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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25 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Germany, an NGO monitoring Islamophobia recorded 1,926 anti-Muslim incidents, a 114% rise in 2023, and yet authorities are paying insufficient attention to this phenomenon, and even denying its existence, meanwhile in the United States, President Biden said he was “deeply disturbed” by reports that a woman allegedly attempted to drown a Palestinian-American child at a pool in Texas, and in Tajikistan, the Muslim-majority country has passed a law banning the hijab, in a move described by the government as “protecting national cultural values” and “preventing superstition and extremism”. Our recommended read of the day is by Saliha Bayrak for The Nation on how Muslim women across the United States are having their civil rights violated while in police custody. This and more below:

United States

Muslim Women Are Having Their Hijabs Torn Off by Police All Over America | Recommended Read

On the morning of April 25, Sumaya Hamadmad, a research scientist at Ohio State University, was sitting in the center of campus when she was arrested for “criminal trespassing.” Students had formed an encampment to call for the university to divest from Israel earlier that morning, before being dispersed by campus police. When Hamadmad and a friend arrived at the campus Oval—not to protest, but simply to enjoy the sunny morning—there was no crowd left. But the Ohio State Police Department targeted Hamadmad and accused her of attempting to form another encampment. When she started questioning the officers’ false assumptions and orders for her to leave, she was arrested. And when her friend questioned Hamadmad’s arrest, she too was arrested. Hamadmad was then transferred to a Franklin County jail. There, she was strip-searched and ordered to take off her hijab, a religious head covering worn by Muslim women. Despite making multiple requests to have her hijab returned to her, she was denied any sort of head covering for the 12 hours that she remained in custody. Tucking her arms and hair into her shirt, she did what she could to remain covered. “I knew the system was broken, but I didn’t truly realize it until I experienced it,“ said Hamadmad, expressing shock at her treatment in jail. Hamadmad is not alone in having her religious freedom violated in this way. Multiple incidents of law enforcement officials taking off women’s hijabs against their will have occurred alongside sweeping arrests at pro-Palestine protests. Many of these incidents took place on college campuses. There have been verified reports from students and faculty at least four universities—Arizona State University, Columbia University, Depaul University, and Ohio State University—as well as alleged incidents at several others. read the complete article

Biden 'disturbed' by alleged drowning attack on US-Palestinian child

US President Joe Biden said Monday he was "deeply disturbed" by reports that a woman allegedly attempted to drown a Palestinian-American child at a pool in Texas. The woman has been charged with capital murder, court records show, following the May incident which gained national attention over the weekend. The 42-year-old, identified as Elizabeth Wolf, allegedly approached a mother who was wearing a hijab at a suburban apartment pool near Dallas. She then asked whether the mother's six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter belonged to her and also made racial statements, according to US media reports. The woman reportedly grabbed the boy, who was able to wrangle free, then grabbed the girl, whom she pushed underwater. "No child should ever be subjected to a violent attack, and my heart goes out to the family," Biden said on X on Monday. "I am deeply disturbed by the reports of an attempted drowning of a 3-year old Palestinian-American at a neighborhood pool," he said. read the complete article


Anti-Muslim incidents double in Germany but overlooked by authorities, NGO says

Attempted arson on a mosque in Bochum that had been marked with a swastika, the door of a Muslim family in Saxony shot at by a right-wing extremist neighbour, a woman pushed onto train tracks in Berlin after being asked if she belonged to Hamas. These are some of the record 1,926 anti-Muslim incidents registered in Germany last year by the CLAIM network of NGOs monitoring Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred. That marked a 114% rise on 2023, with incidents shooting up in particular after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel from Gaza. Yet authorities are paying insufficient attention to this phenomenon, and even denying its existence, as mainstream parties take over policies of far-right, anti-Islam parties that have surged in popularity, Rima Hanano told a Berlin news conference on Monday to present the report. The Alternative for Germany (AfD), which states in its programme that Islam does not belong to Germany, has jumped to second place in polls over the past year, prompting mainstream parties to talk tougher on migration. "The streets, buses or mosques are no longer safe places for people who are Muslim or perceived as such," said Hanano. "Anti-Muslim racism was never as socially acceptable as today and it comes from the middle of society." The incidents recorded, likely only a fraction of the total given a fear of coming forward and a lack of monitoring institutions, included 90 attacks on Islamic religious sites, cemeteries and other institutions, CLAIM wrote. read the complete article


