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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28 Apr 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a new examination finds that the festival of Ram Navami has “become an opportunity for the Hindu right-wing to intimidate and assert their dominance over the Muslim community using the excuse of religiosity, which in totality aids their project of nation-building,” meanwhile in the United States, Donald Trump has vowed to restore the Muslim Ban, prohibiting citizens of a number of Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, if he is elected president in 2024, and lastly, the back-to-back attacks targeting mosques in Minnesota has left Muslim communities in a state of unease and renewed calls to lawmakers to pass legislation that would expand reporting for bias-motivated crimes. Our recommended read of the day is by Isabel Teotonio for the Toronto Star on how reports and personal testimonies highlighting the bullying and harassment faced by Muslim students in Toronto, compelled the public school board to vote unanimously in favour of developing a system-wide strategy to combat Islamophobia. This and more below:


28 Apr 2023

‘I never felt protected’: Muslim students, parents seek real change with TDSB plan to fight Islamophobia | Recommended Read

Muslim students bullied in the schoolyard, being called terrorists or enduring “jokes” about bombs in their bags. Those are among the incidents that compelled Toronto’s public school board on Wednesday night to vote unanimously in favour of developing a system-wide strategy to combat Islamophobia, making it the second school board in Canada to do so. The move comes after trustees at the Toronto District School Board heard impassioned pleas from community members who said students don’t feel safe, calling on them to develop an anti-Islamophobia strategy they said was long overdue. At a board meeting on Wednesday, Trustees Liban Hassan and Neethan Shan presented their motion calling for an action plan specific to dismantling Islamophobia, noting hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in Canada, which significantly impacts Muslim students. Student Yousif Ahmed, 16, who is Black and a visible Muslim, said kids regularly make fun of Muslim students, calling them terrorists or saying they have bombs in their bags. He’s been subjected to such “jokes” made in front of teachers, noting “I have never felt protected by my school. ... Every day I hear Muslims being attacked and bullied in schools simply for believing their beliefs.” Former student Ramsha Tariq, a 22-year-old South Asian hijabi woman, recalled asking teachers for a space to pray at school and being met with comments such as, “Can’t you just do that at home?” and “Ask someone else.” “It made me feel guilty for practising my faith,” she said. “I felt unsafe and (unwelcome) due to the lack of accommodation and understanding.” read the complete article

28 Apr 2023

Toronto District School Board votes to develop anti-Islamophobia strategy

Canada’s largest school board has decided to develop an anti-Islamophobia strategy, saying the policy is needed to better support Muslim students and their families. The Toronto District School Board said the new strategy will build on its broader Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism policy, which addresses all forms of hate and discrimination. The move comes after the neighbouring Peel District School Board released an anti-Islamophobia strategy in January. “Hate crimes against members of the Muslim community have been on the rise in Canada. Many trustees, parents, students, community organizations and advocates have raised concerns around incidents of Islamophobia,” TDSB vice chair Neethan Shan wrote in a statement. “These incidents have a significant impact on students and their families in the TDSB requiring a more tailored action plan to help support them.” The 2021-22 annual report from the TDSB’s Human Rights Office found Islamophobia accounted for the second most frequently reported creed-based hate incidents, behind antisemitism. The board voted unanimously Wednesday night to develop the anti-Islamophobia strategy. read the complete article

United States

28 Apr 2023

Trump recommits to banning Muslims from entering US if he is re-elected

Donald Trump has vowed to restore a travel ban on Islamic nations, prohibiting citizens of those countries from entering the US, if he is elected president in 2024. "I will restore my travel ban to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country," the twice-impeached former president said in New Hampshire on Thursday. "You saw what happened. Four years… You saw that right? We were very tough on that. We don't want our buildings blown up." Mr Trump, during his first week in office in 2017, restricted travel from seven Muslim-majority nations – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. While the order was at first blocked by the courts and the White House scrambled to say it was not a ban on Muslims, the Supreme Court in 2018 upheld the final version of the measure. The ban was overturned by president Joe Biden after he took office in 2021. White House said it will improve the screening of visitors by strengthening information sharing with foreign governments instead of retaining the blanket ban. read the complete article

