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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01 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, a new report revealed that “senior Labour staffers had sent a number of ‘factional, insensitive and, at times, discriminatory’ Whatsapp messages laced with anti-Black racism and Islamophobia,” meanwhile in India, The Wire chats with Mohammad Zubair, the 39-year-old fact-checker whose work has garnered a lot of attention towards the growing culture of genocidal hate speech and violence against Muslims in India, and lastly, a group of former Guantánamo prisoners published an open letter calling for the film Jihad Rehab to be withdrawn, expressing their “discomfort with the content of the film and its methods of production.” Our recommended read of the day is by Dean Obeidallah for MSNBC on how the GOP’s embrace of “white, Christian nationalism as a platform” poses a threat to American freedoms and democracy. This and more below:

United States

01 Aug 2022

There's a terrifying reason Republicans' 'Christian nationalism' brand is so strong | Recommended Read

This past weekend, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., repeated her call that Republicans should embrace Christian nationalism, stating, “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.” This is the same Greene who in 2019, when she was a candidate seeking office, claimed the two female Muslim members of Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., wanted to impose “Sharia in America” and demanded they “go back to the Middle East.” This juxtaposition of a party that embraces a white, Christian nationalism as a platform, while condemning an imagined attempt to impose religious law of a different faith, is more than just glaring hypocrisy; it poses a very real threat to our freedoms and our democracy. Yet Democrats have still not found a convincing way to call out and rally against this xenophobic radical religious movement, even though the answer is staring them in the face: This is yet another example of the GOP’s dangerous embrace of extremism. For years, GOP-elected officials falsely claimed Muslim Americans wanted to impose Islamic law in the United States — which they referred to as “Sharia law.” It didn’t matter that we, Muslims, who only clock in at about 1% of the U.S. population, were definitely not trying to do that. Republicans simply saw a political benefit in stoking hate against a minority group, a staple of the GOP playbook. The irony feels extra rich now that these same Republicans are openly seeking to legally impose their extreme religious beliefs on Americans. Christian nationalism has a long dark history in the United States, one of white supremacy, bigotry and ties to the Nazi party. In the 1948 presidential election, a political party called the Christian Nationalist Party nominated Gerald L. K. Smith, a pastor who openly sympathized with Nazi ideologies in his party’s antisemitic, anti-Black platform. The term Christian nationalism is inseparable from white nationalism and is defined by the belief that the United States was founded as a white, Christian nation. It also relies on the core belief that there should be no wall between church and state, rather that our laws should be based on right-wing, extreme interpretations of the Christian faith. read the complete article

01 Aug 2022


Muslims living in Illinois said they are feeling optimistic about their future after a report released Thursday showed that the state’s Muslims are the most diverse and one of the fastest-growing faith communities in the country, with more Muslims per capita now in Illinois than any other state. The Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute of Policy and Civic Engagement partnered to put out the first Illinois Muslims: Needs, Assets, and Opportunities report, a project that took three years to complete and was unveiled at the university Thursday. The report found that 75% of Muslims in Illinois are registered to vote, 83% donated to organizations or causes associated with their faith community and 12% of Muslim respondents in Illinois identified as self-employed or running their own businesses, creating more than 350,000 jobs, or nearly 6% of all jobs in Illinois. The report also shows that 40% of Muslims in Illinois have a college degree or higher, compared with 28% of the state’s general public. Responses showed that Illinois Muslims are the youngest in the state and in the country, and the Illinois Muslim sample was on average younger than the state’s general public, with 50% of the Muslim sample between 18 and 35, compared with 42% of the general public, according to the report. Some of the community needs identified in the report are increased access to culturally appropriate mental health services, solutions to a “distressing” level of religious discrimination and a desire for more affordable halal food options. “We need our government and law enforcement on our side to help us with discrimination and hate,” Sayeed said. “Here are great opportunities that the report says our public officials, our corporate businesses and our philanthropic organizations can help us address.” Illinois is home to a Muslim population representative of many races, ethnicities and other demographics, according to the report, which makes understanding the community here reflective of understanding Muslims in America, Sayeed said. read the complete article


