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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02 Jul 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, the general election called by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is ushering in a new opportunity for the country’s 6.5 million Muslims to have their voices heard and choose candidates whose policies align with issues important to the community, meanwhile in France, the far-right has won from the first round of legislative elections with French Muslims worried a far-right government could bring about an Islamophobic ‘apartheid’, and in the United States, high levels of Americans are concerned about antisemitism and Islamophobia, according to a new Gallup poll. Our recommended read of the day is by Nadeine Asbali for The New Arab on how British politics has overwhelmingly cast Muslim women as a visible threat. This and more below:

United Kingdom

Bullying Muslim women has become a cheap shot in the UK election | Recommended Read

On the unlikely chance that you needed a reminder that Islamophobia is alive and well in the UK, look no further than the media circus surrounding the upcoming general election on July 4. Muslim voters participating in legitimate forms of political democracy have been accused of displaying more loyalty towards the Middle East than their constituencies. Any form of protesting in support of Palestine or against our government’s aiding and abetting of genocide is automatically labelled antisemitic and Islamist in nature. Even something as innocuous as holding a placard depicting the Prime Minister next to a coconut can see you charged with a racially aggravated public order offence if you happen to be Muslim and pro-Palestine. The ongoing genocide in Gaza, and British Muslims’ vocal opposition to our government’s role in these war crimes, had already caused hostility towards Muslims to increase. As the General Election in Britain grows closer, it seems that, as usual, Muslim women are facing the brunt of the nation’s disdain for all things Islam. As I explored in my recently published book, Veiled Threat: On Being Visibly Muslim in Britain, visibly Muslim women like me exist at the intersection of gendered Islamophobia and violent misogyny. The disdain society holds towards us as women in a patriarchal system, but also as covered women in a hypersexualised society in which anything but liberal feminism is deemed archaic and oppressive, is compounded by the deep-rooted and systemic hatred of Muslims that Britain is predicated upon. read the complete article

Campaigners seek to harness Gaza anger among UK Muslim voters

Shanaz Saddique is one of a surge of pro-Palestinian candidates hoping to mobilise Muslim votes at Britain's July 4 election by tapping into discontent over the two main political parties' positions on the war in Gaza. Both the ruling Conservatives and the resurgent Labour party have said they want the fighting to stop, but have also backed Israel's right to defend itself - angering some among the 3.9 million Muslims who make up 6.5% of Britain's population. Few, if any, of the pro-Palestinian candidates running as independents or for non-mainstream parties will get elected to parliament, but "The Muslim Vote" campaign is looking to win enough votes to send a strong message to those who do. "Gaza is ... not about a political argument. It's a human rights argument," Saddique, who is running to be elected as a Member of Parliament for Oldham East and Saddleworth north of Manchester told Reuters. The Muslim Vote campaign is advising voters to pick pro-Palestine candidates running as independents or from smaller parties like the left-wing Workers Party, which has put up 152 candidates including Saddique. read the complete article

In UK, Muslims threaten electoral damage on Labour Party over support for Israel

There are a number of parliamentary seats, once considered safe bets for the Labour Party, that are under threat as thousands of Muslim voters organize to unify their votes around support for Palestinians and a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. The Labour Party under its current leader, Sir Keir Starmer, once under fire for its inability to tackle antisemitism, is embroiled in a fresh row over its attitude toward Israel and the war in Gaza, following the attacks by Hamas on kibbutzim last October. Debate over whether Labour has been supportive enough toward Palestinians has cast its shadow over many inner city seats that Labour might otherwise have confidently expected to win, with campaigners urging Muslim voters to reject Labour and opt for other, often independent, candidates. Around 6.5 million Muslims live in the UK, according to 2021 census data, and most tend to be clustered in specific neighborhoods in London, Birmingham and several northern cities. In the past six weeks since Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the election, Muslim organizations have been rallying followers of Islam to vote. The Henry Jackson Society, a think tank, claims there are 17 constituencies where the Muslim electorate is substantial enough to affect the outcome of the ballot. read the complete article


How a new UK government could help Muslims across Europe

As UK voters head to the polls on 4 July to elect the country’s next government, the result is being closely watched by European Muslims. With the election heavily framed around illegal and legal migration to the UK, it also offers a new government an opportunity to defend the multicultural model that once put the UK on the map as diverse and inclusive. A change in government could act as a counter-balance to Europe’s rightward swing, which has seen anti-Muslim leaders such as Dutch politician Geert Wilders gain a hold, and far-right parties make serious gains in France and Germany during recent EU elections. A recent poll by Hyphen and Savanta showed that 63% of surveyed Muslims are planning to vote for Labour, and the party is currently expected to snap up 40% of all votes. The French, meanwhile, are voting in historic numbers for the anti-Islam National Rally, with the far right party poised to form a government after the second round of voting in a snap election on July 7. Hyphen spoke to a number of European Muslim thought leaders and authors to get a sense of how the UK election could affect Muslim communities across the continent. Hania Chalal is the president of the Forum for European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO) based in Strasbourg; Scharjil Khalid is the imam of the Khadija Mosque in Berlin; and Ahmad Abdulatif is an Egyptian novelist based in Madrid. read the complete article

