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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28 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, Channel 4 News has carried out an undercover investigation within the Reform UK campaign in Clacton, exposing examples of racist and Islamophobic language, meanwhile in India, an online video shows Karnell Singh, a leader from the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP, threatening to ‘slaughter 200,000 Muslims’ after a cow’s head was found near a Hindu temple in Delhi, and in the US, the release of two studies on antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian bias at Harvard University has been slammed by the school’s pro-Palestine students, who say their main demand of divestment from Israel’s war on Gaza was intentionally left out. Our recommended read of the day is by Ashifa Kassam for The Guardian on how scores of highly qualified French Muslim citizens are choosing to leave the country due to pervasive racism and Islamophobia. This and more below:


‘Here I found respect for who I am’: the French citizens who choose to leave | Recommended Read

Even as she climbed up the corporate ladder in France, Ophélie Rizki’s after-work routine remained unchanged. Each evening as she got into her car to drive home, she would make a beeline for her headscarf, feeling herself slowly becoming whole again as she covered her hair. She had never been explicitly told that she couldn’t wear her hijab at work, nor had she asked. But as politicians in France continued to spar over headscarves, two decades after parliament voted to ban them in school, she worried about the impact that choosing to keep her hair covered would have on her career. “You don’t ask the question, you know it’s not something you can do,” she said. In 2019, when the opportunity came up to move to Australia, she and her family seized it. Hints of how their lives might change came soon after, from the glimpses of headscarves worn by some of the staff in Sydney airport, to the two contestants on Amazing Race Australia who wore hijabs. “We had been raised in a country where the hijab is erased from everything,” said Rizki. “But it feels so good to live in a society where you can be yourself.” In recent years, scores of highly qualified French citizens, both practising Muslims and those from a Muslim background, have left France in a phenomenon researchers describe as a silent flight. Insight into this cohort came from a survey to which 1,074 people responded. When asked why they had moved to countries such as the UK, the United Arab Emirates and Canada, 71% said their decision had been prompted by a desire to face less racism and discrimination. Another 65% said they wanted to live more peacefully with their religion. read the complete article

France bans extreme-right and radical Islamic groups ahead of polarizing elections

France’s government on Wednesday ordered the dissolution of multiple extreme right and radical Muslim groups, four days before the first round of high-stakes legislative elections that may see a surge in support for political extremes. Snap national elections called by pro-business moderate President Emmanuel Macron have plunged the country into a hasty and disorderly electoral race, in which hate speech is becoming a growing concern. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced Wednesday that the government ordered the shutdown of several groups peddling extremist hatred. A series of decrees announcing the shutdown outlined investigations into the groups and said they posed risks of violence. The groups affected include GUD, known for violence and antisemitism. Its members have supported far-right political leader Marine Le Pen in the past. Another targeted group, called Les Remparts, is accused of inciting hate, discrimination and violence toward foreigners and non-white people, according to Interior Ministry decrees reviewed by The Associated Press. read the complete article

United States

Berkeley Unified faces allegations of discrimination against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians

Months after facing a civil rights complaint alleging discrimination against Jewish students, Berkeley Unified now faces another complaint of discrimination against Arab, Muslim and Palestinian students. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Department of Education is investigating the claim, made by the Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, that the district did not respond to harassment of students. The complaint alleged that a student’s hijab was ripped off during class, that Arab and Muslim students reported being taunted as “terrorists,” and that Arab-speaking parents were not given needed translations. read the complete article

'Erasure': Harvard's reports on Islamophobia, antisemitism criticised by Palestinian, Jewish students

The release of two studies on antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian bias at Harvard University has been slammed by the school's pro-Palestine students, who say their main demand of divestment from Israel's war on Gaza was left out of the study. The studies were the results of two separate task forces commissioned by Harvard: one focused on antisemitism, and the other focused on Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment on campus. The task force on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias stated students, faculty and staff had expressed a "deep-seated sense of fear", and added that pro-Palestine members of the university stated they had faced racism, including being referred to as "terrorists". Participants of this listening session included Muslim, Arab, Black, South Asian and Jewish students and faculty. Unlike the task force on antisemitism, which offered clear recommendations on how to accommodate Israeli and pro-Israel students on campus, the task force on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias said it would "dedicate the summer to conducting research into the historical, political and sociological origins of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias on campus". Harvard's pro-Palestine community lambasted the task force, calling it tone-deaf. read the complete article


THE SENATE SELECT Committee on Intelligence submitted its 6,700-page “torture report” about the CIA to the White House in April 2014. More than 10 years later, the full report remains secret after a federal appellate court dismissed a lawsuit I filed in the hopes of forcing its release. The document “includes comprehensive and excruciating detail” about the CIA’s “program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques,” the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chaired the Senate intelligence committee at the time, wrote in a 2014 summary. For years, there have been calls to release the full report, including from human rights watchdogs, one of its authors, and even Feinstein and some high-ranking Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee. “The full report details how the CIA lied to the public, the Congress, the president, and to itself about the information produced by the torture program,” said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which has fought to obtain CIA records. “We need to know our real history so we don’t repeat its crimes.” read the complete article