01 Aug 2022

Haryana Police search Rohingya camps to identify ‘anti-nationals’; refugees allege harassment

Rohingya refugees in Haryana’s Nuh district have alleged harassment on the part of the police days after a special search operation was carried out at their camps to ensure that “anti-national elements had not taken shelter” there. Refugees at three camps – Chandeni-2, Saddik Nagar and ward 7 near Jogipur – that The Indian Express visited on Friday said hundreds of policemen arrived for a “verification” drive and searched their houses for at least two to three hours. The police later impounded motorcycles, rehris (carts) and other vehicles from the camps, they said. “We were all asleep when the police knocked on our doors. Bola checking karna hai… thoda darr lag raha tha ki arrest toh nahi kar rahe (The police said it is for checking… We feared that we were being arrested). They took out a list and checked the names and documents of people living here. The police searched each house. Since I came here from Myanmar in 2012, such a raid has happened only twice, but no vehicles were seized previously. I assumed that this was a random checking, but then we got calls from other camps that their camps were also raided the same day,” said Ismail. “It reminded us of the harassment that we had faced back home,” said Mohammad Rafique, a construction worker at the Chandeni-2 camp. A person at the camp in ward 7, requesting anonymity, alleged that he was beaten up with a stick by the police. “For hours, they made us stand in the open and we were not allowed to eat anything. I walked to a shop to get some biscuits for my children when a policeman hit me with a stick,” he said, showing his bandaged leg. read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

Legal Notice To Bengaluru Police Over Failure To Initiate Action Against Hindutva Groups For Inciting Anti-Muslim Hatred

The All India Lawyers Association for Justice (AILAJ), have issued a legal notice to Bengaluru Police for failing to initiate action against the Hindutva groups for inciting hatred against Muslims during a protest held on 28 July at the city’s Town Hall. Massive protest by pro-Hindu organizations was held in front of Town Hall against the killing of BJP worker Praveen Nettaru. Nettaru was hacked to death in front of his broiler shop in Bellare of Dakshina Kannada district, by three bike-borne people. Tensions prevailed at several places in the district on Wednesday following his murder. Right-wing group Hindu Hitarakshana Samithi had gathered in large numbers at Town Hall and held a protest holding anti-Islam placards, which read, “Beware of Islam”, "Beware of Quran”. “We bring to your notice that these placards and protests are meant to undermine the equality of the Muslim community, deny them equal citizenship and discriminate against the community by instigating hatred against the Muslim community from the Hindu community. It must also be noted that such protest has been targeting an entire community and villainizing them in an attempt to stroke ill will against the Muslim community and create communal unrest,” AILAJ said in a letter to the police. read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

Zubair: ‘A Muslim Man Asking For Accountability and Working as a Journalist Is Not a Crime’

Mohammad Zubair, the 39-year-old fact-checker whose recent journalistic work made the biggest headlines internationally and garnered a lot of attention towards the growing culture of genocidal hate speech and violence against Muslims in India, eventually became a headline himself when he was arrested in as many as seven cases one after the other for alleged hateful tweets. Immediately after his arrest in June, Zubair received massive support from all over the world and #IStandWithZubair emerged as a top trend globally. After 23 days of being caught in a cycle of arrest, bail and re-arrest, the Supreme Court granted him bail for all pending and cases filed in relation to the same set of tweets, thereby ending what Justice D.Y. Chandrachud described as a “vicious cycle”. In recent years, Alt News – a small team of over a dozen fact checkers led by two former techies, Mohammad Zubair and Pratik Sinha – has emerged as a giant slayer when it comes to busting fake news and motivated political propaganda. Amongst other things, Zubair is known for his tweets and instant fact checks, often disrupting emerging narratives in Big Media. While Zubair has earned lakhs of followers through his work, he has also made some very formidable enemies. The Wire caught up with Zubair after his release on bail for an interview. Read the excerpts here. read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

