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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15 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, several Muslim homes and shops are being torn down in Madhya Pradesh in the aftermath of communal violence which broke out on 10 April, the day of the Hindu festival of Ram Navami, meanwhile in France, for “Macron to defeat Le Pen next week, he needs to enthuse Mélenchon’s supporters to vote for him. But many of those people are the very Muslims he’s spent the last few years vilifying,” and in Canada, nearly a month after a man stormed a mosque attacking worshippers with bear spray, congregants are describing nightmares, alongside feelings of fear and violation. Our recommended read of the day is by Azad Essa for Middle East Eye who warns that “a larger project of ethnic cleansing is underway in India. As per the logic of the Hindutva – the ideology that underpins the Hindu nationalist movement – Muslims will have to convert or perish.” This and more below:


15 Apr 2022

For Indian Muslims the end times have arrived | Recommended Read

The police, as ever, watching calmly among the crowd, eventually closed in. They arrested Muslim residents and a select few of the visiting provocateurs. Before long, videos began to circulate suggesting that Muslims attacked peaceful Hindus as they celebrated the birth of their deity, Ram. They were naturally blamed for the 'violence'. On cue, international media described the incidents as 'clashes' between Hindus and Muslims. Meanwhile, Hindu neighbours are instructed to boycott Muslim shops. Under the guise of celebrating the birth of the deity Ram, known as Ram Navami, thousands of Hindu nationalists and supremacists, some carrying sticks and swords, have been visiting Muslim neighbourhoods spouting messages of hate and daring Muslims to stand up for themselves. If the stand-off results in any type of scuffle, the state has acted with stupendous brutality. In the district of Khargone in Madya Pradhesh, India's second-largest, at least 16 houses and 29 shops were demolished, a majority of which were Muslim-owned, following a similar act of provocation on 10 April. Indian authorities argued that the demolished structures were illegal. But, as Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party (AIMIM), inferred at a press conference, even if the houses were illegal, there was still a due process to be followed. This, Owaisi said, was an act of collective punishment. Muslims have lived on the periphery of political and economic life for decades in India. But since Narendra Modi took over in 2014, Muslims have become a scapegoat for all of India’s ills. Muslim men have been attacked and accused of courting Hindu women for the purposes of conversion ('Love Jihad'). Others, including Dalits, have been lynched on the streets by cow vigilante groups. In 2020, an obvious attempt to dehumanise the community saw Muslims accused of spreading the coronavirus, or taking part in a "corona Jihad" as it was called. But even by the horrific standards of the past eight years, the past six months have been arguably unprecedented. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

India: Authorities must stop apparent unlawful demolitions of largely Muslim-owned property

Responding to reports of demolition of largely Muslim-owned shops and houses following incidents of communal violence during Ram Navami celebrations in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district, Aakar Patel, Chair of Amnesty International India’s board, said: “Over the last few days, the country has witnessed some deeply disturbing events related to anti-Muslim attacks and hate speech. On top of it, the authorities’ unlawful action of demolishing private property of people suspected of rioting, allegedly without notice or other due process requirements is a major blow to the rule of law. The majority of the demolished properties are owned by Muslims. Such punitive demolition of family homes of suspects could also amount to collective punishment, in violation of International Human Rights Law. “The authorities must urgently carry out a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the demolitions and ensure that those responsible for fanning violence and vandalism are brought to justice through fair trials. Victims must be provided with effective remedy. It is the duty of the state to protect all people within its jurisdiction, including minority communities.” read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

Madhya Pradesh: Why an Indian state is demolishing Muslim homes

A soft-drink seller in India's Madhya Pradesh state, Mr Rafiq and his sons had had a long night. "It's Ramadan, so our business usually picks up later in the evening," he said. So when the police first arrived at their doorstep on Monday morning, they were all asleep. "But when we heard a loud bang, we realised that someone was breaking the shutters of the gate," he said. Outside, hundreds of officers backed with bulldozers had surrounded his house - located in a small Muslim neighbourhood in Khargone city - fending off anyone who tried to stop them. By the time they were finished, all that was left was rubble, he said. "We were so frightened that we did not utter a word - just watched in silence as they took apart everything." Several Muslim homes and shops are being torn down in Madhya Pradesh in the aftermath of communal violence which broke out on 10 April, the day of the Hindu festival of Ram Navami. Social media is flooded with distressing images of big yellow bulldozers ploughing into neighbourhoods, as weeping families stare helplessly. This has sparked outrage, with critics calling it a thinly veiled attempt to marginalise India's 200 million Muslims by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP party, which is also in power in Madhya Pradesh. The state government has openly put the blame on them: "If Muslims carry out such attacks, then they should not expect justice," Home Minister Narottam Mishra told NDTV news channel. read the complete article