Anida Yoeu Ali’s Art Against Islamophobia

Pulsing music emanates from within a curtained-off gallery in Anida Yoeu Ali’s exhibition at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Behind the curtains, the video Genesis 1 (2021) plays. ‘The Red Chador lives and rages on. My existence is an act of protest and defiance because I refuse to disappear,’ a text across the screen reads. The video sets out a mythos for The Red Chador, one of Ali’s performance personas. While a chador, a full-body cloth often worn by Muslim women, is commonly found in darker colours like black or blue, Ali’s is bright and sequinned, both regal and campy. In the film, there is a surreal montage of Ali as The Red Chador emerging from the ocean, and urban scenes of other chador-wearing dancers in a rainbow of colours. Genesis 1 is, in part, provoked by the Cham-Muslim, Cambodia-born artist’s experience with Islamophobia while boarding an Israeli airline to the US in 2017. She was strip-searched and threatened with deportation; while detained for four hours, border officers repeatedly asked why her last name is Ali; the original Red Chador piece was mysteriously missing from her luggage when she arrived in the US, and never seen again. So in Genesis I The Red Chador, returning as if reborn from one nontraditional bright colour into many, reads as a refusal of oppression through multiplicity. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Exclusive: Undercover inside Reform’s campaign – evidence of homophobia and canvasser’s racism

Channel 4 News has carried out an undercover investigation within the Reform UK campaign in Clacton, exposing examples of racist language and an apparent admission that the party has breached the local electoral campaign spending limit in the seat. The recorded footage reveals a Reform UK canvasser openly making racist and Islamophobic comments to potential voters on the ground, as he represents the party. The undercover investigator went on the campaign trail with a Reform UK canvasser, Andrew Parker, who says he knows Nigel Farage. In a car en route to canvassing potential voters, Mr Parker gives the undercover investigator advice on what to say on the doorstep. “The immigration thing, use the word ‘illegal’. Emphasise ‘illegal’ especially if you open the door and there’s a bunch of p****.” Giving his view on Muslims and what the party would do with mosques, Mr Parker says to the undercover investigator: “Sick mate. Sick m*****f******”, adding: “It’s a cult. I tell you what, if you don’t know about Islam, it is the most disgusting cult out”. “We’re f****** kicking all the Muslims out of the mosques and turning them into Wetherspoons.“ read the complete article

'Wearing the hijab is tougher than ever, but here’s why I still do it'

"Why do you wear the hijab?" is a question I'm often asked. Whether it's by well-intentioned and genuinely curious people, those who think I'm doing a disservice to feminism, men who think I would look better without it or others with pure vitriol towards women like me. Well, it's been 10 years since I began wearing the hijab and here is why I do. By wearing the hijab, I'm constantly reminded to practice my faith and be the best version of myself due to being a visual representation of my religion. Whether that means going out of my way to help someone in need, giving plentifully in charity or keeping my mouth shut when people walk slowly in front of me during rush hour in London. For the most part, I've been lucky apart from ignorant comments, some shouting and intense stares. Recently, though, I witnessed an older, hijab-wearing woman being called a terrorist and a member of Hamas on a busy London bus. Many of my friends have had similar or worse experiences, such as having their hijabs pulled off and being threatened with physical violence. Tell MAMA, a charity which records anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, has reported a 600 per cent increase in Islamophobic incidents since Hamas' attacks in Israel on 7th October, which makes wearing the hijab tougher than ever. read the complete article


BJP leader threatens to ‘slaughter 200,000 Muslims’ over cow incident

Video from India shows Karnell Singh, a leader from the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP, threatening to ‘slaughter 200,000 Muslims’ after a cow’s head was found near a Hindu temple in Delhi. read the complete article

US religious freedom report notes violence against Indian minorities

The U.S. State Department's 2023 religious freedom report on India noted violent attacks on minority groups, especially Muslims and Christians, including killings, assaults and vandalism of houses of worship. The report on international religious freedom released on Wednesday said that in 2023, senior U.S. officials continued to "raise concerns about religious freedom issues" with their Indian counterparts. Human rights experts say India has seen a rise in attacks on minorities under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently won a third term, and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "In India, we see a concerning increase in anti-conversion laws, hate speech, demolitions of homes and places of worship for members of minority faith communities," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, when the report was released, in a rare direct rebuke of India. The report cited examples of attacks against Muslims based on allegations that Muslim men were participating in the slaughter of cows or beef trading. read the complete article


Ontario MPP Goldie Ghamari accused of ‘Islamophobia,’ again

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is, once again, refusing to remove PC MPP Goldie Ghamari from caucus despite renewed calls from the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) after she met with controversial far-right activist Stephen Yaxley Lennon, known commonly as “Tommy Robinson.” “The premier is extremely disappointed in MPP Ghamari’s decision to engage with and give a platform to an individual whose behaviour and beliefs are at odds with our government,” said Ford’s spokesperson Caitlin Clark. “It is deeply regrettable that this engagement took place. As soon as this matter was brought to our attention, the post was immediately taken down.” Robinson is the founder of the English Defence League, a far-right activist group. The NCCM noted the league was praised by Anders Behring Breivik in his manifesto, written before he killed 69 people in a 2011 mass shooting in Norway. Ghamari shared a screenshot on social media of her video chat with Robinson, which took place after he was arrested in Calgary this week for what a police officer described as “an outstanding immigration warrant.” After her meeting with Robinson became public, the NCCM said it was “shocked and furious,” calling Robinson a “well-known British Islamophobe and criminal” and noting he was sentenced to prison for assaulting an off-duty police officer in 2005. For her part, Ghamari responded to the criticism by saying she was “not aware of [Robinson’s] history prior to the meeting” and that she condemns “all forms of Islamophobia and antisemitism.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 Jun 2024 Edition


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