‘Eid means mourning’: Muslims lynched in India after shock election result

For Zakia Wali, Eid will never be joyous again. Instead, she says, the Muslim festival will serve as a horrific reminder of how her elder brother, Mohammad Fareed, was lynched in the town they have called home since they were born there 30 years ago. “We were unable to give him a ghusl (full ablution), such was the condition,” recalled Wali, speaking with Al Jazeera from her home in Aligarh. “No one dared to count the injuries. Eid will only mean mourning now.” Fareed, who made tandoori rotis – flatbreads cooked in giant clay ovens – at local eateries, was on his way back home a day after Eid when he was surrounded by a mob of Hindu hardliners. More than a dozen men, armed with wooden sticks and iron rods, dragged the 35-year-old Fareed through the street and beat him to death as bystanders caught the horror on their phone cameras. Aligarh, a city of 1.2 million people, is in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, which is ruled by the Hindu majoritarian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under whose decade-long rule attacks on Muslims have skyrocketed. A spate of anti-Muslim attacks in different parts of the country – including in states ruled by the Congress, the principal opposition party – has left India’s largest religious minority grappling with a very different reality. Homes of families were razed over suspicion they were keeping beef – the meat of a cow, a holy animal to many Hindus – in their refrigerators. Three men were beaten to death after being tortured on a highway. A hospital treating patients was vandalised. The incidents are related only by the faith of the victims. These attacks, said Ali Khan Mahmudabad, a political scientist and historian at New Delhi’s Ashoka University, only underscore the folly of some of the analysis that followed the Indian election results. read the complete article


‘Atmosphere of Islamophobia’ sees Muslim professionals leave France

An “atmosphere of Islamophobia” is pushing French Muslims to emigrate to countries including the UK and Canada, a new book has claimed. The phenomenon has been compared to a “brain drain” by the authors of “France, Loving It But Leaving It,” The Times reported on Monday. But unlike a conventional brain drain, Muslim professionals in France are trading one prosperous country for another. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe, with an estimated 7-10 percent of the country’s 67 million people belonging to the faith. Of the Muslims who have emigrated from France, more than seven in 10 reported leaving in part due to racism and discrimination. France follows a policy of laicite, or secularism, which forbids the display of religious symbols in professional life, including in law, the civil service and education. Many of the Muslims emigrating are among the most professionally ambitious but also the most devout, leading to a clash of values, according to one of the book’s co-authors, Olivier Esteves. The professor at the University of Lille cited the popularity of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally as also playing a role in the brain drain. The far-right party claims that Islam is an existential threat to French identity. read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK elections 2024: The dangerous return of Tommy Robinson and the far right

Tommy Robinson has been a shrunken figure in recent years. There was a time a few years back when the English Defence League could mobilise thousands of supporters who looked to Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, as their figurehead. But the EDL’s 2009-2013 peak is a distant memory now. Then came Robinson’s nine-month spell in jail in 2019 followed by attempts to reinvent himself as a journalist. The “war on terror” was the inflexion point. It was far more effective for them to mimic and extend the Islamophobia that became the dominant ideological trope than to carry on bolstering flagging antisemitism. As the British National Party leader Nick Griffin put it, after the Iraq war, “adopting an ‘Islamophobic’ position that appeals to large numbers of ordinary people – including un-nudged journalists – is going to produce on average much better media coverage than siding with Iran and banging on about “Jewish power”, which is guaranteed to raise hackles of virtually every single journalist in the western world”. So it was always likely that the far right would be cheerleaders for Israel and exponents of Zionism. As far back as 2009, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web – it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel and at the same time demonises Islam and the Muslim world. “They are actively campaigning in Jewish communities, particularly in London, making a lot of their one Jewish councillor, their support of Israel and attacking Muslims.” read the complete article


Why did Muslim-majority Tajikistan ban the hijab?

Tajikistan's government passed a law banning the hijab, the latest in a string of 35 wide-ranging religion-related acts, in a move described by the government as "protecting national cultural values" and "preventing superstition and extremism". The law, approved by parliament's upper house Majlisi Milli last Thursday, bans the use of "foreign clothing" — including the hijab, or head covering worn by Muslim women. Instead, Tajikistan citizens are encouraged to wear Tajik national dress. Similar laws passed earlier this month affect several religious practices, such as the centuries-old tradition known in Tajikistan as "iydgardak," in which children go door-to-door to collect pocket money on Eid holidays. The decision was seen as surprising, as the central Asian country of some 10 million is 96% Muslim, according to the last census in 2020. Yet, it is a reflection of the political line that the government has been pursuing since 1997. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Jun 2024 Edition


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