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 Jul 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the proliferation of hate-inciting messages on social media, mocking of Palestinian suffering and calls for replicating Israel’s militant stance against Muslims in India have profoundly impacted the mental health of Indian Muslims, meanwhile in the Netherlands, questions over the suitability of ministers from Geert Wilders’s Freedom party are being raised as a number of these individuals have used the term omvolking (population replacement), a Nazi-era term adopted now used by the far-right to signify the planned replacement of “native” white populations by migrants, and in Canada, a report to Parliament by the Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia finds outspoken Muslim activists are facing a hiring ban and discrimination at their workplaces. Our recommended read of the day is by Anne-Françoise Hivert for Le Monde on the rise of dehumanizing public rhetoric and growing anti-Muslim attacks, including remains of a pig dumped outside a mosque, in Sweden. This and more below:


Concern grows over anti-Muslim hate incidents in Sweden | Recommended Read

On the night of Tuesday, May 28, a car parked in front of the Skövde mosque, which opened in 2023, just outside the town between Gothenburg and Stockholm. The driver threw the corpse of a wild boar against the building, which is in a small wood, before driving off, unaware that the surveillance cameras installed by the Bosnian Islamic Association had filmed the action. "Unfortunately, we're used to this sort of thing," said Mirza Babovic, 66, an employee of the association. He reeled off incidents such as Islamophobic tags painted outside the former prayer hall, the remains of a pig dumped on the building site and the windows of a container smashed. In November 2023, far-right leader Jimmie Akesson – whose Sweden Democrats party has been allied with the right-wing coalition government since October 2022 – declared that he wanted to destroy mosques, ban the construction of new buildings and wiretap Muslim religious communities in order to combat "Islamism." His right-hand man, Richard Jomshof, president of the parliamentary legal affairs committee, followed suit, calling for a ban on all symbols of Islam in public spaces, which he likened to "the swastika." On social media, party officials have constantly denounced the "Islamization of Sweden," claiming that "Swedes are on the verge of becoming a minority in their own country." This rhetoric is not new. read the complete article


Modi’s BJP Has a Diversity Problem

Can Hindu nationalism find a way to accommodate India’s religious diversity? It’s an urgent question as Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi embarks on his third term as prime minister. If Mr. Modi can garner more support from the roughly 1 in 5 Indians who aren’t Hindus, he will strengthen his country and his party. If he fails to do this, his legacy will include a nation deeply divided along religious lines and a party whose sectarian politics severely limits its national appeal. First, the bad news. Of the 240 BJP members of Parliament elected last month, not one belongs to India’s three largest minority religions: Islam, Christianity or Sikhism. Among Mr. Modi’s new 72-member council of ministers there isn’t a single Muslim—a rebuff to a 200-million strong community that accounts for 14% of India’s 1.4 billion people. Until midway through Mr. Modi’s second term (2019-24) every Indian government since independence in 1947 had included Muslim representation. read the complete article

India's Muslims Face a Mental Health Crisis Amid Rampant Hate Speech and Disinformation

Ghuspaithiyon (infiltrators), ‘those with more children’, katwa (circumcised), terrorist — these are just a few of the many terms which politicians have used in reference to Muslims in India — the first two terms have been used by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a controversial election campaign speech in April. This communal rhetoric is not new. In fact, it’s almost expected during campaigning now. However, things seem to have become worse since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. That incident has been used to justify a wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric across India, with some right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders conflating support for Palestine with support for Hamas and painting all Muslims as “terrorists” or “terror sympathisers”. Hate-inciting messages are circulated widely on WhatsApp, with hundreds of messages related to the Israel-Hamas conflict being shared across more than a hundred groups. This reporter has documented hundreds of such WhatsApp messages and observed similar content being circulated on X, shared by right-wing ideologues. This glorification of war, mocking of Palestinian suffering and calls for replicating Israel’s militant stance against Muslims in India have profoundly impacted the mental health of Indian Muslims, leaving them alienated and fearful of violence exacerbated by the normalisation of such content on social media platforms. read the complete article

Release India’s Political Prisoners

In the last four years, Indian student leader Umar Khalid has moved his application for bail over a dozen times. Shunted from the low Delhi courts all the way up to the Supreme Court, he has been hit repeatedly with delayed hearings or outright denial of bail, leaving him indefinitely behind bars. Khalid was arrested in September 2020 over allegations of being part of a “larger conspiracy” to ignite deadly riots in the capital city New Delhi, which resulted in the deaths of over fifty people, most of them Muslims lynched in the streets by Hindu mobs. Saddled with charges ranging from “promoting enmity” to “terrorism,” the police have used his public speeches as evidence to prove the charge of incitement. A look at what he actually said makes these claims rather dubious. Khalid isn’t the only prisoner of conscience in Modi’s India. There are hundreds of people like him, locked behind bars as political prisoners. In the ten years since Modi came to power, he has decimated Indian democracy by punishing journalists, members of civil society, activists, students, and lawyers for criticizing him, his government, and his Hindu supremacist ideology. read the complete article

