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.

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07 Sep 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, hundreds of Muslim homes and businesses have been demolished in states run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, meanwhile in China, after years of repression targeting Uyghur Muslims, the government is “pumping cash into repackaging a state-approved version of Uyghur culture” in an effort to attract domestic and foreign tourists, and in the United States, President Joe Biden has rejected proposed conditions for a plea deal for five Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of aiding in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Our recommended read of the day is by Omar Suleiman for Religion News Service on the steps needed to be taken by the French government to fairly and equitably pursue a form of state secularism that doesn’t further marginalize or jeopardize religious and ethnic minorities. This and more below:


France’s laicité in the name of secularism is really only supremacist legacy of colonialism | Recommended Read

In saying as much, Attal confirms that France’s affair with secularism has always lacked the neutrality vis-à-vis religion that it claims. The “secularism” of France, much like the “freedom of speech” that has allowed French publications to print offending images of the Prophet Muhammad, seems to many Muslims to be another excuse to beat them down. If France wishes to move beyond petty bans on religious symbols, it must take two steps: First, and arguably most importantly, the French must work to rid its culture of the disease of supremacy over its former colonial subjects. It is this supremacy that inspired the niqab ban of 2010 and the recent abaya ban. It led to the passing of a 2004 bill prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols in public schools. This same supremacy inspired more than a century of a French colonization that demanded assimilation and disintegration. It is an Islamophobic supremacy that uniquely targets Muslims in France, most of whom are immigrants from former French colonies. The second step is to redefine its understanding of religious neutrality in the public sphere. How are religious symbols an affront to the freedoms of others? Why is the government obsessed with assimilation to historically French customs? Resolving these problems would nurture an environment that celebrates and embraces its current religious diversity rather than clinging to archaic colonial-era demands of its colonized subjects. read the complete article

French schools turn away girls wearing abayas as Muslim rights group challenges ban

Public schools in France have been turning away students for breaking a new national ban on the abaya, a long, robe-like garment often worn by Muslim women, as a rights group filed an appeal against the prohibition. A total of 67 girls returned home rather than remove their abayas, Education Minister Gabriel Attal told CNN affiliate BFMTV on Tuesday. Across the country a total of 298 pupils arrived at school wearing abayas, but a “large majority” agreed to remove them, said Attal, who added that the new rule had been followed “without any major difficulty to report” as the country’s schools began the new academic year on Monday. Attal announced the ban on abayas in schools on Sunday, but by Tuesday the State Council, France’s highest court for complaints against state authorities, had heard an appeal from the Action Droits Des Musulmans (ADM) group. The group’s lawyer, Vincent Brengarth, told journalists before the hearing that the ban is “not based on any legal text.” In a separate interview with CNN affiliate BFMTV on Tuesday evening, Brengarth said the ban has been imposed in an “arbitrary” manner as it contains no legal definition of what an abaya looks like. Abayas have also never been formally classified as religious items, according to Brengarth. read the complete article

Back to school: Muslim girls battle France’s abaya ban

French students returned to class facing yet another battle over what some Muslim girls are choosing to wear. This time, it is the abaya – a long, loose-fitting dress. Dozens of students were sent home after nearly 300 showed up on the first day of classes in abayas. French women have been here for a while now: head coverings, including the hijab, were first banned in public schools back in 2004. So, how will this latest ban affect Muslim students and communities today? read the complete article

France abaya ban: Muslim schoolgirl sent home for wearing kimono

A Muslim girl in France became one the first to be excluded from school after a ban on wearing an abaya, a full-length robe worn by many Muslim women. The girl from the French city of Leon came to school dressed in a kimono, a long loose-fitting robe with wide sleeves, leading to objections from her headteacher, who interpreted it as a religious garment. Under the country's hardline interepretation of laicite, or secularism, outward symbols of faith in state schools are banned. Initially this applied to headscarfs but policymakers have since decided to include other items of clothing considered to be based on religious ideas of modesty. In previous incidents, schoolgirls have been excluded after wearing skirts that were deemed to be not short enough. The lawyer for the girl, who has not been named for legal reasons, said she went to school “wearing jeans, a T-shirt and an open kimono”. The student was taken to the headteacher who told her she could not stay in the school wearing the garment. “This scenario illustrates the dangerous excesses that could legitimately be expected from the recent instructions,” said Nabil Boudi, a lawyer acting on behalf of the student. “There is nothing in the wearing of a kimono that makes it possible to characterise an ostensible manifestation of belonging to a religion,” Boudi added. read the complete article

United States

The government is surveilling American Muslims by buying their data. It’s time to close the loophole.