15 Apr 2022

The French culture war over Islam shows no sign of abating

Le Pen’s surge was in part due to her ability to focus on the cost of living and repaint herself as a moderate nationalist. But anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic attitudes, often wrapped up as a defence of “French culture”, remain a bulwark of her appeal. Le Pen’s popularity demonstrates that divisive rhetoric holds political currency in France. Yet it is no longer solely the preserve of the far right. This year’s presidential election saw candidates from across the political spectrum attempt to outdo each other as defenders of “laïcité” (separation of church and state). At one point in 2021, Macron’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin even accused Le Pen of going “soft” on Islam. France’s obsession with Islam is based on the concept that the state is secular in nature. Yet every political statement or government policy that seeks to protect laïcité and regulate Islam contradictorily entangles state and religion ever closer. Not only does this undermine any true division between religious and political spheres, but hinders genuine political dialogue over France’s rich cultural and religious tapestry. While Macron’s efforts to curb religious “extremism” may seem rational, they also evoke an uncomfortable truth as to who truly counts as fully French and what can be considered a proper interpretation of French society. As Reza Zia-Ebrahimi writes, laïcité is not a fixed set of values, and its lurch towards a right-wing anti-Islamism has occurred incrementally over several decades. Yet it is law-abiding Muslims that have often felt the real-life consequences. The recent anti-separatism bill against Islamist “extremism” gives French authorities greater power to intervene in religious associations and limits foreign funding. Over the past year, there have been a number of cases where French authorities have used administrative procedures to close down mosques, schools, Muslim food stands and even a leading anti-discrimination group, the Collective Against Islamophobia in France. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

Macron, Le Pen or abstain: In Paris suburbs, voters face devil’s choice as French election looms

For Aliti Faya, it’s as if time has stood still for two decades. It was 2002 when he and other young left-leaning French voters in the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis were faced with a tough choice: save the republic by choosing conservative standard-bearer Jacques Chirac, or allow far-right extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen to become president of France. Then, five years ago, came yet another devil’s choice: the far-right maverick’s daughter and political heir, Marine Le Pen, against the centrist newcomer Emmanuel Macron. And now, yet again, voters face a rematch on 24 April between the two candidates, Ms Le Pen and Mr Macron, both of whom Mr Faya despises. “It’s not the first time we face this situation,” Mr Faya said. “It’s the third time. Some people went to vote for Macron thinking something is going to change. But nothing changed with Macron.” The path to Mr Macron’s victory over Ms Le Pen in the 24 April presidential runoff courses through the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis and other banlieues like it. Here, during the 10 April first-round of the presidential elections, about 70 per cent of voters in the mostly poor, largely Muslim and African stretch of the banlieue turned up to the polls to vote, overwhelmingly for the leftwing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon. Those voters, who tend to be younger and more ethnically diverse, are now up for grabs. But while they came out in droves on 10 April, many now voice despair, resentment and anger bordering on rage at Mr Macron. Indeed, in the past couple of years of his presidency, Mr Macron has veered to the right, advocating harsh policing and anti-Muslim policies that targeted France’s largest religious minority. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

Macron struggles to mobilise France’s Muslim voters after five years attacking them

Two years ago, Chehneze and her family packed up their home in Rueil-Malmaison, a western suburb of Paris, and moved to Birmingham. “I felt like I needed a break from France,” the primary school teacher tells openDemocracy. On one occasion, she says, “I was walking in the street, an old man was like: ‘You should go back to your country.’ I was born and raised in Paris. Even my parents were born in Paris.” Another time, “there was a woman who did the Christian prayer because she was scared of me”. But it wasn’t only racism from ordinary people that pushed her out: it was the messages from the very top. “You don’t feel welcome in your own country,” she says. Because she wears a hijab, “I could not work with mainstream schools, I couldn’t work in private schools, some companies wouldn’t take you – you have to work harder to show that, ‘even though’ you’re Muslim, you would do the work. “They want us to work with society, but they want us to erase that we’re Muslims. In the 2017 election, she voted for Macron against the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round. This time, Le Pen has promised to ban headscarves altogether, imposing fines on people wearing them, and to introduce a new law banning “Islamist ideologies”. But Chehneze, who travelled back to Paris for the first round of the poll on Sunday, is so furious with Macron’s betrayal that she’s not sure if she’ll bother to vote for him this time ~ even up against Le Pen. “It’s like choosing between the plague and cholera,” she said. Fatiha Bouchelaghem is an engineering lecturer living in Paris’s 20th arrondissement. “Macron is one of the people responsible for the way that the conversation about Islam has taken a really wrong turn in this country,” she said. “He whipped up Islamophobia a lot. He’s talking all the time about Isamist seperatism. When you listen to him, he’s not talking about terrorism or extemism – he’s talking about all Muslims.” For Macron to defeat Le Pen next week, he needs to enthuse Mélenchon’s supporters to vote for him. But many of those people are the very Muslims he’s spent the last few years vilifying, so it’s no wonder polls show many won’t bother. If France falls to the far Right, Macron will only have himself – and his flirtations with racism – to blame. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

