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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27 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, “campaigners have accused former UK Prime Minister David Cameron of Islamophobia after he singled out Muslim critics of the controversial Prevent strategy and said they were “enabling terrorism” in Britain by criticising the policy,” meanwhile in the United States, the parents of a girl whose teacher was accused of removing a hijab from her head last year have filed suit alleging the girl’s religious rights were violated, and in India, the government has carried out evictions in more than a dozen Muslim villages, with one settlement of about 5,000 Muslims given less than a day’s notice to pack up and abandon their houses. Our recommended read of the day is by Gerry Shih and Anant Gupta for The Washington Post on how the “ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have used bulldozers to summarily demolish property owned by Muslims accused of crimes, turning the hulking machines into a polarizing symbol of state power under Narendra Modi.” This and more below:


27 Apr 2022

How bulldozers in India became a symbol of Hindu nationalism | Recommended Read

They rumbled into a central Indian village and tore down shops owned by a Muslim man falsely accused of kidnapping a Hindu woman. They rolled through a Delhi slum, knocking down the outer gate of a mosque that was the site of a Hindu-Muslim clash days earlier. Justice in India is increasingly meted out not by courts but by the long arm of heavy machinery. As religious tensions have mounted in recent weeks, local officials in four districts governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have used bulldozers to summarily demolish property owned by Muslims accused of crimes, turning the hulking machines into a polarizing symbol of state power under Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister and a staunch Hindu nationalist. Officials defended the demolitions as an effort to clear buildings encroaching on the road. But in a megacity where unauthorized construction is the norm, BJP supporters and critics agreed on the underlying motive for the operation: payback. “If you want to throw stones, then don’t live in an illegal building,” said Kapil Mishra, a BJP leader in Delhi. As India’s Hindus celebrated the birthdays of the gods Ram and Hanuman in April, while Muslims observed the holy month of Ramadan, gatherings across the country were marred by violence. Although local news and police reports suggested that most of the clashes were sparked by processions of armed Hindu men marching into Muslim districts, Mishra claimed that the chaos was orchestrated by undocumented Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh seeking to destabilize the country — a long-circulating conspiracy theory that has regained popularity among the Hindu right in recent weeks. Moving forward, bulldozers may be seen in more and more states, he predicted. “There was huge demand and public expectations that bulldozers should come to Delhi — it was on social media and on the ground,” Mishra said. “The bulldozer has become a symbol of law and order.” read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

Muslims in India are Losing Their Rights and Homes

Gayas-ud-din Ahmed thought his children would grow up in the same home that he was born and raised in. But in November, he was given a three-day eviction notice. Ahmed gave his son a hammer and told him to help with the deconstruction. They’re moving parts of their house to set up a shelter at a temporary camp with thousands of other Muslims. “They wouldn't have demolished my home had the Hindus stayed here,” Ahmed told VICE News. “They demolished it as it was Muslim property.” In the last year, the government has carried out evictions in more than a dozen Muslim villages. One settlement of about 5,000 Muslims were given less than a day’s notice to pack up and abandon their houses. When they protested, police opened fire, killing two people, including a 12-year-old. Authorities say they are simply reclaiming state land, and removing “illegal encroachers” irrespective of their faith, but rights activists say it’s part of the ruling party’s broader Hindu nationalist agenda of turning India into a Hindu state. “They're poisoning the minds of others against Muslims just to get some political advantage.” Zamseer Ali, a minority rights activist working to help the evicted families, told VICE News. read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

