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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08 Apr 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, police are investigating an incident in which a Hindu priest threatened to kidnap and rape Muslim women outside a mosque in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district, meanwhile in France, Muslims are expressing their worries amidst the ongoing presidential campaign, stating that they are “being demonized. Peaceful groups are being targeted, and Muslims are being treated like the mafia,” and in the United Kingdom, a Newcastle councillor continued campaigning for re-election after she was suspended by the Labour Party for alleging a “Muslim plot” to remove the city’s council leader. Our recommended read of the day is by Ivanne Trippenbach and Franck Johannès for Le Monde on French far-right presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, who intends to “rebuild” the entirety of immigration law to avoid what she calls “the dilution of France by deconstruction and submersion,” and how her strategy if elected “would strip people of fundamental rights and individual freedoms.” This and more below:


08 Apr 2022

Marine Le Pen is still decidedly far-right, despite her softened image | Recommended Read

Ten days before France's real presidential election, the word "horror" is no longer associated with Marine Le Pen in public opinion. The Rassemblement National candidate has softened her image more than ever before, but her political program is still diametrically opposed to democratic and republican values. Le Pen has avoided riding on her street popularity, instead putting everything she's got into the presidential election. She claims to be a "legalist" and promises to "respect" the law and the Constitution, but in reality, she intends to fundamentally change both of them. Politics takes precedence over law, she says. She plans to put in place a strategy that would strip people of fundamental rights and individual freedoms, without which democracy is only the power of the many, not the respect of all. Marine Le Pen has warned that the first measure she will take if she becomes president will be to submit a bill on immigration and identity, which has already been drafted, to a referendum. She plans to get rid of a part of the preamble of the French Constitution of 27 October 1946 and will modify at least six articles of the 1958 Constitution "without calling into question the rule of law," she said. She calls this strategy "a considerable advantage," as "the Constitutional Council cannot examine a law adopted by referendum. It is totally applicable, without restrictions." In March 2021, Marine Le Pen tried to get rid of her party's association with racism and xenophobia. "I am not afraid of foreigners," she said. However, the RN candidate intends to "rebuild" the entirety of immigration law to avoid what she calls "the dilution of France by deconstruction and submersion." Her plan would inscribe an indirect reference to the racist theory of the "Great Replacement" in the Constitution, by ruling out any policy that could lead to "the arrival of a number of foreigners on the national territory who would be likely to change the composition and identity of the French people." Marine Le Pen wants to limit by 75% the arrival of migrants linked to family connections and the right to asylum, despite France's international commitments. Refugees will have to apply for asylum in consulates abroad. As in the days of the Front National, "national preference" is the keystone of its project: It involves establishing legal discrimination between nationals and foreigners when it comes to jobs in the private sector, the civil service, social housing, hospitals and social benefits. read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

France elections 2022: Should Muslims boycott the vote or take a chance on the left?

Something has changed from years past: racism is not hidden any more. Politicians don’t pretend any more. The government doesn’t try to save face any more, as it validates far-right tropes about minorities. As the racist and conspiratorial “Great Replacement” theory is discussed by mainstream politicians, and the state applies a racist and ethnically selective policy on refugees, no voter can be fooled any more as to which “republican values” are at stake in this race for power. And as much as this mass persecution of minorities is harmful and destructive for civil society groups, communities and families, the discursive shift is a positive development, as it clarifies the political game. In this game, there is a president, Emmanuel Macron, who was elected to oppose the far right, only to methodically apply its agenda by condoning police violence; supporting destructive economic and social policies; threatening and harassing any civil society group that dares to express dissent; and destroying and dividing all Muslim organisations that refuse to accept second-class status for Muslims. All the while, France poses at the international level as the torchbearer of freedoms, with little success. Then there is a left-wing candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is leading a dynamic campaign and performing well in the polls, with his support standing at more than 15 percent. And yet, he has struggled to distance himself from his past support for the Putin and Assad regimes. He is also paying the price for a divided left, has failed to include important minority voices in his campaign, and is demonised by the many media outlets that give more exposure to right-wing candidates. Finally, there is Marine Le Pen, the far right’s most potent candidate, who was initially shaken and destabilised by Eric Zemmour’s campaign as he chipped away at her support, before taking stock and repositioning herself as the “reasonable patriot”. Le Pen is patiently reclaiming her position as Macron’s main challenger, garnering 22 percent in the polls. She could ultimately benefit from broad support among conservatives and reactionaries on the right, alongside all those who radically oppose Macron. This situation is making for perhaps the most uncertain election in French history. And within this game, Muslims are still attempting to position themselves. read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

