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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20 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, MP Zarah Sultana writes about the Trojan Horse Affair podcast, and how its revelations that many politicians and leaders knew it was a hoax has only been met with near silence by the British media, meanwhile in India, the state of Karnataka has become a Hindu nationalism laboratory, where the BJP has been experimenting with bringing about larger Hindu consolidation through means of religious rhetoric and communal provocations, and in the United States, Middlebury College is investigating a recent act of vandalism that occurred outside the school’s Muslim Student Association’s (MSA) prayer space. Our recommended read of the day is by Rim-Sarah Alouane for the New York Times on how Marine Le Pen is an authoritarian whose deeply racist and Islamophobic politics threaten to turn France into an outright illiberal state. This and more below:


20 Apr 2022

Marine Le Pen Is as Dangerous as Ever | Recommended Read

Ms. Le Pen never went away, instead biding her time and preparing for the next tilt at power. She now has more chance of winning it than ever: After taking 23 percent in the first round, she’s within eight points of Mr. Macron in the second, on April 24. She’s benefited from the presence of the even more hard-line Éric Zemmour, whose lurid reactionary persona made Ms. Le Pen seem, by contrast, more reasonable. Yet she’s also embarked on a comprehensive effort to soften her image, renaming her party, downplaying the harsher elements of her platform and presenting herself as a warm, even folksy woman who loves her cats. But no one should be fooled. At the head of a party that long housed Nazi collaborators, Ms. Le Pen is an authoritarian whose deeply racist and Islamophobic politics threaten to turn France into an outright illiberal state. She may pretend to be a regular politician, but she remains as dangerous as ever. For the good of minorities and France itself, she must not prevail. If Ms. Le Pen looks more mainstream now, it’s because the mainstream looks more like her. In the years running up to the last election, she ran on a hard-right platform, stoking antagonism toward immigrants and French Muslims under the guise of protecting public order. She especially targeted minorities, “to whom,” she said bitterly, “everything is due and to whom we give everything.” In response to her success in 2017, nearly every party on the political spectrum — centrist, traditional right wing and even socialist — used the talking points of her party, now named National Rally (formerly National Front). The tenor of political discussion, as a result, has shifted substantially to the right. There is now barely any space in French politics to advocate for French citizens who don’t look, behave, pray or eat the way “traditional” French people are supposed to — let alone to champion the rights of immigrants and refugees. In this environment, Ms. Le Pen can turn her attention to more everyday issues, such as rising energy bills and the cost of living, safe in the knowledge that on immigration, citizenship and “national identity,” she’s already won the argument. read the complete article

20 Apr 2022

French presidential election: Macron 'trying to speak to voters on the centre left'

With the second round of voting in the French presidential election just days away, we explore the latest twists and turns in the campaign trail with Andrew Smith, a professor of contemporary French history at Chichester University. He unpicks President Emmanuel Macron's last-gasp bid to convince supporters of defeated leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon to vote for him, if only to keep the far right out of the Élysée Palace. We also discuss Marine Le Pen's pledge to ban the Muslim hijab in public. Smith tells us it's an attempt to fire up her base – but does it risk alienating more moderate voters? read the complete article

20 Apr 2022

France: Two hijab-wearing women to file complaint against police after violent attack

Two Muslim women will file a complaint against French police after they were attacked by officers last week, their lawyer announced on Monday. The women, who both wear the hijab, were assaulted on April 14 at the Clichy Bridge north of Paris. Videos posted online show the women being violently slapped and forced to the ground by police. Their lawyer, Nabil Boudi, said the victims were “still in shock” but remained “determined to see justice done”. “A complaint for violence will be filed in the coming days,” he said. Video footage, shared by the lawyer on Twitter, shows one woman in a black headscarf with her hands pulled behind her back being slapped and pushed downwards by police officers. When a second woman with a pink hijab tried to help, she was also attacked. read the complete article

20 Apr 2022

Hijab, halal & kosher surface in French presidential poll far right rises in Europe

France is underway a significant presidential election where the incumbent Emmanuel Macron faces a challenge from far right candidate Marine Le Pen. Shekhar Gupta analyses the role of Left-Right-centre politics in the country and significant role of 8% muslim vote bank amidst debates revolving around Hijab and Halal. In Episode 983 of Cut The Clutter, we also discuss the rising hard right in other parts of Europe. read the complete article

United States

20 Apr 2022

New Jersey public schools could soon be required to teach about 9/11, global response to terrorism