India gripped by a new wave of anti-Muslim violence

Several states in India have witnessed a surge in anti-Muslim communal violence in April during Hindu religious festivals. Two people have been reported killed so far, with mosques desecrated, vandalised, and set on fire. Saffron flags, a colour associated with Hindu nationalism, were planted on several mosques while Muslim properties, homes, and shops were set alight. Madhya Pradesh, which is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was one of the states worst affected by anti-Muslim attacks. In Khargone, as in other states across India, hate-filled songs have become a feature of such processions. Known as ‘Saffron pop’, many call for the killing of Muslims and those opposed to Hindutva, the ruling BJP’s ideology, which seeks to turn India into a Hindu state. In addition to Madhya Pradesh, the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Delhi also witnessed anti-Muslim violence during the Hindu festivals of Nav Samvatsar, Hanuman Jayanti, and Ram Navami. In almost all these states the communal violence followed a similar pattern: Hindu religious processions passed through Muslim areas chanting provocative slogans and playing anti-Muslim songs. Alishan Jafri, a journalist who covers anti-Muslim violence and hate speech in India, pointed to the silence of the state, and the inaction of the police against Hindu extremists, as the key reasons behind the communal violence. “The state could have prevented these attacks by stopping genocidal rhetoric from becoming normalised amongst Hindutva mobs. Silence has emboldened those who now see anti-Muslim violence as a fun activity or a notable point on their CV,” he said. “Even the actions by the state after the violence are cruel and unjust; the disproportional use of force, one-sided arrests, and the use of bulldozers against Muslims will only embolden the mobs to go a step further,” he said. read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

Decoding the role of mainstream and social media in the recent anti-Muslim violence in India

Anti-Muslim violence has been escalating in India with state-sponsored attacks on Muslims and open calls for genocide becoming increasingly common. On the other hand, through strategic campaigns and the dissemination of misinformation and propaganda on social media platforms and primetime news channels, right-wing groups have made Hindus believe in their victimhood. They have convinced the majority that the only way they can protect their rights and freedom is by eliminating Muslims from the country. “Hindus are under threat,” “Muslims should be treated as second class citizens,” and “Secularism marginalizes India's Hindus” were the top narrative frames present in media items in the CMO research. Under the governance of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), right-wing Hindutva outfits have gathered the support and authorisation to carry out their alleged mission of turning India into an Hindu nation. Meanwhile, Hindu right-wing groups and their supporters took to social media to give the signature battle cry “Hindu khatre main hain” (Hindus are under threat). Right-wing editorial media outlets like Sudarshan TV, OPIndia, Aaj Tak , and Zee News, were quick to build a narrative that demonised Muslims and blamed them wholly for the violence. They claimed that Muslims were intentionally targeting Hindus who were just trying to peacefully celebrate their festival. They asserted that any action that prevents Hindus from celebrating their religious festivals in any way they please is an act of anti-Hindu aggression. The hate and violence we see on the streets are encouraged by the hate that is spewed on digital forums. Social media pages and editorial media channels uphold ideas of Hindu indigeneity and Hindu supremacy. Hindus are mobilized to fight for a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu nation). They are made to believe in their collective victimhood, with the only possible solution presented as the elimination of Muslims from the country. CMO research data has shown that Twitter threads often use false narratives. Hashtags that are used to bring attention to the anti-Muslim violence taking place in India are hijacked to present Islamophobic narratives. Anyone who speaks up against this is branded as a traitor, an anti-national and a terrorist. Criticism and opposing views meet with contempt, harassment and often legal action. read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

What’s happening with Muslims in Modi’s India is nothing short of psychological ‘terrorism’

Delegitimised. Dehumanised. Isolated. Orphaned by the world and their own country, Muslims of India have a long and lonely battle to fight for their rights and honour. The image of a Muslim child picking out coins from his father’s bulldozed juice shop has been reduced to clickbait value. You see it, feel bad or indifferent, you even go as far as to celebrate it, but most of you move on with your lives. A man with amputated hands is accused of stone-throwing in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone. His only source of income, his shop, is bulldozed. You see his image, perhaps feel bad but move on with your lives. But Muslims? This is their daily reality. What is the future of Muslims in India when they are being psychologically broken by being brandished as conspirators, terrorists, illegal migrants, rioters and stone-throwers? Are Muslims the only minority in India who can be neglected and shunned without anyone really caring or asking for accountability from the government? Because when Sikhs come to the national capital on Republic Day and are branded as Khalistani terrorists by BJP ministers and a section of government friendly media, you hear Sikh ministers from Canada and the UK speak up in solidarity of their community and against the harsh farm laws of the Narendra Modi government. And the government makes amends. Or when BJP ministers take on the Christian community, accusing them of forceful conversions, PM Modi’s meeting with the Pope shuts everyone up. You don’t hear a squeak of the derogatory term “rice-bag” (often used by Right-wing to describe missionaries who convert Hindus by giving them food and money) on Twitter. The message sent by the Prime Minister of India is clear. He is in solidarity with the Christian community. All these welcome gestures, which should be seen as syncretism, were decried as “minority appeasement” by the BJP till now. But BJP wouldn’t dare to call their own PM’s outreach to minorities as appeasement, which they always accused the Congress of doing — “appeasing minorities”. For the BJP, appeasement of minorities is only seen as ‘appeasement’ when it comes to Muslims. But appeasing Muslims is a fallacy from Congress’ heydays. Because if there was appeasement, at least some needs of the Muslim community would’ve been met and there would have been statically some progress of the community. The Sachar Commission report of 2006 found Muslims at the bottom of almost all socio-economic indices and compared them with Scheduled Castes who still have reservations. read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