French presidential election: Why the political establishment must reckon with the costs of Islamophobia to the economy

There may be a continuous shift in French public debate, but one subject that remains consistent, is the paranoia around national identity and the presence of Muslims. Indeed, centring racist narratives within French political discourse has always served as a foundation to national tragedies. Weather it’s the far-left parties, Luttes Ouvrirères (French Communist Party) and Jean Luc Melenchon’s La France Insoumise, or far-right candidates, Marine Le Pen (National Rally) and Eric Zemmour, the French political spectrum is united when it comes to Muslims. Both sides have developed their own version of the conspiracy that there is a Muslim demographic threat. For the right, it’s the renowned ‘great replacement’ theory, which was coined by Renaud Camus, and was referenced in the manifesto of the Christchurch terrorist who gunned down 51 people in a mosque in New Zealand. The left adopts Laurent Bouvet’s ‘cultural insecurity’ which is no less violent in what it denotes about Muslims and migrants “taking over” so-called white lands, though it is not as well-known outside of France. In so many ways, France has been the laboratory of islamophobia. But all of these ‘debates’ about the Muslim threat, have dire consequences on the lives of Muslims, and their role in the French economy. read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

‘We’re Treated Like the Mafia’: France’s Election Is Normalising Islamophobia

French Muslims say they are being treated “like the mafia” in a divisive, bitterly-fought presidential election campaign defined in part by Islamophobia. “It’s incredible, we have entered a different world,” said Sihem Zine, president of Action Muslim Rights (ADM), an organisation that works to offer support to Muslims targeted by government action. “Muslims are being demonised. Peaceful groups are being targeted, and Muslims are being treated like the mafia.” With just days until France goes to the polls, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who has pledged if elected to hold a referendum on immigration and ban the Muslim headscarf from public places, is currently the most likely challenger to face Emmanuel Macron in a scheduled runoff vote on the 24th of April if, as is all-but certain, no candidate wins a majority in the first rond. A Harris Interactive poll published on Monday revealed that 48.5 percent of French voters said they would back Le Pen in the case of a head-to-head, compared with 51.5 percent support for Macron. French Muslims VICE World News spoke to despaired at the lack of diversity of the candidates running in the election. “They’re all the same, I’m not going to vote,” said Nour, a 30-year-old mother, who didn't give her surname, citing privacy reasons. “When I see the debates they all say the same thing. It’s always immigration. It’s to avoid addressing the real issues. Macron, he’s done nothing.” Nada Ziani, a 23-year-old student, said: “The French media has given a false image of Muslim life. All the aspects of Muslim life are under scrutiny. It’s being done to divide the population.” Analysts said that during Macron’s first term, the president’s politics have shifted hard to the right. Combined with the recent surge of the far-right, analysts say that means that political targeting of Muslims has gone almost unchallenged. “Since the autumn, the extreme right has had levels of support like never before,” said Julien Talpin, a political science researcher at the University of Lille. “The public debate has been structured around questions of national identity and immigration. There’s political consensus over this treatment of Islam and Muslims in France.” read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

