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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05 Sep 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In France, dozens of Muslim girls were sent home for failing to remove their abaya, a long outer garment recently banned by the government, on the first day of the school year, meanwhile in Sweden, clashes erupted over the weekend in Malmo after a protester publicly burned another copy of the Quran, and lastly, a delegation from Bangladesh has arrived in Myanmar with plans to begin the process of repatriating some of the now more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees who were forcibly displaced from Myanmar in the mid 2010s. Our recommended read of the day is by The Canadian Press on how jury selection has begun for the man accused of deliberately hitting and killing four members of London Ontario’s Afzaal family as they were out for a walk in early June of 2021. This and more below:


Trial of man charged in deaths of London, Ont., Muslim family members to start today

The trial of a man facing terror-related murder charges in the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., in 2021 is set to start today. Jury selection will begin this morning for the trial of Nathaniel Veltman who is accused of deliberately hitting the Afzaal family members with his truck as they were out for a walk on the evening of June 6, 2021. Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed in the attack. The couple's nine-year-old son was also seriously hurt but survived. Veltman, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, is facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in what prosecutors allege was an act of terrorism targeting London’s Muslim community. The attack on the Afzaal family sent waves of shock, grief and fear across Canada and spurred ongoing calls for measures to combat Islamophobia in the country. After the attack, the National Council of Canadian Muslims released a list of recommendations to fight anti-Muslim hate across Canada, including calling on the federal and provincial governments to commit to anti-Islamophobia strategies in education and provide resources to fight anti-Muslim hate. read the complete article


Clashes erupt in Sweden's third largest city after another Quran burning and at least 3 are detained

Clashes erupted in an immigrant neighborhood in Sweden’s third largest city after an anti-Muslim protester set fire to a copy of the Quran, police said Monday. Police in Malmo said they were pelted with rocks and dozens of cars were set on fire, including in an underground garage, and described the events that started Sunday and lasted overnight as “a violent riot.” The clashes started after an anti-Islam activist, Salwan Momika, burned a copy of the Quran on Sunday and an angry mob tried to stop him, police said. At least three people were detained, they said. In the past months, Momika, a refugee from Iraq, has desecrated copies of the Quran in a series of anti-Islam protests mostly in Stockholm. Swedish police have allowed his actions, citing freedom of speech. The Quran burnings have sparked angry protests in Muslim countries, attacks on Swedish diplomatic missions and threats from Islamic extremists. Muslim leaders in Sweden have called on the government to find ways to stop the Quran burnings. read the complete article


France imposes abaya ban on first day of school

The government announced last month it was banning the abaya in schools, saying it broke the rules on secularism in education that have already seen Muslim headscarves banned on the grounds they constitute a display of religious affiliation. The move gladdened the political right but the hard-left argued it represented an affront to civil liberties. The hard-left has accused the government of centrist President Emmanuel Macron of trying with the abaya ban to compete with Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally and shifting further to the right. Education Minister Gabriel Attal told RTL radio that authorities had identified 513 schools that could be affected by the ban at the start of the school year. read the complete article

French Schools Refuse Dozens Of Girls Wearing Muslim Dress

French schools sent dozens of girls home for refusing to remove their abayas -- an over-garment from the shoulders to the feet worn by Muslim women -- on the first day of the school year, a government minister said Tuesday. Defying a ban on the Muslim dress, nearly 300 girls showed up Monday morning wearing an abaya, Gabriel Attal told the BFM broadcaster. Most agreed to change out of the dress, but 67 refused and were sent home, he said. The government announced last month it was banning the abaya in schools, saying it broke the rules on secularism in education that have already seen Muslim headscarves banned on the grounds they constitute a display of religious affiliation. The move gladdened the political right but the hard-left argued it represented an affront to civil liberties. read the complete article


India: Why Modi is fuelling anti-Muslim riots ahead of 2024 elections

This summer, Hindu nationalist groups led a religious procession through a Muslim-majority region of India’s northern state of Haryana, triggering communal riots. The fresh spate of sectarian violence marked a continuation of the ongoing onslaught on Indian Muslims in the country, aligning with the Hindutva strategy of polarising voters ahead of crucial general elections. The communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh district saw crowds targeting Muslim-owned businesses, torching stores, cars and a local mosque. At least six people were killed, while tensions spread to other local districts. Within a few days of the riots, bulldozers swiftly descended upon Nuh’s Muslim community, demolishing hundreds of homes under the pretext that they were illegal structures. More than 1,200 structures, primarily owned by Muslims, were reduced to rubble. The demolition campaign echoes a recurring pattern in states governed by the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where bulldozers have become emblematic of the machinery employed to enforce law and order. They function as an extrajudicial tool to dismantle Muslims’ homes, enterprises and places of worship. The events preceding the Nuh violence also aligned with another recurring pattern, emphasised in a report released this year by the Citizens & Lawyers Initiative, which highlighted striking “commonalities” in the weaponisation of religious occasions as a pretext for perpetrating violence against minority communities. The report found that communal violence often led to state-backed actions, including illegal demolitions of homes and shops, targeting individuals labelled as “rioters” or “antisocial” elements. This state-sponsored violence has fuelled a “crisis of displacement” for Muslim families, who have been left homeless or forced to flee for fear of further state harassment. read the complete article

