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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14 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In France, professional French Muslim athletes are campaigning against the country’s hijab ban, meanwhile in China, a new Codastory collaboration with Stranger’s Guide highlights the story of Abduweli Ayup, a Uyghur Muslim who was sent to a Chinese state prison camp to be “reeducated” for teaching the Uyghur language at a preschool, and in the United States, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has sent a letter to U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, condemning anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic rhetoric Comer used in a letter sent in May to American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). Our recommended read of the day is by Shahana Yasmin for The Independent on The Supreme Court of India’s recent ruling halting the release of the Bollywood film Hamare Baarah, which the court says contains content that is “offensive to married Muslim women and their religion”. This and more below:


India’s top court halts release of film ‘offensive’ to Muslim women and Islam | Recommended Read

The Supreme Court of India has stayed the release of the Bollywood film Hamare Baarah saying the teaser alone contains enough content that is offensive to married Muslim women and their religion. The top court issued the stay order on Thursday after hearing a challenge to a Bombay High Court decision permitting the film to be released on 15 June. The counsel for the filmmakers claimed that they had cut all objectionable scenes from the teaser in keeping with the high court’s order. “We saw the teaser today morning and all scenes are there,” the top court replied. When the counsel said the stay order would result in losses for the filmmakers, the court said, “If teaser is so offensive, then what about the whole movie? Prima facie it seems you have failed since you yourself deleted the scenes from the teaser”. “Hamare Baarah tells the story of Manzoor Ali Khan Sanjari, who, despite losing his first wife during childbirth, continues to have more children with his second wife, now pregnant with her sixth. When doctors warn that the pregnancy risks her life, Khan refuses an abortion,” reads the film’s synopsis on Indian ticketing platform BookMyShow. “His daughter Alfiya, determined to save her stepmother, takes her father to court to demand an abortion. The film explores whether Alfiya can convince her father and the court and questions the entrenched patriarchy in their society.” The synopsis echoes the sectarian rhetoric that prime minister Narendra Modi, his Bharatiya Janata Party and the wider Hindu nationalist ecosystem is accused of pushing – that Muslims have far more children than Hindus and, therefore, grab a bigger share of the country’s resources and welfare benefits. read the complete article


Basket Pour Toutes: Fighting against France’s sports and Olympics hijab ban

What’s stopping Konate from another national call-up isn’t her potential – it’s that two years ago, she started wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women to cover the hair and neck. “I never thought it would be a big hindrance”, Konate told Al Jazeera, recalling how little changed when she started wearing it in the US at 22. But when she wanted to play in a tournament in France that summer, match organisers told her she could only do it if she took off her hijab. She felt “humiliated”, and later discovered that this was part of new FFBB regulations that forbid players from wearing “any equipment with a religious or political connotation”. Konate felt “abandoned” by the FFBB and by many of her former national coaches, who never contacted her after Article 9.3 banning headscarves was implemented in December 2022. Now, Konate has turned to activism to campaign with a collective called Basket Pour Toutes (Basketball For All) that includes mostly young hijab-wearing Muslim women in France who love basketball. Together, they are defying a hijab ban in basketball and across French sports. Their campaign is gaining momentum before the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera announced last September that French athletes wearing a hijab will be banned from competing. Currently, any athlete wearing a hijab will be allowed to compete at Paris 2024 – except if they’re French. read the complete article

AI tools refuse to write in style of controversial French author Michel Houellebecq, publisher says

The president of renowned French publishing house Gallimard wrote an article published Thursday in La Nouvelle Revue Francaise saying he had asked Meta's AI tool, Llama, to write a scene in the style of Houellebecq. Llama responded in French that it could not write something considered "offensive or discriminatory". Instead, it offered in English to write a scene that was "respectful and inclusive" such as a "group of friends in the park on a sunny afternoon" who sing songs "to celebrate the beauty of diversity". When asked to give his views on women wearing the hijab, Llama initially gave a response and then quickly deleted it, saying: "I cannot generate content that perpetuates harmful stereotypes or discrimination." Houellebecq has presented the adoption of the hijab in France as a sign of eroding Western values and freedoms, including in his novel "Submission", in which a Muslim wins the French presidency. read the complete article

United States

CAIR Calls Out Islamophobic and Anti-Palestinian Bigotry in Chairman Comer’s McCarthyist Letter to Palestinian American Muslim Organization

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today sent a letter to U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, condemning the anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic bigotry in his “McCarthyist” May 29th letter addressed to American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). CAIR notes that Chair Comer’s McCarthyism-fueled investigatory letter incorrectly stated that AMP is the parent organization of the student-led organization National Students for Justice in Palestine. Based solely on the accusations of far-right pro-Israel conspiracy theorists, these two congressional committees are engaging in a modern form of McCarthyism by investigating the funding sources and ties of over 20 legally operating Muslim, Palestinian, and Jewish nonprofit advocacy organizations thought to be supportive of or participating in anti-genocide protests nationwide, including those on American college campuses. This investigation, criticized as a needless waste of American tax dollars, was rebuked by CAIR in a response letter as McCarthyism 2.0. read the complete article


I risked prison to keep the Uyghur culture alive

I was arrested on August 19, 2013, in Kashgar, more than two thousand miles west of Beijing. I was born in the capital of Uyghur culture, and I was shaped by it. The city taught me to love books, knowledge, and righteousness, and it was there that I stood proudly behind the lectern of a Chinese university as an instructor. But now, this city had become my prison. That August, officers from the Chinese security forces came to interrogate me. They accused me of opposing the spread of the state language by teaching Uyghur preschoolers their mother tongue. Apparently, I was indoctrinating children in the spirit of separatism. During the interrogation, I was informed that the preschool I’d founded amounted to preparation for an Uyghur state, and that the lectures I’d given on linguistics in different Uyghur cities were incitement to terrorism. According to the officers, my crime was having studied in the United States under a Ford scholarship between 2009 and 2011. I was told that I was a CIA agent sent to break up “Xinjiang.” In the 1980s and ’90s, it seemed as if Uyghurs—a long-oppressed, predominantly Muslim ethnic minority group—were on their way to greater freedom within the Chinese system. It had become easier to use our own language to publish books, produce movies, and practice Islam. But the fist closed again, and the protests calling for an end to our persecution were harshly punished. Our fear returned. In 2017, convinced that all Uyghurs were terror threats, China rounded up more than a million of us—including Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic people native to the region—and put us into prison camps. In these camps, prisoners are “reeducated,” forced to denounce their identities and declare themselves Chinese. Torture and rape are rampant. Forced labor in factories and cotton fields is systematic. Death by deliberate neglect is common. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jun 2024 Edition


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