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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05 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In France, according to recent figures, CNews, a TV station frequently accused of promoting far-right and Islamophobic views, became France’s number one news channel for the first time last month, meanwhile in the UK, blocked Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen has quit the party and has publicly accused Labour of a “hierarchy of racism”, and in Italy, far-right Lega mayor of Monfalcone, Anna Maria Cisint, who is running in the European elections, has pushed forth discriminatory policies aimed at residents of foreign backgrounds, including Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Abdallah Fayyad for Vox who notes that while anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia have similar roots, it’s important to recognize anti-Palestinian racism as a unique form of bigotry, given that it “focuses specifically on Palestinians’ culture, heritage, and their movements for liberation.” This and more below:


It’s not Islamophobia, it’s anti-Palestinian racism | Recommended Read

While it’s often conflated with Islamophobia, the two forms of discrimination are distinct: Islamophobia targets people for being Muslim and their religious beliefs, while the other targets people because of their Palestinian identity or because they support Palestinian rights. Anti-Palestinian racism focuses specifically on Palestinians’ culture, heritage, and their movements for liberation, often manifesting through suppressing speech and activism related to the Palestinian cause. To be clear, anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia have similar roots and can have a vicious feedback loop. The dehumanization of Palestinians as barbaric, primitive, or terroristic, for example, perpetuates racist tropes about not just Arabs but also about Muslims more broadly. And the depiction of Islam as an inherently violent religion — one that’s incompatible with the West — feeds into the idea that Palestinians, who are predominantly Muslim, aren’t capable of pursuing peace. But they aren’t always the same. For example, efforts to ban the keffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian scarf that is a cultural but not religious piece of clothing, are very specifically targeting Palestinians. Actively avoiding the use of terminology that describes the Palestinian experience, including the word “Palestine” in many media outlets, is a form of discrimination against Palestinians, not Muslims. Yet many people are still inclined to use the term Islamophobia as a proxy for anti-Palestinian racism. That’s at best misleading — while the majority of Palestinians are Muslim, not all of them are — and at worst actively harmful, allowing pernicious discrimination against Palestinians to continue. read the complete article

Indian election: How does the UK diaspora feel?

Exit polls suggest prime minister Narendra Modi is likely to win a third term, when votes from the 969 million eligible electors are counted. Many in the UK follow the political landscape of the world’s biggest democracy for varying reasons. This might be because they have family there, feel a connection with where they come from or simply want to show their support for certain political ideals. There has been criticism that the BJP has used discriminatory sentiment in its campaign, including anti-Muslim rhetoric. Supporters cited Mr Modi's policies like welfare schemes and growing the economy. President of Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) Kuldeep Shekhawat said that the party was doing a great job. “The country is progressing and we are a bunch of people here in the UK who are supporters of the ideology of the BJP," he said. Dr Manisha Maganji lived in India but said she moved to Dudley in the West Midlands after facing discrimination. “There was some discrimination based on being a Christian kid,” she said. Dr Maganji spoke of the violence and verbal abuse that Christians and Muslims were faced with, and said it was more accepted after the BJP won the last election. Aasiyah, a British Asian Muslim from Leicester, talked about BJP campaign material which she said played on Hindu resentment against Muslims. She said she felt the religious divide in India between Hindus and Muslims mirrored itself in the UK. Aasiyah remembered amicable and close friendships with the Hindu community in Britain, but as tensions rose in India, so did the divide in UK. read the complete article


BBC India reporters on why some voters said no to Modi

Religion is a factor in every Indian election, and this one was no different. Mr Modi inaugurated a Hindu temple at a controversial site that had been disputed between Hindus and Muslims in January and this was expected to give his party a big boost during the election. But no one quite expected the BJP’s campaign to be as polarising as it was - or for some of the most aggressive comments to come from the very top. At a campaign rally in April, Mr Modi said: “When their (the opposition Congress) government was in power they had said Muslims have the first right on the nation’s wealth. This means they’ll collect the wealth and give it to whom? To those who have many children. To infiltrators.” Some analysts interpreted the remark as an attempt by Mr Modi to galvanise his conservative Hindu support base. But looking at the results from some key constituencies – the BJP candidate has lost in the temple city of Ayodhya - it doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect. Questions are now being raised about using the Hindu card as a campaign tool, especially since what it seems to have achieved is the opposite - uniting Muslim minorities against the BJP. read the complete article

