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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24 Apr 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, former President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban ignited a remarkable rise in TV shows featuring Muslim protagonists and “led to an unprecedented expansion in [Muslim] representations,” meanwhile in France, the French Football Federation (FFF) is discriminating against Muslim players as it sent out a message to all referees stating that, “match interruptions following the breaking of the Ramadan fast…do not respect the provisions of the statutes of the FFF,” and in Canada, the president of the Islamic Society of Markham expresses concern about rising hate crimes against the community and asks “Why do we need to wait for something terrible to happen in order for us to treat Islamophobia as the significant problem that it is?” Our recommended read of the day is an editorial by The Observer, which notes that PM Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) pose a fundamental threat to that other crucial pillar of Indian progress: democratic governance based on the rule of law, civil rights and freedom of speech. This and more below:


24 Apr 2023

The Observer view on the growing threat to democracy in India | Recommended Read

India has many things going for it these days but the growing authoritarianism of prime minister Narendra Modi’s rightwing Hindu nationalist government is not one of them. Annual GDP is projected to overtake Germany and Japan by 2027, making India the world’s third largest economy after the US and China. Yet all this potential is set at risk by Modi’s divisive and destructive actions. He and his ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) pose a fundamental threat to that other crucial pillar of Indian progress: democratic governance based on the rule of law, civil rights and freedom of speech. Since winning national power in 2014, Modi and the BJP have pursued an accelerating, repressive and intimidatory campaign against opponents, independent media organisations, individual journalists, civil society groups and free speech in general. Modi’s abandonment of the secular legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, and his redefinition of India as a Hindu nation has intensified discrimination against minorities, especially Muslims. Schoolbooks are doctored to remove references to Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to Hindu nationalism and to pre-Raj (Muslim) Mughal rulers. “For most Indians,” the author Arundhati Roy wrote recently, religious persecution is “the texture of our daily lives: sword-wielding mobs, saffron-clad god-men routinely calling for the genocide of Muslims and the mass rape of Muslim women, the impunity with which Hindus can lynch Muslims on the street... [and be] congratulated for it by senior ministers.” Impunity continues, judging by last week’s acquittal of 69 Hindus accused of many murder in the Gujarat pogrom. read the complete article

United States

24 Apr 2023

Guantanamo Bay prisoners show signs of ‘accelerated ageing’: ICRC

Prisoners who have been held for years by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility are showing signs of “accelerated ageing”, a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said. Patrick Hamilton, the ICRC’s head of delegation for the US and Canada, said on Friday that the “physical and mental health needs are growing and becoming increasingly challenging” for those still imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. The Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba was established by US Republican Party President George W Bush in 2002 to house foreign suspects following the 2001 plane attacks on New York and the Pentagon, which killed some 3,000 people. The camp came to symbolise the brutality of the US’s so-called “war on terror” because of harsh interrogation methods that critics have said amounted to torture. Hamilton’s comments on the health of the prisoners came after a visit to the facility in March following a 20-year hiatus. He said he was “struck by how those who are still detained today are experiencing the symptoms of accelerated ageing, worsened by the cumulative effects of their experiences and years spent in detention”. He called for detainees to receive adequate mental and physical healthcare as well as more frequent family contact. read the complete article

24 Apr 2023

Trump’s Travel Ban Kicked Off a Wave of Muslim Stories on TV

You can thank former President Donald Trump for the remarkable rise in TV shows featuring Muslim protagonists – including Hulu’s “Ramy,” Netflix’s “Mo” and Disney+’s “Ms. Marvel,” among others. Trump’s 2017 executive order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority countries not only fueled the rise of such shows but “led to an unprecedented expansion in [Muslim] representations,” said Evelyn Alsultany, a professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC’s Dornsife College. Shifts in representation often occur in response to a crisis, she said, but this change was dramatic. “There was something about the Trump presidency that inspired people to act that galvanized not just individuals and organizations but industries like Hollywood,” said Alsultany. In addition to “Ramy,” “Mo,” and “Ms. Marvel,” Peacock’s “We are Lady Parts” and HBO Max’s “Sort of” are among the high-profile streaming shows that not only feature Muslim protagonists, but were written or made by Muslims in Western countries in recent years. When Trump first aired the idea of a “Muslim ban” in incendiary, Islamophobic language on the campaign trail in 2016, Hollywood celebrities and entertainment-industry executives were among those who registered sharp disapproval — and many were ready to do something about it, which made them receptive to pitches involving more complex Islamic characters. “All of a sudden, hijab became the new black and that’s when we started to see our stories come through — through this adversity,” said Iman Zawahry, an American Muslim independent filmmaker, whose recent rom-com film “Americanish” was just acquired by Sony, and a lecturer at the University of Florida in Gainesville. read the complete article

