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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06 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In France, racist graffiti was found on the wall surrounding the home of an Arab-origin citizen, meanwhile in the US, Andrey Desmond was sentenced to five years in Hartford Superior Court for attempted sexual assault, strangulation, and risk of injury to a minor for his attack on Rep. Maryam Khan (D) outside of an Eid al-Adha service, and in India, even though Narendra Modi might well be India’s prime minister for five more years, the results of India’s 18th general election have come as a huge relief to Indian Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Dylan Robertson for Toronto Star on how the Israeli government is being accused by Meta of running a social-media influence campaign in which North Americans were being intentionally targeted with manufactured Islamophobic content in order to curb popular support for Palestinians. This and more below:


Israel denies link to Islamophobic campaign in Canada that Meta says originated there | Recommended Read

The Israeli government is being accused in published reports of involvement in an operation aimed at reducing support for Palestinians in Canada that was flagged by artificial intelligence researchers. Israel rejects the claim, being reported by the New York Times and Israeli newspaper Haaretz, that it’s behind the social-media influence campaign, in which researchers say North Americans are being targeted with Islamophobic content. Accounts bearing the name United Citizens for Canada posted content portraying Canadian Muslims as threatening Western values, and suggesting pro-Palestinian protesters in Canada were seeking to implement Shariah law. The Digital Forensic Research Lab, a project run by the Atlantic Council, a prominent Washington think tank, first called out the posts in a March analysis. It noted that the campaign employed artificial intelligence to change words being said by a man with a beard and Muslim skullcap at a rally. It also noted a photo of Muslims holding a banner was digitally altered, making the poster read “Shariah for Canada.” “The network, which included at least 50 accounts on Facebook, 18 on Instagram and more than one hundred on X, boosted anti-Muslim and Islamophobic narratives directed at Canadian audiences,” the March analysis reads. read the complete article

Clashes in Jerusalem as thousands of Israelis parade through Muslim quarter

The march, in which Israelis enter the Muslim quarter through the highly symbolic Damascus Gate and walk to the Western Wall waving the national flag, takes place around sunset on what Israel calls Jerusalem Day, marking the capture and occupation of the eastern half of the city and its holy sites in the war of 1967. Control of Jerusalem is at the centre of the decades-old conflict, and the Israeli takeover is not recognised internationally. The parade is often marred by anti-Arab hate speech and vandalism of Palestinian property, as well as violent clashes between marchers and Palestinian residents of the Old City, who see it as deeply provocative. Violence at the same event three years ago helped spark the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021. Jeers of “Death to Arabs” and “May your village burn” rang through the stone walls of the Old City as marchers chanted and danced. This year, the Jerusalem Day parade is under the control of Israel’s far-right and anti-Arab national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, in his role as head of police. He was expected to join the celebrations towards their culmination at sunset. He told Army Radio on Tuesday: “We will march … and Jews will go up to the Temple Mount. All the generals in Gaza tell me that every house they enter they see [pictures of] the Temple Mount, so they should be hit in the place that is most important to them.” read the complete article

India: why Hindu nationalism and Zionism are ideological cousins

The BJP is premised on Hindutva, a Hindu nationalist ideology. Devised in the early 20th century, the politics of Hindutva insist that the country’s national identity be built around those who consider only India’s geography sacred. Muslims and Christians, whose holy sites lay in the Middle East, were therefore considered second-class citizens. Modi foregrounded Hindutva in his election campaign. He weaponised demographic anxieties around marginally higher Muslim fertility rates to claim that the opposition planned to redistribute wealth to “infiltrators” who “have more children”. But Hindutva doesn’t stop at India’s borders. Hindu nationalists have used the ongoing conflict in Gaza to vilify other Muslims globally. BJP troll farms have spread disinformation and anti-Palestinian hatred online, and Hindu nationalist groups in India have organised pro-Israel marches. Where does this curious Hindutva-Zionist solidarity spring from? One origin is from the earliest Hindu nationalists who modelled their Hindu state on Zionism. read the complete article


India election results: Did ‘secular’ parties let Muslims down too?

As Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi addressed journalists after election results demonstrated a dramatic setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he held up a pocket-sized version of India’s Constitution. “It was a fight to save the constitution. I would like to thank everybody who has participated in this election. I am proud of the people who resisted the onslaught on this constitution,” Gandhi said on Tuesday evening. Missing from the list of people Gandhi thanked were India’s 200 million Muslims, the country’s largest religious minority. Muslims are believed to have overwhelmingly voted for Gandhi’s INDIA alliance, which won 232 seats in the elections for the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament — below the halfway mark of 272 but significantly more than exit polls had predicted. Modi’s BJP won 240 seats, falling short of a majority on its own and leaving it dependent on allies to form a government for the first time since Modi came to power in 2014. Gandhi’s omission was no one-off. It was part of a pattern, say analysts, observers and many Indian Muslims – one that has seen opposition parties demonstrate seeming reluctance to even mention Muslims. “They know that a large part of India’s [predominantly Hindu] middle class is radicalised to the extent that taking the name of Muslims might harm the fortunes of political parties,” Mohammed Ali, an award-winning journalist based in New Delhi, said, speaking of Gandhi’s Indian National Congress party and other opposition groups. As India’s multiphase national elections drew to a close with the declaration of results, the curtains also came down on a campaign that turned increasingly vitriolic towards Muslims. read the complete article

Modi Wins But Is Shackled. Muslims Get Respite From Hindutva

“I am so relieved. I didn’t want to go abroad and look for a job again,” said my friend in response to my WhatsApp call inquiring how he felt about the outcome of the Indian general election. Even though Narendra Modi might well be India’s prime minister for five more years, the results of India’s 18th general election have come as a huge relief to Indian Muslims. My friend is a former engineering school classmate, who returned to India after working abroad for three decades and was planning the next phase of his life. His son was urging him to come to Dubai and find a job there. He was not keen to go back abroad but the anti-Muslim climate in India under Modi was forcing him to do so. I chatted with many in India, in the U.S., in Canada and the Middle East. The election has restored their faith in democracy and more importantly in fellow Hindu Indians, who have so tellingly rejected the virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric deployed by Prime Minister Modi during the long election campaign. read the complete article

A setback for Modi is a silver lining for India’s Muslims

On June 3, the day before India’s election results were to be revealed, most Muslims went to bed worried about their future. The campaign had been like none they had seen before. In April, after India completed the first phase of polling, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a speech in Rajasthan that shocked even some of his own supporters. He referred to Muslims as infiltrators, people who produce more children, who would take away the resources of the Hindu population. He and his party had uttered anti-Muslim dog whistles before, but this was a new extreme. Amit Shah, India’s home minister, said that if he came to power he would hang cow traders and smugglers who slaughter cows and hang them upside down. Others among Modi’s cabinet ministers and top leaders invoked the specter of “love jihad” (Muslims marrying Hindus) and “land jihad” (land grabbing by Muslims in Hindu dominated areas across India). In another electoral video campaign by Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Muslims were depicted as plunderers of India’s glorious past. But on the morning of June 4, as the vote totals started coming in, the atmosphere shifted. As Mohammad checked the election commission website for the latest numbers from Uttar Pradesh, the northern bastion with 80 of the 543 seats in the lower house of India’s Parliament, he looked reassured. In Faizabad, home to the controversial new Ram temple and where close to 80 percent of the population is Hindu, voters chose a candidate from a secular socialist political party, the Samajwadi Party, over the nominee of Modi’s BJP.. In a generally surprising national election, this was among the biggest shocks. “Muslims in India have largely put their weight behind the INDIA alliance,” Mohammad said, referring to the Modi opposition, “because they believe that, eventually, secularism in India will prevail [over] parties that work on the basis of religion.” read the complete article