India's Modi Suffers Stunning Defeat in Backyard of his Signature Hindu Temple

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a heavy symbolic blow from election defeat in the constituency where just five months earlier he inaugurated a grand temple to the Hindu god Rama. The inauguration of Ram Mandir had more than anything demonstrated the triumph of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the world's most populous country with a Hindu revivalist message that left some Muslims and other minority groups feeling sidelined. But results showed the BJP's candidate, Lallu Singh, had lost the Faizabad constituency to Awadhesh Prasad, the candidate of the socialist-leaning Samajwadi Party, by a margin of over 50,000 votes. It came as the BJP failed to achieve an expected landslide in elections for the Lok Sabha lower house of parliament across the country and in fact fell short of the number of seats it had won in 2019, giving up some ground to its traditional rival, the Indian National Congress Party as well as other opposition parties. "This 2024 election has been unprecedented in terms of religious polarization, shockingly enough the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself indulged flagrantly in hate speeches. As the loss of the Ayodhya LS seat establishes, the politics of polarization may have boomeranged. And the rejection of BJP's communal playbook is the best outcome of the elections," Sanjay Jha, Indian Author and former leader of Congress party told Newsweek. read the complete article

Indian Voters Have Finally Woken Up

Throughout the marathon voting process, it was considered a near inevitability that Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who has galvanized his right-wing Hindu base with assaults on India’s founding values, minorities and basic decency — would win a third straight thumping victory. So assured was his Bharatiya Janata Party of winning an even larger share of parliamentary seats that in the long buildup to the general elections it taunted opponents with the slogan: “This time, 400 plus.” But as the election results began rolling out on Tuesday, it was as if someone snapped their fingers and India emerged from a long period of hypnosis. Mr. Modi, who recently claimed that his birth was not a “biological” event but that he had been sent by God, failed to even deliver his party a simple parliamentary majority, leaving it unable to form a government on its own. He will probably remain prime minister for another five-year term. But his spell over voters seems to have been broken, and with it “Hindutva” — the B.J.P.’s project to turn India into a majoritarian Hindu-nationalist state — may have finally hit a roadblock. Earlier this year, Mr. Modi, playing the priest-king, inaugurated a new Hindu temple in the pilgrimage city of Ayodhya. It was the culmination of a Hindu right-wing campaign to build a temple on the site of a centuries-old mosque that was illegally demolished by a Hindu mob in 1992. The structure was supposed to represent the victory of Hindutva and the marginalization of India’s 200 million Muslims — who have been vilified by Mr. Modi and violently attacked by Hindu mobs — and ensure that Hindu voters would carry him to an easy victory. But even with the temple — plus a new airport near Ayodhya, new roads and a revamped railway station to bring in worshipers — his party lost the parliamentary seat of the Faizabad constituency, where Ayodhya is located. read the complete article

Opinion: For Indian Muslims like me, the hope of a weakened Modi

It has not been easy being a Muslim in Narendra Modi’s India. With the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) steadfastly refusing to allow my community even a token representation in corridors of power, India’s largest minority, the third largest Muslim population in the world, is left voiceless. For the first time since India’s Independence in 1947, the ruling party did not have a single Muslim Member of Parliament. Tuesday’s election results, in which Prime Minister Modi sealed a rare third term, only enhance the sense of gloom and doom for Indian Muslims like me. My community may once again not have an MP in the government. With the BJP back in power – albeit without the supermajority it had vowed – my only hope lies in a politically weakened Modi now. A weakened Modi shall, hopefully, translate into a more robust India and more secure minorities. It may still be a long haul though. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Nigel Farage on Jews, Muslims, Palestinians and Israel: His most controversial quotes

After days of equivocation, right-wing UK politician Nigel Farage on Monday announced he is running for parliament in the upcoming general election. Immediately, he used media appearances to make controversial comments on Muslims, immigrants and Hamas. Farage is one of Britain’s most controversial politicians. Though he has stood unsuccessfully to be an MP seven times and has never had a seat in parliament, Farage is renowned as a driving force behind Britain's 2016 decision to leave the European Union. In 1993 the former banker founded the right-wing UK Independence Party (Ukip), which was focused on opposing immigration and the EU. In 1994, he asked the infamous far-right politician Enoch Powell to back the party, but was turned down. Since announcing his parliamentary candidacy on Monday, he has accused some Muslims of sectarian politics and a failure to integrate. The Muslim Council of Britain told Middle East Eye that Farage is responsible for a “consistent pattern of Islamophobic, racist, and divisive rhetoric” and condemned his latest remarks on Muslims. Meanwhile, Farage has attacked The Muslim Vote, a campaign backed by a coalition of civil society groups seeking to support political campaigns against MPs who failed to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza. Farage accused the political campaign of “dividing British communities”. Middle East Eye takes a look at some of the politician’s most controversial comments over the years about Jews, Muslims, Palestinians and Israel. read the complete article

