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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11 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, around a hundred (mostly Muslim) residents of Birmingham attended a discussion where panelists stated how the Trojan Horse affair is “not over for us,” with its impact still reverberating through Muslim communities, meanwhile in Canada, the government’s budget promises $85 million over four years to the Department of Heritage to launch a new anti-racism strategy and a “national action plan” on combating hate, and in India, Hindutva groups in Karnataka are now calling on Hindus not to employ cab services and transport operators run by Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Angelique Chrisafis for the Guardian on how Marine Le Pen (who will face off against President Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential elections) has created a distance between her smiling persona, and the radical reality of her far-right, anti-immigration manifesto to keep France for the French. This and more below:


11 Apr 2022

How Le Pen tried to soften image to reach French election runoff | Recommended Read

When the far-right Marine Le Pen posed for a selfie with a smiling teenager in a Muslim headscarf in Dunkirk on the northern coast, it was a turning point in the presidential campaign. Le Pen wants to ban the Muslim headscarf from all public places, including the streets, calling it a “uniform of totalitarian ideology”. So after posing happily with a girl in hijab, she was attacked for going soft by her far-right rival, the TV pundit Éric Zemmour. “Let me teach you about humanity,” Le Pen shot back at one of Zemmour’s lieutenants in a TV debate that went viral. “What would you have done? Pulled her veil off and mistreated her?” One analyst called Le Pen’s tactic of appearing softer in person than her policy proposals a “masterclass”. She also sought to present herself as less dangerous than Zemmour’s extremist newcomers on France’s tense and fractured political scene. It was mid-March; her poll ratings took off and kept rising. Le Pen, 53, who has been a member of parliament for five years, has created a distance between her smiling persona – posing with her pet Bengal cats or being mobbed by teenagers for selfies in the street – and the radical reality of her far-right, anti-immigration manifesto to keep France for the French. She has promised a referendum to change the constitution in order to curb the rights of immigrants and foreigners. She aims to prioritise natives over non-natives for housing, benefit jobs and healthcare. She would scrap nationality rights for children born and raised in France by foreign parents. Her success in reaching the runoff against Macron on Sunday is not just about her long-running drive to sanitise her party’s image and move it away from the jackbooted and antisemitic imagery of the past. That Le Pen is now closer to power than ever before is in part the result of her own rethink of political strategy. read the complete article

11 Apr 2022

Whoever Wins France’s Election, its Muslims Fear Islamophobia has Become Endemic

As the French election looms on the horizon, Muslims in France are less interested in who will become president, instead of turning their concerns to the systemic Islamophobia that envelops all candidates, underpinning the entire political system. The structural nature of anti-Muslim persecution in France has ensured that the outcomes for Muslim citizens remain grim and transcend the party politics of individual politicians. Over the last five years, the direction of state policy towards Muslim citizens has taken a more overtly antagonistic and hostile tone. Fresh out of his first election win in 2017, Emmanuel Macron wasted no time implementing policies aimed at problematising and policing the French Muslim minority. This policy based upon a method coined “systematic obstruction” represents a strategy of applying maximum pressure on Muslim civil society to make their daily work intolerably difficult and tighten the stranglehold on their outcomes. Though euphemistically named, “systematic obstruction” has had cataclysmic consequences for French Muslim citizens as services created and used by the community were effectively dissolved overnight. Over 718 mosques, Islamic schools and even Muslim-run businesses were closed, an administrative investigation of over 25,000 establishments began and a total of €46 million in funds were seized from an already economically-deprived minority. The policy not only continues to be silently implemented, but is willfully hidden from the sight of international observers. It can only be defined as state-led, anti-Muslim persecution, as evidenced in a report I authored for CAGE. The state created new semantics by advocating for a “French Islam”, a new religious structure subordinate to the government’s guidelines. Religious leaders are asked to sign an “Imam’s Charter”, which explicitly forbids Muslims from invoking their faith when expressing any kind of political dissent. Despite comprising only less than ten per cent of the population and under heavy surveillance, the narrative of Muslims as a dangerous and problematic community remains unabated. “Islamism” is perceived as a danger to the republic by more than three-quarters of the French population (77 per cent). While 51 per cent believe that the anti-separatism law, coupled with measures to close down mosques and Islamic associations, is likely to reduce the terrorist threat in France. More than half of French people (53 per cent) believe that the media and election candidates do not sufficiently address issues related to the fight against “Islamism”. This is a somewhat disturbing perspective when we consider the actual stance of the main presidential candidates. read the complete article

