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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09 May 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the voting in the third phase of the country’s election which has been marred by inflammatory campaign speeches attacking the Muslim minority, meanwhile in the US, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) posted to social media a house floor anti-Muslim speech by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) warning of a “massive Muslim takeover”, and in Italy, a Ukrainian-Italian model whose photograph was used in a poster campaign by Italy’s far-right League, comparing her to a woman wearing a niqab, has said that she will consult lawyers over her likeness being used in images she described as “racist”. Our recommended read for the day is by Julia Conley for Common Dreams on how nearly 100 organizations alongside Muslims for Just Futures are calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to introduce a White House Islamophobia Strategy that centers government accountability and solidarity with Muslim and Arab American communities. This and more below:

United States

White House Needs a Strategy for Combating Islamophobia, Say Rights Groups | Recommended Read

Nearly 100 organizations joined Muslims for Just Futures on Tuesday in calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to introduce a White House Islamophobia Strategy that centers government accountability and solidarity with Muslim and Arab American communities, demanding that the Biden administration honor the "lived experiences" of people who have faced Islamophobic attacks that have ramped up since Hamas attacked southern Israel last October. The coalition's 26-page community memorandum, dated April 2024, was publicly released on Tuesday, the same day Biden spoke about fighting antisemitism in a speech marking the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Days of Remembrance. Biden's conflation of antisemitism with protesters' and voters' demands to end U.S. support for Israel in order to save the lives of Palestinians in Gaza, said the community memorandum, has had "profound negative effects" on Muslim and Arab Americans. The coalition said that organizations involved in drafting the memorandum—including Afghans for a Better Tomorrow, American Muslim Bar Association, and the Center for Constitutional Rights—"emphasized the direct role of the White House in perpetuating Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and anti-Arab racism through its ongoing support for the genocide and occupation in Palestine," among other military campaigns. read the complete article

Republicans Warn of 'Massive Muslim Takeover'

Republican lawmakers have warned of a "massive Muslim takeover" in the U.K. government, while claiming that it could also happen in the U.S., despite Muslims making up a small percentage of the population in both countries. On Wednesday, Representative Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, posted a clip posted on X, formerly Twitter, of Representative Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, giving a speech on the House floor, voicing fears of Muslims gaining membership in the U.K. government. "You've got a massive Muslim takeover on the United Kingdom going on right before our eyes," Roy said without giving evidence to back up his claims. "I've got some pretty strong concerns about Sharia law and whether that will be forced upon the American people." Sharia law is the legal system followed by Muslims. "I've got pretty strong concerns about people who want to see Israel's destruction. Who were happy about October 7th. Who are elected in the United Kingdom. Some might say that we've seen that here in the United States," Roy said. British-American journalist Medhi Hasan, editor-in-chief and CEO of the new media company Zeteo, posted: "'You've got a massive Muslim takeover of the United Kingdom,' says this massively dishonest, massively ignorant, massively bigoted GOP Rep, Chip Roy. Will he be condemned? No. Will the Dems who voted to censure Rashida Tlaib insist Roy be censured? No. Islamophobia is fine." read the complete article

United Kingdom

Thank you, Muslim voters, for injecting principles and decency into British democracy

Over the weekend their enemies simply changed their line of attack. British Muslims, say mainstream politicians and mass media, now present an even more deadly threat to British democracy: sectarianism. Take Labour’s instant reaction to the defection of Muslim voters last week. A party "source" told the BBC they believed the West Midlands Conservative mayor, Andy Street, was on course to win as a result of the “Middle East not the West Midlands” and called Hamas the “real villains”. Labour’s high command moved quickly to disown this remark, with its unevidenced insinuation that voters appalled by Labour policy on Gaza support Hamas. But this off-the-record Labour briefing echoed an earlier Labour Party briefing which referred to Muslims leaving Labour as “shaking off the fleas”. Ugly, dehumanising, racist language. Do not forget that Islamophobia is rife within Starmer’s Labour. Ali Milani, Labour's candidate against Boris Johnson in Uxbridge in 2019, highlighted this inconvenient fact in a devastating interview with Middle East Eye. More recently, Al Jazeera’s Labour Files exposed a “secret party dossier that was used to disenfranchise around 5,000 mostly Muslim members of the Labour Party in the ethnically diverse community of Newham”. As I set out in a series of investigative articles for MEE, the Conservatives persistently smear and target Britain’s Muslim minority, always operating in alliance with a poisonously Islamophobic mass media. This does raise the urgent question: how should Muslims vote at a time when the two main political parties have turned virulently against them? It would have been entirely understandable had British Muslims recoiled from a democratic system that has treated them with disdain and contempt. read the complete article

