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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11 Apr 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, the Islamic community in Markham remains in distress after an alleged hate-motivated attack at a mosque last week, where an individual entered the mosque, made Islamophobic comments, and desecrated a copy of the Quran while worshipers were in the midst of morning prayer, meanwhile in the U.S., the Islamic Center of Southern California was also targeted in a vandalism attack as cameras caught a man writing hateful words on the side of building, and in the UK, Conservative minister Mark Spencer will not be held accountable for alleged comments made about fellow party member MP Nusrat Ghani’s faith, according to a new statement by the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus. Our recommended read of the day is by Suhasini Raj for The New York Times on the new “upgraded” textbooks for schoolchildren in India, where certain details of Indian history have been expunged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s education minister in order to better reflect his party’s vision of a Hindu nationalist future. This and more below:


New Indian Textbooks Purged of Muslim History and Hindu Extremism | Recommended Read

When Indian children began the school year this week, students in thousands of classrooms were issued new textbooks on history and politics that either watered down or purged key details from India’s past that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party finds inconvenient to its Hindu nationalist vision for the country. The changes took aim at references to the links between Hindu extremism and the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi; the secular foundation of post-colonial India; and the 2002 riots in Gujarat, where hundreds of Muslims were killed in days of indiscriminate retaliatory violence at a time when Mr. Modi was the state’s top leader. Chapters on Mughal history, covering hundreds of years of Muslim rule, were either slashed or removed. The alterations, which had been under discussion since last year before being formalized in the newly printed curriculum, follow other efforts by Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., to erase prominent Muslim marks on India’s history and politics, including the frequent changing of street and city names from Muslim to Hindu. The governing party’s leaders have also tried to minimize the founding fathers’ arguments for why India’s diversity could survive only under a secular umbrella, co-opting the legacy of many secular leaders as they push to remake India into a Hindu-first nation. read the complete article

India town mourns burning of historic library at Muslim school

The school in the town’s Murarpur neighbourhood, established over a century ago, was attacked by a mob on March 31 during Ram Navami, a Hindu festival that, according to rights groups, saw a large number of processions pass through mainly Muslim neighbourhoods across India, with people carrying weapons, chanting provocative slogans and even attacking shops, homes and religious structures. Residents said a mob of about 1,000 men – armed with sticks and petrol bombs – barged into the school and set it on fire, destroying its library that housed nearly 5,000 books, including precious manuscripts and historical documents. Mohan Bahadur, the school’s security guard, told Al Jazeera the mob was shouting “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram), a religious slogan that has become a rallying cry for Hindu right-wing groups against its minorities, mainly Muslims and Christians. “They [rioters] had tried to destroy everything. I cried when I saw that thousands of books had turned to ash. I can’t believe they did this and I had never thought this could ever happen here,” he told Al Jazeera. Among the books the school’s library had were copies of the Quran, books on Hadith, and handwritten Islamic books dating to more than 100 years. “All those books are now gone,” said Qasmi. read the complete article

India’s Taj Mahal Has Disappeared. Thanks to Modi’s anti-Muslim Mania

The Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world. The stunning symmetrical mausoleum, a symbol of love and longing, is a shorthand for India, part of the iconographic identikit that forms the complex essence of being Indian. But according to the new school textbooks issued by the Modi government, the heartbroken emperor who commissioned it never existed. This soaring symbol of India, unmoored, floats outside of history. Modi has run a blue pencil through the history that will be taught to school children across India by ordering sweeping but stealthy changes to mandatory social science textbooks published by the National Council of Educational Research & Training textbooks for years 6 to 12. These are the most fundamental changes to how India's history is taught to Indian schoolchildren since the Modi government came to power in 2014. And it is a barbaric expurgation. The Mughals ruled India for 300 years (1526-1761) but they have now been formally 'disappeared' from the curriculum because their period of Muslim rule makes the far-right Hindu nationalists in power uncomfortable. If the Mughals, from Babur to Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, didn’t exist. read the complete article

