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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10 Jul 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, the resignation of the country’s first hijab-wearing Senator, Fatima Payman, from the Labor Party due to in-party discrimination and intimidation for her stance on Palestinian statehood exposes the “ugly underbelly of Australian politics” according to observers, meanwhile in the UK, Prime Minister Keir Starmer has been accused of giving “an awful response” when asked about the Labour Party’s relationship with British Muslims, as general election results showed a steep decline in support for Labour from the minority constituency, and in Canada, a Montreal karate centre barred a 12-year-old Muslim girl from attending her class after she opted to begin wearing a hijab. Our recommended read of the day is by The New Arab staff & agencies on a major disinformation campaign involving Islamophobia aimed at smearing Qatar’s image as it attempts to act as a mediator in talks to end Israel’s war in Gaza war. This and more below:


Shadow campaign: Global cyber attacks on Qatar increase amid Gaza war mediation | Recommended Read

Shady websites calling for a boycott of Qatar, a New York billboard targeting the Gulf state's rulers, and a Vietnamese outfit floating hundreds of slander-ridden Facebook ads - all elements of a sprawling influence operation 'vilifying' the country as it mediates between Israel and Hamas, amid the war in Gaza. The murky operation, which began late last year and spans multiple countries, is the largest ever to target the emirate, disinformation researchers say, as Israel's nine-month war bin Gaza rages. The campaigns, many using Islamophobic and anti-immigrant tropes, involve an anti-Qatar ad that featured at a US gathering of political conservatives attended by Donald Trump and an online petition attributed to a fictitious person and organisation. The online and offline campaigns - which researchers say appear linked in their overlapping distribution, ad sponsoring and web hosting infrastructure - illustrate the ease with which a person or an entire country can be tarnished in the age of disinformation while masking the ultimate perpetrators. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Record number of Muslims elected to UK parliament despite rising Islamophobia

A record number of Muslims won seats in Britain’s parliamentary elections despite rising Islamophobia, a major Muslim news outlet reported. A record-breaking 25 Muslims, up from 19 in 2019, were elected to the House of Commons, the lower house of parliament, said the Muslim Network. Among those elected, 18 are from the Labour Party, four are independents, two are from the Conservative Party and one is from the Liberal Democrats. The outlet highlighted that Muslim voters’ support for Gaza significantly influenced the election, with five independent candidates, including four Muslims, winning seats. Noting that 3.4 million Muslims are living in the country, it said the election marks a significant milestone in the UK’s political landscape, reflecting the increasing diversity and the impact of Muslim communities on British politics. read the complete article

Starmer should run a mile from Blair’s advice on Muslims

If there is anyone whose advice Keir Starmer should ignore when it comes to regaining the trust of Britain’s Muslim community, it is former Labour prime minister Tony Blair. Blair allowed racism and Islamophobia to flourish in Britain. He introduced anti-terror legislation that disproportionately targeted Muslims — particularly men — and has continued to paint Muslims as extremists and talk about an Islamist threat to Britain in the years since. British Muslims remember the New Labour era as a time in which we were framed by politicians and national newspapers as a kind of “enemy within”, our British-ness and allegiance to Britain in constant question. Yet Blair now styles himself as an expert on our communities, urging Starmer in a column for the Sunday Times: “We need a new tough new approach to law and order. At present, criminal elements are modernising faster than law enforcement. And the government should avoid any vulnerability on ‘wokeism’. There is also clearly a challenge in part of the Muslim community, but that is a topic requiring its own special analysis.” This ambiguous sentence could mean a number of things. Blair could be referring to the challenge posed by the loss of Labour’s Muslim members and voters. He could mean the challenge posed by Muslim Palestine supporters, and the pressure they are exerting on Starmer and the Labour government to enact an arms embargo on Israel, to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and to review UK foreign policy on Palestine and Israel. But given Blair’s history, it is more likely to be an implication that Britain’s Muslim community still poses a threat to the country’s stability, and that Muslims are alien beings requiring a unique approach. He mentioned no other faith community in an otherwise fairly wide-ranging column. As usual, Muslims are being singled out and treated as one of Britain’s “problems”. read the complete article

Fact Check: Inauthentic image shared of Muslims praying on Downing Street

An image of Muslims praying on Downing Street in London has been shared online as if authentic, despite having multiple visual clues that indicate it is a piece of synthetic media. The image shows, opens new tab dozens of people praying outside Number 10, where the British prime minister resides, and social media users suggested it was a tribute to newly elected Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer. However, several features of the image suggest it was synthetically generated. Reuters found no credible reports of such an event happening on Downing Street in the lead-up to the July 4 election, nor after. read the complete article

Starmer accused of 'awful response' on Labour's relationship with British Muslims