A bill that would require age-appropriate instruction about 9/11 in K-12 schools throughout New Jersey was passed in the state Senate last week. Introduced by state Senators Richard Codey and Anthony M. Bucco, the bill would establish a curriculum in public elementary, middle and high schools that teaches about the historical context of the attacks, as well as provide a timeline of events that occurred throughout the day. It is set to be heard in an Assembly Education Committee meeting next month. Following the events on Sept. 11, 2001, there was an influx of anti-Muslim and other Islamophobic sentiment throughout the United States and in other Western countries. According to the FBI's Hate Crimes Statistics, anti-Muslim hate incidents were the second-least reported prior to the attacks. However, they became the second-highest reported among religious bias incidents beginning in 2001. There were 481 reported hate incidents against Muslim people in the United States in 2001 and accounted for 26.2% of all religious bias incidents. As recently as 2019, anti-Islamic bias incidents remain the second-highest reported, with 13.3% of bias incidents being against Muslims that year. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum has a wide selection of teaching and learning materials for students at all age levels, including those on how to teach tolerance of different religions and cultures in the context of the 9/11 attacks. One of those lessons is available on the museum's website. Only 14 states currently require instruction about 9/11 in schools, including New York, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia. Other than New Jersey, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proposed mandating 9/11 in its history and social studies curriculum in September. read the complete article

20 Apr 2022

How this advocate fights gendered Islamophobia in medicine

Muslim women in the U.S. experience discrimination in many aspects of their lives, including health care. Sahar Pirzada has made it the mission of her work at a national nonprofit to fight the medical mistreatment Muslim women experience. She gives her brief but spectacular take on why gendered Islamophobia matters in the larger conversation around reproductive justice. read the complete article

20 Apr 2022

Middlebury College Investigating Anti-Muslim Incident During Ramadan

Middlebury College, a private liberal arts institution in Vermont, is investigating a recent act of vandalism that occurred outside the school’s Muslim Student Association’s (MSA) prayer space. On April 9, one or more individuals poured a liquid that is believed to be urine outside the MSA’s prayer room, according to the college’s student newspaper The Middlebury Campus. The anti-Muslim attack comes during Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims. In a campus-wide email, the college’s Community Bias Response Team and Derek Doucet, Middlebury’s dean of students, condemned the incident. “Muslims face discrimination, bias, and violence in a myriad of ways, and these kinds of incidents trigger the fear and belief that Muslims are unwelcome, are other, and do not deserve safety and dignity,” the email reads. “The desecration of a space that is dedicated for prayer is an abhorrent violation not only of our institutional values but also of basic human decency.” read the complete article


20 Apr 2022

A tale of two cities: The rippling effects of Islamophobia in Modi’s India

The hijab ban and several other controversies in Karnataka state have compromised Bengaluru's status as India's Silicon Valley. “Pack your bags and move to Hyderabad,” Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao wrote on Twitter in response to a Bengaluru-based entrepreneur who complained about the Indian city's crumbling infrastructure. Rao, the information technology minister for Telangana state, where Hyderabad is located, was making a larger point that did not go unnoticed. Though long favoured for its moderate climate and cosmopolitan character, many fear that Bengaluru — with its cherry blossom-lined boulevards — is losing much of its sheen. What the minister tweeted only amplified the suspicion that many nursed in private, but few dared to air in public. Considered India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru serves as the capital of Karnataka state and hosts thousands of information technology companies. In fact, global tech giants such as Infosys and Wipro were founded in the city of 10 million, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the province’s revenue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rules Karnataka and considers it to be a vital springboard for eventually expanding its footprint in the other four southern states. Karnataka, therefore, has become a kind of a Hindu nationalism laboratory, where the BJP has been experimenting with bringing about larger Hindu consolidation through means of religious rhetoric and communal provocations. Muslims account for no less than 12 percent of Karnataka’s population. But the BJP sees the support of the overwhelming number of Hindus as crucial for its electoral success. For drumming up Hindu support, right-wing Hindu activists aligned with the BJP have been on overdrive to deepen the Hindu-Muslim divide and stoke hatred. Virtually endless episodes of orchestrated indignations are ratcheting up tensions. read the complete article

20 Apr 2022

Religious clashes across India spark fears of further violence

A group of young men, clad in the saffron scarves of Hindu nationalist groups and waving swords and pistols in the air, massed in front of a mosque that was holding evening prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The men shouted abusive slogans, blared music from loudspeakers and refused to leave. As the night wore on, locals — possibly angry Muslims in the mixed-faith neighborhood, according to witnesses and police — began hurling rocks. That set off a massive street fight that was subdued only when riot police flooded the neighborhood. The Hanuman procession takes place every year in the district, “so why did they stop in front of the mosque this year and force us to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’?” wondered Sheikh Babloo, a Muslim shopkeeper and neighborhood leader, referring to a chant of “Glory to Lord Ram” raised by Hindu nationalists that day. “They’ve gone further and further to provoke us,” he said. The incident was just the latest in a string of clashes between Hindus and Muslims that have shaken India in recent weeks. They have happened on different days, in different parts of the country, but there is a pattern to them: Groups of young Hindu nationalists join peaceful celebrations during religious holidays, then lead rowdy processions into Muslim neighborhoods, sparking violent confrontations. Adding to the sense of foreboding, observers say, are a rash of incendiary speeches over the past year by right-wing leaders, including a priest’s appeal to fellow Hindus in December to pick up weapons and “conduct a cleanliness drive” that would kill off Muslims. The cleric, Yati Narsinghanand, was accused of hate speech and arrested. While out on bail, he made another appearance this month in north Delhi, near Jahangirpuri, where he warned the audience that nearly half of India’s Hindus would be killed if the country elected a Muslim prime minister. Naqvi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP, which has links to the Hindu nationalist groups involved in the clashes, have not tried to defuse tensions, giving mobs a sense of impunity. “In India, if there is administrative will, communal riots stop,” said Naqvi, who noted that other political parties, including the Indian National Congress, have abetted religious violence in the past. read the complete article

