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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07 Jun 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In occupied East Jerusalem, thousands of ultranationalist Israelis took part in an annual march through a Palestinian neighborhood, with some marchers chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Muhammad is dead!”, meanwhile in Canada, a youth group in Ontario organized a peace vigil in memory of the third anniversary of the Afzaal family attack which took the lives of four members of the Muslim community in 2021, and in Australia, a mother in a Melbourne suburb found anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim graffiti painted on her driveway in the latest of what has become an “alarming” spike of anti-Palestinian hate crimes reported across the country. Our recommended read of the day is by Azeezah Kanji & Sanober Umar for Truthout on how despite the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) going from a previous 303-seat majority to a 240-seat minority in India’s recent general election, analysts claim that the  “architecture of Hindutva fascism” remains intact. This and more below:


Electoral Setbacks for BJP Won’t Unseat Hindu Fascism in India | Recommended Read

What will it take to defeat fascism in India — ruled by one of the world’s largest, oldest and well-funded fascist projects, Hindutva nationalism, now equipped with one of the world’s biggest digital identity surveillance databases? Though the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has now been reduced in India’s recently concluded elections from its previous 303-seat majority to a 240-seat minority government — against widely broadcast exit poll predictions — the broader architecture of Hindutva fascism remains intact. In the wake of Modi’s latest electoral “victory,” the U.S. White House congratulated India for its “vibrant democratic process” and President Joe Biden hailed “the friendship between our nations […] as we unlock a shared future of unlimited potential.” Adding to the “vibrancy” of this whole “democratic process,” of course, were the police beatings of Muslim and Dalit voters at the poll booths, against the dog whistle soundtrack of BJP campaigners including Modi fulminating against “vote jihad” and “a deep conspiracy to snatch [Hindu] property and distribute it” to Muslim “infiltrators.” State-empowered mobs and lynch gangs burn, plunder and torture Muslims with impunity, while chanting slogans and blasting “Hindutva pop” songs pledging to make “the [Muslim] skull-cap wearer bow down and say victory to [Hindu god] lord Ram.” Repeatedly, the Muslim communities most victimized are also most penalized. State agencies’ punitive razing of Muslims’ homes and businesses — a continuous stream of micro-Kristallnachts — has become so pervasive that a new term for the phenomenon has been invented by its perpetrators: “bulldozer justice.” In the furtherance of this neofascist project, almost every Indian state institution has been turned into a bastion of ethnonationalist supremacism: entrenching changes likely to long outlast the reign of their BJP instigators. Standardized school textbooks have been revised to make them less “biased” and more “inspiring,” by expurgating Muslims from Indian history and extolling Hindutva’s fascist antecedents; for example, with chapters bearing titles such as “Hitler, the Supremo” and “Internal Achievements of Nazism.” read the complete article

‘A little less suffocating’: Why many Muslims view the Lok Sabha verdict with cautious hope

When the results came in on June 4, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party stopped short of a simple majority, its tally reduced from 303 seats to 240. The verdict came as a relief for several Muslim voters, who have faced the brunt of demolitions, hateful speech and discrimination in the last decade. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s divisive speeches throughout the election campaign had targeted Muslims, referring to them as “infiltrators” and “those who have more children”. “People are fed up with riots, with inflation,” said Shaikh. “The results show that one party cannot continue to dominate.” But for many Muslim voters who spoke to Scroll, the hope for an end to the politics of hate is tempered with caution. Saidur Rahman Mullah, a 40-year-old pharmacist in a remote village in Western Assam’s Dhubri, is hopeful that the results will rein in the BJP, which he said had “dehumanised the Muslims” in the state. “The BJP is targeting Muslims, evicting them from their homes, arresting and putting them in jail for child marriages,” he said. Mullah said madrassas were shut and masjids were demolished. “But the results show that one cannot rule a country with such hate and prejudice.” Mullah’s own shop was demolished six months ago by the Dhubri administration. read the complete article


Muslim advocacy group blasts Quebec secularism law in front of Commons committee

One of Canada's most prominent Muslim advocacy groups used part of its time in front of a Commons committee studying Islamophobia Thursday to attack a controversial Quebec law that bars most public sector employees from wearing religious clothing or symbols on the job. "The Quebec government legislates discrimination since 2019," Stephen Brown, chief executive officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told members of the Commons justice committee. "The impacts of Law 21 have caused mental torment for countless Muslim women who must now choose between their faith and life in Quebec, a place where many consider home." Questioned by Bloc Québécois MP Rhéal Fortin — whose party supports the law — Brown said "all forms of hatred are unacceptable, especially hatred encouraged by a government. "Law 21 is a form of hatred that literally targets minorities and seeks to remove citizens' rights." The committee also heard from NGOs and academics who have looked into anti-Muslim hatred. Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said MPs should look into the role played by social media algorithms in promoting hate online. Jasmin Zine, a sociology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said that Islamophobic messages have been amplified since the start of latest Israel-Hamas conflict. The NCCM said reports of Islamophobic incidents at its own legal clinic jumped 1,300 per cent in the last quarter of 2023. read the complete article

