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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, Museum London will soon display purple hexagonal tiles with messages from the public in honor of the Afzaal family, who were killed in an anti-Muslim hate attack in June of 2021, meanwhile in China, new documents reveal that Hikvision cameras have been installed in public spaces across Xinjiang and have captured footage that has led to the detention of Uyghurs, and in Austria, a regional court in Vienna awards a Muslim women 2,000 Euros in damages for being pressured during a job application process to remove her headscarf. Our recommended read of the day is by Tusha Mittal for CodaStory on how the bulldozer has “emerged as an unofficial election mascot for BJP-style tough governance,” and has been used to intimidate, harass, and punish Indian Muslims. This and more below:


The demolition of dissent in India | Recommended Read

Over the past year, the bulldozer has emerged as a symbol of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oft-invoked “New India.” The bulldozer is most closely associated not with Modi but with the promise of strong and effective governance offered by Yogi Adityanath. A hard-line Hindu monk clad in saffron robes, Adityanath is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. For many, Adityanath is the biggest star in the BJP after Modi himself. Some even argue that Adityanath is the likeliest candidate to succeed Modi as prime minister. When Adityanath campaigns in states where the BJP contests elections, he draws huge crowds. On the campaign trail for the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2022, Adityanath held the bulldozer up as an exemplar of stern action and swift justice in the face of a slow legal system. In his stump speeches, Adityanath declared that if he were voted back into office, he would use the bulldozer against “criminals,” “mafias” and “rioters.” But the bulldozer is not simply a neutral symbol of a strong state reclaiming land from encroachers or taking on hardened criminals. Adityanath’s election speeches were replete with anti-Muslim rhetoric, with the Muslim community associated with “rioters” and referred to as “Taliban” supporters. As the bulldozer emerged as an unofficial election mascot for BJP-style tough governance, the subtext was clear: The criminals Adityanath wanted to go after would primarily be found outside the middle-class Hindu majority. Critics have pointed out that Adityanath has used bulldozers disproportionately to demolish the homes of Muslims, a pattern that has been repeated in BJP-administered states such as Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. read the complete article

The Rise & Rise of Islamophobia in India

History Illustrated is a weekly series of insightful perspectives that puts news events and current affairs into an historical context using graphics generated with artificial intelligence. Muslims have been subjected to violence for decades, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has only made things worse. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Opposition urges Tories to cut ties with rightwing group over ‘culture war’ comments

Opposition parties have called on the Conservatives to cut ties with a rightwing student group that has described drag artists as “groomers”, called UK schools “Maoist indoctrination camps” and held protests alongside an anti-Islam pastor. While Turning Point UK (TPUK) says it has no formal links to the party, a Conservative MP, Marco Longhi, is the group’s honorary president, and it has previously been praised by former ministers Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg, as well as the deputy party chair, Lee Anderson. Among speakers at a TPUK-organised event was Rikki Doolan, a pastor who argues that women “should always be subject to the man” in marriage, and has condemned the use of public buildings for Islamic prayers during Ramadan. Nick Tenconi, the chief operating officer of TPUK, posted a tweet last year describing himself as a “huge fan” of Kyle Rittenhouse, the young US man who shot dead two people at a protest and was acquitted of murder in 2021. Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party chair, said: “The nasty party is well and truly back. It’s extremely concerning to see senior Conservatives associating themselves with what looks to most people an awful lot like a far-right group.” read the complete article

Nida Manzoor Is Changing The Way Muslim Women Are Portrayed On Screen

It’s hard not to feel pure joy and delight when talking with writer-director Nida Manzoor and listening to her describe everything from her childhood film and TV influences to all the big ideas she’s cooking up for the future. Joy and delight are certainly at the center of her two biggest projects so far: “We Are Lady Parts,” her buoyant Peacock comedy series about a group of young Muslim women who form a punk band — and now, her debut feature film “Polite Society,” which premieres in theaters on April 28. Manzoor’s assured feature directorial debut feels like the kind of movie only she could make. It’s also the culmination of her years of writing and directing in TV, across many different genres, from small, intimate comedies to the legendary BBC sci-fi series “Doctor Who.” In fact, Manzoor, 33, wrote the first draft of “Polite Society” more than a decade ago, when she was first trying to break into filmmaking in her early 20s. But as she soon discovered, at that time, “nobody wanted to make a crazy genre film with a bunch of South Asians in it,” especially from a newcomer. The film was greenlighted thanks to the success of “We Are Lady Parts,” which premiered in 2021. She wrote the show after feeling demoralized by some of the offers she was getting, like being asked to co-write a project with a white male writer “and just be the brown person who can give that point of view and the rubber-stamping of his stuff.” Similarly, she was demoralized by the one-dimensional portrayals of Muslim women on screen, such as stories with “a misery porn vibe,” which bore no resemblance to her life. “I’d just been asked to do lots of really annoying shows, being asked to write dramas about Muslim women being oppressed, long-suffering,” she said. “The annoyance of having been asked to write all this stuff that wasn’t my experience of being a Muslim woman made me create ‘Lady Parts.’” read the complete article

United States

The Post Office Made a Christian Employee Work on Sundays. Now He's at the Supreme Court

