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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently addressed a rally in Telangana vowed to scrap reservation for Muslims in education if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the state, calling religion-based quotas “unconstitutional,” meanwhile in the U.S., the Masjid Omar Islamic Center in Minneapolis MN was the target of an alleged arson attempt Sunday evening when someone started a fire in a bathroom, and the US-based Hindus for Human Rights organization have published a new report documenting a cross country trip the group embarked on in 2023 seeking to address the rising violence and intimidation targeting Muslims in India. Our recommended read of the day is by Nicholas Confessore for the New York Times on the legacy of recently terminated Fox News television personality Tucker Carlson, whose show became one of the “most racist in the history of cable news,” as he promoted far-right conspiracy theories and railed against immigration. This and more below:

United States

How Tucker Carlson Stoked White Fear to Conquer Cable | Recommended Read

Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful. Though he frequently declares himself an enemy of prejudice — “We don’t judge them by group, and we don’t judge them on their race,” Mr. Carlson explained to an interviewer a few weeks before accusing impoverished immigrants of making America dirty — his show teaches loathing and fear. Night after night, hour by hour, Mr. Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege — by violent Black Lives Matter protesters in American cities, by diseased migrants from south of the border, by refugees importing alien cultures, and by tech companies and cultural elites who will silence them, or label them racist, if they complain. When refugees from Africa, numbering in the hundreds, began crossing into Texas from Mexico during the Trump administration, he warned that the continent’s high birthrates meant the new arrivals might soon “overwhelm our country and change it completely and forever.” Amid nationwide outrage over George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, Mr. Carlson dismissed those protesting the killing as “criminal mobs.” Companies like Angie’s List and Papa John’s dropped their ads. The following month, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” became the highest-rated cable news show in history. Alchemizing media power into political influence, Mr. Carlson stands in a nativist American tradition that runs from Father Coughlin to Patrick J. Buchanan. Now Mr. Carlson’s on-air technique — gleefully courting blowback, then fashioning himself as his aggrieved viewers’ partner in victimhood — has helped position him, as much as anyone, to inherit the populist movement that grew up around Mr. Trump. At a moment when white backlash is the jet fuel of a Republican Party striving to return to power in Washington, he has become the pre-eminent champion of Americans who feel most threatened by the rising power of Black and brown citizens. To channel their fear into ratings, Mr. Carlson has adopted the rhetorical tropes and exotic fixations of white nationalists, who have watched gleefully from the fringes of public life as he popularizes their ideas. read the complete article

Muslim students voice concerns over rising Islamophobia

As Ramadan comes to a close, Muslim University of Minnesota students want to draw attention to Islamophobic violence across the United States. Some Muslim students believe America has yet to acknowledge the impact of Islamophobia, Internal Vice President of the University’s Muslim Student Association Husaam Qureishy, said. “It’s important to bring it up over and over again to ensure it’s not swept under the rug,” Qureishy said. “These issues are still happening.” A 2019 report from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that fear of and discrimination against Muslims was on the rise nationwide. Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced legislation condemning white supremacy and Islamophobia on the first full day of Ramadan, March 23. The final day of Ramadan, the month-long holiday in Islam that includes fasting from sunup to sundown, was Thursday. Omar’s resolution also addressed the impact gun violence and mass shootings have on Muslim communities by committing to end gun violence and disavowing attacks on places of worship. Zayna Amanat, a Muslim student at the University, said Islamophobia is a pressing issue that’s continually ignored. “It’s honestly pretty annoying that this is the system we live in. The approach to violence, the weapons of violence, and the acts of violence aren’t going away,” Amanat said. “It doesn’t feel like the government actually cares.” Government Affairs Director for the Council on American Islamic Relations Robert McCaw said hateful beliefs drive anti-Muslim attacks. “This reprehensive act of violence was driven by the extremist ideologies of white supremacy, Islamophobia and the so-called ‘Great Replacement Theory,’” McCaw said. “Too many lives have been lost in the name of hate.” read the complete article

Minneapolis mosque reports arson; advocates call for investigation into possible bias crime

A Minneapolis mosque was the target of an alleged arson attempt Sunday evening when someone started a fire in a bathroom, and community members are calling for police to investigate whether it was an anti-Muslim bias crime. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) discussed concern about the fire at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center in a statement Monday. "Given past incidents targeting state mosques and Islamic institutions, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this crime," said Minnesota CAIR Executive Director Jaylani Hussein. Muslim community leaders reported that a white man entered the mosque around 7 p.m. Sunday with a container of flammable liquid before lighting the fire in the bathroom, CAIR said in its release. Worshippers at the mosque, which is in the 24 Somali Mall in the city's Ventura Village neighborhood, used a fire extinguisher to put the fire out, and police and fire officials also responded, CAIR said. A provided photo shows a red gas canister next to a pile of black burned material and some charred tiles. A surveillance photo shows the suspect wearing a black skull cap, glasses, a blue surgical mask and a black hoodie. read the complete article