When you download something as mundane as a mobile prayer app, the last thing you’d expect is to be swept up in a U.S. military mass surveillance program. But that’s exactly what happened to 98 million people when it was reported that MuslimPro—touted as the most popular Muslim app by its creators—had unintentionally funneled the personal data, including location information, of its worldwide users, including millions of Americans, to a U.S. military counterterrorism unit after selling that data to a third-party databroker. However, this doesn’t stop with MuslimPro. Our most mundane online actions, from Google searches to dating profiles, are amassed and sold to third-party data brokers, which are basically data “middlemen” who sell our data to the highest bidder. Typically, these data brokers turn our most sensitive personal data into lists that allow marketers to target consumers with personalized ads. But law enforcement has been taking to the commercial marketplace to access these troves of data that would normally require a warrant. This is a massive loophole in our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures. That’s why privacy advocates are urging Congress to finally close this data broker loophole once and for all. read the complete article

Biden rejects proposed conditions for plea deal for 9/11 defendants

U.S. President Joe Biden has rejected proposed conditions for a plea deal for five Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of aiding in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council. The defendants had put forward a set of demands as a basis for plea negotiations, known as the "joint policy principles." According to The New York Times, those demands include avoiding solitary confinement and receiving health treatment for injuries the detainees claim were a result of CIA interrogation methods. A lawyer who represents one of the detainees told ABC News on Wednesday that they cannot share the full list of joint policy principles rejected by the Biden administration, but said the list focused on improvements in long-term conditions of confinement to include a comprehensive torture rehabilitation program. read the complete article


State-backed tourism booms in China's troubled Xinjiang

Kashgar, an ancient Silk Road oasis, was more recently on the frontlines of Beijing's sweeping anti-terrorism campaign in the northwestern region. The city's outskirts are still pockmarked with facilities that the ruling Communist Party once called vocational schools but Western researchers describe as extralegal detention camps for Muslims -- with the United States linking them to policies of "genocide". Now, after years of assault on Uyghur traditions and ways of life, the government is pumping cash into repackaging a state-approved version of their culture to attract domestic and foreign travellers. read the complete article


Modi’s BJP party accused of destroying Muslim homes in India

India's ruling Hindu Nationalist party is turning the bulldozer into a political symbol and, say opponents, a means of control. Hundreds of homes and businesses, mostly owned by Muslims, are being demolished in states run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP. The government says it’s removing illegal structures. But Muslim groups say it's another form of oppression and injustice. We visit Nuh in the northern Haryana state, where the local BJP authorities have been knocking down buildings, to find out more. read the complete article

India: Sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims on the rise

It's dusk in Mudlada in Panipat, a city at the heart of India's cow belt - a state at the centre of a wave of recent communal clashes in India. Hindus consider cows to be sacred and some in Haryana are so desperate to protect them that they're allegedly willing to kill. At a watering hole, we meet a group of men who speak proudly about going on patrol to pull over Muslims they suspect of trying to transport and slaughter cows illegally. Violence, they say, is sometimes just necessary. By night, we meet members of the Haryana Gau Raksha Dal, a group of so-called cow vigilantes who patrol highways trying to track down suspects. They insist their patrols are co-coordinated with the police. "We have weapons only for self-defence and to save the cows…every Indian, it is their moral duty to save the cows from [being slaughtered]," Naryan Deswal tells me. Under Hindu nationalist leaders, sectarian violence has flared in India. Critics of the government say the bulldozers have become a symbol of anti-Muslim hate, a vehicle for injustice. Outside the mosque, one Muslim worshipper tells me, Hindu nationalism is intensifying a religious divide in the country. "They are hating other communities, so this is disturbing to any nation," he says. "Because if hate will be a cure, the nation will not progress." read the complete article


Woman stabbed at Winnipeg Olive Garden confronts attacker in emotional victim impact statement

A young woman repeatedly stabbed while working at a Winnipeg Olive Garden in June says she spent weeks after the assault lying awake at 3 a.m., clutching a kitchen knife under her pillow in fear the man who attacked her had somehow escaped custody. The 18-year-old spoke with grace as she addressed her assailant in a Winnipeg courtroom at a sentencing hearing last week, where 27-year-old Robert Alan Ingram pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in the unprovoked and random attack at the restaurant in the city's Transcona area. The woman said she was an active basketball player before the stabbing, but now struggles to climb stairs and even hold her head up because her neck muscles are so weak from being slashed. She said her family is also suffering financially after the attack, since her job used to help take some stress off her mother — who's now dipping into their family's savings to make sure she can still go to university. The victim, who court heard is Black and Muslim, said she's dealt with racism all her life and long battles with depression and insomnia, but none of that compares to the emotional fallout from being attacked that night. The assault shook Winnipeg's Muslim community, which rallied around the victim and called for the attack to be investigated as a targeted hate crime. The National Council of Canadian Muslims also wrote a community impact statement that was read at Ingram's sentencing. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Sep 2023 Edition


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