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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25 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, Emmanuel Macron “vowed to unite a divided France after winning a second term as French president in a decisive victory against the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who won more than 13 million votes in a historic high for her anti-immigration party,” meanwhile in the United States, a new report from CAIR finds that Muslim-Americans filed 6,720 complaints of anti-Muslim discrimination, bullying, and harassment last year, a 9 percent increase compared to 2020, and in India, Bajrang Muni Das, who allegedly made a hate speech and issued rape threats to Muslim women in Sitapur, was granted bail by a local court and stated he does not feel guilty about the remarks he made. Our recommended read of the day is by Myriam François for TIME on how the 2022 French presidential campaign proves that the far-right is dictating the terms of the political debates. This and more below:


25 Apr 2022

How the Far Right Already Won in France | Recommended Read

The results from the first round of the French elections make clear the future of France no matter who wins the presidency on April 24. The now customary face-off between the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, and the far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, is set to repeat itself in the second, and definitive round. The dissolution of the traditional political left and right, saw Macron followed closely by far-right and far-left candidates, and trailed by the traditional parties who would previously have won or at least been strong contenders in this fight. Anne Hidalgo, for the socialists, received 1.8% of the votes, a damning indictment of the center-left party. The first round offered a series of revelations, indicative of the wider mood in the country. The ideas of the far right have become dominant in France to the point that around 30% of the electorate have embraced its candidates and Macron and his party frequently embrace some of its positions. Votes for far-right candidates, including Eric Zemmour, when added up, total 30% of votes. The mood of this election has been dominated, not by what polls reveal to be substantive electoral concerns around the rising cost of living, the environmental crisis or even the COVID-19 pandemic, but by increasingly inflammatory TV debates focused on Islam, secularism and immigration. The rise of the far-right is often presented as only a peripheral threat, but in France, it has been dictating the terms of the political debates for the last decade, as 2022’s presidential campaign proves. And it has done so with the complicity and in some cases, the support of portions of the French media. The party’s efforts at normalizing its image, successfully boosted by the regurgitation of far right themes, such as “the great replacement,” is certainly one reason for this shift. Today, it’s no longer taboo to say on French TV that France is incompatible with Islam or to openly exaggerate figures suggesting that “half of France will be Muslim by 2050,” or even to write a bestselling novel fantasizing about an Islamist takeover of the country. But the main reason a Le Pen presidency is no longer feared by so many, is that in power or not, far-right ideas in terms of anti-Muslim discrimination, are already the norm. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

Victorious Macron vows to unite France after fending off Le Pen threat

The pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron has vowed to unite a divided France after winning a second term as French president in a decisive victory against the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who nonetheless won more than 13 million votes in a historic high for her anti-immigration party. Macron became the first French leader to win re-election for 20 years, scoring 58.54% to Le Pen’s 41.46%. Addressing a victory rally at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, where his supporters waved French and European flags, Macron vowed to respond “efficiently” to the “anger and disagreement” of voters who chose the far right. “I know that a number of French people have voted for me today, not to support my ideas but to stop the ideas of the far right,” he said and called on supporters to be “kind and respectful” to others, because the country was riven by “so much doubt, so much division”. He added: “I’m not the candidate of one camp any more, but the president of all of us.” read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

France elections 2022: Whoever wins, anti-Muslim persecution is the victor

For all their points of distinction, the two opposing candidates show remarkable uniformity in addressing Islam and the “Muslim problem”. After his election in 2017, Macron wasted no time in targeting and policing the French Muslim minority. He has applied maximum pressure on Muslim civil society members, making their daily work intolerably difficult and tightening the state’s stranglehold on their religious practices. Services created and used by the French Muslim community were effectively dissolved overnight by ministerial decree. More than 718 mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim-run organisations have been closed, after more than 24,000 establishments were investigated and €46 million ($50m) in funds seized from an already economically deprived minority. This policy of state-sponsored anti-Muslim persecution is wilfully obscured from international view. If re-elected, Macron would continue and expand this policy, and it is only natural to assume that Le Pen would do the same. Both regard the Islamic faith and its visible practices as “civilisational threats”, holding the view that “Islamist separatism” must be categorically opposed. Macron’s interior minister has even labelled Le Pen’s approach to Islam as “soft”. If it appears the far-right reaches greater Islamophobic heights than the political centre in France, it is likely just a matter of time before such divergence erodes. If re-elected, Macron would likely find inspiration in Le Pen’s bold, yet normalised Islamophobic propositions. The sad reality for France’s Muslim citizens is that both candidates would bring aggressively Islamophobic governance, with little nuance. No matter the outcome at the ballot box, anti-Muslim persecution has already won. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