24 Apr 2023

Noor's Pursuit: A Young Muslim Woman's Fight For Equality

If there is a face for change in high school athletics, it's Noor Abukaram, a 19-year-old Muslim woman and a sophomore at Ohio State University. While her life has carried her forward since high school without the pursuit of collegiate athletics, her journey for equality in high school sports, and her fight to prevent further discriminations from taking place for Muslim athletes and girls, has remained the same. At the age of 13, she first started wearing the hijab, wrapping it around her head and neck. She joined her grandmother and her mother Yolanda Melendez, who converted to Islam when she married her husband Ziad Abukaram, in that rite of passage for all Muslim women. Noor felt proud to wear it, because it represented a part of who she was. Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, a home to over 7,000 Muslims and a city with one of the country's most distinguishable mosques, the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Abukaram went to an Islamic high school and came of age there, around people who look and sound just like her. But just less than four years ago, as a cross-country runner for Sylvania High School in Ohio, she was disqualified from a district championship race due to a rule -- Section 11.8 in the 2019 Ohio track and field handbook -- prohibiting her from wearing a head-covering without an approved waiver by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. That moment received national and international headlines, inspired Abukaram to start a non-profit, led an Ohio Senator to take action in the Statehouse and ultimately forced the OHSAA to change its rules around head-coverings, removing subjectivity from the equation. Her story was her disqualification from that race all those years ago. But her non-profit, Let Noor Run, was a mission that was pushing the idea of freedom. It advocated on behalf of all young Muslim athletes, and it sought to erase those religious expression issues that existed, or even may still exist in high schools with underserved athletes. read the complete article

24 Apr 2023

End of All-Girls Swim Class Causes Controversy at Stuyvesant High School

For decades, students at an elite New York City public high school have faced an unusual requirement: To graduate with full honors, they must complete a one-semester swim class or pass a swim test. Some of the girls who take the course have traditionally opted for an all-girls section. Many of them cite religious guidelines that dictate modesty in dress; others simply feel uncomfortable wearing a swimsuit around boys. But after administrators at the school, Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, eliminated the all-girls classes in favor of coed ones, the swimming requirement became the focus of a debate about how to balance religious accommodations with social integration. The school had stopped offering the all-girls classes last spring. But some Muslim students said they were unaware of the shift until a recent report in the student newspaper. Administrators said it had become unfeasible to fit the classes into schedules; the classes might have also run afoul of the Education Department’s gender inclusion guidelines. The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized the shift as “disheartening and unacceptable.” New York City is home to more than half a million Muslims, and advocates for religious freedom said the dispute reflected broader challenges some Muslim youth face. “At the end of the day, Stuyvesant has the responsibility to accommodate its students,” said Sophia Dasser, 17, a junior at the school who is Muslim and who wrote the article about the change for the student newspaper. “There’s this idea that Muslim girls can find another way. But no, some can’t. And that needs to be addressed.” read the complete article

24 Apr 2023

Belmont Muslim students denounce Islamophobic event, university apologizes

An event on Islam and Christianity at Belmont University drew condemnation from the university's Muslim Student Association and an apology by the school's leadership. The event featured a presentation from the Franklin-based nonprofit Crescent Project in which fliers were made available saying Islam “ultimately does not offer salvation or peace” and “the Muslim world is in a state of spiritual dryness like a desert,” according to a photo and Belmont Vision, the student newspaper. The student association said officers with the university program that organized the event, called Well Core, did not reach out to the student association beforehand or the Islamic Center of Nashville, a nearby mosque with longstanding relationships to Belmont administrators, faculty and students. “We are very disappointed in the dishonesty, blasphemy, and bigotry displayed toward the faith of Islam and our beloved Prophet Muhammad; peace be upon him,” the Muslim Student Association said in an Instagram post Thursday. read the complete article