Why Bajrang Muni, the priest who threatened Muslim women with rape, may go unpunished

On July 20, 38-year-old Bajrang Muni Udasin was stretched out on a cot draped in a soft saffron rug. The head priest of the Shri Lakshmandas Udasin Ashram in Uttar Pradesh’s Khairabad was unable to walk because of an ache in his leg, caused by a nervous condition. He was surrounded by several policemen, who had solicitously come to the ashram’s audience hall to ask if “all was well with him”. That day, however, Udasin had worries of his own. Not so long ago, he was booked for hate speech after he threatened to rape Muslim women. “If you [Muslims] harass one Hindu woman then I will openly abduct your sisters and daughters and rape them,” he had said. The comments were made at a religious rally in Khairabad in Sitapur district on April 2. The case was registered on April 8, after journalist Mohammad Zubair tweeted a video of the religious rally and the National Commission of Women wrote to the Uttar Pradesh police, urging them to take action. Muslim women in Khairabad then held a protest demanding his arrest. Udasin was arrested on April 13. Ten days later, he was out on bail. Soon, things were looking up for Udasin. On June 1, a case was filed against Zubair for calling Udasin and others booked for hate speech “hate mongers”. As Zubair was caught in a loop of arrests and FIRs that took him from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh, Udasin took credit for the police action against the journalist. “My followers were unhappy when Zubair tweeted,” he said. “As a result, the police took strict action by registering an FIR and arresting him.” The priest was lauded in the Supreme Court. On July 8, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, defending the case against Zubair, called Udasin a “respected mahant… a religious leader”. Raju told the Supreme Court, “When you call a religious leader a hatemonger, it raises problems.” read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

From Banning Hijab In Colleges To Arresting People For Offering Namaz, India Is Criminalizing Islam And Muslim Identity In Public Spaces

Throughout the pandemic and in its aftermath, India has seen a steady rise in Islamophobic targeting of the Muslim community. From the prevalent cow-vigilantism-related lynching in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka’s Hijab controversy to Gurugram’s Namaz row, Muslim religious practises have become a subject of disdain to the Hindutva majoritarian forces in power. The worrying trend of targeting Muslim religious practices and invisibilizing the Muslim identity from the public sphere is an attempt to isolate the minority religious community. Being at the receiving end of constant hate speeches delivered by mainstream Hindu leaders, the community stands on dangerous grounds, inches away from persecution and genocide. With Hindutva majoritarianism thriving in the country, India’s global index has dropped down to 46th place in 2021. As per the EIU’s 2021 Democracy Index report, the Indian administration’s failure to crack down on the maltreatment of religious and other minorities by Hindu nationalists in recent years has largely affected the country’s democracy score. The country which was globally renowned for having diverse cultures and traditions has now become the world’s centre for Islamophobic hate crimes. The veiled messaging is clear, Muslim identity and Islamic faith practises must be curbed and have no place in the public space. Whether it is the Muslim woman student wearing the Hijab in education spaces, or a Muslim man praying in an accessible patch of ground away from the public, both are to be frowned upon and reprimanded according to the unofficial edict of the pro-Hindutva ruling powers. read the complete article

01 Aug 2022


The government of India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has continued its crackdown on civic freedoms. In March 2022, India was included in the new CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist, highlighting serious concerns over the rapid decline in civic space protections in the country. The Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have expressed concerns over the use of repressive laws to jail activists as well as the ongoing human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. Scores of human rights defenders and activists remain in detention under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other laws, with some facing deteriorating health in prison. In addition, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 1976 (FCRA) continues to be used to target NGOs critical of the authorities. In recent months, fabricated cases have been brought against activists, including prominent human rights defender Teesta Setalvad who has been arrested and detained. Journalist Mohammed Zubair, who has exposed hate speech and disinformation, was also arrested. The homes of protesters against the anti-Islam remarks by two members of the ruling party, were bulldozed. read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

