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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07 May 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a 300-year-old mosque on the banks of the Ganges river is facing petitions from Hindu nationalists requesting the right to demolish the structure in favor of a Temple to the Hindu god Shiva, meanwhile in Italy, Muslims living in the city of Monfalcone banned from praying inside the city’s two cultural centers by Mayor Anna Cisint, are petitioning the city for the right to construct a Mosque, and in the US, Islamophobic messages were found near University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Langdon Street by University staff members with Muslim students saying that the school “does not do enough to prevent Islamophobia.” Our recommended read for the day is by Miqdaad Versi for the Guardian on how the UK Labour party is losing Muslim supporters due to its failure to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, and the party’s longstanding issues of failing to deeply engage with Muslim communities. This and more below:

United Kingdom

There is a way for Starmer’s Labour to fix the big rift with Muslim voters – if it has the will | Recommended Read

The local and mayoral elections saw many traditional Labour-voting Muslim voters abandon the party they’ve loyally supported for decades. One incident from one interview, and one sentiment in particular that I heard in my local area, sits front and centre: “I was disgusted when Keir Starmer supported Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza – how can I vote for someone who won’t even apologise for this?” said one man, referring to Starmer’s performance in an interview on LBC last October and corroborated by a senior colleague that same week. However, as another voter told me: “A future PM is supposed to lead, not follow. When is he going to actually lead and stop our taxpayer money funding arms going to this apartheid state?” At national Labour level, the challenge to rebuild trust is much harder. It may even be insurmountable for the coming general election – given the errors over Gaza, augmenting the more longstanding issues of failing to deeply engage with Muslim communities. The wrong narrative to follow is that advanced by the far right and other divisive naysayers, who cite the local election results to demonise Muslims, suggesting the vote shows we only care about foreign issues. Faceless voices within the party echo these racist views and treat Muslim voters as foreigners without the right to choose who they vote for. There was the “senior Labour source” who was quoted as describing the resignation of councillors on the issue of Gaza as “shaking off the fleas”. read the complete article

Muslim group issues UK Labour Party leader with demands over Gaza

Pro-Palestinian activists have presented a list of 18 demands to the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party and said they will not vote for the party at the next general election if he does not fulfill them. The Muslim Vote, a campaign to get Muslim voters to back pro-Palestine candidates, has called for Sir Keir Starmer to promise to cut military ties with Israel, implement a travel ban on Israeli politicians involved in the war in Gaza and impose sanctions on companies operating in occupied territories. The group told Starmer he must commit to “real action” and deliver on its requests if he was “serious” about his pledge to rebuild trust with those angered by his stance on the conflict in Gaza, The Telegraph reported. Supporters would vote for the Green Party or Liberal Democrats if he could not commit to their demands, it said. Labour’s campaign chief Pat McFadden acknowledged that Starmer’s approach to the conflict had cost the party votes at last week’s local elections. Support for Labour dropped dramatically in areas with a high Muslim populations, including Oldham in Greater Manchester, where the party lost overall control of the council in a shock defeat. read the complete article


India BJP's election videos targeting Muslims and opposition spark outrage

Animated videos shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party targeting opposition Congress and the Muslim community have evoked complaints and outrage, as the political climate in India heats up midway through its six-week long election. The videos, shared by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on social media platforms Instagram and X over the last ten days, depict the Congress giving disproportionate benefits to India's minority Muslim community, at the cost of certain disadvantaged tribal and Hindu caste groups. The Congress, in a complaint to the poll watchdog Election Commission, said on Sunday that the video has been shared "clearly with an intention to wantonly provocate rioting and promote enmity between different religions". Manipulated videos on social media have also become a contentious issue in this election, such as fake videos showing top Bollywood stars criticizing the prime minister. On Monday, the commission warned parties against the misuse of AI tools to create deep fakes and told them not to publish and circulate such videos. It also said parties had been directed to remove such content within three hours of it being brought to their notice. read the complete article

