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.

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05 Apr 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In France, Muslims players for the French National Football Team have been asked by leadership to “temporarily postpone” fasting during the month of Ramadan, meanwhile the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has denounced the “provocative acts of violence and vandalism” during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami in India, calling the attacks a “vivid manifestation of mounting Islamophobia and systemic targeting of the Muslim community in India,” and in the U.S., according to the American Muslim Bar Association, more than fifty Shia Muslim scholars have had their American visa applications denied in the past decade, raising concerns that individuals are being targeted due to their faith. Our recommended read of the day is by Ella Cockbain for The Guardian on UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent claims about “Pakistani grooming gangs,” which Dr. Cockbain argues is a “narrative that echoes familiar tropes of the international far-right, which play off Islamophobic and xenophobic prejudice.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

Not even Suella Braverman’s own department agrees with her about ‘grooming gangs’ | Recommended Read

Despite these positive changes, in the past decade there have been new and particularly damaging developments that are hampering efforts to identify and support abuse victims and survivors effectively. Suella Braverman’s recent claims about “grooming gangs” go well beyond mere dog whistles and into overt racism. She asserts that perpetrators are “almost all British-Pakistani” and reduces victims to “overwhelmingly white girls from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds”. While she presents these assertions as “facts”, they directly contradict her own department’s findings. A 2020 Home Office report concluded that such “group-based CSE (child sexual exploitation) offenders are most commonly white”, while victims come from many backgrounds, and include boys. To the government’s own disappointment, it found no reliable, generalisable evidence of ethnic disproportionality among such offenders. This narrative around protecting (white) girls from Pakistani-heritage men is actively dangerous. It erases and overlooks sexual abuse against boys and ethnic minority children. It deflects agencies’ attention from offenders who don’t meet the stereotypes, failing to learn from previous such mistakes. It further mainstreams far-right talking points, stigmatising whole communities as sexual predators. It empowers Islamophobic action, which can have deadly consequences. read the complete article

Suella Braverman renews racist 'Pakistani grooming gangs' rhetoric amidst UK government's failures to protect children

Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s trademark, unapologetically false and racist brand of rhetoric was once again broadcast in homes across the country this Sunday morning in a watershed moment for British racism. On both BBC and Sky News, speaking without irony about the government’s plan to tackle child sexual abuse, Braverman went to great lengths to stress that “vulnerable white, English girls” were at risk from British Pakistani males who she describes unequivocally as possessing “cultural values at odds with British values”. According to Braverman, these men perceive women in a “demeaned and illegitimate way, and pursue an outdated and frankly heinous approach in the way they behave.” Braverman’s comments, which are shocking in their force and unambiguity, are amongst the most targeted and hateful comments made by a Government official, and directed at any one racial group, in recent years. They are also entirely characteristic of a Government which continues to use hateful and perverse tactics as a smokescreen to their shocking record on education, health, housing, crime – and by even their own ultimate determiner of success, immigration. Going almost entirely unquestioned in her assertion that the racial make up of a group is directly related to criminal and deviant behaviour is the exact definition of a eugenicist racism that civilisation thought it had abolished with the advent of modern sciences. Indeed, the Conservative government continues to rehash outdated racial stereotypes as a sleight of hand tactic. read the complete article

United States

Shia Muslim scholars denied entry into US suspect religious bias

It took the US consulate seven minutes to reject Nabil Ahmed Shabbir’s visa application. Shabbir, a British Shia scholar, had applied for his US visa to assist with the birth of his first child. His wife, an American Shia Muslim, wanted to have the birth in the US. Shabbir hadn’t even left the embassy gate after handing in his visa application when he got a text message saying it had been rejected. Shabbir, whose work had brought him to the US dozens of times before this rejection in 2020, did not think obtaining a visa would be an issue. Instead, he had to watch his firstborn’s birth via WhatsApp video. Shabbir is one of numerous Shia scholars who have been repeatedly – and unexpectedly – denied entry to the US in the past decade, despite their prior travel to the country for work purposes, raising concerns that they are being deliberately excluded because of their religion. Mohammad Ali Naquvi, cofounder and chair of the American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA), said his organization had documented denials or revocations of more than 50 Shia scholars in the past decade. Some were denied entry as they were about to board a US-bound flight, some were denied entry after arriving in the country and forced to turn back despite having a valid visa – and some like Shabbir still remain in a limbo of “administrative processing”. read the complete article

Professors cut ties with US university, citing director's reported role targeting Muslim groups

Two US professors have withdrawn their affiliation from George Washington University's (GWU) programme on extremism, following a report that the programme's director had been involved in a coordinated campaign to label several Muslim organisations as being linked to terrorism. "Before affiliating I should have done my due diligence about the director’s research and professional activities; I didn’t and I regret that. To be extremely clear: I condemn in the strongest possible terms Islamophobia," said Hilary Matfess, an assistant professor at the University of Denver and former fellow at GWU's extremism programme. A day after Matfess publicly announced her withdrawal from the programme, Cynthia Miller-Idriss also announced that she would do the same. Last month, The New Yorker published a lengthy report in which it alleged that Alp Services, a Geneva-based private intelligence firm headed by Mario Brero, pitched a campaign to the UAE to smear several Muslim organisations in Europe, including the UK-based, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). The report said that Brero had paid Lorenzo Vidino, director of GWU's programme on extremism, thousands of euros for "interesting leads/rumours" about the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as a "list of alleged members of the first tier organisations in European countries". read the complete article


Mona Chalabi’s datablog: Iraq war leukemia rates worse than after Hiroshima bombing

