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 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Germany, thousands of people participated in pro-Democracy demonstrations held in various cities including the capital of Berlin against the far-right and racism, meanwhile in Australia, police are investigating after a driveway outside a woman’s home in a Melbourne suburb was sprayed with Islamophobic messages, with the homeowner believing the act was in response to her public support for Palestine, and in South Africa, residents of the eastern port city of Durban are still trying to make sense of a horrific attack on a Muslim family on Sunday that left one woman dead and two others in intensive care. Our recommended read of the day is by Isaac Chotiner for The New Yorker on how the “cult of personality” surrounding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) though seemingly impenetrable has been dealt a major loss in India’s recent general election, and what this may mean for the future of the South Asian democracy. This and more below:


A Striking Setback for India’s Narendra Modi | Recommended Read

Last September, in a northern neighborhood of New Delhi, Mohammed Ishaq was lynched for eating a banana. The fruit had been offered up at a shrine to a Hindu deity during a religious festival; when Ishaq, a twenty-two-year-old manual laborer from a local Muslim family, picked it up, a crowd set upon him. He was tied to a pole, beaten—some of his fingernails were pulled out—and left a couple of hundred yards from his home. Hours later, he was dead. A video of his torture, set to music, went viral. Members of the community said that Ishaq suffered from mental disabilities; his father said, instead, that he was “obedient” and “innocent.” Violence against religious minorities is not new to India. But what has made this crime and many others like it during the past decade so disturbing is the sense that they have the tacit consent of the man who governs the country. Seventy-seven years after independence, India is led by a Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is dedicated to undermining the officially secular and democratic nature of the republic. Modi has been called upon many times to denounce communal violence, but he usually retreats into silence, which his most radical supporters interpret as approval. Last week, Modi emerged victorious in his third straight election, and will almost surely remain Prime Minister. But the election was also a striking setback for him: his party lost more than sixty seats and its legislative majority, so he must now govern with coalition partners who have a more secular conception of how the Indian state should function. It would be tempting to attribute this decline to Modi’s particular brand of aggressive nationalism and demagoguery—his Hindutva, or “Hinduness,” project—and to say that the Indian public had grown tired of it. Voters delivered “a setback for authoritarianism,” the historian Mukul Kesavan remarked, “but I’m not sure that was the intent.” read the complete article

Two decades on, India still haunted by Gujarat religious riots

Twenty-two years ago, the Indian state of Gujarat erupted in violence. For several weeks from the end of February 2002, inter-communal violence led to the deaths of around 2,000 people, most of them Muslims. Entire neighbourhoods were burnt down and families massacred. This outpouring of hatred was sparked by a fire on a train on February 27, 2002 at Godhra station. Fifty-nine Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive and dozens of others seriously injured. Hindu fundamentalist organisations in the region immediately accused Muslim extremists of attacking the convoy. It was the start of the worst religious riots in India since independence in 1947. Two decades later, our team returned to Gujarat, which is still scarred by the tragedy. read the complete article


Q&A: The ongoing efforts to combat Islamophobia in London and beyond

On the solemn anniversary of the tragic killing of four members of a London Muslim family, the community gathered to honour the lives of the Afzaal family and continue to stand against Islamophobia. Amira Elghawaby, Canada's special representative on combatting Islamophobia, was in London to take part in the Our London Family Vigil and stopped by CBC London ahead of the Thursday night event to talk about ongoing efforts to end Muslim hate. Elghawaby spoke with the CBC's Travis Dolynny on Afternoon Drive. TD: There was a call for change. I remember it prominently on the steps of our Muslim mosque. A lot of promises were made by all levels of government that day. So, three years on, have any of those powers made good on their promises to fight Islamophobia? AE: I think what's really important for all of us to remember is this kind of work is ongoing, and absolutely it was important to hear from political leaders who came out, as did thousands of people across London and from beyond who wanted to be here to show solidarity and stand up for our shared values. There was an anti-Islamophobia summit that was called by the federal government a few months later in which Muslims from across Canada put forward recommendations for all three levels of government. One of those recommendations was the creation of the role that I now hold. But the work is, as I said, not only ongoing but quite deep because there are systemic issues at play as well. read the complete article

Man wanted after assault, Islamophobic comments on TTC subway train: police

Toronto police officers say they’re looking for a man as part of an ongoing investigation into a suspected hate-motivated assault that happened on a TTC subway train in May. Investigators said the female victim and her friend were travelling on the train when a man unknown to them “began yelling anti-Muslim comments and assaulted the victim.” Officers said bystanders stepped in and the suspect took off. The Toronto police statement said the incident is being treated as a suspected hate-motivated offence. read the complete article

Police search for arson suspect in alleged hate-motivated fire in northwest London