‘Labour Won the Local Elections but it has a Problem – it Can’t Engage With UK Muslims’

On Saturday, Labour leader Keir Starmer addressed those who have voted for the party in the past but felt they could not do so this time: “I’ve heard you and I’ve listened. I hope to gain your respect and trust again in the future.” Left unspoken was the fact that Labour’s triumph was almost entirely because of a collapse in Conservative support – the 34% share for Starmer’s party was almost the same as in 2022, 2023, and 2024. Analysing the vote in 930 wards, Professor Will Jennings, of the University of Southampton summarised, “Labour is in an uncomfortable position on Gaza. And it is not just Muslim voters.” In the 20 constituencies in the UK with a Muslim electorate over 30% who elected a Labour MP in 2019, the opposition party’s share dropped 18%. In a General Election, independents might not take seats from Labour. However, they could dent the party where there is more than one contender for First Past the Post. In the long run, the effect could be greater if the Liberal Democrats or Greens build their appeal or if there is a rejuvenated One Nation form of Conservatism. Starmer’s LBC interview on October 11, in which he said “Israel has the right” to withhold power and water from Palestinian civilians, laid the foundations for this electoral desertion. The justification of collective punishment carried even greater weight because Starmer – a former Director of Public Prosecutions – knows the codes of international law. read the complete article


Campaign video targeting Muslims faces India police probe as critics accuse Modi’s party of divisive election tactics

Police in southern India are investigating a senior leader of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over a political video targeting Muslims, as critics accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running an increasingly divisive re-election campaign. The police probe comes as the world’s most populous nation votes in a mammoth weeks-long election in which Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party is widely expected to secure a rare third consecutive term. The party has long denied being anti-Islam but opposition politicians and prominent Muslims have warned that its leaders have been deploying openly divisive rhetoric to turbo-charge their campaign. According to a police report seen by CNN on Tuesday, Karnataka state police are investigating whether local BJP leader B. Y. Vijayendra and the unnamed holder of the party’s official local X account “promoted enmity” between religious groups after the clip was posted online on May 4. The 17-second animation depicts leaders of India’s main opposition Congress party giving benefits to Muslims, alongside a caption in the local Kannada language: “Beware… Beware… Beware…!” It shows caricatures of Congress’s national leader Rahul Gandhi and its Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah feeding “funds” to a large bird wearing a Muslim skullcap, while giving nothing to three smaller birds portraying other marginalized minorities. The large bird then kicks the other birds out of their nest as the Congress politicians laugh. read the complete article

Modi leads voting as India conducts third phase of national election

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi led the voting in the third phase of the country’s election which has been marred by inflammatory campaign speeches attacking the Muslim minority and growing acrimony among rival parties. The latest round of polling was held after Mr Modi and top members of his party drew criticism for ramping up sectarian rhetoric against Muslims on the campaign trail. Mr Modi has been accused of changing his campaign strategy to make more fiery and polarising speeches after the first phase of voting record a lower turnout than in 2009. read the complete article


Model seeks legal advice after Salvini’s party uses image for anti-Islam poster

A woman whose photograph was used in a poster campaign by Italy’s far-right League, a member of Giorgia Meloni’s ruling coalition, has said she will consult lawyers, describing the images as “racist”. Anna Haholkina, a Ukrainian-Italian model who lives in Rimini, said she was shocked to see her face on the posters that have sprung up in Milan in recent weeks as the League, which is led by the deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, intensifies its anti-Islam stance in the run-up to next month’s European elections. The posters feature the images of two women, one with the photo of Haholkina used to represent a “free” western woman, and the other of a woman wearing a niqab who is “forced to cover the face”. A slogan reads: “Which side do you want to be on?” The League is resorting to familiar themes of immigration and Islamophobia as it fights for political survival in the June ballot for European parliamentary elections. The party won more than 34% of the vote in the 2019 elections, but in the most recent national polls is hovering about 8%. Salvini has referred to the elections as “a referendum on the future of Europe” to decide “whether [it] will still exist or whether it will be a Sino-Islamic colony”. Meanwhile, a law proposed by Brothers of Italy, Meloni’s party, to shut down hundreds of Muslim prayer spaces that were not mosques was passed in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 May 2024 Edition


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