Jean-Luc Melenchon could swing France to the left, but he’s a long shot

Jean-Luc Melenchon is the weakened and fragmented French left’s strongest candidate in the first round of the upcoming presidential polls on April 10, coming in third after President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, according to surveys. “Right now, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the extreme left candidate, is the strongest leftist candidate in the presidential race,” says Francois Gemenne, a political scientist at Sciences Po in Paris and the University of Liege in Belgium. While he presents himself and his party as the defender of equality and liberty for all, Louati finds his candidacy “quite problematic” due to his persona and political past. Louati says this past presents “a major challenge for him to gain more votes,” especially from those within the Muslim community. “He has been perceived as polarising, authoritarian and even an Islamophobe at times. He voted for all the anti-Muslim laws and has actively contributed to fuelling anti-Muslim controversies around the headscarf,” he says. Despite the charges of anti-Muslim sentiment, he has recently appeared to be more friendly towards Muslims than his right-wing competitors - but that doesn’t say much. He was the strongest opponent of France’s controversial anti-separatism bill last year due to its “anti-republican" and “anti-Muslim" character. He denounced the bill arguing that separatism was “a hollow and hazy concept.” He also found it shameful that the French parliament spent so much time discussing matters like “the veil, the burkini, foreign flags at weddings and even ululations.” But Louati has difficulty believing he has changed. “He has now changed his rhetoric to appeal to Muslim voters that have found no support from other candidates. But is Melenchon to be judged based on his 30-year track record or his discourse two years before the elections?” read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

Le Pen pledges to fine Muslim women who wear headscarves in public

Speaking to RTL radio, Le Pen explained how her pledge to ban the headscarf in all public spaces would be implemented, saying it would be enforced by police in the same way as seatbelt-wearing in cars. “People will be given a fine in the same way that it is illegal to not wear your seat belt. It seems to me that the police are very much able to enforce this measure,” she said. Le Pen has said she will use referendums to try to avoid constitutional challenges to many of her proposed laws on the basis that they are discriminatory and an infringement on personal freedoms. Previous legislation in France banning obvious religious symbols in schools or full-face coverings in public was allowed on the basis that it applied to all citizens and in specific settings. The hijab, or Muslim headscarf, is currently banned in government buildings such as mairies and schools, and it is also forbidden for state employees such as police officers to wear it. The same rule applies to all overt religious symbols. Wearing the hijab in other public spaces is completely legal, although the face-covering niqab is not permitted in any public space. read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

A Reinvented Marine Le Pen Threatens to Upend French Elections

After a 40-minute speech focusing on the rising cost of living, Ms. Le Pen succeeded in doing what even few of her supporters would have predicted just months ago: impressing them. Voters trickling out of an auditorium into the cold evening said she had become “less extreme,” more “mature” and “self-assured” — even “presidential.” “She has softened, she is more composed, calmer, more serene,” said Yohan Brun, 19, a student who grew up in Stiring-Wendel and had come to listen to Ms. Le Pen because “she cares more about the French people than the other candidates.” The makeover is part of a long and deliberate strategy by Ms. Le Pen to “undemonize” herself and her party, and ultimately gain the French presidency. While the effort remains unconvincing to many who consider her a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it has nonetheless succeeded in giving her a last-minute surge in the polls before Sunday’s election that is worrying Mr. Macron’s camp. “Marine Le Pen appears more sympathetic than Emmanuel Macron,” said Pierre Person, a national lawmaker of the president’s party, adding that he was worried that she could win. The perception of Ms. Le Pen has no doubt been helped by the contrast with Éric Zemmour, a television pundit and rival in the race, who managed to outflank her on the far right, where previously few had thought there was much room left for a politician seeking to enter the mainstream. Ms. Le Pen has dropped her opposition to dual citizenship, a longstanding core position of the far right. But she still wants to make it harder to become French and to reserve social services for the French. She wants to cut taxes for the French by cutting services to immigrants. She wants to make it illegal for Muslims to wear head scarves or other face coverings in public, even though she recently took a selfie with a teenager who was wearing one. read the complete article