London police are looking for a male suspect in an arson investigation which they believe could be hate-motivated, after the front porch of a house in the city's northwest was set on fire Saturday night. At approximately 10:40 p.m. police and fire crews responded to reports of a fire at a house on Wateroak Drive. The fire was extinguished and there were no injuries reported. "A preliminary investigation revealed that the fire appears to have been deliberately set and the suspect in the fire had obviously fled the scene," said Det. Insp. Alex Krygsman. "At this point we are treating it as a possible hate-motivated incident. " A man arrived at the house on foot, earlier at around 9:30 p.m. and stole items from the front yard, which included lawn signs expressing support for Palestinians, Krygsman said. The same man later returned and started a fire on the front porch before fleeing again. The occurrence is particularly concerning given the rise of Islamophobia in recent months, said Nawaz Tahir of Hikma Public Affairs Council, adding that the family who lives at the house was also given a threatening letter a few weeks ago. read the complete article

United States

A New Jersey school district is looking for answers after a photo with Muslim students replaced a Jewish group in a yearbook

An investigation is underway after seniors at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey received yearbooks this week with a Jewish Student Union photo replaced by a photo of Muslim students, the superintendent said. “We were made aware that in yearbooks, distributed only to Seniors, the Jewish Student Union is accompanied by a photograph that is not associated with them in any way,” East Brunswick Public Schools. But it’s not just Jewish students suffering from the yearbook incident. “I’ve personally seen death threats on social media, calling me a terrorist,” a Muslim student identified as Zain told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey. The Muslim Student Association “had no involvement in this, yet we have become the face of the whole incident because our faces weren’t even blurred out before the photo was posted on social media,” MSA Vice President Ali Salama said in a statement provided by the Council on American–Islamic Relations’ New Jersey office. Zain expressed sympathy for the Jewish community and described the Islamophobia he’s endured since seeing his face in the misplaced photo. “I want to offer my condolences to the Jewish community for the pain that they have suffered for the yearbook situation, and I hope that they are able to get their picture back into the yearbook after this is resolved,” Zain said at Thursday’s school board meeting. “I was one of the students in the mislabeled yearbook photo, and I want to speak on behalf of myself and the MSA for the abhorrent Islamophobia that we endured during this event.” He cited posts on social media that “compared me to a member of the KKK in Klan attire” and called “for my deportation.” read the complete article


Massive protests in Germany against far-right, racism

Thousands of people participated in demonstrations held in various cities across Germany against the far-right and racism. In the capital Berlin, thousands of people gathered on Saturday to protest far-right extremism and racism. The demonstration with the slogan “Stop the far-right, defend democracy” was organised by an initiative comprising many civil society organisations and groups. Banners in the protest were bearing slogans such as "I reject AfD" (far-right Alternative for Germany party) "Prioritise human rights over far-right ideologies," "Against far-right extremism," and "Diversity." Demonstrations come weeks after all nine members of the German far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) were expelled from the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament. The decision came after comments by Maximilian Krah, the AfD’s lead candidate in the June 6-9 elections, who said the members of the Nazi paramilitary SS force were “not all criminals.” read the complete article


‘It won’t silence us’: Islamophobic graffiti sprayed in woman’s driveway referred to police

Police are investigating after a driveway outside a woman’s home in Melbourne’s north-east was sprayed with Islamophobic messages, an incident she believes was in response to her public support for Palestine. The pavement and driveway outside of Rita Manessis’ home was sprayed with the words “Get out Muslim c---” and “death to Palestine” alongside several Hakenkreuz symbols – or swastikas – according to the Islamophobic Register. The non-Muslim woman said she believes she was targeted because she has shown support for Palestinians amid heightened political tensions in Australia as Israeli forces press further into the city of Rafah, located on the southern tip of the Gaza Strip. As part of activist group Menzies for Palestine, Manessis has taken part in marches through Melbourne and weekly rallies outside Liberal MP Keith Wolahan’s office, calling for an end to Israeli’s offensive in Gaza. Police on Saturday confirmed detectives were investigating after the offensive graffiti was reported on Friday. Manessis said the council worker who cleaned the graffiti off her driveway revealed he had cleaned similar messages off a nearby street weeks earlier. read the complete article

South Africa

Muslims in South Africa still reeling after fatal attack on pro-Palestine family

South Africans are still trying to make sense of a horrific attack on a Muslim family that left one woman dead and two others in intensive care last week, as speculation that the deadly assault may be linked to the family's pro-Palestine views continues to spiral. The murder made international news earlier this week - and spiked racial and religious tensions in the country - after a video showed a 44-year-old man from a prominent Jewish family admitting that he had attacked the family because they had allegedly made light of the troubles faced by his cousins in Israel. Grayson Beare, the adopted but estranged son of Julian Beare, chairperson of South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation, stabbed Halima Hoosen-Preston to death. She was 49. He went on to stab her husband Sean and their 18-year-old son Adam, in view of their 13-year-old daughter Sophia, who managed to escape unscathed. Beare has been since charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder. In the police report, shared with MEE, the reporting officer said the motive of the attack was unknown, "although a 10-year-old survivor has told the police that the suspect stated that he was stabbing them because they supported Palestine. The man also allegedly threatened to rape the little girl". read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Jun 2024 Edition


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