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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
23 May 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In Oman, over twenty-five former Guantánamo Bay detainees from Yemen were given new lives and safety several years ago in a transfer agreement, which will come to an end in July according to reporting from The Washington Post, meanwhile in India, a manipulated video of Indian opposition politician Kanhaiya Kumar has recently gone viral with doctored footage showing him announcing a conversion to Islam, despite being a devout Hindu opposed to Hindu nationalism, and in the U.S., a recently released  April 2024 CAPS-Harris Poll, shows that the majority of U.S. voters believe antisemitism and Islamophobia are prevalent on college campuses. Our recommended read of the day is by Zack Beauchamp for Vox on the account of the Indian government’s intimidation campaign against U.S.-based critics, including Kashmiri journalist Raqib Hameed Naik. This and more below:


“Everyone is absolutely terrified”: Inside a US ally’s secret war on its American critics | Recommended Read

I met Raqib Naik, a journalist who had fled his native India, at a coffee shop in suburban Maryland. We sat at the same metal table where he once discussed the prospect of his assassination with FBI agents. Naik is a Muslim from Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. In August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the state’s longstanding self-determination rights and temporarily imposed martial law. Indian officials arbitrarily detained thousands of Kashmiris, including many journalists. Through it all, Naik did his best to convey the reality in Kashmir to the outside world — a firsthand account of what was really going on in what’s often termed “the world’s largest democracy.” On August 15, 10 days after the crackdown in Kashmir began, Naik received the first of three visits from Indian military intelligence officers who interrogated him about his reporting. The harassment forced him underground; he eventually fled to the United States in the summer of 2020. But Modi wouldn’t let him go that easily. Naik has also received a torrent of hateful messages and threats on social media. When Naik met with the FBI to discuss his safety in October 2023, they told him that they were taking the situation very seriously. Naik, who continues to track human rights abuses in India, received his green card in February. When he called his family to share the good news, his father revealed that, a few months earlier, he had been summoned to a military camp and interrogated about his son’s activities. I have spent the past several months investigating stories like Naik’s: critics of India who say the Indian government has reached across the Pacific Ocean to harass them on American soil. Interviews with political figures, experts, and activists revealed a sustained campaign where Narendra Modi’s government threatens American citizens and permanent residents who dare speak out on the declining state of the country’s democracy. This campaign has not been described publicly until now because many people in the community — even prominent ones — are too afraid to talk about it. read the complete article

Oman to expel dozens of ex-Guantánamo detainees

For several years, Oman had promised them a new life. The quiet Persian Gulf monarchy had given 28 Yemenis — transferred there from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — housing, health care and jobs, and even helped them find wives and start families. It was a stunning turn of fortune after years of abusive interrogations and detention without charge. But now, the nation that human rights attorneys had hailed as the “gold standard” in the rehabilitation of Muslim men swept up in America’s “war on terror” is casting them aside, the men and advocates said. In January, Omani officials began calling the men into meetings where they explained that, come July, they would be stripped of their benefits and legal residency and would have to return to Yemen. read the complete article

United States

Majority of Voters Believe Antisemitism and Islamaphobia are Significant Issues on College Campuses

After a spring semester that marked significant student protest movements over the war between Israel and Hamas, religious discrimination is at the forefront of many people’s minds. According to the April 2024 CAPS-Harris Poll, the majority of U.S. voters believe antisemitism and Islamophobia are prevalent on college campuses. When asked if there is a “great deal of antisemitism on campuses” or if the issue has been “exaggerated,” 69% of voters believed there was a great deal, and 31% believe it has been exaggerated. When asked about Islamophobia on college campuses, a smaller percentage (59%) thought it was an issue, with more people (41%) saying it has been exaggerated. Respondents who fall within the age of traditional college students (18-24) are the least likely (56%) generational group to believe in the prevalence of antisemitism on campuses, with Americans over the age of 65 most likely (78%) to say it is an issue. Those in the 18-24 age group are 6% more likely to believe Islamaphobia is an issue than those who believe in the high prevalence of antisemitism. Far fewer Americans (54%) in the 65+ group believe Islamaphobia is an issue than the 78% who are concerned about antisemitism on campuses. read the complete article

Opinion: If you opposed the pro-Palestinian protests, here’s why you should reconsider

The weeks of student protests (which continue at some campuses) should provoke us to reflect on the larger impact of this movement — especially at my alma mater, where the main commencement ceremony, which had been scheduled for this week, was canceled. (Protesters and their supporters organized their own ceremony.) The media line fed to the public about weeks of protests at Columbia — and the administrative crackdown that followed — has been selective at best. I know this as an alumnus, a parent with two kids on the verge of college and as someone who teaches young Americans, including high schoolers. I know adolescents and young adults are far more passionate, curious, creative and courageous than older adults sometimes casually assume. I’m incensed by the same realities the student protesters are outraged by: Israel’s occupation and brutalization of Palestinians with our country’s active assistance. Columbia students have made clear that that’s what drives their protests. What’s less widely reported is how they are also driven by double standards in how our leaders address Israeli and Palestinian issues. When was the last time you heard a news report about anti-Arab or anti-Muslim animus on campuses? Where is the outcry for the pro-Palestinian students threatened with professional consequences only for protesting? Why, even as numerous students at Columbia and elsewhere have been doxxed, harassed and bullied, were no congressional hearings called? Long before our protracted national conversation about antisemitism got underway, some Columbia faculty members have quite arguably crossed a line into anti-Palestinian agitation, with no apparent consequences. And at UCLA, pro-Israel demonstrators even attacked pro-Palestinian student encampments for hours. Police were nowhere to be seen. For months now, we’ve seen pro-Palestinian students, including Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, as well as students of other backgrounds and faiths (including many Jewish students), held to different standards and demonized when they are in fact standing up for fundamental human, basic American and common civic values. Palestinians in this country, as well as pro-Palestinian demonstrators, have been shot at, menaced, struck with vehicles, merely for who they are or what they stand for. But there has been no congressional hearing about these crimes and hardly even acknowledgement in many quarters that these crimes have happened. That Shafik even had to appear before Congress is just another example of how deeply entrenched our double standards are. read the complete article