Asaduddin Owaisi: The Muslim politician taking on India's Hindu right-wing

With a skullcap and cropped beard, Asaduddin Owaisi looks the part of a typical Muslim politician in India. But any conformity with the stereotype of a meek Muslim politician trying to stay in his narrow lane on the increasingly communal highway of Indian politics ends there. The 54-year-old fire-breathing politician from the city of Hyderabad in the southern state of Telangana is an anomaly in Indian politics. An equal-opportunity offender, Owaisi has thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals left, right and centre. His avowed opponents include Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the leadership of the Indian National Congress, the main opposition party that has traditionally rallied Muslim support as the standard-bearer of secular politics in India. Home to a population of 1.4 billion people, the world’s largest democracy is currently in the middle of a weeks-long general election. Pundits predict a landslide victory for Modi’s BJP as the Hindu-majority—but constitutionally secular—country descends into a cesspool of majoritarianism. Human rights groups have accused the Modi government of advocating “hatred and violence” against the 200 million-plus Muslim population, thus altering the secular character of India. read the complete article

India's Hindu nationalists are petitioning courts to tear down mosques and replace them with temples

As day breaks on the Ganges, a dozen Hindu devotees slowly dip in the river's holy water and quietly chant. This is Varanasi, the ancient spiritual centre in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state, considered the holiest of cities. It's also where a bitter legal dispute over a 17th-century mosque is increasing religious tensions between the city's Hindus and Muslims. "The friction has already been caused," said Varanasi resident Vijay Dutt Tiwari. "The fight will continue." Gyanvapi mosque, which has stood on the banks of the Ganges for more than 300 years, is the subject of around two dozen legal challenges that assert the structure was built on ruins of a temple devoted to the Hindu god Shiva. Many of the petitioners want the entire mosque, constructed by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, torn down and replaced with a temple. The mosque is heavily guarded by police and fenced off with concrete barriers and barbed wire. Muslims, who still pray at Gyanvapi five times a day, need to go through strict security before entering the compound. Gyanvapi mosque may be the most high-profile case, but it's only one of hundreds of Muslim sites targeted by Hindu nationalist groups, who some historians accuse of aggressively attempting to rewrite India's history. Dozens of petitions have been filed, with varying arguments, against mosques and Muslim structures across the country. Judges have allowed the cases to be lodged despite the fact that India has a law that freezes places of worship as they were when India became independent in 1947, protecting them from any changes or disputes. read the complete article

‘Serious job’: How a collective in election-bound India fights hate speech

Shaikh Jaffer Sadiq, who runs a hotel in Mulabagilu, and his friends were preparing for the procession this year when they learned about a photo of the mausoleum – called a dargah in Urdu and Persian – morphed with images of the Hindu god Ram and a saffron flag doing the rounds on social media. “One of my friends told me about the social media post which had angered the Muslim community. It was a deliberate attempt to hurt the sentiments of Muslims,” Sadiq, 39, told Al Jazeera. A young Hindu man was accused of being behind the incident. To defuse mounting tensions, Sadiq and his friends met the members of the mausoleum’s management and advised them to file a police complaint against the accused man. “After a police complaint was filed by the dargah members, the Hindu boy was called to the police station and given a strict warning before being let off,” he said. The police made the accused delete the social media post. The incident made Sadiq, born and raised in Mulabagilu, remember a different, more peaceful time in his hometown, when Hindus and Muslims lived together in apparent harmony. That spirit of coexistence, he says, has cracked in recent years with the rise of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially after the right-wing party returned to power nationally in 2019. read the complete article