Spike in anti-Muslim rallies since BJP retook India’s Maharashtra

On March 30, nearly 5,000 people poured into the streets of north Mumbai to participate in a procession celebrating the Hindu festival of Ram Navami, which marks the birth of the god, Ram. For about three hours, the procession passed through Muslim neighbourhoods, blaring incendiary songs of Hindu supremacy, waving saffron flags and provocatively chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram, the Hindu right wing’s war cry). An elderly Muslim security guard, watching the procession pass through Malad, said he had not seen such a display of supremacy in years. He was among the many Muslims Al Jazeera spoke to who did not want to reveal their identities for fear of a backlash. “You don’t have to belittle or disrespect other religions while celebrating your festival,” he said. “It is particularly humiliating to witness it during the month of Ramadan. The music gets louder and people get aggressive, especially while passing by a mosque or through a Muslim area. It is provocative.” And that is exactly what happened a couple of hours later. The procession slowed down and the volume of the speakers was increased as it reached a mosque where Muslims were offering their evening prayers. The procession was organised by two far-right Hindu groups – Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). But the nature of the procession was in the same vein as several rallies held in the past six months across the state of Maharashtra, home to nearly 13 million Muslims or 11.5 percent of its population. read the complete article


Why the UAE is stoking European Islamophobia

Humza Yousaf has waded through more than his fair share of racist abuse to become the first Muslim and person of Asian descent to take the top executive role in the Scottish government, and lead a major party in the UK. More than most Muslims, Yousaf has been the target of threats. He had to think hard about the impact that running as one of three candidates for the post of first minister would have on his family. “It’s one of the long conversations, the hard conversations, that I had with the family who know about the racial and Islamophobic abuse that I get. Ultimately you don’t really worry about yourself too much - you worry about your kids,” Yousaf told The Scotsman. Yousaf and fellow Muslim Anas Sarwar, who heads the Scottish Labour Party, have both battled discrimination and Islamophobia, which are intrinsic to life in the West. These are domestic forces. Yet, there is one powerful foreign agenda at play, which has a completely different motive for stoking Islamophobia in Europe and the US. This campaign has been running for a decade and was launched in response to the Arab Spring, when all Gulf autocrats felt the danger of events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and for a brief period, Syria. Its ideologues have swayed government policy, not least in Britain, Germany, Austria and France. Its trolls have destroyed reputations. Its smears have corrupted World-Check, highly secret data the banks use for compliance. Legitimate businesses have been bankrupted. This campaign is funded by a government with bottomless pockets. And what’s worse, the brains behind it is a Muslim. He is now the president of United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed. read the complete article

UAE investment in Indian-administered Kashmir a 'complete betrayal'

News of the Emirati property company Emaar investing in Indian-administered Kashmir has been branded a "complete betrayal" by activists and Kashmiris in the region and abroad. Many believe Kashmir is set to meet a fate similar to Palestine's, with some Arab and Islamic countries withdrawing their support for the Muslim population's cause in order to build better economic and diplomatic relations with India. In March, Emaar's chief executive in India revealed plans to build a shopping mall and an office complex in Srinagar, capital of the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir region. Amit Jain said that the investment worth $60m would generate around 7,000 to 8,000 jobs. Speaking on behalf of the Indian government, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the announcement marked a "historic day" for Kashmir and that "business leaders from the UAE have been invited to invest in J&K and become 'partners'". Kashmiri rights campaigner Ershad Mehmood, executive director at the Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms, based in Islamabad, told Middle East Eye: "I am in absolute shock. This is a complete betrayal of the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir and their struggle. "They shouldn't have done this. This completely strengthens India's stance, it recognises Kashmir as Indian territory and completely whitewashes our struggle," he said. "The UAE has just sent a message to the people of Kashmir that it doesn't care about their rights and aspirations." read the complete article

