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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01 May 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election campaign relies heavily on the prospect of  job creation, which his BJP party is intentionally aiming at disaffected youth alongside anti-Muslim rhetoric, meanwhile in Germany, Human Rights Watch has called on German authorities to take stronger measures against anti-Muslim racism, amid an alarming increase in racist attacks and hate crimes, and in the US, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) on Tuesday urged her colleagues to condemn a GOP lead threat against thousands of university students and faculty protesting Israel’s assault on Gaza, a threat based on the idea that protestors “promote terrorism” and should be surveilled by the federal government. Our recommended read for the day is by Helena Horton for The Guardian on Tory hopeful London Mayoral candidate Susan Hall and Hall’s membership within a Tory lead anti-Ulez Facebook groups which analysts say is riddled with racism, abuse, and Islamophobia targeting British Muslims. This and more below:

United Kingdom

Tory hopeful for London mayor joins anti-Ulez Facebook group rife with Islamophobia | Recommended Read

Susan Hall, the Tory candidate for London mayor, has joined a Facebook group which contains Islamophobic hate speech and abusive comments about her opponent Sadiq Khan, the day after an exposé about its contents. Khan told the Guardian these revelations “could have a direct impact on not just my safety but the safety of my family and staff”. A joint investigation by the Observer and Unearthed at the weekend profiled a network of Facebook groups focused on ultra-low emission zones that are operated by Conservative party staff and activists and which contained Islamophobic hate speech, conspiracy theories and abuse. Some of the groups included celebrations of vandalism and comments expressing disbelief that Khan had not been “taken out”. Hall was already a member of six of the groups. On Monday, the day after the revelation, her official Facebook page joined a seventh group called “Bexley say no to Ulez expansion”. Numerous Islamophobic comments, including one commenter calling Khan a “terrorist sympathiser”, and another saying that the London mayor “will see a big upsurge in public feelings and possibly major riots, mosques burnt down and innocent Muslims unable to walk the streets”. read the complete article


‘Country is doing well’: Why jobless young Indians are still backing Modi

The business studies graduate from Patna, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Bihar, voted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019, hoping to land one of the millions of new jobs promised by the country’s governing party and its leader. “Things are getting a little difficult now. My father will retire soon and there’s pressure on me to get a job. We are a middle-class family,” Kumar told Al Jazeera. But none of that, Kumar added, will deter him from voting for Modi again in the ongoing Indian national election. Kumar’s political choice underscores a broader pattern that, on its surface can appear contradictory but that analysts say is critical to Modi’s success: The prime minister’s cult-like popularity appears untouched by many voters’ dissatisfaction over their economic situation. What appeals to Kumar most, he said, are two things that Modi did in his second term – the construction of a temple for the Hindu god Ram in the city of Ayodhya and the abolition of the Muslim practice of “triple talaq” or divorce. Both issues figured prominently in the BJP’s election manifesto. read the complete article

Rising Hindu nationalism leaves Muslims fearful in India’s holy city

The sun glistens on the Ganges as Hindu devotees bathe in the holy river’s waters, and the Muslim call to prayer reverberates through the dusty air. Varanasi, an ancient city of temples and gods, is India’s spiritual capital. And here, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political stronghold, tensions between the two faiths are escalating. When Modi chose this holy city as his constituency a decade ago, it was the perfect setting for him to meld his party’s political and religious ambitions. Having risen to power on a promise of development and anti-corruption, his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now stands accused of turning India – a nation constitutionally bound to secularism – into a Hindu rashtra, or homeland. As Sana Sabah celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid with her family in Varanasi, she raised these fears with trepidation in her voice. “It’s scary that someone like Modi … is not only celebrated but validated,” the 33-year-old entrepreneur said. The Hindu-nationalist right wing, she said, “is not even trying to hide it anymore. And it’s troublesome.” With voting now underway in the world’s most populous nation, a significant portion of its more than 200 million strong Muslim population express fear at the prospect of Modi’s re-election. Vying for a rare third term in power, he is defending his seat in the traffic-clogged, diverse city of some 1.7 million people. Yet, 10 years after his ascension, many of Varanasi’s Muslims feel neglected, even betrayed, especially now as a centuries old-mosque becomes the latest flashpoint in a case that tests India’s secular fabric. Local Muslim leader Syed Mohammad Yaseen, 78, feels the government is failing to protect his community, which he says is feeling increasingly vulnerable and fearful of hate crimes in today’s India. read the complete article