08 Apr 2022

India's Hindu hardliners jump on Kashmir blockbuster

"The Kashmir Files" is the latest Bollywood offering -- more famous for its song-and-dance love stories -- to tackle themes close to the political agenda of Modi's Hindu nationalist government, critics say. Released last month and already one of the country's highest-grossing films this year, it depicts in harrowing detail how several hundred thousand Hindus fled Muslim militants in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1989-90. Authorities have made entrance to the film tax-free in many states, with police and others given time off to go watch. Numerous videos shared on social media and verified as genuine by AFP have shown people in cinemas calling for revenge and for Muslims to be killed. One clip shows Swami Jeetendranand, a Hindu monk, leading a crowd in nationalist and anti-Muslim chants. "We think that we are safe, but we are safe as long as they don't attack us," he rails. "(Muslims) are not only dangerous to India but to the whole world." Around 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus -- known as Pandits -- fled after the violence began in the late 1980s. Up to 219 may have been killed, according to official figures. Redressing this "genocide" and "exodus", as right-wing Hindu groups call it -- likening it to the Holocaust -- has long been a central theme of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party. In 2019, his administration -- often accused of marginalising and vilifying India's 200 million Muslims -- revoked the region's partial autonomy and imposed a vice-like security blanket. But Sanjay Kaw, a Kashmiri Pandit journalist who himself fled in the 1990s, said the movie makes no allusion to the persecution of the region's Muslim community either before or since. The film "certainly has an agenda", said documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak, as it "strongly feeds into the current Islamophobic discourse in our society". "I think the film makes those goals (of the BJP) quite explicit: which is basically about setting up Kashmir as a kind of ideological pole for their vision of a new resurgent Hindu India," he told AFP. read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

The Hindu Marriage Conspiracy against Muslim men

In India, Hindu nationalists are promoting the conspiracy that Muslim men are tricking Hindu women into marriage and converting them in an attempt to create an Islamic republic. The national government has found no evidence to support this claim, but laws have been passed in some of India’s largest states that could see Muslim men jailed for up to 10 years for committing this so-called “Love Jihad”. read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

Aggressive Hindutva in Karnataka is Unsurprising; it has Been 25 Years in the Making

What is surprising about Hindutva organisations’ recent aggressive and relentless attack on the lives, livelihoods and culture of Muslims in Karnataka is only its pace; not its substance. Minority communities were under relentless attack by the so-called ‘fringe forces’ of the parivar even during the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) earlier spell in power from 2008-13. The difference this time around is the open and articulated support provided to these elements by the BJP government; that too, from the highest level. Added to this is the silent concurrence – and sometimes, active support – given to these organisations and their acts by the dominant castes, classes and sections of society, thereby legitimising and bring into the mainstream the unconstitutional agendas behind these acts. Thus, these recent acts of Hindutva aggression, intended to remove Muslims physically and culturally from increasingly Hinduised public spaces through orchestrated attacks on their Hijab, Halal, Azan and even a potential economic boycott of Muslims, is not at all a fringe phenomenon. These attacks stem from the heart of the changing polity and society of Karnataka. It is true that Karnataka had once been a progressive state with communal harmony embedded in community life. But Karnataka is undergoing a metamorphosis. Take, for example, the open admission by Karnataka assembly speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri from the chair that he is proud to belong to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); or the open declaration by senior BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa, a minister in chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s cabinet, that a day will come when the bhagwa dhwaj (saffron flag) will become the national flag and that he would work in that direction. Even during the Hijab controversy, many from the treasury bench openly declared that India is a Hindu state and that one cannot compare the Hijab with Hindu markers of identity in classrooms. The above examples show that these recent aggressive and unconstitutional acts by Hindutva organisations are in line with the agenda of the BJP. Therefore, the developments in Karnataka cannot be explained away by citing a change at the helm of the government; that would be a simplistic explanation and would miss the larger undercurrent. The BJP in Karnataka – and for that matter, elsewhere too – has chosen strategies in proportion to its ideological influence on society and its electoral strength at a given point in time. While it never compromised on its core Hindutva agenda, it has been accommodative and flexible in its public articulation. read the complete article

08 Apr 2022

Hatemonger's Rape Threat To Muslim Women, UP Cops File Case After 6 Days

Six days after a Hindu priest's hate speech outside a mosque in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur district, in which he allegedly threatened to kidnap and rape Muslim women, police have registered a case and are investigating the matter. A case under relevant sections has been registered and further steps are being taken on the basis of witnesses' statements, Sitapur police said in a statement on Twitter after visuals of the speech sparked outrage and questions on why no action had been taken so far. The video shows a man clad in saffron robes, reportedly the local mahant in a small town Khairabad -- about 100 km from Lucknow -- addressing a gathering from inside a jeep. A man in a police uniform can also be seen in the background. Speaking on a microphone, the man appears to make communal and provocative remarks as the crowd cheers him with shouts of "Jai Shri Ram". He then purportedly says that if a Muslim harasses any girl in the area, he would kidnap Muslim women and publicly rape them. The threat is met with loud cheers by the crowd. Another video which is doing the rounds on social media shows four cops in the frame, three of them in the same vehicle as the priest as he delivers the hate speech, raising questions on why an FIR was registered after 6 days and why no further action has been taken yet. read the complete article