Combating Islamophobia and addressing oral health inequities

Muslims often encounter difficulties when attempting to access healthcare services, such as oral health care, welfare assistance, and social support. These barriers often arise due to the systems or institutions or individual provider’s lack of cultural awareness and capacity to accommodate their cultural and religious requirements, resulting in their marginalisation and inadequate access to services. This marginalisation can lead to various detrimental outcomes, such as reduced health literacy, decreased socio-emotional wellbeing, increased rates of family violence, and a deteriorating quality of life. Since it is well documented that racism contributes to disparities in health outcomes of people, Islamophobia which is a type of racism, would have consequences for Australian Muslims in receiving equitable, adequate, and responsive oral health care. Without understanding and acknowledging the existence and damaging effects of Islamophobia, health care staff may unknowingly harbour or exhibit implicit or unconscious bias against Muslims. This could be a major barrier for positive healthcare interactions and experiences for Muslim healthcare users. Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner acknowledges in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2021 report titled Sharing the Stories of Australian Muslims Report that “the undercurrents of religious discrimination, vilification and hate …are consistent with the experiences of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate that is routinely experienced in Australia”. This report, along with other Australian studies indicate that Muslim Australians, despite being better educated than the average Australian, are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, with consequently lower income. Such poor labour market outcomes have significant effects across multiple aspects of life, including impacting upon oral health care. read the complete article

‘It’s shocking’: Perth Ahmadiyya Muslim community concerned about Islamophobia after radicalised teen stabbing

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community of Perth has condemned the actions of a 16-year-old boy who is thought to have converted to Islam and become radicalised before he stabbed a member of the public in Willeton on Saturday night and was later shot dead by police. Janud said the Muslim community were concerned about backlash from the incident. “We’re extremely concerned about Islamophobia,” he said. “Sometimes the backlash can be very harsh, and that’s why we want to reach out to the wider community. Our mosques and doors are always open. Reach out to talk to us communicate and communicate your concerns, and we were more than happy to hear any concerns that the community would have. “But it’s also important to understand that the individual was once again known to the police within three years, the individual it seems may have had some sort of mental psychological issues.” Janud said the boy was not actively known to be involved in any local mosques. read the complete article

United States

Islamophobic messages found near Langdon Street

Islamophobic messages were found near Langdon Street Tuesday by University of Wisconsin-Madison staff members, according to Rep. Francesca Hong, D-Madison. The messages, located on an electrical transformer box on North Henry Street, depicted a woman in hijab with the message “Islam is satanic/martyrs burn/in hell.” Other messages read “f—k Islam” and “tent Nazi Marxists suck.” It is unclear who is responsible for the messages. Reem Itani, a Palestinian and Muslim student, told The Daily Cardinal UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin “does not do enough to prevent Islamophobia.” “There’s been a lot of counter-protesters in the encampment who have been Islamophobic. Some of them even harassed us while we were praying,” Itani said. Itani said Muslim students have previously faced Islamophobia. “In October, counter-protesters threatened to rip hijabs off people, saying they were only wearing them so they don’t get raped,” Itani said. read the complete article


No place to pray for Muslim workers in Italian city

It’s Friday prayers in the northeastern Italian city of Monfalcone, and hundreds of men are on their knees in a concrete parking lot, their heads bowed to the ground. They are just a fraction of the city’s Muslims who since November have been banned from praying inside their two cultural centers by Monfalcone’s far-right mayor. Instead, they assemble in this privately owned construction site as they await a court decision later this month to settle a zoning issue they say has barred their constitutional right to prayer. Among them is Rejaul Haq, the property’s owner, who expresses frustration over what he and many other Muslims see as harassment by the city they call home. “Tell me where I should go? Why do I have to go outside of Monfalcone? I live here, I pay taxes here!” lamented Haq, a naturalized Italian citizen who arrived from Bangladesh in 2006. “Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jehovah’s, if they all have their church — why can’t we have one?” read the complete article


'Welcoming Xi Jinping to France is a policy of complicity in the Uyghur genocide'

China continues to resort to forced labor and subjects hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs to slavery. Millions of Uyghurs have been imprisoned in camps and prisons on account of their ethno-religious identity. Families of French citizens of Uyghur origin are still detained in China while almost all Uyghurs in France have lost all contact with their relatives and live under constant threat and intimidation. But France, in the name of a proclaimed reopening of the country after the Covid-19 years and a policy of rapprochement with China, hosts the architect and prime instigator of the genocide targeting my people and inexorably destroying them. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 May 2024 Edition


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