How sex fuels the French far right

In colonial times, Islamic civilisation was viewed by French orientalists as excitingly decadent and extravagantly degenerate. The Muslim world, to them, was a place of glamour, extreme licentiousness, and sexual promise, where beautiful and scantily-clad women lounged with iced drinks and hookahs in perfumed palace gardens, to be visited by lustful Muslim men. Today, the issue of Islam is central to political discourse in the French Presidential election. The project to assimilate Muslims into the vaunted liberté, égalité, and fraternité of French civilisation has proved authoritarian, discriminatory, and divisive. As Stephen Clarke writes of the supposed values of the French Revolution, ‘the reality was more like Tyranny, Megalomania and Fratricide.’ Of course, France has been traumatised by a series of horrific terrorist attacks in recent years. But most policies targeting Islam have nothing to do with stopping violence (which nearly all Muslims, the government knows, oppose) and everything to do with a grandiose civilising mission to refashion the devout Muslim into an Enlightened French citizen. Yet the startling ferocity of the national discourse on Islam, which has boosted the far right, is explained not by concern over secularism and Enlightenment, but by something more fundamentally human: sex. We might actually miss the point, then, by fixating on sober debates about secularity and religion. Much of the French debate about Islam hinges on a fanatical obsession with undressing Muslim women. (It might be useful here to note that until very recently France did not have an age of consent. Now it is 15.) That colonial sexual fanaticism is alive and kicking in popular French discourse today. It is coupled with a widespread fear that Muslim fertility spells the end of the white majority in France. This stems from the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, which was invented by Renaud Camus, a cartoonish figure who lives in a fourteenth-century castle and writes screeds on aesthetic fascism. The paranoia among many white French people about demographic change is rooted in the racial and sexual anxiety that North African immigrants reproduce at higher rates than the white majority, meaning that the non-white Muslim population of France is growing. Cambridge academic Abdal Hakim Murad argues that much Islamophobic sentiment is so virulent because of ‘intense jealousies’ over the common Muslim ‘desire to raise a healthy number of children in the context of a traditional family’. read the complete article


25 Apr 2022

Inequalities, Racialization: Is Europe Islamophobic?

Across Europe, Islamophobia is manifested through policies or legislation that indirectly target or disproportionately affect Muslims and unduly restrict their freedom of religion, such as prohibitions on the wearing of visible religious and cultural symbols, laws prohibiting facial concealment and prohibitions on the construction of mosques with minarets. It is also evident in ethnic and religious profiling and police abuse, including some provisions of counterterrorism law. The enmity toward Islam has been fostered in recent years by public worry over immigration and the integration of Muslim minorities into Europe's majority cultures. These tensions have been heightened in the aftermath of the 2007 financial crisis and the rise of populist nationalist politicians. In an era of increasing diversity in Europe, Muslim minorities have been characterized as disaffected and desiring to live apart from the rest of society. Government policies have failed to provide equal rights for all, leaving major segments of Muslim minorities jobless, impoverished and with little civic and political involvement, all of which exacerbate discrimination. Minorities are frequently used as scapegoats during economic and political crises. Islam and the roughly 20 million Muslims living in the European Union are portrayed by some as intrinsic threats to the European way of life, even in nations where they have resided for generations. The notion of a continuing "Islamization" or "invasion of Europe" has been fueled by the growth of xenophobic, populist parties across Europe. Indeed, Europeans exaggerate the proportion of Muslims in their populations. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

