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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18 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Sweden, there’s been uproar following a livestream showing Danish-Swedish extremist Rasmus Paludan burning the Qur’an — Islam’s holy book — in different Swedish cities, meanwhile in France, hijab-wearing women who play soccer have created Les Hijabeuses, an informal group that seeks to draw attention to a French policy they say drives Muslim women out of the game, and in India, police have arrested 14 people in connection with violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims during a Hindu religious procession in New Delhi. Our recommended read of the day is by Tahir Mahmood Alam for Al Jazeera on the impact of the Trojan Horse Affair, and how the “effect of the hoax and the subsequent witch-hunt is not confined to an event in the past that affected only a few people. It is a lived reality in the present, which is experienced by Muslim children, parents, teachers, and school leaders alike.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

18 Apr 2022

Britain’s Trojan Horse: A hoax that still harms Muslims | Recommended Read

In 2014, sensationalist headlines circulated in the United Kingdom about an alleged Muslim plot to take over schools. The so-called “Trojan Horse” involved “extremists” infiltrating Birmingham to “sow terrorism” in young minds. As the then chair of the Park View Educational Trust, which ran three of the schools in question, I suddenly found myself in the centre of a media storm, subjected to a multitude of government inspections and inquiries looking into alleged improprieties. It was a classic moral panic. Subsequently, all of our schools were deemed failures, despite having been ranked as outstanding before. They were placed under “special measures”, which created the possibility of removing senior leadership in the accused institutions. Of course, we rejected the supposed findings of these inquiries and protested the injustice and abuse of power. As time rolled on, it became increasingly clear that there was no evidence of “extremism and radicalisation” taking place in the schools, nor was there any evidence of a plot. Yet, the damage was done. Years of hard work, creating high-performing schools in highly deprived areas, was destroyed through these interventions. In the process, the entire British Muslim community was vilified and cast as suspicious outsiders in their own country. As one Muslim pupil succinctly put it to a trusted teacher, “Why are they against us?” The Trojan Horse and the reaction to it framed participation by Muslims in schools, and particularly those in leadership positions, as “infiltration”. Fast forward to 2022. A recent podcast by The New York Times, “The Trojan Horse Affair”, has highlighted serious flaws in the government’s response to the original letter that sparked this whole mess. It is shocking that it took more than five years, and a foreign media outlet, to investigate the malpractice that ran rife through local and national governments, the courts and swaths of the British media. The podcast reveals incompetence so outrageous that it is hardly believable. It is important to recognise that the effect of the hoax and the subsequent witch-hunt is not confined to an event in the past that affected only a few people. It is a lived reality in the present, which is experienced by Muslim children, parents, teachers, and school leaders alike. Furthermore, it will have lasting implications for future generations of British Muslims. Regulations, laws, as well as educational and security policies like the Prevent strategy, which seeks to stop people from becoming extremists, have been enacted or reinforced with Muslims in mind. read the complete article


18 Apr 2022

French elections: Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen backs down on hijab ban

Banning the Islamic headscarf in the street is "no longer a priority" for the French far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, her campaign team told French media on Sunday. Banning the hijab "comes after fighting Islamism, closing Salafi mosques, and cutting their funds," Le Pen's campaign spokesperson Sebastien Chenu told French TV channel BFM TV on Sunday. "Once we will have closed Salafi mosques, cut their funding, outlawed Salafism, believe me, we will have taken off 90% of Islamic headscarves," he added. Le Pen still plans to ban the hijab in "all public buildings and administrations," Jordan Bardella, the vice-president of Le Pen's National Front party told radio station Europe 1 the same day. However, the ban would not extend to the streets as the presidential candidate initially announced, Bardella said - though he said banning the wearing of the hijab in public spaces would remain a "long-term goal". read the complete article

18 Apr 2022

The Female Soccer Players Challenging France’s Hijab Ban

For years, France’s soccer federation has banned players participating in competitions from wearing conspicuous religious symbols such as hijabs, a rule it contends is in keeping with the organization’s strict secular values. Although the ban is loosely enforced at the amateur level, it has hung over Muslim women’s players for years, shattering their hopes of professional careers and driving some away from the game altogether. In an ever more multicultural France, where women’s soccer is booming, the ban has also sparked a growing backlash. At the forefront of the fight is Les Hijabeuses, a group of young hijab-wearing soccer players from different teams who have joined forces to campaign against what they describe as a discriminatory rule that excludes Muslim women from sports. Their activism has touched a nerve in France, reviving heated debates on the integration of Muslims in a country with a tortured relationship with Islam, and highlighting the struggle of French sports authorities to reconcile their defense of strict secular values with growing calls for greater representation on the field. “What we want is to be accepted as we are, to implement these grand slogans of diversity, inclusiveness,” said Founé Diawara, the president of Les Hijabeuses, which has 80 members. “Our only desire is to play soccer.” The Hijabeuses collective was created in 2020 with the help of researchers and community organizers in an attempt to solve a paradox: Although French laws and FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, allow sportswomen to play in hijabs, France’s soccer federation prohibits it, arguing that it would break with the principle of religious neutrality on the field. read the complete article

