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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26 Sep 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a BJP lawmaker has been criticized for making derogatory and Islamophobic comments against his Muslim colleague inside the parliament, meanwhile in France, the country’s sports minister has announced that French athletes will not be allowed to wear the hijab during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, and in Sweden, a mosque that has previously faced threats and physical attacks has been heavily damaged by a fire that some suspect is arson. Our recommended read of the day is by Kanishka Singh for Reuters on a new report released by Hindutva Watch, which found that “anti-Muslim hate speech incidents in India averaged more than one a day in the first half of 2023 and were seen most in states with upcoming elections.”


Anti-Muslim hate speech in India concentrated around elections, report finds | Recommended Read

Anti-Muslim hate speech incidents in India averaged more than one a day in the first half of 2023 and were seen most in states with upcoming elections, according to a report by Hindutva Watch, a Washington-based group monitoring attacks on minorities. There were 255 documented incidents of hate speech gatherings targeting Muslims in the first half of 2023, the report found. There was no comparative data for prior years. It used the United Nations' definition of hate speech as "any form of communication... that employs prejudiced or discriminatory language towards an individual or group based on attributes such as religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, descent, gender, or other identity factors." About 70% of the incidents took place in states scheduled to hold elections in 2023 and 2024, according to the report. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat witnessed the highest number of hate speech gatherings, with Maharashtra accounting for 29% of such incidents, the report found. The majority of the hate speech events mentioned conspiracy theories and calls for violence and socio-economic boycotts against Muslims. About 80% of those events took place in areas governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is widely expected to win the general elections in 2024. read the complete article

Indian MP faces backlash for anti-Muslim slurs against colleague in parliament

A lawmaker from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been criticised for hurling derogatory and Islamophobic abuses at his Muslim colleague inside the parliament. The unanimous opposition backlash against Ramesh Bidhuri – MP from prime minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist party – prompted the BJP chief to issue a show-cause notice. Mr Bidhuri met BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda at the party headquarters in capital Delhi, days after he was asked to explain his behaviour in parliament. Mr Bidhuri targetted opposition MP Kunwar Danish Ali and called him a "terrorist" and "militant", while using other anti-Muslim slurs against him during a discussion on the success of India's Chandrayaan-3 moon mission last Thursday. His remarks were later expunged from official records, but not before video from the discussion was shared widely and condemned on social media. "When Danish Ali alerted me about what all Bhiduri had said, I immediately gave a ruling to expunge the unparliamentary words," said Kodikunnil Suresh, an MP from Indian National Congress, who was in chair at the time of discussion. Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla reportedly warned Mr Bidhuri of possible strict action if he were to repeat such behaviour on the floor of the House. read the complete article


China’s ‘crimes against humanity’ targeting Uyghurs aren’t going away. Here’s what the international community can do.

Don’t be fooled by China’s efforts to cover up its oppression of the Uyghur people and other Turkic minorities, warned Belén Martinez Carbonell, managing director for multilateral affairs of the European External Action Service. At an Atlantic Council in New York discussion last week on the margins of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Martinez Carbonell argued that China is promoting economic development and tourism in Xinjiang as part of its switch to using “more refined and perhaps less visible means to oppress and control.” Although there have been changes on the ground in Xinjiang due to international scrutiny and criticism of Beijing’s activities, some of those changes are “very cosmetic,” argued Rayhan Asat—a nonresident senior fellow for the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Litigation Project. “Maybe some of the so-called reeducation camps are closed down, but the prison camps are expanding,” she explained. read the complete article

Uyghur academic, 57, jailed for life in China for ‘endangering state security’

A court in China sentenced a prominent Uyghur scholar to life in prison on charges of "endangering state security", a rights group has said. Rahile Dawut, 57, lost her appeal against her original conviction in 2018, the US-based Dui Hua Foundation said in a statement. Prior to her conviction, Dawut was a professor at Xinjiang University and founder of the school’s Ethnic Minorities Folklore Research Center. She was internationally renowned for her work studying sacred Islamic sites, authoring books and lecturing as a visiting scholar abroad. She disappeared in December 2017 amid a brutal government crackdown aimed at the Uyghurs, a Turkic, predominately Muslim ethnicity native to China’s northwest Xinjiang region. Beijing has been accused of committing “crimes against humanity" against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups over the past decade through alleged widespread abuses, including mass incarceration, forced labour, torture and sexual assault. read the complete article


Paris Olympics 2024: France bans own athletes from wearing veil

French athletes will not be allowed to wear veils during the Paris Olympic games set to be held next year, the country's sports minister announced on Sunday. Appearing as a guest on the show Sunday In Politics, airing on the channel France 3, Amelie Oudea-Castera said that no member of the French delegation would be allowed to wear the head covering. Muslim women in France are already banned from wearing the veil, or hijab, within public institutions, such as government offices, schools and universities. Many employers also have unwritten rules on hiring women who wear the headscarf or decide to start wearing one during employment. The ostensible reason for the restrictions are to comply with France's hardline interpretation of laicite, or state-enforced secularism, which bans symbols of religion within state institutions. While in theory the restrictions apply to all religions, in practice, Muslim women, who adopt headscarves or abayas for religious or cultural reasons, are the main targets. The ban on women wearing hijab at the event has triggered a wave of anger online and many have been using social media platforms to call for boycotts of the event. read the complete article