11 Apr 2022

France elections 2022: Macron condemns Marine Le Pen's proposed hijab ban as race tightens

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday condemned a proposal by far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen to ban the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in public, two days before the first round of the election. Le Pen, who has previously come under fire for her Islamophobic remarks, on Thursday called the hijab "an Islamist uniform" and compared a penalty for wearing the headscarf to a fine for not putting a seat belt on while travelling in a car. Macron told viewers of a live stream by French digital media outlet Brut that Le Pen's comment showed that her attempts to make her far-right National Front party more palatable to the public had simply been an act to win votes. "We had forgotten who she really was," Macron said. "Banning all religious symbols in public, that isn't laïcité," he said, referencing France's brand of state secularism. "If far-right candidate Marine Le Pen bans the veil, then according to our constitution she'll have to ban the kippah, she'll have to ban the crucifix." Instead, he said he hoped women would "let go of the veil themselves". read the complete article

11 Apr 2022

France faces bruising runoff after Macron and Le Pen top first-round vote

France faces a brutal two-week campaign over the country’s future, as the centrist incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, faces the far-right Marine Le Pen for the presidency, positioning himself as a pro-European “progressive” against what he calls her anti-Muslim, nationalist programme and “complacency” about Vladimir Putin. Macron topped Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election with 27.6% of the vote, ahead of Le Pen’s 23.4%, according to initial projected results by Ipsos for France Télévisions. He scored higher than his result in the first round five years ago, and clearly gained support in the final hours of the campaign after his harsh warnings to voters to hold back the far right and protect France’s place on the international diplomatic stage amid the war in Ukraine. But Le Pen’s score was also higher than five years ago. She had steadily gained support after campaigning hard on the cost of living crisis and inflation, which had become voters’ biggest concern. All major candidates, except for the far-right TV pundit Éric Zemmour, immediately called for French people to vote tactically to keep out Le Pen in the second round. read the complete article


11 Apr 2022

Hindutva group calls for boycott of cabs driven by Muslims in Karnataka

The Bharata Rakshana Vedike, a Hindutva group in Karnataka, on Friday asked Hindus not to employ cab services and transport operators run by Muslims, reported the Hindustan Times. Members of the Bharata Rakshana Vedike visited homes of several people to convince them to not avail of cab services offered by Muslim drivers. This comes as BJP leaders and Hindutva fringe groups in the state have called for the boycott of Muslim vendors, Halal meat, wearing of Hijab in education institutions, and banning the use of loudspeakers during Azaan prayers in the state. read the complete article

11 Apr 2022

Mahant Bajrang Muni Udasin, Who Repeatedly Called for Rape of Muslim Women, Is a Serial Offender

On April 2, 2022, Mahant Bajrang Muni Udasin, priest of the Badi Sangat Ashram in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district, threatened mass sexual violence against Muslim women in the presence of the police on the occasion of the Hindu new year. Son of a former sub-inspector in the Madhya Pradesh Police, Udasin was formerly called Anupam Mishra. He claims to have graduated with a BBA degree and worked for Jet Airways before deciding to “work for his religion”, Bhaskar had reported in 2017. The mahant is the chief priest of the Badi Sangat Udasin ashram in the Khairabad area. Sitapur Police released a statement that an FIR has been registered against Udasin under relevant sections and on the basis of available evidence, legal action is being ensured. “If you harass one Hindu woman, then I will openly abduct your sisters and daughters and rape them,” the mahant had threatened. “The people in the pigsty (referring to a Muslim neighbourhood) who collected Rs 28 lakh for my murder should know that neither you nor your pigsty will be spared,” Udasin said from inside his jeep, with the police standing nearby. He did not provide any evidence of this money apparently being collected to kill him. On the same day, addressing hundreds of supporters, Udasin also provoked the crowd and threatened “Mullas” (Muslims). He raised the slogan of “Jab Mulle kaate jayenge, Ram Ram chillaenge“, which was popularised by the Jamia shooter during a Hindu Mahapanchayat in Haryana and then at the Jantar Mantar event attended by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay. read the complete article

United Kingdom

11 Apr 2022

Preston man encouraged terrorism against Jews and Muslims

A neo-Nazi who encouraged far-right terrorism against Jews and Muslims has been sentenced to two years in a young offenders institution. Thomas Leech, 19, posted a "call to arms" and glorified far-right killers online. Manchester Crown Court heard that after being arrested by police, he told officers: "I am a Nazi." Leech, of Preston, pleaded guilty to encouraging acts of terrorism and stirring up religious or racial hatred. The court was told Leech believed conspiracy theories that Jewish people were planning the "Great Replacement" of the white race through extinction and the "Islamicisation" of Europe. read the complete article