Gerald Groff, a Christian former postal worker living in rural southeast Pennsylvania, says he was not allowed to observe Sabbath on Sundays and was punished when he did not work those days. His fight with the post office—which argued that Groff’s requests to take all Sundays off led to unreasonable burdens on his coworkers—has made it up to the Supreme Court, and the outcome could affect far more than one religious postal worker’s schedule. The case, Groff v. DeJoy, will be argued on Tuesday and is set to become the latest major argument before a court that has proven to be sympathetic to religious freedom claims. “The stakes are much bigger than Sabbath observance,” says Elizabeth Sepper, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin and expert on religious liberty. The case’s far reaching implications in workplaces could affect the ability for Muslim women to wear a hijab, Jews to wear a yarmulke, or Rastafarians to wear their hair in dreadlocks. It could affect religious employees’ ability to attend scheduled prayer services such as Jummah or Sunday church. It could even affect employees who refuse vaccines or don’t want to have contact with patients who need abortion care. read the complete article

CAIR-NJ Welcomes NJ Dept. of Corrections’ Policy Allowing Religious Head Coverings for Publicly Posted Photographs

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the New Jersey Department of Corrections’ (NJDOC) new policy allowing incarcerated people to wear religious head coverings for intake mugshots that are publicly available. The department’s decision comes after almost two years of advocacy spearheaded by CAIR-NJ civil rights attorney, Nina Rossi, Esq. The new policy, which is applicable only to New Jersey prisons, states: “Incarcerated persons may request to wear their religious held coverings for intake photographs that are publicly available.” In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said: “In the past, Muslim women were being asked to remove their hijabs prior to their intake photo. That’s countless Muslim women whose basic civil rights were potentially violated, but thanks to this new policy, that should no longer be the case. read the complete article

What DeSantis did at Guantánamo Bay

When Ron DeSantis first ran for governor in Florida in 2018, a campaign ad boasted that he “dealt with terrorists in Guantánamo Bay.” Today on "Post Reports," our reporter digs in on everything we can learn about that time. Florida governor and potential 2024 candidate Ron DeSantis is in the news a lot. But little is known about his time serving as a Navy lawyer at Guantánamo Bay. Today on “Post Reports,” political investigative reporter Michael Kranish tells us everything he could learn about a pivotal and violent year at the prison, and DeSantis’s role during it. read the complete article


Hexagon project aims to keep Afzaal family's memories alive and combat Islamophobia Social Sharing

Londoners can fill out messages of remembrance and community healing in honour of members of the Afzaal family, which will be part of a large art installation to be displayed at Museum London starting this summer. Messages on purple wooden hexagon tiles are a symbol to combat Islamophobia and commemorate the lives of Yumnah, Talat, Madiha, and Salman Afzaal, who were killed in a truck attack on June 6, 2021, which police say was hate-motivated because of their Muslim faith. "It's in recognition that this incident took place in London, and so we want to give Londoners an opportunity to say why June 6th is important to commemorate and what community healing looks like for everybody," said Selma Tobah, one of the project's organizers. The project was curated by the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI), which formed as a result of the deaths of family members and increasing violence in the country due to Islamophobia. The hexagons refer to pieces of the puzzle of humanity that fit together, said YCCI member Munya Haddara. Purple was chosen because it was 15-year-old Yumnah's favourite colour. read the complete article


Exclusive: Hikvision internal review found contracts targeted Uyghurs

Chinese surveillance giant Hikvision has repeatedly denied reports that the company is complicit in human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang. But new details from an internal review of its contracts with police agencies in the region reveal the company has known since at least 2020 that some of its Xinjiang contracts were a "problem" because they included language about targeting Uyghurs as a group, according to a recording of a recent private company meeting obtained by technology trade publication IPVM and exclusively shared with Axios. The Chinese government is perpetrating an ongoing campaign of genocide and mass detention of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the country's northwest region of Xinjiang. Procurement documents reportedly show that Hikvision cameras have been installed in public spaces across Xinjiang and in mass detention facilities, and Hikvision cameras have captured footage that has led to the detention of Uyghurs. read the complete article


Discrimination against Muslims in France stems from colonialism, expert says

Discrimination against Muslims in France stems from colonialism, according to a French political scientist. Francois Burgat, the research head at the French National Center for Scientific Research, told Anadolu how the orientalist discourse in recent years in France impacted the look on Arabs, leading to the discrimination of Muslims. He said the Orientalist perspective is widely used by the West as well as the authoritarian leaders in other countries, including Israel. The Orientalist comments fuel Islamophobia, Burgat argued, adding: "Orientalism and Islamophobia are tightly related. Rejecting the other stems from not knowing them." He continued: "I do not think that rejecting Arabs and Muslims in France comes from the contention between Islam, Christianity and other religious dogmas ... I think it comes rather from France's colonial history." Burgat also said the Muslim generation born in France does not accept the colonial mentality: "The descendants of the colonized people can now raise their voice efficiently." read the complete article


Austrian court pays Muslim woman damages for headscarf discrimination

A Muslim woman who was pressured to remove her headscarf during the application process to become a kindergarten teacher and ultimately did not get the training position has been awarded €2,000 ($2,196) in damages in Austria. This decision was confirmed by the Vienna Regional Court for Civil Matters in the second instance on Monday, the Litigation Association that legally represented the woman in court announced. The judgment is legally binding. The then 19-year-old woman, who had already gained experience as a kindergarten assistant, had wanted to gain further qualifications and complete training as a child group supervisor with a Viennese provider. During the application process, she was "repeatedly asked about her headscarf in a discriminatory manner" and urged to "take it off," according to the press release issued by the association. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Apr 2023 Edition


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