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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13 Apr 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, in an interview with BBC, Baroness Warsi described Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent remarks as “racist rhetoric,” and warned that it could put British Asian families at risk, meanwhile in Canada, after several attacks targeting mosques in Ontario, Special Representative Amira Elghawaby visited a mosque on Monday in Markham, saying afterwords on Twitter that these attacks are “not an isolated incident,” and in the U.S., the Muslim advocacy group CAIR released a report on Tuesday which revealed a 23% drop in reported civil rights complaints by American Muslims, but noted a 63% increase in complaints about school incidents. Our recommended read of the day is by Apoorvanand for Al Jazeera on how Narendra Modi’s BJP government is purposefully editing out periods of Muslim history from Indian textbooks in order to execute the party’s “Hindu-only” agenda. This and more below:


Why is Modi so scared of history textbooks? | Recommended Read

After nine years in power, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has finally defeated the long departed Mughal Empire and other Muslim rulers. It has quietly pushed them to the margins in school textbooks, where they had occupied significant territory for the past seven decades, recent revelations show. Several pages on the Mughal rulers and Delhi Sultanate have been deleted from the textbooks of different classes. The Mughals have not disappeared entirely, but students will no longer learn of the milestones and achievements of some of India’s most important rulers even though their legacy lives on in the architecture and cultural landscape of India. It’s shocking – how will students make sense of present-day India without understanding the role and contribution of Mughal and Muslim rulers? Yet these edits aren’t surprising. They are in keeping with the ideological agenda of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which seeks to portray India as a historically Hindu-only land. Any other presence, especially of Muslims, is to be seen as an intrusion and pollution – a distortion of the ideal original past that the BJP wants to persuade Indians was the reality. The marginalisation of Mughals and Muslims in textbooks mirrors what Muslims in Modi’s India are facing in real life. The recent textbook edits are part of a cultural genocide. read the complete article

BJP leader who called hijab wearing Muslim students “terrorists“ gets ticket from Udupi

The BJP leader who was at the forefront of hate campaign against Muslim students protesting to wear hijab to college premises in Karnataka, Yashpal Suvarna, has got the party ticket from the Udupi Assembly constituency. On Tuesday night, the party released its initial list and replaced incumbent BJP MLA Raghpathi Bhat with Suvarna, who will be making his debut in the upcoming election. The party members think that his involvement in the anti-hijab campaign, in his capacity as the Vice-President of the Development Committee of Udupi Government PU Girls’ College, further strengthened his “qualifications.” The Udupi Government PU Girls’ College is where Muslim students staged their demonstrations against the arbitrary hijab prohibition, and Suvarna was one of the most hardline advocates during the hijab campaign. He went so far as to label the six Muslim students who had taken legal action over the issue as “terrorists.” He maintains that he stands by his hate speech because those who do not abide by the country’s laws are deemed “anti-national.” “The girls have proved once again that they are not students but members of a terrorist organisation,” he said. He was the instigator who distributed saffron shawls to students to counter the girls who wanted to wear the hijab, which led to the outbreak of violence. read the complete article


Iqbal: Latest hateful attack reminds us that Islamophobia persists in Canadian society

Last week, there was a hate-motivated attack on a mosque in Markham, Ont. An individual drove at one of the worshippers in the parking lot and yelled racist slurs. This occurred during the holy month of Ramadan, when mosques are particularly full of worshippers. As an Imam of a mosque in Ottawa, I find this very disturbing and concerning. It is a stark reminder that Islamophobia is a persistent issue in our society and we all need to come together as Canadians to condemn such acts of hatred and take steps to counter them. Islamophobia can have a profound impact on the mental and emotional well-being of Muslims, causing fear, anxiety, and a sense of alienation. As Canadians, we have a responsibility to counter hatred against Muslims and promote a culture of respect, understanding and acceptance. We can do this together in a number of ways. read the complete article