18 Apr 2022

French election: Muslims and Jews fear end to ritual slaughter

Observant Muslims and Jews in France fear they could lose access to locally ritually slaughtered meat if far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen wins the next round of the French presidential elections, held next Sunday. Le Pen has long stated that she wants all animals to be stunned unconscious before slaughter, which is against the principles regulating kosher and halal rituals. Islam and Judaism both insist animals should be conscious when slaughtered and see stunning as an unnecessary source of suffering. Although Le Pen frames the move as stemming from concerns about animal welfare, the intention to target members of France's religious minorities is clear. She supports other policies that show little concern for animals - like extended hunting rights, a move clearly meant to woo France's rural communities, where hunting remains a deeply anchored tradition. read the complete article

18 Apr 2022

Man to stand trial for assault of 2 Muslim women wearing hijab

A man in his 60s who assaulted two Muslim women wearing headscarves is set to stand trial in France, according to the women's attorney. Lawyer Nabil Boudi said on Twitter Friday that the suspect will face charges at the Montpellier Criminal Court on Sept. 14. The alleged assailant will face charges in court for temporarily preventing the two women from working, using deliberate violence to target their beliefs and humiliating them. The man who allegedly attacked the women on March 12 in the southern city of Montpellier surrendered to police the next day, and soon after the prosecutor's office launched an investigation. Images circulating on social media show a man trying to forcefully seize the phone from a young woman while another hijab-wearing woman tries to pull them apart. The suspect rants in another posted video of the incident, "Really the most ridiculous religion in the world." read the complete article

18 Apr 2022

‘Radical vision’: France vote spotlights Muslim headscarves

Muslim headscarves took centre stage in France’s presidential campaign amid far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s push to entirely ban them in the country with western Europe’s largest Muslim population. Both Le Pen and rival Emmanuel Macron, facing a tightly contested April 24 runoff vote, were confronted by women in headscarves on Friday who asked why their clothing choices should be caught up in politics. Macron said he would not ban religious clothing, but he has overseen the closure of several mosques and Islamic groups. And many Muslims in France feel the presidential campaign has unfairly stigmatised their faith. At a farmers’ market in the southern town of Pertuis, a woman in a blue-and-white head covering approached Le Pen as the candidate weaved past fishmongers and vendors to greet supporters. “What is the headscarf doing in politics?” the woman asked. Le Pen defended her position calling the headscarf a “uniform imposed over time by people who have a radical vision of Islam”. “That’s not true,” countered the woman. “I started to wear the veil when I was an older woman… For me it is a sign of being a grandmother.” The woman noted her father served in the French military for 15 years. Le Pen’s opposition to the headscarf has encapsulated what her critics say makes her dangerous to French unity by stigmatising millions of French Muslims. If she becomes president, Le Pen said she would also slash immigration and wants to outlaw ritual slaughter, which would restrict French Muslims’ and Jews’ access to kosher and halal meat. read the complete article

United States

18 Apr 2022

‘Investigate these events as a hate crime’: Islamic center vandalized for second time in six months

The West End Islamic Center in Glen Allen has experienced a second act of vandalism within the past six months. The most recent attack occurred during the holy month of Ramadan. In a Facebook post, the center released a statement and pictures of the damage left behind. They say the act was committed on Sunday, April 17 between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. “We feel compelled to speak out against these expressions of hatred,” said the group in the post. “An attack on any house of worship certainly feels like an assault on the community.” “What we do know, is that love is stronger than hate, and the members of our Mosque will stand together,” they said in their statement. The perpetrators were not captured on security cameras but the center is asking these attacks be investigated as hate crimes. read the complete article

18 Apr 2022

US Muslim students face 'high levels' of bullying

Interviews with 700 Muslim students in schools in the state of California found high levels of bullying, harassment, and discrimination by peers and adults, including teachers. A report conducted in 2021 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that nearly half of the students, 47.1 percent, reported being bullied for being Muslim. That is more than twice the reported national average of 20 percent. “Muslim students of all ages have been ostracised and mistreated in the past because of their faith and perceived, yet clearly false, association with 9/11 and other acts of terrorism,” said Amr Shabaik, the civil rights managing attorney for CAIR-LA. “Often, such events manifest in the form of bullying by other students, lack of preventative and reporting measures by school officials, and insufficient training for educators as to how to mediate or de-escalate religious, racial and ethnically-charged bullying,” Shabaik said. More than half of respondents, 55.73 percent, reported feeling unsafe, unwelcome, or uncomfortable at school due to their Muslim identity. read the complete article

18 Apr 2022

First Muslim religious freedom ambassador lays out US agenda

Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, is the first Muslim-American ever to hold the title, and he told GMA 3 that his appointment sent a powerful signal to the world. Hussain was confirmed by the Senate in December with an 85-5 vote, where 10 Senators did not vote. He said the bi-partisan support sent a message that the U.S. is "supporting the right to religious freedom for all people everywhere." The ambassador told "GMA" that the White House is particularly concerned about the situation unfolding with the genocide against the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority group. Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said attacks by Myanmar's military against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, constituted genocide and crimes against humanity. The legal determination was made five years after the government killed 9,000 Rohingya and forced over a million others into exile. Hussain said the determination took some time because the U.S. had to gather all of the data and information as part of its meticulous legal process. He noted that the move will help provide more assistance to the legal brought by the Gambia and the International Court of Justice. read the complete article


