his mom's cooking and the house he grew up in. He also longs for the plans that will never happen, like being in a car with his sister driving after she finally got her licence. Now 11, the youngest member of the Muslim family attacked with a pickup truck on June 6, 2021, in London, Ont., detailed at the convicted killer's sentencing hearing how losing his sister, dad, mom and grandmother has changed his life. In the statement read by his cousin in Ontario Superior Court on Friday, the boy says the attack left him with injuries like a broken leg, and he'll have to undergo physiotherapy and surgery to hopefully walk again. "The offence has made me very sad at the fact I can't talk to my family anymore and make new memories with them. I won't be able to have fun with them anymore," the boy wrote in his victim impact statement. "When I have kids, they're not going to have grandparents because of this offence." The statement was the culmination of two days of emotional testimony by relatives, friends and community members as the two-day sentencing hearing for Nathaniel Veltman wrapped up Friday with the final victim impact statements. read the complete article


The rebranding of Xinjiang

Xinjiang Province, on China's Western frontier – origin of the Silk Road, the ancient gateway for trade to the Middle East – was off-limits during the pandemic. But it is open again, and these days it's being marketed by the state both for its beauty and its business opportunities. CBS News recently joined a tour arranged by the Chinese Information Office, which hired the buses, set the itinerary, and provided the translators and the staff who have accompanied us every step of the way. They showed us everything from agricultural machinery to ancient ruins, to e-sales of local plums on TikTok. What we didn't see was evidence of the detention centers and prisons that turned Xinjiang into an international scandal. Human rights groups say that, starting in 2014, up to million Muslim Uyghur people were rounded up in Xinjiang and imprisoned. Those who could escaped, and thousands settled in the United States. Babur Ilchi, of the Uyghur Human Rights Project in Washington, said the Chinese Communist Party is threatened by the Uyghur people because "we're not Han Chinese, we're separate from the majority of China. The Chinese government perceived us as a potential threat to their complete supremacy over China." Meanwhile, the government has been investing heavily in Xinjiang, including a multi-billion dollar high-speed train. Everywhere we saw evidence of the eye-watering money China is spending on infrastructure, like wind farms, and tourist development. The message: forget human rights abuses, take in the sights. At first, the Chinese government denied the Uyghur detention centers existed. But after they showed up in satellite pictures, it said they were all closed in 2019. One official, who would not go on camera, confirmed we'd driven by one such center, but that it wasn't worth pointing out, he said, because it was shut down. Instead, we saw ethnic dancing, local wine production, and a village remodeled and beautified especially for tourists. But of private Uyghur life, we caught only passing glimpses. read the complete article


India court restores life prison sentences for 11 Hindu men who raped a Muslim woman in 2002 riots

India’s top court on Monday restored life prison sentences for 11 Hindu men who raped a Muslim woman during deadly religious rioting two decades ago and asked the convicts to surrender to the authorities within two weeks. The Hindu men were convicted in 2008 of rape and murder. They were released in 2022 after serving 14 years in prison. The victim, who is now in her 40s, was pregnant when she was brutally gang-raped in 2002 in western Gujarat state during communal rioting that was some of India’s worst religious violence with over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed. Seven members of the woman’s family, including her 3-year-old daughter, were killed during the riots. At the time of their release, officials in Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party holds power, had said the convicts were granted remission because they had completed over 14 years in jail. A revised policy adopted in 2014 by the federal government prohibits remission release for those convicted of certain crimes, including rape and murder. Following the release of the convicts, the victim had filed a petition with the Supreme Court, saying “the en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of the society.” The 2002 riots have long hounded Modi, who was Gujarat’s top elected official at the time, amid allegations that authorities allowed and even encouraged the bloodshed. Modi has repeatedly denied having any role and the Supreme Court has said it found no evidence to prosecute him. read the complete article


Why is Germany so viciously anti-Palestinian?

­­­­­­Since Israel launched its latest war on Gaza, Germany has stood firmly by its ally. Even as warnings of a genocide committed by Israeli forces have mounted, the German government has not budged. On October 12, Chancellor Olaf Scholz proclaimed that “there is only one place for Germany” which is “side by side with Israel” and indeed it has not moved from this stance. The German government has not only provided wide-ranging political and diplomatic support for Israel, but has also fast-tracked arms exports to facilitate the­­­ Israeli slaughter of Palestinian civilians. The German political elite has vehemently rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and relentlessly repeated the false claim that under international law, Israel has the “right to defend itself” from the Palestinian population it occupies. It continues to disregard decades of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. The German political elite has justified its stance with the alleged feeling of guilt for the Holocaust and the need to make amends by supporting Israel, considering its security “Germany’s reason of state”. But under the cover of “acting morally” and “atoning for its crimes”, German politicians and officials are actually seeking to further normalise anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism, justify more draconian anti-immigration policies, and downplay the persisting anti-Semitism among white Germans. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Jan 2024 Edition


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