11 Apr 2022

Meeting told Trojan Horse affair has 'left a scar' on Muslim communities in Birmingham

Birmingham’s Trojan Horse affair is 'not over for us', with its impact still reverberating through Muslim communities. That was the standout message at a panel discussion into the issue organised by city mosques. Around 100 Brummies, mostly Muslim, attended the event at the University of Birmingham as part of the ‘Under the Lens’ series of talks examining social issues, organised by mosques across the region. Despite the organisers’ best efforts, none of the city’s MPs or councillors accepted an invitation to take part. It meant there was not a single voice on the panel that offered an alternative take on the belief that the Trojan Horse affair was rooted in Islamophobia, nor were any questions put to them that challenged their narrative. But that gave panellists the opportunity to air their opinions in what had become by default a safe space - and what emerged were some heartbreaking and hard hitting observations. One young student told the panel he was worried about appearing to be overtly ‘Muslim’ at school for fear he would be referred to Prevent (the anti-terrorist organisation monitoring extremism). The Trojan Horse saga started when the letter was sent to Birmingham City Council in late 2013, purportedly sharing a five point plan to Islamify schools and impose extremist Muslim views on pupils. It triggered national investigations and Ofsted inspections of more than 20 city schools, with then Education Secretary Michael Gove and senior officials dismissing concerns the letter was bogus and launching a full scale probe. No plot was found, though investigations and inspections subsequently found evidence of proselytising, unequal treatment, segregation, misogyny and homophobia by some individuals and in some schools. Under the Lens panellist Dr Rehana Parveen, a lecturer in law, spoke of how she had seen her community in Alum Rock badly affected by the fallout from the affair. She said when she went to Park View school - at the centre of the probe - in the 1980s, she was one of few Muslim pupils, and found she kept her 'Muslimness' quiet at school. "School was not an environment that was pushing me to do anything," she said. Years later her nieces and nephews attended the new-style Park View under the academy regime overseen by then chair of governors Tahir Alam, and had a totally different, much more positive experience, she said. But as soon as the Trojan Horse letter appeared, things changed. People were "predisposed" to believe in words on a scrap of paper (the Trojan Horse letter), partly due to the way Muslims were habitually framed in the media in negative ways, particularly in connection with education. read the complete article


11 Apr 2022

Genocidal Friends: How Arab states chose China over the Uyghurs

This week on The New Arab Voice, we explore the growing trend of cooperation between Arab states and the Chinese government in the persecution of Uyghur Muslims. Why are Arab states cooperating with the Chinese government in the persecution of Uyghur Muslims? What form does this cooperation take? And what can be done to protect Uyghur Muslims? Featuring interview with Bradley Jardine (@Jardine_bradley), Research Director at the The Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs (@OxusSociety), and Uyghur activists and linguist Abduweli Ayup (@AbduwelA). read the complete article

11 Apr 2022

Why do some prominent leftists ignore the Uyghur genocide?

The Uyghur genocide is one of the most pressing humanitarian horrors of our time. The campaign to end it has seen politicians and advocates from a range of backgrounds join together, both in the UK and internationally. Yet, in this broad coalition, some of the most vocal people fighting against anti-Muslim hatred are missing. Most leftist discourse about the Uyghur genocide is largely dominated by arguments around western imperialism. As a result, other factors in the Chinese government’s onslaught are overlooked: namely its Islamophobia. That should motivate many more human rights advocates to fight for Uyghur rights. The Chinese government’s criminalisation of practicing Islam, both culturally and religiously, is widely known. Its campaign against the Uyghurs – a Turkic Muslim people native to the Uyghur region (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) – has also been widely reported. In China, growing a beard, owning a Quran, or praying can result in arrests and internment. Additionally, it is well noted that the west’s “War on Terror” was weaponised by the Chinese government to target “three evils”: “terrorism, separatism and religious extremism”. Sean Roberts, an expert on this area of research, stated that “the narrative of the GWOT [Global War on Terror] allowed the Chinese state to locate the source of Uyghurs’ failure to assimilate and their lack of loyalty to a trait within their culture: Islam.” But there is a failure by some prominent leftist anti-Islamophobia voices in Britain to acknowledge the undeniable connection between the Uyghur genocide and Islamophobia. I believe this is based on their extensive obsession with ideological purity. This leads them to accept and justify a form of Islamophobia similar to western policies they rightly condemn. read the complete article