18 Apr 2022

Indian police arrest 14 after Hindu-Muslim clashes in New Delhi

Indian police arrested 14 people in connection with violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims during a Hindu religious procession in the country's capital, New Delhi, police said in a tweet on Sunday. In recent weeks, religious clashes have broken out between the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities during religious processions in several parts of the country. The rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has emboldened hardline religious groups in recent years to take up causes that they say defend the Hindu faith, although his party has denied any rise in communal tensions during Modi's reign. read the complete article

18 Apr 2022

2002 pogrom still haunts Muslim freedom fighter’s family in India

Gul and his brothers Deen and Anwar took shelter in a relief camp in Idar town, 21km (13 miles) from Mudeti. For a year, the camp was their home, like thousands of other Muslim victims of the 2002 pogrom across Gujarat. Gul now lives in Himatnagar, a town about 50km (31 miles) from Mudeti, and “shudders at the thought” of returning to his ancestral place. He worries a new carnage may unfold in the village as hate crimes against Muslims see an unprecedented rise across India in recent days. His elder brother Deen, however, started going back to Mudeti five years ago to offer his obeisance at his forefather Shah Beg’s shrine, which incidentally was built by the Thakurs. Deen, 75, now lives in a rented brick house in Mudeti. He says local Hindus also revered Shah Beg Makrani and used to visit his shrine until the 2002 carnage. “After the biggest massacre of Muslims and their sentiments in Gujarat, they stopped visiting the shrine. It has become an unsaid rule in the village,” he told Al Jazeera. “They make sure even their houses, their gates, even their cows have Hindu symbols.” Twenty years later, as India’s Muslims face near-daily hatred and attacks, Deen says: “Despite him [Shah Beg Makrani] dying to save our village from the British, they [Hindus] don’t even once think of us as Indians. For them, Muslim can never mean Indian, even if they sacrifice their lives for the country.” “Forget my ancestors, even I had guarded houses of fellow villagers when the rioters arrived in 2002. What did I get? I had to sell my land for whatever money I got to start a life from scratch and that too, far away from the land of my ancestors.” Hindus in Mudeti know about the Makrani family. A local resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “When Hindus of a particular village did not participate in the harassment of Muslims, organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal sent boxes filled with bangles to the men of such Hindu houses in order to question their masculinity, to instigate them into targeting Muslims.” The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, are far-right Hindu groups affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Members belonging to all these groups were accused of the 2002 Gujarat massacres. As this year marks 20 years of the pogrom, more than 16,000 Muslims remain internally displaced in their own state, according to a report by the Centre for Social Justice in 2013. read the complete article


18 Apr 2022

Three injured in unrest over far-right demonstrations in Sweden

Uproar and serious clashes have broken out since Thursday in Sweden on the fringes of rallies by a far-right and anti-Islam Danish group, which planned to burn Korans in several towns. On Sunday, police said three people were injured after apparently being hit by police bullets during a clash. Danish-Swedish extremist Rasmus Paludan in 2017 established the Danish far-right Stram Kurs, or Hard Line, movement, which trumpets a strong anti-immigrant and anti-Islam agenda. On Thursday and Friday, the party live-streamed video of Paludan burning the Koran — Islam’s holy book — in different Swedish cities. Paludan is known for staging such burnings. During demonstrations on Friday, protesters and counterprotesters clashed in the central city of Orebro. On Saturday, clashes occurred in the southwestern city of Malmö, which the Swedish police described as a “messy night” with many “disturbances in the forms of fire and attacks on the police,” as well as Molotov cocktails and stones thrown. Vehicles, including a city bus, were set on fire. In a statement, the police said their aim was to maintain the “constitutionally protected freedom of expression and assembly” of the licensed assembly and counterprotesters. read the complete article


18 Apr 2022

NGOs welcome US human rights report accusing China of continued 'genocide' against Uyghurs

The annual US State Department's human rights report on China, which includes documentation of genocide of the Uyghur community, was welcomed this week by Uyghur and Muslim advocacy groups. The 90-page report, China 2021 Human Rights Report, part of its annual report on human rights across the world, which includes Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet, as well as the Xinjiang historical Uyghur region, provides important information on rights abuses. "Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang," read the report by the State Department, which last year designated as genocide China's treatment of the Uyghurs, following years of documented abuses and efforts by activists to raise awareness of the situation. The report went on to point out examples of human rights abuses, noting the prevalence of "arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of the country’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labour; and draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement". Rushan Abbas, executive director of the Campaign for Uyghurs, said in a statement: "Uyghurs are really delighted to see this strong stance to call China out for its crimes of genocide, and standing firmly on the values that ought to be advocated by the United States precisely concerning liberty, respect and freedom for the principles of humanity." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Apr 2022 Edition


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