Blocked Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen quits the party and accuses it of a ‘hierarchy of racism’

Blocked Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen has dramatically quit the party and accused it of a “hierarchy of racism”. The left-winger had been due to contest the Chingford and Woodford Green seat held by Iain Duncan Smith. But she was told on Wednesday that the party was suspending her after she liked social media posts that criticised Israel and its actions in Gaza. Ms Shaheen resigned after the decision to block her became official today, when Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) declined to nominate her. The move clears the path for her potentially to stand against Labour as an independent. Ms Shaheen added that she was dropped as a candidate through a “sham process” and for “spurious reasons”. She said she had suffered “unfair treatment, bullying and hostility” within the party. read the complete article

Football has a blind spot when it comes to Islamophobia, says first Muslim FA Council member Yunus Lunat

The first Muslim member of the FA Council has told Sky Sports News that "football has a blind spot when it comes to Islamophobia" amid a four-fold increase in the number of incidents reported to Kick It Out in the first half of last season. Yunus Lunat, who is the former chair of the FA Race Equality and Advisory Board, pointed to a spate of incidents over the last 18 months - and how they have been dealt with - which he believes illustrates how Islamophobia is not being treated as seriously as other forms of discrimination. It comes after a Player Care consultant for Burnley Football Club received a formal warning from the Football Association for liking a number of Islamophobic posts on social media in the latest unsavoury incident over the last year-and-a-half. read the complete article


France: 'Islamophobic' CNews becomes top news channel

CNews, a TV station frequently accused of promoting far-right views, became France’s number one news channel for the first time last month, according to figures published on Monday. Often described as France’s version of Fox News due to its opinionated and divisive presenters and content, CNews reflects a rightwards shift in French politics, often featuring segments critical of immigration, Islam and "woke" leftists. Muslims and Islam, in particular, are in the crosshairs of the channel and its guests. In April, as part of a four-part investigation, the French online media outlet Mediapart presented exclusive documents that seemingly confirmed CNews's Islamophobic intentions. The report, based on thousands of WhatsApp messages and testimonies of former and current employees, revealed how CNews abuses media ethics and betrays the facts or does not verify them, with the aim of “consolidating its identity obsessions and showing its public the image of a France endangered by Islam and immigration". “Inside CNews there are journalists who try as best as they can to do their job based on the facts, but systematically, they are ignored by columnists and commentators who are keen to unfold an Islamophobic discourse and clinging to erroneous facts which allow them to designate Islam as France’s main problem,” Yunnes Abzouz, one of the authors of the report, told Middle East Eye. Launched in 2017, CNews is part of a media group owned by conservative billionaire Vincent Bollore. In a rare public appearance before legislators in March, Bollore denied imposing any "ideology" on the stations and said their only interest was "telling the truth". However, CNews and its sister station, C8, continue to face sanctions from media regulators. Last month, CNews was fined €50,000 ($54,318) after a journalist blamed antisemitism and prison overcrowding on "Arab-Muslim immigration". In March, the media regulator Arcom issued a warning to CNews after host Pascal Praud hypothesised that bedbugs were brought by immigrants who “do not have the same hygiene conditions as those who are on French soil”. read the complete article


Anti-immigrants rhetoric divides Italian coastal town of Monfalcone

Far-right Lega mayor of Monfalcone, Anna Maria Cisint, who is running in the European elections, has again caused a stir with her campaign and policies aimed at residents of foreign backgrounds, including Muslims. The Italian town of Monfalcone is dealing with a spike in friction — and media attention — caused by the political positions of the city's far-right Lega party mayor regarding a high number of legal residents of foreign background. Right before the European vote scheduled for 8 and 9 June in Italy, the debate reached its peak in the northern municipality with just over 30,000 inhabitants. Monfalcone, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, has become one of Italy's municipalities with the greatest concentration of foreigner-born residents, comprising around a third of the population. According to the residents, troubles appeared on the horizon back in 2016, when Anna Maria Cisint was first elected mayor. Cisint, who is running in the European elections, has gone on to cause an ongoing clash with the Bangladeshi community, which is nominally of Muslim faith. In the summer of 2023, the mayor's open letter to the local Muslim community made the news after she wrote that the practice of going to the beach and swimming wearing clothing other than swimsuits should stop, effectively introducing a ban on the burkini. Cisint has also pushed for further bans on cricket, observing the Muslim religious month of Ramadan and Arabic lessons, claiming that all foreign-born residents should integrate completely, all consistent with the anti-Islam rhetoric of the more radical parts of her party. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Jun 2024 Edition


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