United Kingdom

20 Apr 2022

The Response to the Trojan Horse Affair Tells Us All We Need to Know About Islamophobia in Britain

What if a hoax caused a national scandal, dominating Britain’s news for weeks? What if this hoax was used to whip up hate against a minority community, even being used to justify repressive new laws that disproportionately targeted that community? And what if journalists revealed that the politicians who stirred up this hate knew it was a hoax all along? That would be a big deal, right? Wrong. It’s more than three months since The New York Times and Serial Productions released The Trojan Horse Affair podcast, a years-long investigation into the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal that rocked British politics in 2014 and cast a shadow over the country’s Muslim communities. But in spite of the podcast’s explosive revelations, it’s been met with near silence by the British media. I saw first hand the devastating effect the scandal had on my community, with politicians and the press using it to whip up hate against Muslims. The podcast isn’t just about something that did (or didn’t) happen in Birmingham nearly a decade ago. It’s about Islamophobia in Britain today: how it is stoked by the powerful and ignored by the press. Being the youngest Muslim to be elected to parliament, I feel a responsibility to speak out about this too; the podcast even uses a speech I gave in parliament about Islamophobia to explain what life is like for Muslims in Britain today. So for me, this is personal. The scandal mainstreamed Islamophobic ideas about Muslims conspiring to undermine British society, depicting Muslims as an ‘enemy within’ – ideas that were already dominant on the far right. Indeed, Gove was himself ahead of the curve, having fed these tropes and demonised British Muslims in his 2006 book Celsius 7/7. In a case of curious prescience, the book even had a chapter titled “The Trojan Horse”. No surprise, then, that Gove and the Tories seized the moment and immortalised the hoax letter in government policy. The 2015 Counter Extremism Strategy repeatedly referenced the scandal (still covering up that the supposed plot was then widely known to be a hoax) and the Islamophobic Prevent duty was then put on a statutory footing in educational settings a year after the scandal hit the headlines. read the complete article

20 Apr 2022

Woman shouted ‘kill all the Muslims’ and threatened to take out gun on train

A woman who stripped in front of fellow rail passengers, called them ‘terrorists’ and threatened to take out guns on a train has been jailed. Trisha Clifton also shouted ‘kill all the Muslims’ while gesturing as if she was holding a firearm, a court heard. The 49-year-old launched her tirade of abuse on April 1 when an inspector asked to see her ticket. She began undressing and told train staff ‘don’t make me get my two handguns out’. Police boarded the train at Reading station in Berkshire and searched her, but no weapons were found. She was arrested and held for questioning. At Reading magistrates’ court, Clifton, of Weybridge, Surrey, admitted religiously aggravated behaviour and being in breach of a criminal behaviour order. She was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison. read the complete article


20 Apr 2022

Sweden riots over Quran burning: What is happening?

Several days of unrest in Sweden, sparked by a far-right group’s plan to burn copies of the Quran, wounded at least 40 people as police called for more resources to deal with the violence. The burning of the Muslim holy book is a well-practised stunt by the leader of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam group Hard Line, Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan. Aiming to drum up support ahead of Danish legislative elections in September, Paludan declared a “tour” of Sweden, planning to visit cities and towns with large Muslim populations with the intent of burning copies of the Quran during the holy month of Ramadan. Paludan – whose father is a Swedish national – first came to public attention in 2017 when he started making anti-Muslim YouTube videos. He justified his stunts in Denmark – such as burning the Muslim holy book, sometimes wrapped in bacon – as a tribute to free speech. “The enemy is Islam and Muslims. The best thing would be if there were not a single Muslim left on this Earth, then we would have reached our final goal,” he said in a December 2018 video. Paludan was sentenced to 14 days in jail in 2019 for racist speech in Denmark. A year later, he faced one month of imprisonment with two additional months of a suspended sentence after being found guilty of 14 different charges of racism, defamation and hazardous driving. Hard Line, or Stram Kurs in Swedish, failed to win a single seat in the last Danish national elections in 2019. Now Paludan plans to run again in the June 2023 vote, but he reportedly does not have the necessary number of signatures to secure his candidature. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Apr 2022 Edition


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