Islamophobia: It may be hard to stomach but it does exist in the medical profession

The last few years have been marked by the increasing polarisation of Indian society along religious lines. Islamophobia has been growing in many sections of society, and the Indian healthcare system is not immune to this. Islamophobia is creeping into medical schools and colleges, and some doctors have openly started pedalling it. Prof Aarti Lalchandani, the former Principal of Kanpur’s Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College, went on a nearly five-minute-long rant blaming members of the Tablighi Jamaat sect for spreading COVID-19, calling them terrorists and wanting them to be thrown into the jungle. “Send them to jungles, throw them in dungeons. Because of these 30 crores, 100 crores are suffering. There is a financial emergency because of them,” she complained. The pandemic brought out the ugly head of Islamophobia amongst even healthcare professionals. Dr Apurva Sastry, the author of the Medical Microbiology textbook, had to retract his unsupported allegation that the Tablighi Jamaat was responsible for the cluster of cases and explosive spread of Covid-19 across India after he faced backlash for his unscientific ramblings. Another Microbiologist, Dr Sumit Rai from AIIMS Mangalagiri, mentioned on his LinkedIn profile that if one has to stay in Bharat, one must chant Jai Shri Ram. This year’s Oxfam Inequality Report noted that over a third of Muslims reported having been discriminated against in hospitals or by a medical professional. This ranged from being denied the release of the dead body of their relatives by the hospitals to women patients being treated by male doctors without a female attendant. Such discrimination is not only a human rights issue but also has a deleterious effect on healthcare outcomes. While discrimination against Muslims is hardly new, the past few months have seen calls for genocide go unpunished. With immensely skewed power dynamics in the doctor-patient relationship, the bias must be addressed. read the complete article

United Kingdom

01 Aug 2022

Islamophobia is reducing a historic chapter in the Conservative Party

If Mr Sunak does get elected, he would be the first non-white British prime minister. But within that milestone are some rather uncomfortable truths, which show how much the UK has certainly not become a post-racist society. He may not be white, but in terms of wealth, Mr Sunak is more powerful than the overwhelming majority of British people. His political party, the Conservatives, have the additional issue of failing to recognise Islamophobia, which appears to be the most tolerated form of bigotry in the UK today. That issue has tenaciously held onto the Party for many years, in large part because its leadership has refused to address it. In 2011, the then co-chairperson of the Party, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, said that Islamophobia had passed the "dinner-table test". In other words, that it was respectable and decent to engage in bigotry against Muslims in good company around the dinner table. She was criticised for her stance but nothing was done within the Conservative Party. Over the years, more and more Muslims in the Party have come forward complaining of bigotry. Repeatedly, they found themselves brushed aside. Earlier this year, a Muslim Conservative MP, Nusrat Ghani, claimed that she was sacked as a junior minister two years ago, because, as other officials told her, her "Muslim woman minister status" was making colleagues feel "uncomfortable". Ms Ghani later revealed that she had told Mr Johnson who said, "He could not get involved and suggested I use the internal Conservative Party complaints process”. Ms Ghani’s was only the latest episode in that regard. As an investigation in The Guardian revealed in 2019, more than a dozen Conservative councillors who were suspended over posting Islamophobic content online had their membership re-instated. There is a long history of similar unfortunate cases. Sadiq Khan, for example, the mayor of London, had Islamophobia mobilised against him by his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, for the mayoralty in 2016, who accused Mr Khan of being "radical". read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

Labour bans 'Muslim plot' councillor over Islamophobia finding

A former Labour deputy leader of Newcastle City Council has been found guilty of Islamophobia and suspended from the party for a year. Joyce McCarty faced a probe into claims she made in a text message of a "Muslim plot", which ousted her ally and former leader Nick Forbes. Ms McCarty, who was re-elected in May, will sit as an independent. Newcastle Labour Party says it condemns "any act of hate crime" and will "call out any such behaviour when seen". It said: "Joyce McCarty has been found guilty through investigation of Islamophobia and is suspended from the Labour Party with immediate effect." read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