In France's election, a meaty issue unites Jews and Muslims

As she cooks lunch and talks politics, Jewish voter Sarah Gutmann has a nasty feeling — of would-be French president Marine Le Pen invading the privacy of her home, reaching directly into her life and the plates of chicken and kosher sausages that she is frying for her husband and their eldest son. That's because the far-right candidate wants to outlaw ritual slaughter if elected next Sunday. And that could directly impact how Gutmann feeds her family and exercises her religious freedom. She and her husband, Benjamin, say they would have to think about leaving France if a far-right government interfered with observant Jews' kosher diets. Their fear is that under Le Pen, targeting ritually slaughtered meats could be just the start of steps to make French Jews and Muslims feel unwelcome. “Attacking the way we eat impinges on our privacy and that is very serious," Gutmann said as she busied herself in the kitchen of their Paris home. “The intention is to target minority populations that bother her and send a message to voters who are against these minorities: ’Vote for me, because I will attack them and perhaps, with time, make them leave.'" Muslim shopper Hayat Ettabet said her family might be forced to illegally slaughter at home to stay within their religious rules, bleeding out animals “in the bathroom, back to the way it was.” With the largest populations of Muslims and Jews in western Europe, the issue has major potential repercussions for France and could hit communities elsewhere that buy French meat exports. read the complete article


15 Apr 2022

Muslim charity seeks court shutdown of federal audit, alleging systemic Islamophobia

Canada’s largest grassroots Muslim organization is asking a court to halt a federal audit of its activities as a registered charity, alleging the probe is discriminatory and violates its charter rights. The Muslim Association of Canada is filing a notice of application in Ontario Superior Court in a bid to shut down the Canada Revenue Agency process initiated seven years ago. The association, which promotes community service, education and youth empowerment, says over 150,000 Canadians use its mosques, schools and community centres each year. The association claims in the court filing that since the revenue agency audit began in 2015, it has been “tainted throughout by systemic bias and Islamophobia.” The association says in a news release that although no decision has been made, the resulting audit report, which has not been made public, threatens the charity “with extreme sanctions that are completely unjustified by the findings” of the revenue agency. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

Mississauga mosque community calls for faster government response after attack

It has been almost a month since worshippers at a mosque in Mississauga, Ont., were attacked with bear spray in what authorities believe was a "hate-motivated incident" — and fear still resonates inside the building's walls. Its doors are now locked as soon as prayers begin, when they used to stay open for anyone arriving late. Congregants are describing nightmares, alongside feelings of fear and violation, Imam Ibrahim Hindy told reporters at a news conference at the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre Thursday. "It's been a few weeks, and they're still struggling," he said. Compounding those struggles, Hindy said, is the slow speed of government support — at a provincial level through the proposed Our London Family Act, and federally through Public Safety Canada's Security Infrastructure Program. The provincial act includes several measures to combat racism and discrimination in the wake of a fatal truck attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., in 2021, while the federal program provides funds for security equipment and hardware upgrades to help communities hit by hate crimes. The provincial bill was introduced in the legislature earlier this year and passed first reading, but has since stalled at the standing committee. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

Refugee couple say false accusation and systemic racism tore their family apart

When the couple "playfully" embraced in the shampoo aisle with Mohammed, going in for a hug, "that happy day turned into a nightmare in a few seconds," said Mohammed. He said a bystander approached the couple and accused him of choking his wife. The bystander walked away and spoke with store staff who called Waterloo regional police. CBC has chosen not to publish Mohammed's last name, an asylum seeker from Yemen, out of concern for the physical safety, privacy and future prospects of extended family members living in Canada. His wife, Al-Nehmi, doesn't have extended or immediate family living in Canada. Al-Nehmi, who does not drive or speak English, was left alone with her child in the Walmart parking lot until a community member found her and called the Coalition of Muslim Women Kitchener-Waterloo for help. The couple says it wasn't until five days later that police spoke with Al-Nehmi. She told officers she was not assaulted and was smiling at the time, which the bystander couldn't see because she wore a veil that covered part of her face, court documents reveal. Al-Nehmi said she went back to police and the Crown prosecutor several times to share her side of the story, but it didn't make a difference. "I felt that I was totally ignored," she said in a statement. "Part of me feels what happened to me is because of negligence. Part of me also feels that I was treated unfairly because of my identity as a Muslim woman and the way I dress. People assumed they could ignore me," she added. Mohammed said a court order prevented him from seeing his family for about six months and felt he had no choice but to accept a peace bond in January. The assault charge was withdrawn the same day. "I just wanted this to be over," he said. "No one believed me. No one believed my wife. We feel ignored. We feel wronged," he said. read the complete article


