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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17 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain has accused GB News of promoting Islamophobia after host Darren Grimes posted a series of anti-Muslim memes, meanwhile in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet is made up of 72 ministers with only six of them being women and none of them Muslim, and in Canada, a public statement by Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby, shines a light on the current state of anti-Muslim violence in the country. Our recommended read of the day is by Samia Lokmane for Middle East Eye on how the outcome of France’s recent elections casts a shadow on the future of the country’s Muslim community as the far-right party, The National Rally, grabbed 31.8 percent of the national ballot. This and more below:


France elections: Muslims fear ‘a disaster’ if the far right wins | Recommended Read

Soukayna Ribahi, a 56-year-old French-Moroccan woman living in Evry-Courcouronnes, 30km south of Paris, remembers very well what Jordan Bardella, the big winner of Sunday's European elections, said about the Islamic veil in 2023. Commenting on a request by Les Hijabeuses, a group of Muslim athletes, to keep their headscarves on during sports competitions, the 28-year-old senior leader of the far-right National Rally (RN) was unequivocal: “In France, women do not wear the veil.” Since then, the RN has stepped up a political grade. The third-largest party in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, the RN just won the European elections in France with 31.8 percent of the ballot. That stunning result prompted President Emmanuel Macron to dissolve the National Assembly, with snap elections set for the end of the month. Now, the RN could achieve an equally resounding victory and form the first far-right government of France’s post-World War II history. “If the RN comes to power, for sure the party will start by removing the veil,” Soukayna told Middle East Eye in front of Evry-Courcouronnes's grand mosque after afternoon prayer on Tuesday. The 47-year-old homemaker of Algerian origin said she feared having to stay at home because of her hijab, recalling that during the 2022 presidential poll, RN former chairwoman and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen announced that she would ban the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in public spaces if elected. Belhbib now contemplates the idea of leaving France if her practice of religion is challenged by prohibitive laws initiated by a far-right government. “Muslims are constantly called out. Le Pen and Bardella insult us every day and accuse us of all evils. Once in power, RN politicians will set themselves against us,” Belhbib told MEE. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Can the Muslim Vote campaign succeed?

“A disturbing plot to make 55 MPs the HONOURABLE MEMBERS FOR PALESTINE,” screamed the Scottish Mail on Sunday. Its subject was the Muslim Vote campaign (TMV), which launched last December after the SNP’s motion to back a ceasefire in Gaza failed. The volunteer-led collective, formed of professionals, businesses and NGOs across the country, is mobilising Britain’s four million Muslims at the grassroots, with the aim of securing victories for pro-Palestine MPs at the election. Despite being met by a hostile media, with just weeks until polling day, TMV continues to pose a threat to Keir Starmer’s expected margin of victory. The Muslim Vote summarises its values as “pro-democracy, anti-genocide”. It has three main priorities, says spokesperson Abubakr Nanabawa. First is pressuring the government to have an “ethical foreign policy, including full support for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and sanctions on the Israeli government.” The second priority is “protection of civil liberties for people across the country”, including the right to protest and assemble. He notes the “attempts to vilify and attack those who protest in London or have been involved in the student encampments.” Finally, “investment in the poorest communities across the UK”, including measures to address poverty, the NHS and affordable housing in light of the cost-of-living crisis. read the complete article

GB News Presenter Darren Grimes ‘Playing Into Far-Right Tropes of a Muslim Takeover’

The leading body representing Muslim organisations in the UK has accused GB News of promoting Islamophobia, after one of its presenters posted a series of memes which “play into far-right tropes of a Muslim takeover”. Darren Grimes, who is a weekend presenter on GB News, published the posts on his X account, featuring AI-generated images of Labour leader Keir Starmer wearing Islamic dress and standing alongside Muslim women. In one post Grimes asks “How has Labour changed?” alongside a black and white image of white men in flat caps, contrasted with another AI-generated image of the Labour leader standing in front of women of colour wearing Islamic headdresses. In another Tweet, Grimes asks “what will Britain look like after 5 years of Keir Starmer?” alongside an AI-generated image of Starmer wearing a full body Islamic dress, besides another Muslim woman. In a further Tweet, Grimes shows Starmer wearing an Islamic dress in the Pride rainbow colours, while standing in front of more Muslim women, with the message “July 5th 2024.” The Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain condemned the posts. “Weaponising Muslim women to attack a politician and playing into far-right tropes of a Muslim takeover should have no place in public life”, Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said. “It is unclear how such an Islamophobic perspective from a prominent public face of GB News aligns with the broadcaster’s goal of being perceived as a respectable news outlet.” Mohamed said the posts were indicative of a broader problem at the channel. “Darren Grimes is not alone. Islamophobia is prevalent on GB News. This cannot continue.” read the complete article