‘It Was Just Relentless’: Black and Muslim Labour Councillors Reveal Experiences of Party Racism

In December last year, Marcia Hutchinson, Manchester council’s only Caribbean councillor at the time, stepped down after a mere six months in office. Hutchinson, the daughter of Windrush immigrants, grew up in Bradford when the National Front was at its height. In her resignation letter, she wrote: “I have endured more racism and bullying in my five years in the Labour party than the rest of my life combined.” The Forde Report, released last week after a two-year delay, resonated with Hutchinson and others who say they have experienced racism within the Labour party. Commissioned after an internal Labour document leaked in April 2020, the report revealed – amongst other findings – that senior Labour staffers had sent a number of “factional, insensitive and, at times, discriminatory” Whatsapp messages laced with anti-Black racism and Islamophobia. Messages described the likes of Diane Abbott as a “truly repulsive” and “very angry woman” who “literally makes me sick”. The report concluded this manner of depiction was one of “visceral disgust, drawing on racist tropes” and bore “little resemblance to the criticisms of white male MPs elsewhere in the messages”. The report states that “there are serious problems of discrimination in the operations of the party” and that: “the party’s more recent steps to address the problems with antisemitism […] have not been matched by a commitment to tackle other forms of racism.” The Forde report accuses the Labour party of “operating a hierarchy of racism or discrimination,” under which many forms of discrimination were ignored. Minority organisations within the party concurred with the findings. In its public response to the report, the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) said: “Muslim members have consistently told us they feel Islamophobia often sits at the bottom of this perceived hierarchy. It is difficult to read this report and reach any other conclusion than there being institutional Islamophobia within the Labour Party.” read the complete article


01 Aug 2022

Jihad Rehab: former Guantánamo prisoners call for documentary to be withdrawn

A group of former Guantánamo prisoners are calling for the film Jihad Rehab to be withdrawn. In an open letter, the men express their “discomfort with the content of the film and its methods of production.” The letter was published after the film was screened at the Doc Edge festival in New Zealand under a new name, The UnRedacted. “Changing the title of the film doesn’t change its harmful narrative or lazy stereotyping,” says Moazzam Begg, a former prisoner and director of the Cage advocacy group. “Following widespread criticism, the team behind Jihad Rehab had an opportunity to listen and learn. Yet this has been met with little corrective action or even acknowledgment.” Filmed over several years, Jihad Rehab follows four ex-Guantánamo inmates, who are detained at a rehabilitation centre in Saudi Arabia. Despite not being convicted of any terror charges, the film introduces each of the men alongside a list of alleged crimes that were used to detain them without trial in Guantánamo for over a decade. Critics have highlighted the ethics of interviewing the men after they have spent nearly half their lives at Guantánamo, where they faced physical and psychological torture. One of the men still talks with his hands together as if they are in handcuffs. Jihad Rehab has also been criticised over its failure to dispel offensive stereotypes of Muslim men – and more serious claims that it jeopardises the safety and security of its subjects. read the complete article