How Israel Uses Radical Islam to Justify the Occupation

The events unfolding over the last few weeks in the occupied territories seem as if they’ve been taken out of the Bible. Everything is immersed in religion and fundamentalism – the Temple Mount, Joseph’s Tomb, the yeshiva at Homesh, the pilgrims, the worshippers, Ramadan, the sacrificial lamb, the Temple. A religious war taken straight out of the biblical stories. Despite this, make no mistake, religion is only a theatrical prop. The motive driving the settlers and their supporters remains ultra-nationalist, fueled by real estate considerations, including the attendant evil, violence and sadism employed by settlers and the authorities behind them. The Palestinian aspirations always have been and remain national ones: rights, independence, removal of the occupier. This is what underlies the violent unrest expressed by unbridled young Palestinians. Religion is used by both sides only as an excuse. Despite all the trappings, this is not a war of religion, although it may well become one. The Israeli right has long branded the war over land and sovereignty in Israel-Palestine as a religious war between Muslims and Jews. It’s much more convenient for ultra-nationalists to present it as such, rather than as a war between colonialists and the dispossessed, which is what it really is. In wars of religion there is no room for compromise. It’s us or them. This is not a religious war but a war for dominion under a religious mantle. Their battle for expelling Palestinians from the territories – which is their true aim – is a territorial and national battle. They simply want the whole country for themselves. Just like they made cynical and dishonest use of security as a motive for their settlement, they tell themselves and others biblical stories in order to prove their sovereignty. This is not a religious war. The Palestinians fighting for Al-Aqsa or Gaza are not doing so in the name of imposing their religion. There are such elements among them, getting stronger in the absence of an alternative savior, but most of them still aspire to what all other secular nations want for themselves – equal national rights or a state of their own. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

Britain seeks law change to ban medical supplies from China's Xinjiang

Britain has proposed changes to legislation that would ban its health service from buying medical supplies made in China's Xinjiang region, after pressure from rights groups over Beijing's treatment of the Uyghur people. Rights groups and lawmakers accuse China of widescale abuses against Uyghurs and other minority groups, including the torture, forced labour and detention of one million people in internment camps. The government said on Friday it had put forward an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill aiming to eradicate the use of goods and services in the National Health Service (NHS) that are "tainted by slavery and human trafficking". The amendment does not mention Xinjiang specifically but will help ensure the NHS is not buying or using goods or services produced by or involving any kind of slave labour. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

Ex-Gitmo detainee sues Canada over alleged role in his detention

A former Guantanamo detainee who spent 14 years without trial is suing Canada over its alleged role in his imprisonment. Mohamedou Ould Slahi, 51, claims that Canadian authorities provided false information concerning the period when he was a permanent resident in Montreal in 1999, which led to his arrest and subsequent torture at the infamous US prison, according to his complaint filed on Friday and reviewed by the AFP news agency. Slahi is seeking 35 million Canadian dollars ($28m) for the damages he suffered during his 14-year imprisonment. In the lawsuit, Slahi says he faced “physical beatings, sleep deprivation, forced standing, incessant noise, sexual assault, mock assassination, death threats, religious humiliation, and more” while at Guantanamo. “Slahi’s detention and maltreatment were prolonged because the receipt and use of forced confessions by Canadian authorities validated the continued torture and detention,” his lawyers said in the complaint. read the complete article


25 Apr 2022

I have no guilt, says UP seer accused of giving rape threat to Muslim women

Bajrang Muni Das, a seer from Uttar Pradesh, who allegedly made a hate speech and issued rape threats to Muslim women in Sitapur, was granted bail by a local court. The seer of Maharishi Shri Laxman Das Udasi Ashram said he does not feel guilty about the remarks he made. "I have no guilt for what I said...," he said after his release from the district jail on Sunday. After his release, the seer said he is ready to go to jail a thousand times and face many attacks, but will continue to safeguard his religion and women. The hate speech video was purportedly shot in the town on April 2 on the occasion of Navratri and Hindu New Year. The video showed Bajrang Muni addressing a gathering from inside a vehicle. “If a man from your community harasses any girl in the area, I will pick up your daughters from your homes and rape them,” he was heard saying in Hindi, as the crowd cheered him on. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

#IndianMuslimsUnderAttack: Hate-filled songs used as a weapon to target Muslims amid increasing Islamophobia