28 Apr 2023

America must end the scourge of profiling Arabs and Muslims

While the Bush administration wasn’t the first or last to implement policies that violated the rights of Arab and Muslim immigrants, its behaviour post-9/11 was the most egregious – and came in waves of far-reaching programmes that caused widespread fear and had terrible consequences for tens of thousands of innocent victims and their families. First came the immediate round-up of thousands of recent Arab and Muslim immigrants – many of whom were summarily deported. This was followed by two national “call-ins” in which more than 8,000 Arab and Muslim immigrants (and some citizens) were ordered to report for “interviews” with immigration officials. In late 2002, about the same time as the US was preparing to launch its invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration launched the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a large profiling programme that required all non-immigrant males who were 16 and over (students, visitors, businesspeople) from 25 Arab and Muslim-majority countries (and North Korea) to report to immigration offices around the US to be photographed, fingerprinted and interrogated. By every measure, NSEERS was a disaster. In the end, of the estimated 160,000 to 180,000 immigrants who were to have reported, only 83,000 did – with almost 14,000 placed in deportation proceedings. Because the Bush administration rebuffed all requests for information, all that is known are stories from victims, their families, or their attorneys. NSEERS did not produce a single known terrorism-related conviction. Twenty years after Mr Bush’s assault on civil liberties, it’s time for the Biden administration to bury, once and for all, the discriminatory underpinnings that enabled NSEERS by finally updating the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security’s profiling guidance so that we actually ban profiling in all its forms.  read the complete article

28 Apr 2023

Muslim lawmakers, community members urge action following escalating attacks on mosques

Days after Muslims around the globe celebrated as the holy month of Ramadan came to a close, festiveness turned into uneasiness and fear for the Twin Cities Islamic community. An attempted arson at a Minneapolis mosque Sunday evening was followed the next night by a fire at another mosque in the same neighborhood, prompting the Minneapolis Police Department to team up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine whether the incidents were motivated by bias. The back-to-back incidents are the latest in a troubling increase in attacks on the houses of worship in Minnesota, keeping Muslim communities in a state of unease. Against the backdrop of the recent attacks and with less than four weeks left in the legislative session, members of Minnesota’s Muslim communities and advocates asked lawmakers to pass legislation that would expand reporting for bias-motivated crimes. Minnesota saw nine attacks on mosques across the state last year, which is the most of any state in the nation, according to Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. According to a fact sheet compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice, recorded religious hate crimes in Minnesota went up from 20 incidents in 2019 to 30 in 2020 then again in 2021 to 44 incidents. FBI data show 11 recorded hate crimes categorized as anti-Muslim in 2021. read the complete article

28 Apr 2023

Ron DeSantis blows up at reporter over question about Guantanamo Bay prisoner claims

Ron DeSantis angrily chastised a reporter on Thursday as he spoke in Jerusalem, and denied that the had been present for force-feedings during his service at the US military prison at Guanatanamo Bay. The moment occurred as Mr DeSantis gave a press conference at the Museum of Tolerance, a cultural centre in the Israeli territory of West Jerusalem. At the press conference, Mr DeSantis was questioned about claims from a former Guantanamo detainee who was held without being charged for more than a decade at the notorious military prison accused him of being present for episodes where he was force-fed by guards to break a hunger strike. Mansoor Adayfi, a Yemeni citizen who was held for 14 years at Gitmo, told The Independent in March that he was brutally force-fed by camp staff during a hunger strike in 2006, and that Mr DeSantis was present for at least one of those sessions. Force-feeding is designated as torture by the United Nations. Mr Adayfi was released in 2016 (without ever being accused of a crime) and first came forward with the charge that Mr DeSantis had been in attendance for the force-feedings last November. Another detainee has also accused Mr DeSantis of being present; an investigation from The Independent confirmed that Mr DeSantis’s role as an attorney was to field complaints of illegal treatment from detainees. read the complete article

28 Apr 2023

Children main target of anti-Muslim hatred in US: report

Muslim children in the United States have increasingly been reporting instances of anti-Muslim hatred in schools, although complaints of hateful sentiments and acts seemed to show an overall decline. According to the Progress in the Shadow of Prejudice report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organisation in the US, there was a staggering 63 percent increase in reports of anti-Muslim hatred from schoolchildren. “Bullying in schools and the use of Islamophobic material in classrooms is alarming. While we are pleased to see a decline in government-led incidents, children have become the main targets of Islamophobic hatred,” CAIR’s Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor said. Alongside education, the upward trend in anti-Muslim attitudes continues in areas such as banking, with accounts being opened and closed based on religious beliefs making financial transactions a major challenge for Muslims. A March survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that financial institutions cause challenges for 27 percent of Muslims in the US. According to Saylor, laws such as the Patriot Act, which came into force in the US after 9/11, gave intelligence agencies wide-ranging surveillance powers and facilitated discrimination. But it’s not all bad news. Despite an increase in several areas, overall reports about anti-Muslim sentiments in the US showed a dip for the first time in nearly three decades, decreasing by 23 percent since 1995. read the complete article