United States

Op-Ed: Indian Americans in NJ must stand against harassment of Muslim and other groups

For years, I proudly participated in Indian Independence Day parades in my hometown of Edison. This year was beautiful as in years past, but tainted by a new and disturbing problem: For the second year in a row, Edison’s Indian Independence Day parade was also the site of hateful anti-Muslim displays. At this year’s Aug.13 parade, a group of individuals waved the orange flags of the Bajrang Dal, an India-based Hindu militant group whose members regularly harass, intimidate, terrorize and kill Muslims and whose leaders have called for a Muslim genocide. The flag wavers also chanted “Jai Shri Ram,” a popular slogan often shouted in India to intimidate Muslims. An American reader might imagine a KKK of India, proudly waving their insignia and shouting white supremacist slogans at a family event organized in a peaceful suburb. The Bajrang Dal was crucial in organizing the Gujarat Pogrom of 2002, one of the largest massacres of Indian Muslims in the past 30 years. Led by a Hindu supremacist militant who once expressed the hope of killing 50,000 Muslims, Bajrang Dal members led the killing of 97 Muslim people living in a single apartment building, lighting many of them on fire. Their members continue to regularly kill Muslims in acts of “cow vigilantism” for the crime of allegedly transporting cattle or eating beef. This year, as in years past, the Bajrang Dal has also led violent religious processions throughout Muslim neighborhoods in India, with men wielding weapons, stoning Muslim homes and attacking Muslims in the streets. The men proudly waving the flags of this vile, anti-Muslim organization sent a clear message to Indian Muslims in New Jersey: You are not welcome here. Indian Americans of all faiths and political orientations — Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Adivasis (Indigenous), Sikhs and secular — would do well to come together and oppose these groups’ dangerous and exclusionary vision of India and the U.S. read the complete article

She was forced to remove her hijab for a mug shot, she says. Now, she's suing.

Before Sophia Johnston’s arrest two weeks ago, no man outside her family had seen her hair since childhood, according to a recently filed lawsuit. But on Aug. 22, she was arrested and then booked into the main jail in Rutherford County, Tenn., where an intake officer allegedly gave her a choice: remove her hijab for a mug shot or stay in jail indefinitely. Johnston, a devout Muslim, relented. She took off the headscarf in front of five men — an “indignity” that has “scarred her emotionally,” the lawsuit states. “I’m just like trying so hard to not cry, you know, not to break down,” she told WSMV. “I can’t show these people that they broke me, because I felt in that point, that’s what they wanted me to do.” Now, Johnston, 37, is suing Rutherford County, Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh and three of his law enforcement officers, alleging they prevented her from exercising her religion and violated federal and state law by doing so. read the complete article

Muslim call to prayer heard after city clarifies permit earlier in week

New York City took a big step earlier this week, clarifying that the Muslim call to prayer can be broadcast every Friday afternoon from any mosque -- no permit necessary. It is 1:15 p.m. Friday, and on Forbell Street in City Line, Brooklyn, the Adhan, or call to prayer can be heard. Worshippers of the Muslim faith head into Masjid Al-Aman for afternoon prayer. "We have gotten the attention of a lot of our neighbors I know sometimes in the wrong way," said Kobir Chowdry. "We don't have an opposition to it as long as it's kept at a respectable level, same as the Catholic Church bells and the music," said Sam Esposito from Ozone Park. However, concerns have spurred confusion that a permit was required to broadcast the prayer. "The permit is that you don't go beyond 54 decibel points," added Chowdry. read the complete article


Bangladesh delegation in Myanmar to discuss Rohingya repatriation

A high-level delegation from Bangladesh has reached Myanmar to lead a Chinese-mediated meeting on Rohingya repatriation. A list of over 3,000 Rohingya under a pilot programme has been sent to Myanmar to verify and a possible repatriation could begin under the mediation of China, according to Bangladeshi officials. More than 1.2 million Rohingya Muslims forcibly displaced from Myanmar live in congested camps in Cox's Bazar and Bhasan Char, an island in the Bay of Bengal. Most of the refugees fled a brutal military crackdown in August 2017 in Rakhine, a state on the western coast of Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Confirming the latest meeting to Anadolu news agency on Monday, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, chief of Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC), said the country is “expecting to initiate repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar anytime this year”. Bangladesh, China and Myanmar want to start repatriation under the pilot programme by this December. The latest visit is part of the process. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Sep 2023 Edition


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