'We will put an end to Muslim reservations in educational institutions': Amit Shah promises

Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently addressed a rally in Telangana and made a controversial statement, vowing to scrap reservation for Muslims if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the state. He also called religion-based quotas "unconstitutional" and promised to put an end to Muslim reservations in educational institutions. The statement has drawn criticism from various quarters, with many calling it a blatant attempt to polarize the electorate ahead of the upcoming elections in the state. Shah's remarks have also been criticized for their blatant disregard for the constitutional provisions that guarantee reservation for disadvantaged sections of society, including religious minorities. Reservation is a constitutional provision that was introduced in India to address historical and social injustices faced by certain sections of society. It is based on the principle of affirmative action, which aims to provide opportunities to those who have been historically excluded from the mainstream due to their caste, religion, or other social identities. Shah's statement on Muslim reservation is particularly controversial as it seeks to target a specific religious minority in the country. The move is seen by many as a blatant attempt to polarize the electorate and gain votes through communal politics. Shah's statement also ignores the fact that Muslims are among the most marginalized communities in India and are disproportionately represented in poverty and other social indicators. The reservation system is crucial for ensuring that such communities have access to education and other opportunities that would otherwise be out of their reach. read the complete article

On Hinduism, Hindutva and Hate

In the evening of the day of Eid a friend shared a video which was in fact done live by the famous singer Shaan. He was in his casuals. As we learn from him he was in Mangalore where he had to perform. But before that he felt compelled to do this video. This was because of the attacks that he faced for his earlier post, released at the beginning of the day of Eid. In the post that he uploaded, he can be seen wearing a skull cap with hands raised in a dua with a caption, “Eid Mubarak to you and your family.” This gesture received angry, hateful reaction from his Hindu followers, enough in number to force him to take out time before his performance to give a polite lesson to his followers in the beauty of respecting other religions. He in his own way said that he wouldn’t change, it is for his followers to think about what they had become. So, the day of Eid became for me, as for Shaan, a day to think about my fellow Hindus. Or, worry about them. Not only about a significant section of the Hindus of India. I feel concerned for even those Hindus who have gone to other countries and settled there. We were not taught enough about what’s going on in the community or what is being done to them hasn’t been explored enough. What they’re doing to themselves, what they’re turning into has never been critically examined. No one cares for their collective socio-psychological health. On the other hand, much has been written about the Muslims of India over the years. About the violent attacks on them, about their killings and destruction of their homes and livelihoods, about their daily humiliation, about the injustices meted out to them by the state and society. About the growing depression in Muslim society as a whole in India. There is no aspect of the lives of Muslims which has been allowed to remain private. They are a matter of public discussion and everyone feels free to comment on them. It is now becoming difficult to say the same thing with confidence about so many Hindus. I am not talking about Ram Navami which is now sadly becoming more about Muslims than about Ram. Has Ram become a tool or cover to provoke Hindu hatred against the Muslims. It becomes clear just by comparing the violent collectivisation of Ram Navami with the decent collectivisation of Muslims on Eid, which came a few days after Ram Navami. read the complete article

A ‘pilgrimage of love’ seeks Indian Hindu leaders willing to condemn Hindu nationalism

In 2019, Anantanand Rambachan, the Hinduism scholar and co-president of Religions for Peace, wrote: “The rise of populist nationalism, and especially those versions that clothe themselves in religious colors, requires a critique from the same religious traditions.” Throughout history, religious leaders have spoken out against hate and violence originating from their own religious traditions, sometimes risking their lives in the process. In modern India, Baba Lal Das, the mahant of Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi temple and a strident opponent of Hindu nationalist groups, was mysteriously murdered in 1993. More recently, Swami Agnivesh, an outspoken critic of Hindu nationalism and caste who fought for the rights of many marginalized communities in India, was repeatedly attacked by Hindu nationalist mobs on multiple occasions. But what about today? We at Hindus for Human Rights have often asked ourselves this question: Among India’s nearly 1 billion Hindus, where are the voices of fearless religious leaders in the mold of Bonhoeffer, Reeb, Baba Lal Das and Agnivesh? For years, Hindu spiritual leaders such as gurus Sadhguru and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar have made bigoted anti-Muslim remarks and promoted Hindu nationalist ideology, capped by calls for a Muslim genocide two years ago at a meeting of Hindu holy men in Haridwar, India. Last year, Hindus for Human Rights published a statement condemning Hindu nationalism and Islamophobia, signed by dozens of Hindu religious leaders and temples in the United States and across the diaspora. Very few Hindu religious leaders in India, however, agreed to endorse the statement. Over February and March of this year, my HfHR colleague, Sunita Viswanath, and I set out to investigate this phenomenon, embarking on a “prema yatra” — a pilgrimage of love — searching for Hindu religious leaders who were concerned about the state of affairs in India today. What we found, as summarized in our newly released report, was both deeply concerning but also incredibly inspiring. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Apr 2023 Edition


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