India: Is politics fueling attacks on Muslims? | The Stream

A wave of violent attacks on India’s Muslim population has the community on edge. In recent weeks, hundreds of people have been injured and a handful killed as part of a rise in communal violence across the country. Last week a number of Muslim-owned shops were razed in New Delhi before bulldozers were ordered to stop by India’s Supreme Court. Officials say they were targeting illegal buildings and not any particular religious group. But critics say it is the latest attempt to harass India’s Muslim minority, which makes up roughly 14 percent of the country’s 1.4 billion population. The Hindu majority accounts for 80 percent. Human Rights observers say recent incendiary rhetoric by politicians from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is helping fuel the country’s growing religious polarisation. However, India’s Minority Affairs Minister has tried to play down the recent upheaval by saying religious intolerance isn’t worsening in the country. On this episode of The Stream we discuss what’s causing the violence and what can be done to bring about peace. read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

Watch: Debunking Misinformation Peddled by AAP, BJP on Rohingya and Bangladeshis

Last week, bulldozers loaded with official bias rolled into the heart of India’s national capital, New Delhi. But that wasn’t the only unfortunate event. Both, the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP – the two political outfits holding power at different levels in Delhi – got into a race to outdo each other in demonising Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladeshi immigrants. In this episode of Checks and Balance, Saahil Murli Menghani does a six-step fact check on AAP and BJP’s claims, exposing the immediate electoral link behind their stand in two states, Delhi and Assam. read the complete article


27 Apr 2022

China Warns 'Political Manipulation' as U.N. Official Plans Xinjiang Visit

China has cautioned the United Nations not to allow its top human rights official to be exploited for political gain as its advance team landed this week ahead of a planned visit to Xinjiang. Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights, has sought access to inspect conditions in northwest China for the past year. Last month, her office announced it had secured a trip for May. An advance team arrived in Guangzhou in south China on April 25 to prepare for Bachelet's visit. The group is quarantined in line with the country's strict COVID-19 regulations, U.N. Human Rights Office spokesperson Liz Throssell told Newsweek. "Once out of quarantine, the team is also due to visit the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." "In countries where the UN Human Rights Office does not have a presence, it is standard practice for a preliminary technical mission to be deployed ahead of a possible High Commissioner visit. This is to ensure the meaningful access that would enable the Office to gain a clear understanding of the human rights situation in the country and engage in discussions on relevant issues with a wide range of stakeholders, including senior Government officials and civil society," she said. "The goal of the high commissioner's visit is to promote exchange and cooperation. We are opposed to political manipulation by exploiting the matter," Wang said as he outlined Beijing's position on the sensitive issue once more. Last June, when Bachelet told the Human Rights Council that she intended to visit Xinjiang to verify "reports of serious human rights violations," China's mission to the U.N. warned the official to "stop making erroneous remarks which interfere in China's sovereignty." read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

US panel calls on Biden to sanction India over sliding religious freedom under Modi

A US panel has urged the Joe Biden administration to impose targeted sanctions on India over what it called the erosion of religious freedom under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi. For the third year in a row, the United States Commission on International Freedom (USCIRF) recommended the US state department designate India as a “country of particular concern” for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom”. In its 2022 report, published on Monday, the bipartisan panel asked the Biden administration to “impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for severe violations of religious freedom” by freezing their assets and/ or prohibiting them from entering the US. The Modi administration has previously rejected the panel’s findings, calling it an “organisation of particular concern”. The report comes at a time when issues of religious beliefs, caste and faith have taken centre stage in India, in both public discourse and politics. read the complete article

