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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21 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Kashmir, “India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi led hundreds of people performing yoga in the Muslim-majority region on Friday,” meanwhile in Canada, a truck that has been spotted driving around Toronto displaying what police have described as Islamophobic messages belongs to the right-wing media organization, Rebel News, and in the UK, Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has defended the right of a parliamentary candidate to describe himself as a “proud Islamophobe” after Hyphen uncovered troubling social media posts spanning 13 years. Our recommended read of the day is by Stephen Brown and Nadia Hasan for The Globe and Mail on the five-year anniversary of the passage of Quebec’s Bill 21, and how this law has impacted Canadian Muslims. This and more below:


Quebec’s government wants a ‘neutral’ state – but it gets to define neutrality | Recommended Read

On June 16, we passed a shameful milestone: it has been five years since Quebec’s Bill 21, officially known as An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, was passed into law. That law bans Quebeckers who wear religious symbols (such as a turban, hijab or kippah) from being employed in several public-sector jobs. This was done in the name of the “neutrality” of the state – but it has done little more than produce second-class citizenship. In one way, it sounds great. Who doesn’t want a neutral state? But in reality, “neutrality” is defined by the Quebec government in deeply racist and xenophobic ways. For instance, while the bill demands the “neutrality” of Quebec’s public servants by making those who wear hijabs, turbans and kippahs – a largely racialized population – choose between their faith and their careers, it still allows for workplaces such as hospitals and government buildings to display crosses. The CAQ government also insists, with little proof, that the law’s so-called neutrality has led to social harmony and integration. But a new study by the National Council of Canadian Muslims on the work experiences of Muslim women in Quebec since Bill 21 indicates that the opposite is true. More than half of the 411 Muslim women surveyed for the study have experienced some sort of racist or Islamophobic harassment at work. Seventeen per cent have experienced physical aggression at the hands of their supervisors, colleagues and/or clients. read the complete article

Rebel News claims ownership of ad-truck with Islamophobic message as Toronto police investigate

A truck that has been spotted driving around Toronto displaying what police have described as Islamophobic messages belongs to the right-wing media organization Rebel News, the outlet’s founder Ezra Levant said Thursday. Police said its hate crime unit was investigating, noting “community concerns about a truck displaying Islamophobic messaging in Toronto.” In a post on the Rebel News website, Mr. Levant described the vehicle as “our billboard truck” and said the outlet was under investigation by Toronto police. The messages displayed on the truck were created by a group called “Canadians Opposed to the Occupation of our Streets and Campuses,” Mr. Levant said. Toronto police did not immediately respond when asked if Rebel News was the subject of the investigation related to the truck. read the complete article

Eid celebration in Montreal park sparks complaints

Earlier this week, members of Montreal’s Muslim community gathered in a park to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday, a day when families traditionally wear their finest clothes, share gifts, feast and pray together. Religious celebrations are not uncommon at Parc des Hirondelles in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough: for several years the city has authorized an outdoor Catholic mass held by the Italian community on the grassy field. Eid was celebrated in the park last year without objections. But this year, when images of Muslims kneeling down to pray on the grass were widely shared on social media – including by prominent Quebec pundits – the borough started to receive complaints. “It’s rare that we receive 10 or 15 emails exactly on the same subject, exactly at the same moment, so …. we know that something is going on the social media or on the media,” said Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough mayor Émilie Thuillier. The complaints, she said, were enough for her to consider banning all religious events in Parc des Hirondelles. read the complete article

United States

At Stanford, 2 Reports on Bias Show Extent of Divide Between Jews and Muslims

Stanford released on Thursday dueling reports on campus culture — one on antisemitism and the other on anti-Muslim bias — that revealed mirroring images of campus life in recent months that may be impossible to reconcile. One report found that antisemitism has been pervasive at the university in both overt and subtle ways, while the other stated that the school had stifled free speech among pro-Palestinian students and faculty. They were emblematic of the rift between Jewish and Muslim groups on campus, and showed that any kind of accord between the two groups and the university were distant. The reports are among the first outcomes of universities’s reckonings with their handling of the flurry of protests against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, and pro-Israel counterprotests, over the past academic year. The other report — by Stanford’s Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities committee — described what it called “a rupture of trust” between students, staff and faculty. “These communities have felt afraid for their safety, unseen and unheard by university leadership,” it said. According to this report, Stanford recorded more than 50 instances of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab bias between October 2023 and May 2024, including assault, battery and theft. That is a 900 percent increase over the two prior academic years, the report said. Examples included: a threatening email from a Stanford alumnus to two undergraduate members of Students for Justice in Palestine with the subject line, “College Terror List — You Made It!”; a professor haranguing students at a pro-Palestinian protest, accusing them of doing “the work of Islamic jihad and Hamas”; and a printout of a Palestinian flag taken off a student’s door and ripped in half. read the complete article

Qaeda Commander at Guantánamo Bay Is Sentenced for War Crimes

The prisoner, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, 63, has been in U.S. custody since 2006 and struck the deal two years ago. The military judge, Col. Charles L. Pritchard Jr., officially disclosed the terms at Guantánamo Bay moments after a military jury ordered Mr. Hadi to serve 30 years in prison, the maximum sentence in his war crime case. The outcome was part of the arcane system called military commissions, which allows prisoners to reach plea deals with a senior official at the Pentagon who oversees the war court but requires the formality of a jury sentencing hearing anyway. The jury of 11 officers rejected arguments by Mr. Hadi’s defense lawyer that the prisoner deserved leniency, if not clemency, for his early humiliations in C.I.A. custody, subsequent cooperation with U.S. investigators and failing health. read the complete article


India's Modi leads yoga day celebration in Muslim-majority Kashmir

The exercises in Srinagar, capital of the Indian-administered part of the disputed territory, marked the 10th international yoga day, Modi's own brainchild. But while yoga is not itself a religious practice, it has its origins in Hindu philosophy -- the god Shiva is said to have been the first yogi -- and many residents of Kashmir are indifferent to the discipline. Thousands of government employees, schoolteachers and students from all over Kashmir were brought in for the event, although rain forced Modi's performance indoors. Afterwards, he urged hundreds of people including many police and armed forces personnel on the shores of Dal Lake to make yoga "a part of their daily lives". But one Srinagar resident saw the event as a cultural intrusion. "This yoga is being imposed on our children to culturally change the next generations and control their minds," they told AFP, declining to be identified for fear of reprisal. "It's an imposition on us." read the complete article

United Kingdom

Farage’s party defends Reform UK candidate who describes himself as ‘proud Islamophobe’

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has defended the right of a parliamentary candidate to describe himself as a “proud Islamophobe” after Hyphen uncovered troubling social media posts spanning 13 years. Charles Bunker, Reform UK’s candidate for the Hertfordshire constituency of Hitchin, posted the comment on X on 9 November 2023, replying to Amy Mek, a prominent anti-Muslim X user. Bunker, the 73-year-old former non-executive director of an NHS trust added: “To be fearful of Islam is the only logical, intelligent position to take.” Bunker has a history of posting anti-Islam content online. In October 2023, he accused Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, of “leading an Islamification process where Muslims do what they like on our street but if you are native Britain [sic] and White you get arrested and carted off for a minor infraction”. A month later he replied to Labour MP Apsana Begum: “Fear of Islam is the only rational, logical position to take if you don’t want your clitoris cut off, or forced into an arranged marriage…” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Jun 2024 Edition


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