The US assault on Iraq that began 20 years ago has left a toxic legacy worse than that of the Hiroshima bombing, according to a study that looked at cancer rates and infant mortality. After the bombing in Japan, the rates of leukemia among those living closest to the detonation increased by a devastating 660%, about 12 to 13 years after the bomb (which is when radiation levels peaked). In Falluja, leukemia rates increased by 2,200% in a much shorter space of time, averaged just five to 10 years after the bombings. Anecdotally, doctors in Iraq began reporting a big increase in cancer rates as well as congenital anomalies (commonly referred to as “birth defects”) after the US began bombing the country. The research, led by Dr Christopher Busby while he was at the University of Ulster, showed that the doctors’ observations were backed up by data. In addition to the huge increase in leukemia, Busby and his colleagues found a 1,260% increase in rates of childhood cancer in Falluja after the US bombing as well as a 740% increase in brain tumors. They also found evidence that Iraqis had been exposed to radiation, as infant mortality rates were 820% higher than in neighboring Kuwait. read the complete article

OIC says Muslims targeted on Hindu festival, India rejects charge

A prominent Muslim body has denounced the “provocative acts of violence and vandalism” during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami in India, which has accused the organisation of an “anti-India agenda”. In a statement on Tuesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said instances of attacks on Muslims during the nine-day festival were a “vivid manifestation of mounting Islamophobia and systemic targeting of the Muslim community in India”. India’s foreign ministry condemned the statement, saying the OIC showed an “anti-India agenda”. Local media reports said large processions of people carrying tridents, swords, sticks and other weapons passed through Muslim neighbourhoods in several cities, raising hate slogans and even setting homes and shops on fire in some places. According to the reports, at least two people were killed in the violence during the festival, including one in the eastern state of Bihar, where authorities deployed hundreds of riot police and cut mobile internet services to prevent a flare-up. read the complete article

'We are still displaced,' 20 years after the Iraq war

On March 19, 2003, a United States-led coalition began bombing Iraq. One day later, a ground invasion began. Al-Khatib was seven years old. At the time, al-Khatib and his family lived in Ramadi, 110km (70 miles) west of Baghdad. They left their home during the early onset of the invasion, but the family was unable to meet their basic needs in Heet, a city in Al-Anbar province, so they returned to Ramadi to find that US forces had set up a base next to the family home. “Things in our neighbourhood were very problematic with the US base being near,” al-Khatib says. “We always had the fear of attacks happening on the base. I can recall that an attack or disturbance would occur at least once a week against this base.” After al-Qaeda's attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, US forces invaded Afghanistan with the purpose of quashing the group’s network and bringing down its leader, Osama bin Laden. Later on, allegations that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction was used to justify the invasion of Iraq as a continuation of the US "war on terror". Iraq’s dictator was toppled, but no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. Instead of the promised democracy, the US war and its destruction scarred the country, its people and culture. read the complete article


“Protect Muslims”: Mamata Banerjee urged Hindus as she fears fresh violence on Hanuman Jayanti

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the Hindu community to protect the safety of Muslims as the state of West Bengal has been witnessing a surge in communal clashes in recent days. She expressed concern over the possibility of more violence during the Hanuman Jayanti celebration on Thursday. Banerjee claimed that there are plans afoot for another round of violence in the state on Thursday and urged Hindus to ensure that minorities are “not tortured”. The Trinamool Congress supremo also alleged that some people carrying arms and bombs are taking out Ram Navami rally in Muslim areas purposely even as the festival got over five days back, to incite violence. Violence and vandalism have marred Ram Navami Processions in several states of India, targeting Muslims. Hate speech and stone-pelting against places of worship and shrines were common in all the incidents, which occurred in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, West Bengal, and Gujarat. read the complete article

Malyana riots: India Muslim victims despair after court order

The recent order of a trial court in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, setting free 41 Hindu men accused of religious violence against Muslims 36 years ago, has plunged the survivors and families of victims into despair. The violence on 23 May 1987 in Malyana village on the outskirts of Meerut town, in which 72 Muslims were massacred, allegedly by local Hindus and members of the state's armed police force, has been described as a "blot on Indian democracy". And critics say Friday's sessions court order is "a travesty of justice". Vibhuti Narain Rai, a former director general of the Uttar Pradesh police, described it as a "total failure on the part of the state". "The victims have been miserably failed by all the stakeholders - the police, the political leadership, a partisan press, and now the judiciary," he told the BBC. read the complete article


Over 50% of Swedes support ban on Quran burning

Some 51% of Swedes support a ban on the burning of the Quran and other holy scriptures, a survey revealed on Saturday. While 34% say burning holy scriptures is freedom of speech and expression, 15% did not comment, according to the poll by major research company Sipo. The survey was conducted on March 14-16 with the involvement of 1,370 responders. Meanwhile, public broadcaster SVT said provocative incidents by Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan against the Muslim holy book cost the country’s treasury some 88 million Swedish krona ($8.5 million). read the complete article


Muslim football players in France team asked to postpone fasting: report

Muslim players in the French national football team have been allegedly asked to postpone their fasting for a few days in selection during Ramadan. French sports daily L'Equipe has reported that the France staff allegedly recommended their Muslim players postpone their practice during the five days they spent in selection so that the players' performance would not be affected during their EURO 2024 qualifiers against the Netherlands on March 24, and Ireland on March 27. The same source added that Les Bleus staff would not force anyone in the team not to follow his faith but gave recommendations about this issue. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Apr 2023 Edition


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