Canadian Muslims on edge after attacks on mosques during Ramadan

Muslim communities across Canada are on edge after a series of attacks at mosques during Ramadan. Last week, a man entered a mosque in Markham, Ontario - a suburb of Toronto - and began to shout threats and racial slurs at worshippers as he tore apart a Quran. He then proceeded to exit the mosque, get in a vehicle and attempt to run over a worshipper, the Islamic Society of Markham said in a statement. York Regional Police have arrested Sharan Karunakaran, 28, and charged him with making threats, assault with a weapon and dangerous driving. Canada’s newly appointed special representative on combating Islamophobia visited the mosque on Monday and met members of the local community. “Sadly, the attack at the Markham mosque is not an isolated incident,” Amira Elghawaby said on twitter. “It comes after a number of recent hate-motivated attacks and leaves communities uneasy and fearful for their loved ones who frequent places of worship.” Days after the Markham incident, a man drove up to another mosque in Markham, blocked the entrance and shouted derogatory comments at worshippers.I n Montreal, police are investigating a possible hate crime after a man used a rock to break into Al-Omah Al-Islamiah mosque on Sunday. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Suella Braverman rhetoric fuels racism, claims Tory peer Published

Tory peer Baroness Warsi has warned that what she describes as Suella Braverman's "racist rhetoric" is putting British Asian families at risk. The peer, the UK's first South Asian cabinet minister, claimed the home secretary's comments on small boats and grooming gangs "emboldened racists". She told the BBC she feared a backlash against British Asians and had told her dad not to walk home from the mosque. Ahead of announcing plans for a new police taskforce to tackle grooming gangs, Ms Braverman said groups of "vulnerable white English girls" were being "pursued and raped and drugged and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men who've worked in child abuse networks". In a series of joint letters to the prime minister, a coalition of groups including senior medics and the British Pakistan Foundation called on Ms Braverman to withdraw her comments, which some labelled as "inflammatory and divisive". Baroness Warsi, who chaired the Conservative Party between 2010 and 2012, backed the letters, adding that the home secretary's comments had left vulnerable British Asians fearful of attacks. She said Ms Braverman "was tarnishing a whole community" by focusing on British Pakistanis, who were a "small subset" of perpetrators in a context of half a million children a year being sexually abused. "Ms Braverman basically said group sexual exploitation is a British Pakistani problem. At no point in those interviews did she say it was a small minority of British Pakistanis committing these crimes." A 2020 Home Office study found offenders in child grooming gangs "are most commonly white", based on data from just under half of all police forces. read the complete article

Conflating charity with extremism is a political mistake

According to the latest government review of the counter-terror policy “Prevent”, critics of the policy are simply “bad faith actors” who spread disinformation regarding Prevent procedures and aims. A thinly veiled threat is provided to critics of the Prevent policy when the author, William Shawcross, suggests that those “hostile” to Prevent are “Islamist groups and their sympathisers”. While the implicit assumption is that anyone who offers critique of Prevent may now be viewed as an “Islamist” or “sympathiser”, the latest report is unlikely to stop the numerous (legitimate) critiques of this arm of UK counter-terror project. At the risk of being labelled a “bad faith actor”, I argue that many of the varied criticisms of Prevent are justifiable to the extent that the entire strategy should be radically reformed or replaced. Since the events of 9/11 and the London Bombing of 7/7, the seemingly benign act of charity has been deemed a potential means through which nefarious organisations and “terrorists” can secure funds undercover. Previously published work has argued that Muslim charities in particular have come under scrutiny in an environment of Islamophobia and media conflation of anything “Muslim” with “terrorism”. It was under William Shawcross’s previous chairmanship of the Charity Commission of England and Wales, that the majority of investigations and surveillance of Muslim charities occurred. The government’s choice of Shawcross to review the Prevent programme led many stakeholders to believe the government was simply uninterested in a genuinely objective review. As a result, several important charities and organisations decided to boycott the review process. Thus, findings from the latest Prevent review should be taken with a “pinch of salt” in the absence of critical voices engaging with the review process. In a recently published article, I have argued that extending counter-terror policies into the remit of charity regulation is counter-productive and harmful to British civil society. This is not because I am an “Islamist sympathiser”, but simply that there is no evidence that in recent decades (post-9/11) that charities (Muslim or “other”) have been involved in terrorist financing. While numerous investigations were conducted by the Charity Commission, to my knowledge, no charity has been found to have financed a single violent political act. read the complete article