United States

08 Apr 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson should never have downplayed her work with Guantanamo Bay inmates

The Republican questioning at the hearing was a racist, misogynist Passion Play, a squalid sacrifice at the MAGA altar. They well knew that their propagation of QAnon pedophile conspiracies and racist babies would get no traction in the Senate or with the American people. But associating her with the representation of terrorists was more likely to strike a broader political chord. Throughout the hearing, Judge Jackson was asked pointed questions about her work as a federal public defender representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Judge Jackson’s replies to this line of questioning were politically shrewd but disappointingly evasive in contrast to the rest of her testimony, which was generally consistent with the highest ideals and standards of the American legal profession. She noted that she neither volunteered for Guantanamo work nor sought it out. She was assigned these cases. She also referenced that she was an appellate advocate doing research and writing on points of law; she never visited Guantanamo or met a detainee. What she failed to mention was that none of her clients was ever tried, much less convicted; all the charges were dropped and all were released by the Department of Defense. Judge Jackson may have offered an entirely truthful account of her work, but it misses a larger point — namely, that her work on behalf of Guantanamo detainees should not be minimized or explained away. In fact, her efforts represent the very best traditions of the bar and some of the most important work that attorneys can do. I, as well as many others, have done this work for nearly 20 years; these have been the proudest moments of my career and those of many others, not because we support terrorism, but we support the rule of law. read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Apr 2022

Newcastle councillor who alleged 'Muslim plot' spotted campaigning after Labour Party suspension

A leading Newcastle councillor continued campaigning for re-election after she was suspended by the Labour Party for alleging a “Muslim plot” to remove the city’s council leader. Joyce McCarty, one of the most senior figures in Newcastle Labour, has been accused of Islamophobia after asserting in a text message that Muslim councillors in the West End conspired to have Nick Forbes deselected earlier this year. The Labour Party has confirmed that she was suspended on March 31, pending an investigation, and that it is no longer endorsing her candidacy in the Wingrove ward ahead of the May 5 local elections. But an image circulated on social media shows that she was still canvassing in the area last Sunday, April 3, with the support of the party locally. In the text seen by ChronicleLive, the former teacher said she had heard there was a “specific Muslim plot” to oust her long-time ally Coun Forbes, who was deselected in his Arthur’s Hill ward in February, in order to get more black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates. The council leader lost a selection vote to local activist Abdul Samad and has since announced he will leave city politics in May. read the complete article


08 Apr 2022

UN inaction on China abuses 'huge disappointment': Uyghur campaigner

Uyghur campaigner Rushan Abbas, who is American, decried that Michelle Bachelet had, to date, been so restrained in her criticism of the well-reported rights violations taking place in China's far-western Xinjiang region. "I am very, very disappointed in her," Abbas told AFP on the sidelines of the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, insisting that what is happening "is clearly genocide". If the UN high commissioner for human rights herself "does not defend the founding principles of the United Nations and fundamental rights... who is going to be out there to defend innocent people like my sister?" "We have been begging for her to speak up, to do something," said Abbas, who maintains her activism led to China detaining her sister, retired doctor Gulshan Abbas, almost four years ago. She said she had been very hopeful when Bachelet, a former Chilean president and torture survivor, became the UN rights chief in 2018. "We thought she was going to remember and defend justice," she said, lamenting that instead Bachelet has been all but "silent". "There can be no neutrality in genocide." The US government and lawmakers in a number of other Western countries have also labelled China's treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang "genocide" -- a charge Beijing vehemently denies. Rights groups say that at least one million mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in "re-education camps" in the region, and face widespread rights abuses, including forced sterilisation and forced labour. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Apr 2022 Edition


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