Hamed: Calling out University bias against MENA students

We built a community for ourselves that nurtures the long-held Arab ideals of resilience and resistance. As a leader, I advanced common-sense initiatives that increase our presence and inclusivity on campus, a stated NU value, but not with ease. The unabating obstacles during this process speak to the current climate of what it means to be an Arab in higher education: navigating academia in a context blind to our existence. This development of a MENA community at NU derives from our determination to dismantle global practices of Arab erasure and subjugation. Our determination is especially encompassed in our unity around the struggle for Palestinian liberation. But students who speak up for Palestine on college campuses, especially at NU, are susceptible to a vicious culture, and the perpetrators of this culture operate with impunity. Of note, it is the hypocrisy of prominent figures, from Joe Biden to Michael Schill, that allow for this status quo to manifest and dangerously expand. When Schill and his counterparts write addresses condemning antisemitism with no regard for the rampant Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment throughout the country, they are telling a one-sided story that lends to this immunity. I am weary of President Schill’s emails — not for what they include, but what they exclude. He is far too acclimated with the nature of downplaying Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim suffering. read the complete article


The 'doubtful Indians' left out of the election

Forty-seven-year-old Laxmi Das felt terrible as she watched many of her neighbours in Assam’s Silchar city vote in the second phase of the Indian general elections in April. "The entire country participates in the general election but I can't," she says. Ms Das is among the 97,000 odd voters in the state who have a "D" or "doubtful" marked against their name and are barred from voting because their Indian citizenship is under question. Known as the D-voters list, the concept is unique to Assam where migration and citizenship are among the biggest political fault lines. The state shares a nearly 300km-long (187 miles) border with Bangladesh and has seen decades of migration from the neighbouring country as people fled religious persecution or moved in search of jobs. Nationalist groups in Assam have long complained that the immigration threatens their cultural and ethnic demography and strains the state's resources. read the complete article

Edited video used to target Indian opposition politician with false 'Muslim conversion' claim

A manipulated video of an Indian opposition politician was repeatedly shared online as the Hindu-majority nation held marathon general elections, in posts that falsely claimed it showed him announcing his conversion to Islam. The video fused separate clips to misrepresent remarks made by Kanhaiya Kumar about India's Muslim minority population. His representative told AFP on May 17 that Kumar is Hindu and has not converted to Islam. read the complete article

Train of thought: India voters dissect Modi’s politics during long journey

The 22-car Thirukkural Express appears to be a microcosm of India, carrying passengers from different social groups and religions and with wide-ranging ambitions and grievances – from migrants crammed into sweltering no-frills cars to well-heeled families luxuriating in air-conditioned sleeper cabins, and everyone in between. Passengers can also be divided by their politics, a topic at the top of their minds as the world’s most populous country holds its mammoth general election, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a rare third term. India’s economy has grown rapidly under Modi, but the strong-arm tactics he has deployed to push his Hindu-nationalist agenda have sharpened religious divisions in the country of 1.4 billion people – roughly 200 million of whom are Muslim – and raised fears of a slide from secular democracy towards religious autocracy. “For 10 years, all [BJP] did was talk about Hindus and Muslims, temples and mosques,” Kumar said. “And if you raise your voice against this, you’ll be arrested.” A few berths down, Rishipal Chaudhary, wiry and goateed, disagreed. Chaudhary, a locomotive driver travelling to the southern city of Madurai for work, believes Modi has improved the country. For example, he said, crime against women is down, and schools are being given better teachers and facilities, changes that have benefitted his daughter. “I love him from the beginning,” Chaudhary said, an opinion shared by many passengers crowded around him. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Who are the real extremists? The people challenging injustices or those trying to shut down our rights?

The new report by the government’s “independent adviser on political violence” and crossbench peer, John Woodcock (Lord Walney), is bad enough: horrifying in fact. It proposes that the government should restrict the ability of protest groups “to organise or fundraise”, tighten the laws against protest even further and, driving what could be a final nail, permit any businesses targeted by protesters, or people disrupted by them, to pursue them for financial damages. It was going to be even worse. The report was widely trailed – including by Woodcock himself – as treating the non-violent campaigns Just Stop Oil and Palestine Action as if they were terrorist groups, and proposing they should be banned. But last week, Woodcock was interviewed on the News Agents podcast, and it all fell apart. He seemed incapable of answering or, in some cases, even understanding the questions. In 2021, the government appointed William Shawcross as its reviewer of the Prevent programme, a state anti-radicalisation project widely accused of unfairly targeting peaceful Muslims and other non-violent people. It is hard to think of a less appropriate choice. Shawcross was previously director of the opaquely funded Henry Jackson Society. It was later described by one of its founders, Matthew Jamison – after he became disillusioned by the turn it had taken – as a “a far-right, deeply anti-Muslim racist organisation … utilised as a propaganda outfit to smear other cultures, religions and ethnic groups”. Shawcross himself has made statements that have been perceived as Islamophobic and aligned with the “great replacement theory” (which contends that the growth in the populations of Muslims and other groups will render white people a minority in Europe). For example, when he ran the society, he argued that “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations.” Previously he claimed in a column about Islamism, “we really are threatened by a vast fifth column … there are thousands of European-born people … who wish to destroy us”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 May 2024 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results