28 Apr 2023

How India’s Ram Navami Processions Are Used to Enflame Religious Polarization

March 30, 2023, a day that could have been a celebration of India’s plurality and religious diversity, was instead marred by communal violence and animosity. With Ram Navami, the Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Ram, taking place this year in the Islamic holy month of Ramzan (Ramadan), violent clashes erupted in at least eight states across the country resulting in deaths, multiple injuries, and immense damage to property. All the incidents of communal clashes had their genesis in the religious processions carried out by organizations affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which passed through neighborhoods inhabited by the Muslim community. The intensity of religious polarization and violence mirrored the events of 2022, where the violence was even more widespread. The festival of Ram Navami has become an opportunity for the Hindu right-wing to intimidate and assert their dominance over the Muslim community using the excuse of religiosity, which in totality aids their project of nation-building. A study conducted by Ashutosh Varshney and Bhanu Joshi found that the violence that is taking place during Ram Navami is an emerging trend and is not rooted historically in the social fabric of India. The celebration of Ram Navami was historically restricted to small-scale celebrations in temples and household shrines. The addition of large-scale processions has come with the rise of Hindu nationalism and the taking over of the festival by militant Hindutva organizations. read the complete article

28 Apr 2023

'Most Hindu Religious Leaders Worried by Anti-Muslim Hate, but Silent for Fear of Hindutva Groups'

The US-based organisation Hindus for Human Rights, which has just completed what it calls a prema yatra “searching for Hindu religious leaders who are concerned about the state of affairs in India today”, has concluded that the majority of the Hindu religious leaders they met are concerned about the deteriorating state of Hindu-Muslim relations and the way Muslims are often treated but are scared to speak out because of their fear of the response from Hindu nationalist groups. The yatra was conducted in February-March this year and travelled across nine states, visiting 12 cities and several villages and met nearly 30 Hindu religious leaders. The organisation said these are significant and important leaders who have considerable influence in their local communities. The yatra also visited major pilgrimage sites like Haridwar, Varanasi and Ayodhya as well as important metropolises such as Delhi, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram. Mandalaparthy first discusses the deeply concerning aspect. “We encountered a pervasive sense of victimhood or resentment among Indian Hindus deeply intertwined with hatred towards India’s Muslim minority … we saw the extent to which Indian Muslims have been dehumanised in the minds of many Indian Hindus and their religious leaders.” On the inspiring side, he made a point of saying that the majority of Hindu religious leaders do not agree with Hindutva. He said: “One temple priest in Varanasi told us that his idea of dharma is inseparable from humanity (manavta) which he said was the opposite of Hindu nationalism.” Perhaps more significant was what the yatra was told by a Hindu religious leader in Haryana: “One swami in Haryana simply stated to us ‘India has never had only one religion. This is a pluralistic land’. Religious diversity, he said, was at the heart of what it means to be Indian.” read the complete article


28 Apr 2023

Twitter is complying with more government demands under Elon Musk

It’s been exactly six months since Elon Musk took over Twitter, promising a new era of free speech and independence from political bias. But Twitter’s self-reported data shows that, under Musk, the company has complied with hundreds more government orders for censorship or surveillance — especially in countries such as Turkey and India. Most alarming, Twitter's self-reports do not show a single request in which the company refused to comply, as it had done several times before the Musk takeover. Twitter rejected three such requests in the six months prior to Musk's takeover, and five in the six months prior to that. More broadly, the figures show a steep increase in the portion of requests that Twitter complies with in full. In the year before Musk's acquisition, the figure had hovered around 50 percent, in line with the compliance rate reported in the company's final transparency report. After Musk's takeover, the number jumps to 83 percent (808 requests out of a total of 971). The orders vary widely in scope and subject, but all involve a government asking Twitter to either remove content or reveal information about a user. In one case from January, India’s information ministry ordered Twitter to take down all posts sharing footage from a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Dozens of posts were removed, including one from a local member of parliament. read the complete article

28 Apr 2023

How George Soros became a punching bag for rightwing Twitter in India

US billionaire George Soros’s investments in the Indian technology and startup world are no protection against the Hindu right wing’s ire over his trenchant views against prime minister Narendra Modi and democracy in the country. Ninety-two-year-old Soros’s recasting as a manipulative enemy of Hindu religion and nationalism seems largely to be the handiwork of social media—especially Twitter—influencers than mainstream media, according to Joyojeet Pal, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. Since 2008, Soros has invested over $90 million in Indian businesses, including in Chennai-based unicorn Freshworks. In 2010, he bought a 4% stake in the Bombay Stock Exchange, but offloaded the stake in 2017. However, since the philanthropist investor slammed Modi at February’s Munich Security Conference, Hindu nationalist Twitter influencers have condemned him, citing his Jewish background, conflict with Israel, and his home country Hungary’s antipathy towards him. “The real driver of the Soros story was Twitter influencers. The overwhelming majority of the most amplified messages were from right-leaning influencers, who were more effective in driving the narrative than journalists, politicians, or even mainstream media handles,” Pal tweeted on April 26. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 Apr 2023 Edition


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