Prime Minister Keir Starmer has been accused of giving "an awful response" when asked about the Labour Party's relationship with British Muslims. In a recent interview, Starmer was questioned about General Election results showing the declining support of Labour by British Muslims, who have traditionally always supported the party. When asked about the party’s relationship with Muslims, Starmer said: “Very many people voted Labour in that General Election who never voted Labour before, so we now hold seats in parts of the country that have never had a Labour MP. “This is an incredibly strong mandate but of course wherever we were not able to secure votes, I am concerned about that but this is a clear mandate for change.” With Labour winning massively across the country, these defeats were viewed as a shock and an indication of a tense relationship with the party and the British Muslim community. Starmer’s answer when asked about it has caused upset. A clip of the interview has been watched more than 1.5 million times, with hundreds of comments criticising the prime minister. One of Labour's own MPs, Apsana Begum, said the answer was “awful” and a “missed opportunity". read the complete article

New Tory chair of 1922 committee has history of Islamophobia

The newly elected chair of the powerful 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs, Bob Blackman, has a history of Islamophobia, which has included sharing posts by the far-right Tommy Robinson. In a sign of how the Tory party is once more moving even further to the right, Blackman, who will now chair the committee that plays an influential role in choosing the next Tory party leader, has also previously hosted Tapan Ghosh in Parliament, a man who called on the UN to ‘control the Muslim birth rate world over’ and who had also praised the Rohingya genocide of Muslims in Burma. In March 2020, Blackman was included by the Muslim Council of Britain in a dossier of evidence sent to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. That Blackman has now been elected to chair such a powerful Tory committee is yet more proof of just how little the Tories care about Islamophobia. read the complete article


Australia’s Islamophobia problem exposed by Muslim senator’s resignation over Palestine

The resignation of Australia’s first hijab-wearing Senator Fatima Payman from the ruling Labor Party has laid bare the country’s deep-seated Islamophobia, as the young politician faced a torrent of intimidation and bullying from her own colleagues over her principled vote to recognise Palestinian statehood. Payman’s defiant stance against her party’s official position put her on a collision course with the Labor government, which does not recognise Palestinian sovereignty but supports a two-state solution. Amid growing domestic anger over Canberra’s approach to the Gaza crisis, the Afghan-born senator – whose family fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took over in 1996 – had spoken out in support of the Palestinian cause, even publishing an opinion piece in Al Jazeera before the fateful vote. The backlash was swift and severe. Payman claims she was exiled by her Labor peers, who reportedly “leaked” to the national broadcaster that she had sought “God’s guidance” on the issue – a thinly-veiled attempt to portray her as an extremist. Right-wing politicians, meanwhile, renewed warnings that Payman’s actions could foster a new “Muslim political party” and threaten Australia’s “social cohesion”. Her decision to vote with the Greens to support a motion on Palestinian statehood late last month resulted in her suspension from the Labor caucus. She resigned from the party last week and is now an independent senator in parliament. read the complete article


Montreal girl barred from karate class over hijab, Human Rights Commission says

A Muslim family says a Montreal karate centre barred their 12-year-old daughter from attending her class after she opted to begin wearing the hijab. The Quebec Human Rights Commission is now seeking $13,000 in damages for the family while demanding the centre update its policies to not discriminate against any religions. In a case brought before the provincial human rights tribunal in June, the commission alleges the centre’s director questioned the girl’s choice to wear the hijab and told her she needed to remove it to participate. “(The girl) remains strongly marked by her exclusion,” the commission states in the documents, “as she continues to feel that she has to justify her choice to wear the veil on different occasions.” read the complete article


Hard left turn could lead France to recognise Palestine state

France will have a coalition government dominated by left-leaning parties that are demonstrably sympathetic to the Palestinians, as opposed to the National Rally (RN)—which, until days ago, was expected to form the country’s first far-right government since World War II. According to Jean-Loup Samaan, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, France may actually go ahead and formally recognise a Palestinian state—a change of policy that he calls “major” and “symbolic” at the same time. “The (French) left coalition has been very vocal in demanding the recognition of a Palestinian state,” he tells TRT World. The far-right RN party has condemned what it calls “uncontrolled immigration” as an assault on French civilisation. In the 2022 presidential election, RN promised to put a stop to the “flood of migration” that, it said, threatened to “submerge” the French nation. But the surprise defeat of the far-right party at the ballot means the new government will “tone down” the right-wing rhetoric on immigration and Muslim communities, feels Samaan. read the complete article


Terms like ‘jihadis’, ‘Rohingyas’ not discriminatory toward Indian Muslims: Mumbai Police tells HC

The usage of terms like “jihadis”, “Rohingyas” and “Bangladeshis” is not discriminatory towards Muslims living in India, the Mumbai Police told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday, reported Live Law. The police were justifying their reasons for refusing to file a first information report against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Nitesh Rane, T Raja and Geeta Jain under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, for allegedly outraging religious sentiments. A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Shyam Chandak was hearing a batch of petitions seeking action against the Hindutva party leaders for propagating hate speech against Muslims during public addresses in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar, Mankhurd, Malwani areas, and Mira-Bhayandar’s Kashimira locality, in January. The petitioners highlighted parts of a speech that Rane had made in Ghatkopar, in which he used words like “Rohingyas”, “Bangladeshis” and “jihadis”, among other discriminatory expressions, against the Muslim community. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Jul 2024 Edition


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