11 Apr 2022

China harvested organs from prisoners, likely detained Uyghurs: report

Chinese doctors have harvested vital organs from living patients, causing their death, two researchers have claimed in a scientific paper published earlier this week. It was highly likely these organs were harvested from prisoners, the report said. The findings raised concerns about the fate of thousands of members of China's Muslim Uyghur minority, held in labour and "re-education" camps as part of a policy widely decried by human rights activists as "genocide". Mathew Robertson, a doctoral student in politics and international relations at the Australian National University in Canberra, and Prof. Jacob Lavee, who served as president of the Israeli Transplantation Society, analysed 2,800 scientific articles in Chinese dealing with heart and lung transplants. The researchers found evidence that in an alarmingly high number of cases, organs had been harvested from living persons. "In 71 papers, we found clear and unequivocal proof that brain death was not determined before the organ harvesting operation commenced,” Lavee told the Israeli daily Haaretz. This meant that the organ removal was "the proximate cause" of the patients' death. "It is clear that all the subjects undergoing surgery described in the papers had to be prisoners," Lavee added. "There was no alternative voluntary organ donor system during the time in question." China said in 2014 it would stop harvesting organs from detainees, years after officially admitting that executed prisoners provided at least two-thirds of organs used for transplantation in China. Lavee and Robertson found no evidence that organ harvesting on living patients had taken place since this date, which meant that either China had implemented reforms or that evidence of such practices was now better hidden. Human rights activists and foreign experts have alleged that tens of thousands of organs continued to be harvested each year from members of state-persecuted minorities in China and sold for transplant. read the complete article


11 Apr 2022

Advocates happy to see targeted money in federal budget to fight racism

Advocates for Black, Muslim and Asian Canadians say they're pleased to see steps taken in the federal budget to address systemic racism in Canada. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the Liberal government's budget on Thursday. The budget promises $85 million over four years to the Department of Heritage to launch a new anti-racism strategy and a "national action plan" on combating hate. "This funding will support community projects that ensure that Black and racialized Canadians, and religious minorities, have access to resources that support their full participation in the Canadian economy, while also raising awareness of issues related to racism and hate in Canada," the budget document reads. Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council for Canadian Muslims (NCCM), said his organization was happy to see a commitment to fighting Islamophobia with actual dollars behind it. "We've certainly been advocating on ensuring that the government isn't just talking about combating Islamophobia, but it's putting resources, it's challenging it," Farooq said. The budget promises $5.6 million over five years with $1.2 million ongoing support for a new special representative on combating Islamophobia, as well as $4 million to the Department of Canadian Heritage to help support the Muslims in Canada Archive. read the complete article

United States

11 Apr 2022

Trump Muslim ban effects still being felt, as refugee group petitions for separated Somali family

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is filing a lawsuit on behalf of a separated Somali family which it hopes will see them be reunited in the US. It is the second lawsuit of its kind in less than a month and the NGO says these cases reflect a legacy of the previous Trump administration's controversial Muslim ban. "It’s part of the same problem - the Muslim ban," Mariko Hirose, IRAP litigation director told The New Arab. "This administration really needs to take a close look at what the Trump administration did with the Muslim ban and make sure all the effects are repealed." The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Mohamuds, a Somali refugee family waiting to be reunited in the US. The NGO's open letter, signed by more than 75 partner organisations, calls on the Biden administration to do more to undo the legacy of the Muslim refugee ban. The Muslim ban, officially known as Executive Order 13769, effectively banned entry to the US from citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia, Iran, and Syria. Anisa Mohamud's mother and younger brother were on a flight to join her and her sister when the Trump administration issued the Muslim ban in October 2017. They were turned back during a layover. The Biden administration repealed the ban in January 2021, but the Mohamuds were rejected again and with no clear explanation why. According to a statement by IRAP, the lawsuit challenges that denial and the policies leading up to it saying they are unfair and discriminatory. read the complete article


11 Apr 2022

Australian man jailed for killing Muslim grandfather with wine bottle

Andrew Gosling had spotted an ethnic Malay Muslim family, who were living in the same apartment complex, and threw a wine bottle at the group. It hit the 73-year-old grandfather, killing him and injuring his wife. Gosling told the court he had acted in retaliation over the 2002 Islamic militant attacks in Bali, where many Australians died. The court said his crime was an "act of religious hostility" towards Muslims. He was convicted of causing death and grievous hurt by a rash act. "Such offences could seriously undermine Singapore's racial and religious harmony and must not be tolerated and must be firmly dealt with," said Judge Victor Yeo. Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-religious country of 5.5 million people, of which nearly 16% identify as Muslims. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Apr 2022 Edition


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