United States

Why many Muslim and Arab voters do not fear another Trump presidency

Over the last two decades, Muslim and Arab voters have gained significant political agency in the U.S. Having previously aligned with the Republican Party, they left in droves after 9/11 due to the GOP’s neoconservative policies. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, and the surveillance of Muslim communities destroyed all trust between the two sides. The Democratic Party filled this void and offered Muslim and Arab voters a new political home. The nascent political alliance between the two was built upon the vision that Arabs and Muslims were a unique and welcomed component of American society. But President Biden’s handling of Israel’s war on Gaza has led Muslim and Arab voters to grow disillusioned with the party and feel they are no longer as welcome as they may have once been. Efforts to wake up Democrats and the Biden administration highlight a seemingly unnoticed theme within today’s political scene: The Muslim and Arab community does not fear another Trump presidency. Not only are they a demographic desensitized by historical discrimination in the U.S., but many are immigrants and refugees coming from such horrific situations that they view the potential harms from another Trump presidency as relatively insignificant. read the complete article

Lino Lakes City Council halts Madinah Lakes project, Muslim leaders say process was discriminatory

A controversial real estate project in the north metro has been dealt a setback. On Monday, the Lino Lakes City Council tabled a proposal for the Madinah Lakes project. The 3-2 decision was made despite the fact a moratorium vote is set for next week. The developers say the project would turn 156 acres of a sod farm into a Muslim-friendly community with housing, a variety of businesses and a mosque. Local Muslim leaders with the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Tuesday said they are frustrated and disappointed that the process appears to be discriminatory. "For the past three months, we have seen hundreds of people show up to every city council meeting or planning meeting. And in those meetings, people have continuously projected Islamophobic, anti-Muslim statements in why they do not want this project to move forward," Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN, said. read the complete article


Israel’s Sde Teiman is so similar to Guantanamo for a reason

In May, a shocking CNN report based on whistleblower testimony placed Israel’s Sde Teiman military base in the Negev desert under the global spotlight and led to it being compared to the notorious US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where I was imprisoned for more than a decade. Three Israelis who worked at the desert camp doubling as a detention centre since the beginning of the Gaza war told CNN that they witnessed systemic physical and psychological abuse of Palestinian detainees at the facility. They said the Palestinians imprisoned there, who are held without charge or legal representation, are blindfolded, forced into stress positions, beaten, insulted, and prevented from speaking for extended periods. Prisoners at Sde Teiman, the whistleblowers claimed, routinely have their limbs amputated due to injuries sustained from constant handcuffing. Just as it appears to be the case with Sde Taiman, psychological abuse was rampant in Guantanamo. We were routinely put in isolation, exposed to extreme temperatures and threatened with physical abuse. Humiliation through forced nudity and sexual assaults were also common. Sensory overload and deprivation, through extended exposure to bright lights and loud noises, or being forced to sit in solitary in complete darkness for hours, further chipped away our sense of reality. The similarities between Guantanamo and Sde Teiman are not limited to the treatment of prisoners either. The two facilities also justify their existence, and provide legal cover for their excesses, using similar arguments and narratives. read the complete article


Government adviser alleges Muslim activists face hiring bans: Report

A report to Parliament has made the claim that outspoken Muslim activists are facing a hiring ban and discrimination at their workplaces. Amira Elghawaby, who didn’t specify any examples of employment hardships faced by those who advocate for “Palestinian human rights,” made the allegation in the report titled A Hopeful Path Forward for Canada’s Muslim Communities, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. “Over the past several months Canadian Muslims have shared their growing concerns about an increase in an anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab backlash that has already led to loss of income, threats to current or future employment, harassment, violence, vandalism and exclusion,” Elghawaby wrote.“We have been watching heartbreaking scenes from the Middle East over the past several months, particularly the distressing number of civilian deaths and injuries. The war has had a direct impact on many in our country including Canadian Muslims and particularly those of Palestinian descent.” read the complete article


New Dutch government sworn in amid concerns over far-right ministers

The development aid minister has argued that development aid should be abolished, the asylum and immigration minister has referred to “population replacement”, and the housing minister was a vocal anti-lockdown campaigner. Sworn in on Tuesday, the new Dutch cabinet of prime minister Dick Schoof, featuring five ministers from Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom party (PVV) and two from the populist Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB), has raised more than a few eyebrows in the Netherlands. Wilders, whose party rocked the country by finishing first in elections last November, insisted last week that his nominees were “more and more popular. They speak the language of the man and woman in the street. I am very proud of them.” But the anti-Islam firebrand was forced to abandon the PVV’s original choice for immigration minister, Gidi Markuszower, after “issues arose” during the routine security screening that “could be problematic” for his appointment. Wilders’ pick for foreign trade and development aid, Reinette Klever, has also reposted mentions of omvolking, a Nazi-era term adopted now used by the far right to signify the planned replacement of “native” white populations by migrants. read the complete article


Muslim Vote movement targeting federal Labor seats to announce two candidates for Western Sydney

The convenor of a "teal-style" Muslim Vote movement targeting federal Labor seats says he plans to announce the first candidates for two Western Sydney seats next week. The safe Labor seats, held by Education Minister Jason Clare and Employment Minister Tony Burke, also have the largest Muslim constituencies in the country. The Muslim Vote campaign, whose website said it was "empowering Australian Muslims in the electoral process", began last year in the aftermath of the October 7 attack on Israel. Speaking to the ABC for the first time about the campaign, one of its convenors Sheikh Wesam Charkawi said Muslim communities were outraged the Labor government has not been tougher on Israel during the war in Gaza. He also did not rule out a "future" conversation about supporting Labor senator Fatima Payman, who has since left the party after being ousted from caucus for crossing the floor in support of a Greens motion to recognise the state of Palestine. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Jul 2024 Edition


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