01 Aug 2022

Rigged AI: How algorithms fuel anti-Muslim hatred in Europe and beyond

Researchers studying different social media platforms identify how algorithms play a key role in the dissemination of anti-Muslim content, prompting wider hate against the community. US Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar has often been a target of online hate. But much of the hate directed at her gets amplified through fake, algorithm-generated accounts, a study has revealed. Lawrence Pintak, former journalist and media researcher, spearheaded the research in July 2021 looking into the tweets mentioning the US congresswoman during her campaign. One of the crucial findings from the research was that half of the tweets involved “overtly Islamophobic or xenophobic language or other forms of hate speech”. What’s particularly interesting to note is that much of the hateful posts came from a minority of what Pintak’s study calls provocateurs — user profiles belonging mostly to conservatives, who spread anti-Muslim conversations. Provocateurs, however, weren’t generating much traffic on their own. Rather, the source of traffic or engagement came from what the research calls amplifiers — user profiles pushing posts by provocateurs and increasing traction through retweets and comments — or accounts using fake identities in a bid to manipulate conversations online, which Pintak describes as “sockpuppets”. A discovery of crucial importance is that out of the top 20 anti-Muslim amplifiers, only four were authentic. The modus operandi of the entire exercise relied on authentic accounts, or provocateurs, inflaming anti-Muslim rhetoric, leaving its mass dissemination to algorithm-generated bots. GPT-3, or Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3, is an artificial intelligence system that uses deep learning to produce human-like texts. But it says horrible things about Muslims and perceives stereotypical misconceptions about Islam. “I’m shocked how hard it is to generate text about Muslims from GPT-3 that has nothing to do with violence... or being killed,” Abubakar Abid, founder of Gradio — a platform for making machine learning accessible — wrote in a Twitter post on August 6, 2020. Later next year, in June 2021, he published a paper alongside Maheen Farooqi and James Zou exploring how large language models, such as GPT-3, which are being increasingly used in AI-powered applications, display undesirable stereotypes and associate Muslims with violence. read the complete article


01 Aug 2022

Carlton's Adam Saad calls for more education after spectator's alleged Islamophobic remark

Carlton Football Club's Adam Saad has expressed his disappointment over an Islamophobic remark allegedly directed at him by a spectator during Saturday night's game at Adelaide Oval. While at the airport waiting to fly out of Adelaide, Saad said he was aware of the alleged remark, which is being investigated by the AFL. "It's disappointing," he said. "At the end of the day, I know who I am as a person and us as a Muslim community." "As long as we can educate the person and move things forward. "Those things shouldn't be said." The Carlton Cheer Squad posted on Twitter that they were frustrated with the response by police and security at the oval, tagging the AFL, Carlton Football Club, Adelaide Football Club, the Adelaide Oval and SA Police in the post. "Cops, Security, Ground Staff 'talk to her' and say 'it's been dealt with' and tell us to leave it at that and she isn't even kicked out of the ground." "Absolutely disgraceful." read the complete article


01 Aug 2022

A Mennonite bonnet, a Muslim hijab: Why do many of us feel differently about them?

We see a Mennonite woman in a bonnet or prayer cap, and many of us think it’s “quaint” and part of this area’s history. We see a Muslim woman in a hijab or niqab, and many of us feel fearful or suspicious. Why the difference? This is the central puzzle of UN/COVERINGS, a richly detailed and thought-provoking exhibit at Schneider Haus National Historic Site on Queen Street in Kitchener. In one room, black bonnets of Mennonite women are displayed. Seen up close, some quilted and others with ruffles, they are things of beauty and signifiers of their community, as well as instruments of oppression. As if to push this complicated reality home, another wall shows rotating images of beautiful lace patterns, evoking prayer caps — but above it is a punitive quote. “Women’s uncovered hanging hair are a major stimulus to male sexuality. No wonder rape and immorality rise as the veils disappear,” reads the quote by American Mennonite minister William McGrath, from a pamphlet entitled “Christian Women’s Veiling.” Both for Muslims and Mennonites, it can be a complex thing for a woman to cover her hair, said Laura Morlock, co-curator of the exhibition with Cristina Moreno Almeida. (Morlock is Mennonite, and Moreno Almeida is Muslim.) A woman covering her hair “100 per cent has been used as a tool of oppression — and (also) used by women to claim identity, to claim independence,” said Morlock in an interview. This dynamic has applied to both Mennonite and Muslim women, said Morlock, who is also a lecturer at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Fashion, and specializes in diversity, gender and dress in North America. Although 84 per cent of Muslim women in Canada and the United States do not cover their hair, Morlock said some have taken to wearing a hijab as a response to anti-Muslim bigotry; a way of standing up and being counted. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Aug 2022 Edition


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