United States

Americans, beware what belies the smile of Ron DeSantis

In 2021, just as my memoir – Don’t Forget Us Here, Lost and Found at Guantanamo – was about to be published, I was on Twitter and saw a photo of a handsome man in a white navy uniform. It was Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. It was a face I could never forget. I had seen that face for the first time in Guantanamo, in 2006 – one of the camp’s darkest years when the authorities started violently breaking hunger strikes and three of my brothers were found dead in their cages. I sent his photo to a group chat of former detainees. Several replied that they too remembered his face from Guantanamo. Some said seeing his face again triggered painful memories of the trauma they suffered during their imprisonment. I understood. Even after spending the previous few years working on my memoir, which meant reliving everything I had been through at Guantanamo, seeing his face again triggered a lot of pain in me too. When I first saw DeSantis, I was on a hunger strike. One day, as we continued our strike with the hope that change is just around the corner, a naval judge advocate general (JAG), whom I later learned to be DeSantis, walked the blocks with other new arrivals. He stopped and talked to us, explaining that his job was to ensure that the camp was abiding by the Geneva Conventions and that we were being treated humanely. They poured can after can in the feeder bag until my stomach and throat were so full that Ensure poured back out of my mouth and nose. I thought I was going to drown. “If you throw up,” a corpsman said, “we’ll start from the beginning with a new case and fill you up again.” As I tried to break free, I noticed DeSantis’s handsome face among the crowd at the other side of the chain link. He was watching me struggle. He was smiling and laughing with other officers as I screamed in pain. read the complete article

Community rallies behind teen asked to remove hijab to work at restaurant

Zaakiyaah Kamper, 16, is a proud Muslim who wears her headscarf, or hijab, as a sign of her faith. But she says she was told to take off her hijab in order to work. "Her first day she wore it. She showed up for training, she wore it. Then they told my sister she couldn't wear it when she came back, but she wore it anyway," said the teen's aunt, Tameka Beverly. "In no way should anybody be discriminated against and made to feel less and pushed into a corner where they have to remove their hijab." Beverly says her niece was hired as a waitress at Michael's Family Restaurant in Glenside. This is also where the teen's mother works. read the complete article

Man Seen on Camera Sought in Hate Crime Investigation at Islamic Center in Koreatown

A hate crime investigation is happening in Koreatown after hateful words were written outside of the Islamic Center of Southern California Easter Sunday. Surveillance video outside of the center shows a man walking up the to building and beginning to write anti-Islamic hate words in permanent marker. According to the LAPD, the incident took place around 12:40 a.m. on Vermont Street in Koreatown. The ICSC is one of the region's largest and most popular mosques. It has several cameras on the outside of the building and police are hoping that the footage of the man will help them in their investigation. The Muslim community is currently celebrating the time of Ramadan that is a time of fasting, prayer, community and reflection. "We call on all members of the community to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters during this difficult time. Let us come together to support one another and condemn this senseless act of hate," said the ICSC in a statement. read the complete article


‘We could have been at a funeral today’: Markham mosque updates on alleged hate-motivated attack

The Islamic community in Markham remains in distress after an alleged hate-motivated attack at a mosque last week. Now the community is pleading with the government to bolster its actions against a rising tide of Islamophobia. At the time of dawn prayer, a man who is not believed to be a follower of the Muslim faith, allegedly stormed the mosque in Markham. Khan said the individual uttered Islamophobic remarks, including slurs against the prophet and about terrorism, and threatened to burn down the mosque. The suspect allegedly tore a copy of the Quran in front of worshippers and attempted to “run over strike” them in the mosque’s parking lot with their vehicle before fleeing. “It was shocking. It could have resulted in serious injury or, God forbid, even fatalities,” Khan said. “Make no mistake; we could have been at a funeral today.” read the complete article