United States

Muslim group CAIR received 5,156 complaints in 2022, a 23% drop: Report

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a report Tuesday covering nationwide incidents of civil rights complaints by Muslim Americans in 2022 which revealed a 23% decrease. CAIR noted that it is also the first recorded decline since they started tracking such data in 1995. The complaints involved various forms of discrimination as well as incidents related to law enforcement, education and sports. They included airline discrimination, banking discrimination, bullying, denial of service, education discrimination, employment discrimination, FBI interrogation, hate crimes and law enforcement encounters. The report also noted that complaints about law enforcement and government overreach dropped by 38%. At the same time, complaints about school incidents increased by 63%. According to CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the data reveals both progress and "significant challenges" in the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination. "The massive 63% rise in school related-complaints and persistently high reports of employment discrimination, bias incidents and government abuses are deeply concerning," he said. read the complete article

Divided court leaves constitutional issue at Guantanamo unresolved

The United States may not be allowed to keep a man imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay after he is no longer deemed a threat, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in an opinion released Wednesday. But the court disappointed advocates for prisoners by leaving unresolved the question of what constitutional protections he and other prisoners at the military facility have. Instead, a divided court found that neither the two decades Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman Al-Hela has spent in detention nor the classified intelligence used to justify his detention violated due process as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, so it was unnecessary to say definitively whether he has that right. Al-Hela, a businessman and tribal sheik from Yemen, was first captured in Egypt in 2002 and held overseas before being brought to Guantánamo two years later. He has been contesting his detention in court since 2005. Without a ruling ordering his release, “Abdulsalam will continue to serve what amounts to a life sentence, as cruel in its own way as the horrific physical torture that he endured in the CIA’ s ‘dark prisons,’” his lawyers wrote in a court filing. They said in a statement Wednesday that they “are disappointed that the Court did not order our client’s release after the Government has held him for over 20 years without charge or trial.” read the complete article


PSG coach Galtier denies racism allegations at previous club

Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier vehemently denied accusations that he made racist and anti-Muslim comments when he was in charge of French league club Nice, adding Wednesday that he would take legal action. RMC Sport and other French media published reports quoting a leaked email from Nice’s former director of football Julien Fournier to the club’s owners, in which he accused Galtier of saying there were too many Black and Muslim players in the squad. In a statement released by his lawyer to French media, Galtier said he was “stunned to learn of the insulting and defamatory” report and said he would take unspecified legal actions. Meanwhile, a prominent group of PSG supporters called for Galtier’s departure if it can be proven that he made the alleged remarks. In the leaked email to Brailsford, Fournier allegedly said that Galtier complained in August 2021 that there were too many Black and Muslim players in the team, and that it did not reflect the ethnological profile of the city, which is located on the French Riviera. read the complete article


India and Twitter: Why western media gives Modi a pass and piles on Musk

The Modi Question, a two-part series, examined Modi's ascent to power, his longtime association with the Hindu right-wing in India, and the accusations of his complicity in anti-Muslim pogroms during his time as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002. Within hours of the first episode's airing, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government described the film as "propaganda", and blocked it from being screened in India. Delhi would go on to impose emergency laws to halt public screenings of the film. Naturally, much of the international media's attention diverted from the findings of the documentary to the intense censorship campaign by the Indian government. And when it became clear that Elon Musk's Twitter had also succumbed to Indian government demands to take down tweets and block content featuring the documentary on Twitter, western publications went into a frenzy. The Musk angle seemed like a smart way to "introduce" the story to American audiences presumably disinterested in "foreign" affairs. Even if they bothered to mention that Musk was neither the first nor the only one to have cooperated with Modi in silencing his critics, the singular focus on him was misleading. No one, besides his supporters, had believed he would protect free speech. In other words, that Musk had not lived up to his promise was not actually the news it was made out to be. And the media made no attempt to move the story beyond him. This angle distracted from the systematic erasure of Modi's victims that lie at the heart of the documentary Delhi had silenced in favor of embarrassing the tech giant at the center of a culture war. In truth, the Modi government had scored a lowkey PR coup. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Apr 2023 Edition


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