I was lucky to escape bigotry growing up in Gujarat. Children today might not be

This week, as I read the report about the woman in Vadodara whose neighbours are trying to get her housing allocation in their complex revoked just because she’s a Muslim, who cite “possible threat and nuisance” as their reasons for this, I wondered about the children in their families. Is it already too late for them to learn the lesson that I did? What does it mean for them, growing up among adults who believe that allowing a Muslim to live in a “Hindu-dominated peaceful area” is akin to “setting fire to the peaceful life of 461 families”? People who think nothing of making an official complaint to this effect, asking the District Collector, Mayor, VMC Commissioner as well as the Commissioner of Police to “invalidate” the house which has been allotted to the woman legally and to “shift her to another housing scheme”. In Gujarat, where I was born and lived for the first 18 years of my life, it has long been normal to talk about “topiwalas” and “dadhiwalas” and to accept ghettoisation as the only reasonable way to live with a significant minority. Bigotry, openly expressed — even flaunted — raises few eyebrows, if any. Even if it shouldn’t have, this ceased to shock me a long time ago. But the story of the Vadodara woman whose right to live where she wants to is sought to be rescinded because of her faith and her faith alone feels like a fork in the road for Gujarat. Give in to the hateful demands of the 33 signatories of the complaint, and their supporters, and the state gives official sanction to what has until now, at least ostensibly, been an “unofficial” bigotry. This is the path to an Apartheid state. read the complete article

Muslim representation in India's government falls, but hope persists

In India this year, the election was a crucial way to determine if the new government would be the representative of all its citizens. Spoiler alert: It's not. A country of 1.4 billion people, India has been going through a complex electoral process over the last two months. A majoritarian media frenzy (incorrectly) forecast the infallibility of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new cabinet is made of 72 ministers - 30 cabinet ministers, 36 ministers of state and five ministers of state with independent charge. It's not an anomaly that the majority of Modi's cabinet is composed of Hindu upper caste males. In the last 10 years, India has become more patriarchal than ever, though the ruling regime, particularly Modi himself, has been "championing" Nari Shakti (women power). But as the proverbial saying goes, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." There are only six women in the Union Cabinet, and Muslims cabinet members are conspicuously absent. Relevantly, the BJP fielded only one Muslim candidate from Kerela's Malappuram, M.Abdul Salam, who lost. And the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the umbrella group of political parties helmed by the BJP, has zero Muslim representation, let alone Muslim women. read the complete article


State hate: How the authorities fuel Islamophobia

This month saw the anniversary of the terrorist act that took the lives of four members of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario. These people and another son who survived the attack were driven down by a right-wing killer who quite simply selected them simply because they were Muslims. A statement that was issued to mark the day expresses a glaring contradiction within Canadian society when it comes to Islamophobic violence. The statement in question was actually issued by Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby, who was appointed to this position by the Trudeau government. In it, she describes the murders in London as ‘a heinous act of hate’ and stresses that ‘the attack was a painful reminder of the danger Islamophobia poses to Canadians.’ Elghawaby also notes that ‘over the past seven years, Canada has had the highest number of deadly Islamophobic attacks of any G7 country.’ She adds that ‘in recent months, Canadian Muslims have reported a disturbing rise in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism.’ These quite appalling revelations point to a striking contradiction. On the one hand, you have a ruling establishment that can speak the language of tolerance and that expresses dismay when Muslims are targeted. Yet, at the same time, Canada’s track record with regard to Islamophobic violence is particularly dreadful. This obvious contradiction needs to be explored. It is quite convenient for Canada’s ruling establishment to present horrible attacks like the ones in London as the work of extremists goaded by hate material they access online. There is much less readiness, however, to consider the degree to which mainstream media and leading politicians fan the flames of this hatred. read the complete article

Green Square Campaign raises awareness on 5th anniversary of Quebec mosque shooting

In the week leading up to Jan. 29, the Green Square Campaign honours the victims and survivors of the Quebec City mosque attack. Organizers are also working to raise awareness about Islamophobia. read the complete article

United States

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Takes Action to Counter Islamophobia

As Muslims in America and around the world commemorate Eid-al-Adha this year, the holiday arrives at a time of deep pain for communities at home and abroad. In addition to the devastating humanitarian impacts of the ongoing fighting in Gaza, there has been a rise in harassment, bigotry and horrifying violence towards Muslim, Arab and Palestinian Americans. To address discrimination and violence, last November the Biden-Harris Administration announced the development of the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination, including hate against Arab, Sikh and South Asian Americans (“the Strategy”). Building on work that had been underway since 2021, departments and agencies across the government are in close communication with communities regarding their concerns and recommendations on societal and institutional discrimination as we continue to develop the Strategy. Over the past year, the Administration has taken steps to support these communities, including the following actions. read the complete article


Narratives of Hate: Post-7 October Antisemitism and Anti-Muslim Hate on Social Media

As news of the 7 October Hamas attack reached social media, online hate began to surge before official accounts could provide clear details. This report identifies and analyses both antisemitic and anti-Muslim narratives about the conflict, using automated hate speech detection software to track trends over time in YouTube comments. This analysis identifies the themes and sub-themes which comprised and drove the surge of antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate between October and December 2023. It aims to both evidence the targeting of communities on mainstream platforms, and inform countermeasures, ranging from government and law enforcement strategies to civil society interventions. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Jun 2024 Edition


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