Quebec Muslim associations denounce government ban on prayer rooms in schools

A group representing Muslim associations in Quebec wants the provincial government to rescind a directive prohibiting the presence of prayer spaces in elementary and high schools. On Wednesday, Education Minister Bernard Drainville banned school service centres from transforming classrooms into places of prayer. In a joint statement issued Thursday evening, representatives from several mosques with the Table de concertation des organismes musulmans (TCOM) expressed their shock and indignation at the decision. The TCOM points out that the move comes in the middle of Ramadan, which runs from March 23 to April 23 this year. "It brings up a lot of emotions in our community," said the president of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, Mohamed Labidi. He also criticizes the provincial government for having announced this directive without consulting the organizations representing the Muslim community. The education minister's office declined Radio-Canada's request for comment about the statement on Friday. "School is not a place of prayer. A person or a group should not be able to use a classroom as a prayer room," said Drainville earlier this week. "It's just not compatible with the principle of secularism, with the law on state secularism." Unable to prohibit prayer at school, the minister is asking the students to do so silently. read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK: How Braverman's comments on 'grooming gangs' will fuel Islamophobia

If there’s anything I’ve learned from recent comments by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, it’s that Muslim men experience a particularly pernicious strain of gendered Islamophobia too - one that portrays them as predators or terrorists, or a drain on the system. And it’s no coincidence that these stereotypes form the perfect scapegoat for a government looking to shift criticism away from its own successive policy failings. Appearing on Sky News over the weekend, Braverman described grooming gangs as “overwhelmingly” consisting of “British Pakistani males”, and their victims as “white English girls”. Ignoring the legacy of heinous abuse enacted by high-profile individuals such as Jimmy Savile and figures within the Catholic church, Braverman instead repeated far-right notions of brown men as predatory and dangerous - notions that have haunted migrant communities for decades. It is politically expedient for a government that relies on rightwing votes and sits upon years of successive failings to create a scapegoat out of Pakistani (read: Muslim) men. The truth is irrelevant in the quest to sow discord and to ensure the public is distracted from what more than a decade of austerity and hostile politics has done to the most vulnerable in our society. There is overwhelming evidence from the Home Office itself that “group-based child sexual exploitation offenders are most commonly white”, Braverman has doubled down on the notion that men with brown skin are the primary threat. It is ironic that the home secretary, who presides over a police force found just last month to be institutionally racist and riddled with sexual offenders, insists that British Pakistani men “hold cultural values totally at odds with British values”. read the complete article

No action against Tory minister over Islamophobia claims, Rishi Sunak says

A Conservative minister will face no further action over accusations of Islamophobia, Rishi Sunak has announced. The prime minister’s ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus said it was not possible to determine whether Mark Spencer made comments about Tory MP Nusrat Ghani's faith during a 2020 government reshuffle. Last year Tory MP Nusrat Ghani said that when she lost her job as a transport minister she had been told that her “Muslimness” had been raised as a problem. She accused Boris Johnson’s Downing Street of holding her to a “higher threshold of loyalty than others because of my background and faith”. Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, described the prime minister’s approach as “toothless”. "It's taken three years for a broken system to reach this unsatisfactory conclusion. "After all the denials, Mark Spencer was found to have misled the former prime minister and the public but still considered fit to be a minister by Rishi Sunak. "Today's report is damning for the Conservative Party. Even now, they have still not come up with or adopted a definition of Islamophobia after their own whitewash investigation into institutional Islamophobia failed to consult a single Muslim member. read the complete article


An eyewitness reveals how China is brainwashing the Uyghurs

Much of what the world knows about the catastrophe befalling the Uyghur people, a Turkic Muslim ethnic minority in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, comes from satellite imagery and leaked government police files. Over the past five years, they revealed that China has forced more than 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities into camps to destroy their national identity, language and religion, and to brainwash them into being loyal subjects of the Communist Party of China. Now, there is a profoundly intimate and chilling first-person account from Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur woman who survived more than two years in the camps. In a 2022 memoir written with Rozenn Morgat, “How I Survived a Chinese ‘Reeducation’ Camp,” she depicts a cultural genocide in progress. “China wants to make us disappear, and make us afraid, and make us obey,” she told us last week in an interview while in Washington, where she also testified before Congress. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 11 Apr 2023 Edition


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