24 Apr 2023

Learning a language for loss: Uyghur school in US offers link to homeland

At a weekend school in the US state of Virginia, language classes serve a dual purpose for young Uyghurs -- cultural preservation, and access to vocabulary to discuss the plight of relatives in China. Classes at the Ana Care and Education center strive to be nonpolitical, said Irade Kashgary, 29, who cofounded the school with her mother Sureyya. But in recent times, older students who want to talk about current affairs can also "safely discuss what's happening, how they're impacted," she added. The school teaches Uyghur language, history and culture on Sundays, and is among a network of US groups connecting the diaspora. Many Uyghurs in America migrated or fled from the northwestern Xinjiang region in China, which some refer to as East Turkestan. And it has become increasingly tough to maintain any ties with their homeland as China tightens its grip on the area. Beijing is accused of widespread human rights abuses in the region and detaining more than a million Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in re-education camps -- allegations that officials vehemently deny. The United States and lawmakers in some Western countries have said the actions amount to genocide. For Kashgary and her mother, the school started small in 2017, expanding as more people got disconnected from relatives. "That sense of loss ignited this need to retain and preserve our culture and our language," she told AFP. read the complete article


24 Apr 2023

“What if the intruder returned with a gun?”: The president of the Islamic Society of Markham on the recent surge of hate-motivated attacks

In the early morning hours of April 6, the congregation of the Islamic Society of Markham began trickling into their mosque for dawn prayers. Suddenly, a non-Muslim man drove into the parking lot at high speed, almost running over one worshipper. For the next six minutes, the intruder hurled Islamophobic hate speech and threats at congregation members and security personnel from his vehicle before leaving the property. The 28-year-old man was later identified and arrested by York Regional Police. Just three days later, a 47-year-old man blocked another Markham mosque’s entrance with his SUV, and witnesses reported that he verbally assaulted several people before departing. Following the rise in violence, Qasir Nasir Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Markham, is concerned that, without meaningful government intervention, a tragedy like the 2021 London truck attack, which took the lives of four Muslims, could be imminent. “Why do we need to wait for something terrible to happen in order for us to treat Islamophobia as the significant problem that it is?” he asks. We spoke to Khan about the fallout of these attacks on the GTA’s Muslim community during the holy month of Ramadan. read the complete article


24 Apr 2023

This Ramadan showed how France isn’t comfortable with Muslim athletes

In nominally secular France, Muslims who participate in public life always seem to struggle with observing the month of Ramadan in peace. Nowhere has this been clearer than the world of sports, and particularly football, a point of national pride. But all too often, a national pastime quickly becomes an opportunity for officials to stigmatize Islam, a religion as French as any other. For starters, Nantes cut its new Algerian defender Jaouen Hadjam because he refused to stop fasting during home games. “There is no controversy,” said Antoine Kombouare, the team’s manager, defending his decision. “It is not a punishment. I set rules. It’s his choice, and I respect it.” In a separate incident, the French Football Federation (FFF) sent a message to all referees. The FFF said: “It has been brought to the attention of the Federation of match interruptions following the breaking of the Ramadan fast. These interruptions do not respect the provisions of the statutes of the FFF.” Events such as these put France at odds with our neighbors. France has a peculiar approach to secularism — as we call it, “laïcité.” Under the auspices of our secularism, the FFF bans any “political, religious or ideological” discourse. They even threaten those who don’t respect that ideal with “disciplinary proceedings or prosecution.” But in what kind of society, truly, is drinking water or eating a snack a form of proselytism? This is not the first time the FFF has decided to go against an athlete’s most basic individual rights. The organization, for instance, does not allow female players to wear a hijab on the field, which contradicts FIFA’s global policy of allowing athletes to cover their heads as long as they match the color of their jerseys. read the complete article


24 Apr 2023


In the western territory of Xinjiang, known as the Uyghur Autonomous Region, China has created intense surveillance networks to monitor and persecute the population. Cameras line the streets, as well as the doors of homes and mosques, anchoring a system of repression that has led to the mass detention of thousands of people. Hikvision’s cameras make up a large part of this system. But the world’s largest security camera manufacturer has always denied their complicity in the violation of human rights against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. In 2019, facing increasing U.S. sanctions, Hikvison commissioned a human rights review of its five largest police projects in Xinjiang, which has a population of over 25 million. The company hired Pierre-Richard Prosper, the former ambassador-at-large for war crimes in the Bush administration State Department and a war crimes prosecutor at the United Nations in the late 1990s. The full review remained secret, but Hikvision released one sentence saying the company did not knowingly engage in human rights abuses. A recent leaked recording, however, illustrated how much more Hikvision actually knew — and that these Hikvision projects were connected to companies that the U.S. just sanctioned. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Apr 2023 Edition


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