United States

27 Apr 2022

Youngest Guantánamo Detainee Is Cleared for Release

The youngest detainee at Guantánamo Bay, a Yemeni man who has spent his entire adult life in U.S. custody, has been cleared for release, the Pentagon disclosed on Tuesday, but must wait for the Biden administration to find a country willing to offer him rehabilitation. At a Periodic Review Board hearing on Jan. 25, an unidentified U.S. military officer described the detainee, Hassan bin Attash, as believing that “his capture and subsequent detention had changed the trajectory of his life.” The officer said the now-cleared prisoner was influenced by American culture during his 20 years of detention, which according to a Senate study included at least 120 days at a C.I.A. black site. Mr. bin Attash, who was born in 1982 or 1985, was captured in a Pakistani security services raid on Sept. 11, 2002, along with a defendant in the Sept. 11, 2001, case, Ramzi bin al-Shibh. Mr. bin Attash’s older brother, Walid, is also accused of helping plot the Sept. 11 attacks. But Hassan bin Attash has never been charged with a crime. read the complete article

27 Apr 2022

N.J. girl’s religious rights violated when teacher pulled off her hijab, suit says

The parents of a girl whose teacher was accused of removing a hijab from her head last year have filed suit alleging the girl’s religious rights were violated and she suffered emotional harm. Joseph and Cassandra Wyatt are suing the South Orange-Maplewood School District and Seth Boyden Elementary School Teacher Tamar Herman alleging violations of New Jersey’s anti-discrimination laws, assault and battery, and negligence, according to court documents. The 7-year-old was a student in Herman’s second-grade class on Oct. 6, 2021, when the teacher “approached her, grabbed her hijab, pulling it back, touching her face and hair and exposing (the girl’s) uncovered head to the class,” states the lawsuit, filed March 4 in Superior Court of Essex County. The Wyatts state in the lawsuit they are Muslim, and have observed the religious head covering since she was 9 months old. Last year, an attorney for Herman told NJ Advance Media the teacher did not pull the hijab off the student and did not immediately recognize the garment as an hijab. The suit alleges Herman told the child “she could not wear that (hijab) in school” and that her “natural hair was ‘beautiful.’” The child reacted to the pulling by grabbing her religious head covering and yelling, “That’s my hijab,” the lawsuit states. “Herman had no legal justification for grabbing the hijab and her intentional act of grabbing the hijab constituted harmful and offensive contact with (the child),” the lawsuit states. read the complete article

United Kingdom

27 Apr 2022

David Cameron accused of 'Islamophobia' after singling out Muslim critics of Prevent

Campaigners have accused former UK Prime Minister David Cameron of Islamophobia after he singled out Muslim critics of the controversial Prevent strategy and said they were "enabling terrorism" in Britain by criticising the policy. In a new report published by the right-wing thinktank Policy Exchange, Cameron said the UK government's failure to debunk criticisms of Prevent would "jeopardise" Britain's fight against extremism. The report claims that Prevent faces a concerted campaign by allegedly fringe Muslim groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain, to undermine the policy. Among the Muslim groups accused of undermining the Prevent strategy are CAGE, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, and the Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) group. The Policy Exchange Report also includes several opinion articles written in Middle East Eye that is critical of the Prevent Strategy. MEND hit back at Cameron's comments and described it as a "blatant Islamophobic attack on Muslim critics of the Prevent strategy and the Shawcross review in the strategy". Muhammad Rabbani, managing director of CAGE UK, said Policy Exchange aimed to promote a "false reality of unopposed activists critiquing Prevent in order to explain away communities wholesale rejection of Prevent". A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said, "Policy Exchange has consistently led efforts to discourage cooperation between the authorities and the MCB. It is therefore laughable that the Policy Exchange should now claim that we are the ones discouraging cooperation because we are exercising our democratic responsibility to scrutinise bad policy." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Apr 2022 Edition


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