Saudi religious official says he has 'amazing' chats with Marine Le Pen

In an unlikely collaboration, the head of the Muslim World League delivered a keynote speech at a right-wing British think tank on Monday. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa, the former Saudi Arabian justice minister who has headed up the Mecca-based international Islamic NGO since 2016, spoke at Policy Exchange in London. He touched on a wide variety of issues, including Islamophobia and Israel’s war on Gaza. In perhaps the most intriguing comments made during the event, Issa said he had frequent and fruitful conversations with French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen. “We have a good relationship with her. Whenever we go to France, we meet with Miss Le Pen,” he said. “We are very transparent when we talk to one another… We are friends in dialogue. We share friendship based on understanding.” “[When I am in] France, I must respect the values of the republic. Otherwise, how can I enter into a state without respecting their values?” he said. “[Le Pen] asked me if this is Islam. I said yes, this is Islam, and I’m the representative of the Muslim World League.” He said that Muslims should respect the constitution, laws and prevailing culture of the countries in which they reside. read the complete article

United States

US Muslim group slams Israeli consul's 'radical Muslim occupation' remarks

Comments by Israel’s new consul general in New York, Ofir Akunis, urging New Yorkers to "wake up" against what he called a "radical Muslim occupation" have sparked sharp criticism from US Muslims. The New York branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) condemned Akunis's statement made in an interview with the New York Post. Akunis likened New York’s situation to cities like London, Malmo and Paris, which he described as being under the occupation of "radical Muslims," urging New Yorkers to act before it was too late. In a statement, CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher said: "This false ‘wake up’ call is in reality a call to hatred and violence targeting New York Muslims and Arabs, and those perceived to be Muslim and Arab-American." Afaf Nasher emphasised that Akunis' "false and hate-filled remarks should be repudiated by all political and religious leaders." She also highlighted the rise in anti-Muslim discrimination and hate crimes in the US, pointing to the highest number of complaints received by CAIR in its 30-year history. read the complete article

High levels of Americans worried about antisemitism, Islamophobia: Gallup

High levels of Americans are concerned about antisemitism and Islamophobia, a new Gallup poll found, though serious concern is significantly higher for antisemitism. The new poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe that antisemitism in the United States is “somewhat” a problem or a “very serious” problem. This is significantly higher than the 57 percent of Americans who said the same when asked the question in 2003, Gallup noted. It is also higher than the 74 percent of Americans who see Islamophobia as somewhat or seriously a problem. The gap is even larger among those most concerned; 33 percent of Americans labeled prejudice against Muslim people as a “very serious” problem while 49 percent said the same of antisemitism. The poll found some partisan splits regarding concerns about antisemitism and Islamophobia. Sixty-three percent of Republicans said they had serious concerns about antisemitism while just 18 percent had the same concerns about prejudice against Muslim people. Similar shares of Democrats were concerned about antisemitism and Islamophobia. Forty-nine percent said antisemitism was a very serious problem while 50 percent said prejudice against Muslim people was. read the complete article


Hindu Men Who Provoked Mob Against Muslim Shopkeepers In Himachal Are Still Out, Spreading Islamophobia

Two days after fleeing for his life from Nahan town in southern Himachal Pradesh, Savej Qureshi, a 32-year-old Muslim garments shopkeeper, said that his heart was broken. “We were thinking of changing the address on our Aadhar card to Nahan. We have fallen in love with Nahan and its people all these years. But my heart is broken now,” said Qureshi, speaking from his village in western Uttar Pradesh, which borders Himachal Pradesh. “When you are physically attacked, blood is visible. But when your heart is attacked, it gives invisible wounds,” he said. A WhatsApp status message of his younger brother, Javed Qureshi, showed Javed slaughtering an animal on Eid, triggering rumours that he had killed a cow. In a video of the incident on 19 June, a 400-500-strong Hindu mob was seen looting Qureshi’s garments shop in the Chotta Chowk market in Nahan in front of the police while chanting “Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram” and “Shoot the traitors.” People living in Nahan told Article 14 that about 15 to 16 “outsider” Muslims had left, referring to Muslims who had come from across the border districts of western UP and set up their shops in Himachal Pradesh. It was the UP Muslims that the local right-wing leaders incited the mob against. Rajkumar, the deputy sarpanch of village Banethi, who the police case said was responsible for gathering the mob, is still out. Two other men, Dinesh Aggarwal and Shiv Kumar Garg, who we identified from a video of people inciting the mob on 19 June, are also out. read the complete article


France elections: Muslims fear Islamophobic 'apartheid' after far-right wins

Hundreds of French citizens gathered in Paris on Sunday evening to protest against the far-right National Rally (RN), the party that won the highest share of votes in the country’s first round of legislative elections earlier that day. The RN, led by 28-year-old Jordan Bardella and veteran ultraconservative Marine Le Pen, ran a campaign with an anti-immigration policy platform, which has been criticised and deemed discriminatory and Islamophobic. Despite those fierce criticisms, the National Rally won 33.14 percent of the votes, followed by the New Popular Front, an alliance of left-wing parties, on 27.9 percent. The centrist alliance of President Emmanuel Macron came third, with 20.7 percent. Before the election, figures from across French society, but particularly Muslims and those from an immigrant background, expressed concern about the future. As the RN's successes rolled in, those concerns only heightened. There is a chance that the RN will be able to form a majority government alone following the second round, and pursue its policy of “national preference” - the concept of prioritising non-migrant French communities. In Paris, Muslims were among those protesting the National Rally's gains following the election. “From what I know, if the National Rally comes into power, many Islamophobic bills will be passed,” said Zayneb, a student. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Jul 2024 Edition


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