Hundreds attend solemn vigil 3 years after London, Ont., truck attack

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday to mark the third year since a man motivated by hate for Muslims carried out a deadly truck attack against a family in London, Ont. The vigil was held at the site of the attack that shocked not only the Muslim community, but the country as a whole, when it happened on June 6, 2021. It's the first commemoration since the man responsible for the attack was convicted by a jury, and deemed a terrorist by the judge overseeing his trial. The vigil was organized by a group of Muslim youth, some friends with victim Yumnah, who came together after the terrorist attack. They call themselves the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI), and they've stayed together for support and to work on education campaigns to fight against Islamophobia. On June 6, 2021, the Afzaal family was out for a walk when Salman Afzaal, his wife, Madiha Salman, grandmother, Talat, and the couple's daughter, Yumnah, were killed by self-proclaimed white nationalist Nathaniel Veltman, who was 21 at the time. The killer, whose trial concluded with sentencing this February, admitted to police that he was fuelled by hatred for Muslims. The jury agreed he purposely hit the family at the intersection of South Carriage and Hyde Park roads. read the complete article

3 years after Afzaal family attack in London, Ont., youth group fighting Islamophobia reflects on progress

On the third anniversary of a hate-motivated truck attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., a youth group organizing a vigil in their memory says very little progress has been made in the fight against Islamophobia. Increasing acts of hate against the Muslim community signal the importance of educating people and driving political change, said Esa Islam of the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI). Islam hopes to ensure no other families are destroyed as a result of racism. "While nothing has been as bad as the June 6 [2021] attack, the fear is who is going to be the next one," said Islam, 17. "With all these increased acts of violence and aggression, the worry is when will there be that one person who will go over the edge and kill people." The group was formed following the attack on five members of the Afzaal family, who were out for an evening walk in suburban London when a 20-year-old man drove his truck into them because they were visibly Muslim. read the complete article

MPs calling out hate while disparaging Israel criticism 'duplicitous': Muslim groups

Muslim groups called on political parties to work harder to stamp out Islamophobia in Canada on Thursday, and to not paint criticism of Israel as antisemitic. The concerns centred on condemnations of pro-Palestinian rallies and advocacy since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. "The response that the Muslim community in Canada, for months, has been receiving from our elected leaders has been duplicitous," National Council of Canadian Muslims head Stephen Brown said Thursday. He told the House justice committee that it is contradictory for politicians to call out discrimination while vilifying people for attending peaceful pro-Palestinian protests. "One that says they care about our concerns, and the other that immediately turns around and further spreads misinformation and makes deliberate attempt to villainize an entire community as hateful and intolerant people," he testified. His testimony was part of a parliamentary study into Islamophobia in Canada, which followed a similar study of antisemitism. Police have reported an increase in crimes targeting Jews and Muslims across Canada since the Israel-Hamas war started last October. read the complete article


Photos: Ultranationalist Israelis march in Palestinian area of Jerusalem

Thousands of mostly ultranationalist Israelis have taken part in an annual march through a Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem’s Old City, with some marchers chanting “Death to Arabs.” Jerusalem has been mostly calm throughout Israel’s war on Gaza, but the march could ignite widespread tensions, as it did three years ago, when it helped set off an 11-day war in Gaza. Marchers gathered outside the Damascus Gate, typically a central gathering place for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, and chanted anti-Arab and anti-Islamic slogans, danced and waved Israeli flags as the procession kicked off. Just before the march began, crowds scuffled with police and threw plastic bottles at a journalist wearing a vest with the word PRESS emblazoned on it. Some chanted “Muhammad is dead!” referring to the Islamic prophet. read the complete article

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

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 which researchers say is targeting North Americans 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. 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. The accounts used AI-generated profile pictures and repeatedly posted similar messages, often seeking to garner press coverage directly from individual Canadian journalists and media outlets. One post on Instagram warns people to be wary "if anti-Liberal Islam wants to enter your hockey team." read the complete article

Fundamental human rights under threat in Europe: EU agency

The Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights Agency sees fundamental rights in Europe threatened by poverty, racism and “challenges related to migration.” In its annual report 2024 released on Wednesday, the agency said the rise in anti-Muslim discrimination following the escalation in the Middle East conflict was less reported than the rise in anti-Semitism. According to the agency, anti-Muslim racism is "no less worrying." "National media and non-governmental organisations in several countries reported attacks on mosques and Muslim cemeteries, as well as on individuals and organisations," the agency wrote in its report. "Non-governmental organisations reported a 43-fold increase in anti-Muslim comments on YouTube worldwide after 7 October 2023," it added, referring to the start of Israel's war on Gaza. read the complete article

United Kingdom

'The anti-Muslim chants at Tommy Robinson's London march should make us all sick, where was the outrage from politicians?'