United States

Man who attacked Muslim lawmaker outside prayer service sentenced to prison

The Connecticut man who attacked a Muslim state lawmaker outside of a prayer service last summer was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday, according to state court records. Andrey Desmond, 31, was sentenced to five years in Hartford Superior Court for attempted sexual assault, strangulation and risk of injury to a minor for attacking state Rep. Maryam Khan (D) outside of an Eid al-Adha service in June 2023. Khan alleged Desmond made sexual advances towards her and her daughters, before slapping her, putting her in a chokehold and throwing her against the ground. The attack left with a concussion and an injured right arm and shoulder, she said. Shortly after the incident last year, Khan, who was the first Muslim to be elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, called for a hate crime investigation to be opened into the incident. At the time, she also accused the police of downplaying the attack, saying it was much more violent than what was described in the police report. read the complete article

Guantánamo Bay Has Shattered the Illusion of a 'Fair' Justice System

I didn’t have the words to articulate it at the time, but after years of absorbing the notion that America had been blessed by divine providence with an infallible justice system, knowledge of Guantánamo had suddenly made that fantasy untenable to me, and I was never really able to believe it again. Here was a person not much older than me who was forced to languish in the same prison as 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for no reason besides the fact that he happened to be in a certain place and looked a certain way at a certain time. In hindsight, I understand that something as profoundly wrong and arbitrary as Guantánamo Bay cracked open my ability to process other absurdities and inequalities within our justice system. It was arguably the first time I’d really considered how one’s social, economic, or immigration status could determine whether someone could walk free or would be left to languish in a cell. In the case of Guantánamo Bay inmates, their status as immigrants without the rights to due process afforded to American citizens makes them the perfect targets. And the fact that they are Muslims accused of terrorism, no matter how vague or tangential the link, meant that subjecting them to arbitrary detention and obscene torture could be construed as something grimly necessary or even a virtuous act of righteous vengeance. These were, after all—as the Bush administration frequently put it— “the worst of the worst.” It would take me years more to understand all the numerous ways that proximity to wealth and power can dictate the amount of freedom in one’s life, how race often determines whether someone gets stopped by police or busted for drugs, and their wealth determines whether they can afford a good lawyer or to pay for bail. Similarly, Guantánamo has always stood out to me as one of the most extreme examples of how people’s lives can be totally ruined not because they actually did anything wrong, but because it was simply not politically advantageous for anyone to care what happened to them. Or, conversely, because it was politically advantageous to make an example of them to look tough and serious about stamping out terrorism. In 2024, it’s easy to forget about Guantánamo Bay. That seems to be by design. Now the approach to Gitmo is less about rebranding and more about avoiding any discussion of it at all. As The Intercept reported last year, visits by journalists to the prison camp are subject to more severe censorship than ever. And in recent years, media interest has fallen to an all-time low. That lack of attention makes it easy to forget that more than two decades after its establishment as a detention camp for suspects in the War on Terror, 30 men are still being held at Guantánamo without having ever been put on trial. read the complete article


Heated exchange erupts between Australian politicians over antisemitism and Islamophobia – video

Liberal senator Sarah Henderson has clashed with Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi in a heated exchange over pro-Palestinian protests on university campuses. Comments had to be withdrawn after the two senators attacked one another over their positions on the existence of antisemitism and Islamophobia at the protest encampments. ‘I’m not talking about Islamophobia,' Henderson said, to which Faruqi interjected:'Because you don’t think it exists? That’s why you’re not talking about it.’ read the complete article


Racist graffiti targets home of Arab-origin citizen in France

Racist graffiti was found on the wall surrounding the home of an Arab-origin citizen in France, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) said Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reports. The CFCM website said it was reported that “Arabs to the crematorium” was written on the wall, without disclosing when the attack took place. It indicated that the graffiti referenced Jewish genocide during World War II and the group highlighted concerns that “widespread racist rhetoric contributes to the spread of racist actions on our country’s streets.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Jun 2024 Edition


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