The frenzied fury against Muslims began with provocative songs played by Hindu mobs that called for violence. It ended with Muslim neighborhoods resembling a war zone, with pavements littered with broken glass, charred vehicles and burned mosques. On April 10, a Hindu festival marking the birth anniversary of Lord Ram turned violent in Madhya Pradesh state’s Khargone city after Hindu mobs brandishing swords and sticks marched past Muslim neighbourhoods and mosques. Videos showed hundreds of them dancing and cheering in unison to songs blared from loudspeakers that included calls for violence against Muslims. Soon groups of Hindus and Muslims began throwing stones at each other, police said. By the time the violence subsided, the Muslims were left disproportionately affected. Their shops and homes were looted and set ablaze. Mosques were desecrated and burned. Overnight, dozens of families were displaced. "Our lives were destroyed in just one day," said Hidayatullah Mansuri, a mosque official. It was the latest in a series of attacks against Muslims in India, where hardline Hindu nationalists have long espoused a rigid anti-Muslim stance and preached violence against them. But increasingly, incendiary songs directed at Muslims have become a precursor to these attacks. They are part of what is known as "saffron pop", a reference to the colour associated with the Hindu religion and favoured by Hindu nationalists. Many such songs openly call for the killing of Muslims and those who do not endorse "Hindutva", a Hindu nationalist movement that seeks to turn officially secular India into an avowedly Hindu nation. For some of the millions of Indian Muslims, who make up 14 percent of the country’s 1.4 billion people, these songs are the clearest example of rising anti-Muslim sentiment across the country. They fear that hate music is yet another tool in the hands of Hindu nationalists to target them. "These songs make open calls for our murder, and nobody is making them stop," said Mansuri. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

Two Karnataka girls who challenged hijab ban return without taking exam

At least two of eight Muslim students who led the resistance against the hijab ban in Karnataka’s colleges decided on Friday not to take their second-year pre-university college (PUC) exams after they were denied entry into classrooms while wearing religious headscarves. Aaliya Assadi and Resham, the students, were seen leaving an examination centre in Udupi district after being denied entry over their attire. “Aaliya and Resham collected their hall tickets this morning,” Rudre Gowda, principal of the Udupi government girls’ PU college told HT, adding that he did not know if these students appeared for the examination or not. Assadi and Resham, both below 18 years of age, stuck to their stand of not agreeing to be forced to choose between faith and education, an issue that has sparked demonstrations for and against the hijab across the country. read the complete article

United Kingdom

25 Apr 2022

Faith groups condemn Islamophobic attack on east London mosque during Ramadan

Mosques and faith leaders from across the UK have condemned an Islamophobic attack that took place outside an East Ham mosque in the capital London on Tuesday this week. Two worshippers were injured by physical assaults as Muslims gathered to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan in the Sri Lankan Muslim Centre in east London. The attack was captured on CCTV, and was carried out by a group of white European assailants carrying glass objects, sticks and stones. Eyewitnesses reported a group of around 15 white men gathered on a street before they committed the assaults and fled before the police arrived. Footage showed what appeared to be a teenage boy kicking someone squarely in the back before sprinting away. Some worshipers were treated for minor wounds caused by broken glass from the attack. read the complete article

25 Apr 2022

Muslim paramedic says Islamophobia faced whilst saving lives can 'happen every day'

Sarah Haddada is a lifesaving paramedic but she's also a visibly Muslim woman who wears the hijab. And even though her only aim is to help those in need, that identification makes her a regular target of vile abuse on the job. Sarah's journey to becoming Muslim started in 2019 when she converted to Islam and discovered the 'beauty of the religion' through her Muslim husband. However since becoming Muslim, Sarah has encountered a stream of Islamophobia that has caused 'shock and horror' after working on the frontline for 10 years. "I had gone onto the job and there was this gentleman who was racially, verbally and physically abusive towards us. "He then proceeded to call me racially abusive terms like p*** and b**** about 30 times. No one was doing anything and some had joined in too. I was feeling absolutely sick after that. It tipped me over the edge. If I didn't take time off after that incident I would have actually ended my career. "He got away with it at the end of the day and it didn't make any difference to his life. He would never think about the impact of what he said on someone else's life and how many other people I couldn't help because I was off sick." Sarah questioned staying in the ambulance service after this incident after feeling sick with the level of abuse she received. But this abuse is not an isolated incident. At times she says it's 'daily'. read the complete article

United States

25 Apr 2022

Discrimination against Muslim-Americans up 9 percent in 2021: report

Muslim-Americans in the United States filed 6,720 complaints last year with the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), a 9 percent increase compared to 2020, according to a new report from the group. Complaints can include anything from bullying in schools, freedom of speech concerns, hate crimes, physical assaults or placement on a federal terrorist watchlist. Researchers specifically documented a 28 percent rise in hate and bias incidents involving the forcible removal of hijabs, harassment, vandalism, and physical assault, among others. CAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a Friday statement that “systemic Islamophobia continues to threaten our community.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Apr 2022 Edition


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