We might have been horrified by the anti-Muslim chants at last Saturday’s far-right march organised by Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon. But where was the outrage from our politicians? When videos from a march protesting on accusations of the Metropolitan Police’s apparent “two-tiered policing" began flooding social media platforms last weekend, many were left aghast at the sight of children among those chanting anti-Muslim slogans such as “Allah Allah. Who the f*** is Allah”. We were left aghast at the sight of protestors chanting, “We want our country back.” We were left aghast at the sight of the banner behind them reading: “This is London, not Londonistan.” We might be inclined to believe that the far right is our biggest problem. But here lies our biggest problem: No, it was not a member of the far-right who stood at a podium outside 10 Downing Street armed with plans to clamp down on our right to protest. It wasn’t a member of the far right who stood at that podium warning of “forces trying to tear us apart” lest he did not act now. It was not a member of the far-right who penned op-Ed after op-Ed branding Pro-Palestine protests “ hate marches” and “festivals of extremism” , decrying being cancelled when her trip to a Gaza solidarity encampment did not quite go to plan and scaremongering that our values and freedoms were being attacked by so-called “Islamists”. We should agree that extremism is intolerable in all its forms. We should agree that we cannot let violence and vitriol disrupt our civil order. But then where was the condemnation of last Saturday’s march? It is easy, even lazy, to pin all the blame on a bunch of far right extremists. It is not the far right that is likely to wake up on the July 5 to find themselves in power. read the complete article

‘How can they treat people like this?’ Faiza Shaheen on Labour – and why she’s running as an independent

Faiza Shaheen is composed when I meet her at home in Chingford, north-east London, all things considered. It is three days after she had been summoned to an interview with three members of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) to answer for a series of tweets dating back to 2014, which they said damaged the party’s electoral chances. “They decided my fate, on a 40-minute Zoom meeting, half of which the baby was crying through,” she says. The problematic historic tweets included one that congratulated an old colleague who had decided to stand as a Green councillor. Another was liking a tweet that called for a boycott of Israeli goods, during the 2014 Gaza war. A second “like” was for a tweet that included a sketch from the US comedy show The Daily Show. In the tweet, the commentator who posted the sketch described the methods of the “Israel lobby” in the US. Another tweet of Shaheen’s, from 2021, was posted after the broadcaster Trevor Phillips was readmitted into the Labour party after a suspension over allegations of Islamophobia. In the tweet, she wrote: “Muslims and the prejudices we face don’t matter.” read the complete article

United States

Palestinian American sues Meta after firing, alleging discrimination

A Palestinian American software engineer is suing Meta for wrongful termination and discrimination, alleging that his efforts to address the suppression of Palestinian posts on Instagram resulted in his dismissal earlier this year, in a complaint that accuses Meta of a “callus, chronic, and consistent anti-Palestinian bias.” The complaint filed on behalf of Ferras Hamad in a California court on Tuesday alleges that he was “scrutinized, interrogated, and terminated because he was of Palestinian national origin and/or Muslim investigating a SEV” — or a “severe issue,” in the company’s internal lingo — related to the Instagram account of a Palestinian photojournalist documenting the war in Gaza. Hamad did not receive such a response when handling content related to the war in Ukraine or other current events, the complaint notes. The court filing also accuses Meta of removing posts in which employees mention the deaths of relatives in Gaza from Israeli airstrikes; launching investigations into the use of the Palestinian flag emoji; and deleting posts that drew attention to Palestinian-related content being censored, misclassified or removed, among other alleged discriminatory incidents. read the complete article


Anti-Palestinian vandalism in Melbourne comes amid rise in reported Islamophobic attacks

When 53-year-old Rita Manessis was putting out her bins late on Thursday night, she smelt a strong stench of paint. It quickly led her to graffitied Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian slurs like "Get out Muslim c***" spray painted all over her driveway. "Death to Palestine and [several] swastikas were [painted] quite large at the bottom of my driveway," she said. The mother-of-four, who is not Muslim, told the ABC she was "kind of numb to it at the moment" but was shocked at the time and immediately called the police. She said she did not why her home was targeted, but suspected it might be related to the "free Palestine" posters and stickers on her car and front of her home. The attack comes amid an "alarming" spike of Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian hate incidents reported across the country in recent months, according to the Islamophobia Register, the country's leading organisation dedicated to monitoring Islamophobia. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Jun 2024 Edition


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