The Tyranny Will Get Worse

When Narendra Modi first came to power, in 2014, most people—including many liberals and all those who, even today, remain on the fence despite the prime minister’s rising concentration of power—did not think that the country was witnessing a radical departure from the past. They witnessed the overt Islamophobia, the lynchings of Muslims, the anti-intellectual environment in which all dissent was portrayed as “anti-national” and deluded themselves into believing that all this would not enjoy lasting popular support. The 2019 results should have put paid to such delusions. Within months of the BJP returning to power with an increased majority, some key elements of the Hindutva agenda, such as the abrogation of Article 370 and the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, were immediately put into force. Despite this buildup to a Hindutva, or a Hindu, nation—no one has been able to clearly articulate the difference, but we are constantly told to avoid conflating them—the opposition, political or intellectual, has remained in denial. Modi is most frequently attacked on his record of governance. It is, of course, the job of the opposition, as well as of an independent media and civil society, to continually monitor and criticise the policy failures of a ruling government. At any other time, these failures would be enough to unseat an incumbent government. But why is it that, today, almost no one believes that Modi will lose power? read the complete article

United States

Hate crimes investigation sought at Duke after ‘disturbing’ vandalism of Ramadan mural

The nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group is calling for a state and federal hate crimes investigation after a Ramadan mural was vandalized on Duke University’s campus. The call for a hate crimes probe comes from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called the Durham mural’s defacement “disturbing.” The mural, painted on Duke’s Free Expression Bridge/Tunnel, noted the Islamic month of fasting, which ended in April. Part of its inscription read, “Millions of Muslims will spend Ramadan displaced,” a reference to the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza. Two parts of the mural were defaced: First, this verse from the Quran, “Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful” had the word “not” painted into the middle. Second, pictures of red cows were placed over flags of countries with Muslim majorities. Red heifers are associated with Old Testament prophecy and are sometimes used to call for the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam. “Based on the type of vandalism, and on the unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide in recent months, we urge university, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this disturbing incident as a possible hate crime,” said CAIR Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor. read the complete article

Ilhan Omar Says GOP Calls to Put Student Protesters on Terror Watch List 'Insanely Dangerous'

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday urged her colleagues to condemn the latest Republican threat against the thousands of university students and faculty who have protested U.S. complicity in Israel's assault on Gaza, after Sen. Marsha Blackburn suggested the protesters have "promoted terrorism" and called for them to be surveilled by the federal government. "Any student who has promoted terrorism or engaged in terrorist acts on behalf of Hamas should be immediately added to the terrorist watch list and placed on the [Transportation Security Administration] No-Fly List," said the Tennessee Republican. Blackburn's comments came nearly two weeks after a solidarity encampment set up by students at Columbia University—and the suspension and arrests of more than 100 participants—galvanized students at dozens of schools across the United States and around the world to call for their institutions to divest from Israel and for the U.S. to cut off military funding for the Middle Eastern country. Omar (D-Minn.) called Blackburn's comments "insanely dangerous." read the complete article

Judge in Sept. 11 Case Visits Former CIA Black Site

In a first, a military judge at Guantánamo Bay on Friday crossed into the security zone containing the wartime prison and inspected a former CIA “black site” facility at the center of a dispute over the taint of torture in the Sept. 11, 2001, case. It was a noteworthy moment in the arc of the two-decade history of the Guantánamo trials. No war court judge had before made the 5-mile trip to look at the detention operations, where the military maintains the only known, still-intact remnant of the network of overseas prisons that the CIA operated from 2002-09. But Col. Matthew McCall, the judge, is edging toward a decision on whether the accused mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and three co-defendants voluntarily confessed to conspiring in the attacks in their fourth year of detention, under questioning by FBI agents at Guantánamo prison. And the prison site he visited, called Camp Echo, has played a central but covert role in the case. From 2003-04, the CIA kept five prized prisoners there, near the prison facilities but out of reach of the International Red Cross. It was part of its secret overseas network that hid about 120 “high-value detainees” in such far-flung sites as Afghanistan, Thailand and Poland. read the complete article


Human Rights Watch urges Germany to combat surging anti-Muslim hate crimes

Human Rights Watch has called on German authorities to take stronger measures against anti-Muslim racism, amid an alarming increase in racist attacks and hate crimes. “The German government is falling short in protecting Muslims and people perceived to be Muslims from racism amid rising incidents of hate and discrimination,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday. Germany’s Muslim communities reported a surge in Islamophobic hate crimes since the escalation of Israel's war on Gaza, triggered by biased media coverage of the recent developments, and propaganda by far-right politicians. Human Rights Watch expert Almaz Teffera underlined that the German government needs to change its approach to address anti-Muslim racism, and it should ensure better reporting and tracking of hate crimes targeting Muslims. “The German government’s failings in protecting Muslims from hatred and discrimination start with a lack of understanding that Muslims experience racism and not simply faith-based hostility,” she said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 May 2024 Edition


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