France's top court rejects appeal against ban on Muslim abaya dress in schools

France’s highest court on Monday ruled that the government ban on Muslim dress abaya is legal. The Council of State said it had rejected an appeal by three organizations against the government ban announced last month on abaya – a loose-fitting and full-length robe – worn by some Muslim students in schools. Last week, the Sud Education Paris, La Voix Lyceenne and Le Poing Leve Lycee unions in France filed an appeal against the ban. On Aug. 31, Vincent Brengarth, a lawyer for the Muslim Rights Action (ADM), filed an appeal with the Council of State to seek the suspension of the ban on the abaya which he said violates "several fundamental freedoms." On Sept. 7, the Council of State rejected the ADM's appeal, saying: "This ban does not seriously violate and is not manifestly illegal to the right to respect for private life, the freedom of religion, the right to education." read the complete article

United States

Guest: Oklahoma's Muslim community persisting despite Islamophobia

The Oklahoma Muslim community has grown exponentially since the late 1990s with the opening of several full-time Islamic schools in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Mercy School Institute and Oklahoma Islamic Academy; the expansion of Islamic centers in Stillwater, Edmond and Norman; and the opening of new Islamic centers in places like northeast and south Oklahoma City and Lawton. Not to mention the plethora of Muslim-led nonprofit organizations focusing on social justice, education, food insecurity, health equity and much more. No longer is Islam a footnote in the history book that will one day be authored about Oklahoma; rather, it has become a pillar of what it means to be part of our state and a true reflection of the Oklahoma Standard. Muslims are active in almost every industry in our state, including politics, the media and sports. Despite all the progress, the shadow of Islamophobia still looms large over our state. Hate may not be burning as vigorously as it was immediately after the tragedy of 9/11, but it still exists. Even in a post-Trump era, we have seen hate crimes against Muslims, vandalism of Islamic centers, and FBI or law enforcement overreach. The undeniable fear remains that Islamophobia will again rear its ugly head and push Muslims to the fringes of society where, arguably, Islamophobes want them to stay. read the complete article


Suspected arson attack severely damages mosque in south-eastern Sweden

A fire caused heavy damage to a mosque in south-eastern Sweden, according to local media, Anadolu Agency reports. The fire in the Arby section of the city of Eskilstuna was caused by arson, Anas Deneche, the mosque’s Communication Director, told public broadcaster, SR. Police records show the mosque has faced threats and was subjected to physical attacks, he said, adding that they are sure that this was an arson attack. The mosque is unusable due to the damage, according to local police. An investigation of the incident is under way, it added. read the complete article


Islamophobia, distrust: Dutch Muslims react to state surveillance

Muslims in the Netherlands are losing their trust in the country's government as reports emerged it has been carrying out secret probes and investigations since the early 2010s. Community groups and nongovernmental organizations, however, said they were not surprised by the investigations after the increase in Islamophobia and racism in the country and Europe in general. "The scandal that emerged during the discussions and meetings between the Social Affairs and Employment Ministry in 2022 to regain the trust of Muslims and the authorities of Islamic institutions is very significant." Adding that Islamophobia and racism can be observed in all government institutions, Köktaş said: "While, on the other hand, the Ministry is working on regaining the trust of Muslims and holding discussions, the Justice and Security Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz says there is no place for headscarves in police uniforms and bans them. Incidents of racism in the Foreign Ministry and systematic discrimination scandals at the tax office ... were just some of the racism and discrimination incidents in many government institutions." Köktaş said due to racism and discrimination in government institutions, the trust of Muslims in the state has been seriously undermined. read the complete article


20 years on, Human Rights Watch says US failing Iraq torture survivors

"Twenty years on, Iraqis who were tortured by US personnel still have no clear path for filing a claim or receiving any kind of redress or recognition from the US government," said Sarah Yager, Washington director at Human Rights Watch. "US officials have indicated that they prefer to leave torture in the past, but the long-term effects of torture are still a daily reality for many Iraqis and their families." The rights group interviewed people including Taleb al-Majli, a former detainee who said he was in a widely reported photograph that showed US soldiers piling naked, hooded prisoners in a human pyramid at Abu Ghraib. Al-Majli said he was sexually humiliated and abused with dogs and water hoses. He said he was released after 16 months without charge but kept biting his hands and wrists to cope with trauma, leaving such scars that he can no longer wear short sleeves. At least 11 US soldiers were convicted of abuses at Abu Ghraib but critics say the punishments were light and that no one in higher authority was prosecuted. Human Rights Watch said it could find no legal pathway for Abu Ghraib victims to receive compensation, either through the US or Iraqi systems. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Sep 2023 Edition


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