15 Apr 2022

China’s Transnational Repression Gets Saudi Backing

While the world’s attention is focused on the devastating war in Ukraine, Saudi Arabia is about to quietly deport a 13-year-old Uyghur child and her mother—along with two other Uyghurs—to China, where they will almost certainly be imprisoned and tortured. This attempted refoulement is not just evil — it’s illegal. Given the incontrovertible evidence of crimes against humanity in China’s Xinjiang region, Saudi Arabia must not deport these individuals. U.N. special rapporteurs have also warned the Saudi government against the extraditions, but it appears ready to ignore the world’s foremost human rights authority. Not only would the deportation aid and abet crimes against humanity, but it would also violate the Islamic principle of migration, or hijrah, which obliges Muslims to offer protection to those seeking refuge and asylum. This crime is even more flagrant considering that the Uyghurs were imprisoned just outside Mecca at the beginning of Ramadan. The stewards of Mecca have violated the sanctity of Islam’s holiest place during its holiest month with this violence, but it is not too late to make things right for these four innocent people. This worrying development, while shocking, fits well within a now-familiar pattern from two of the world’s worst perpetrators of transnational repression. China has been singled out by Freedom House as being particularly guilty of this tactic, while Saudi Arabia remains infamous for its extraterritorial murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. These cases are strong indicators of the growing trend of authoritarian governments’ reach beyond their borders. Despite its status as an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has increasingly strong ties with its fellow authoritarian state in Beijing. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

Saudi Arabia halts deportation of four Uyghurs, including 13-year-old

Plans to deport four Uyghurs, including a 13-year-old girl, from Saudi Arabia to China were aborted on Wednesday, according to Amnesty International. Alkan Akad, a China researcher for Amnesty, told The New Arab that the deportation “didn’t go through”, but stressed that the four individuals still remain at “high risk”. The rights group is not sure why the extradition was halted at the last minute. Aimidoula Waili and Nuermaimaiti Ruze, two men detained since November 2020; Buheliqiemu Abula, the former wife of Nuermaimaiti; and the 13-year-old girl “will almost certainly face arbitrary detention and persecution” if they are sent back to China, said Akad. The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress expressed similar concerns. “This is an unconscionable violation of Saudi Arabia’s obligations under international law,” Akad said. The kingdom “needs to stop all the deportations” and be “reminded of their international obligations,” he added. Waili and Ruze, who have residency in Turkey, travelled to Saudi Arabia for a religious pilgrimage. They have been detained for almost 17 months without charge. Recently, the mother and daughter were detained. Amnesty released a statement on Wednesday warning they were told to prepare to board a flight bound to Guangzhou. read the complete article

15 Apr 2022

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh demands Indian PM Modi stop stoking anti-Muslim hate

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government stop stoking anti-Muslim sentiment in India. In an outspoken intervention into Indian politics, Singh tweeted Thursday that he is concerned about evidence of Muslims being actively persecuted in that country. "I am deeply concerned about images, videos and targeted threats of violence against the Muslim community in India," he said. His remarks are an apparent reference to a wave of attacks on Muslims and a viral video of a man issuing a rape threat to Muslim women. There have also been reports of processions by right-wing Hindu groups who have made threats and chanted provocative slogans outside mosques and Muslims' homes. Singh, who is Sikh, says human rights must be protected and Canada must play a strong role in working toward peace everywhere. In February, the House of Commons subcommittee on International Human Rights heard testimony about the persecution of India's Muslim population. read the complete article


15 Apr 2022

Sweden: three police hurt in riot before demo where Qur’an was to be burned

Three police officers have been taken to hospital after a riot broke out in a Swedish town where a demonstration that included a Qur’an burning was planned. Footage from the scene in the city of Linkoping on Sweden’s east coast showed a car burning and dozens of masked people attacking police cars. “The mood has been aggressive and there have been attacks against police at the scene,” police spokesperson Asa Willsund told broadcaster SVT on Thursday, adding that things had calmed down after police had backed off. The riot started before a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line) that was meant to include a burning of the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an. While Stram Kurs had been given permission to hold their demonstration in the Skaggetorp neighbourhood – where more than 50% of inhabitants were born abroad – they were not able to start it as police were dealing with the rioters. “There are masked individuals at the scene that are throwing rocks at police,” a statement from regional police said, without identifying if they were part of the scheduled protest or counter-protesters. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Apr 2022 Edition


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