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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16 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, as the country celebrates 75 years of independence, Indian Muslims and other minorities say they find themselves in a state of siege as the country has lunged rightwards under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP, meanwhile the 11 convicts accused of raping Bilkis Bano during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat, were freed on Monday, and in the United States, “solar equipment is piling up at the border in an indication the passage of a law targeting forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region is having a major impact on trade flows.” Our recommended read of the day is by Daniel O’Gorman for The Conversation on how some commentators are using the horrific attack on Salman Rushdie to further a “clash of civilizations” argument. This and more below:


16 Aug 2022

Salman Rushdie’s attack was an assault on free speech – but not a clash of civilisations | Recommended Read

Rushdie is the author of 14 novels, most famously The Satanic Verses (1988). A sprawling magical-realist epic, the book sparked outrage among Muslims around the world due to its veiled representations of the Prophet Muhammad. Upon its publication, protests broke out in India, the novel was banned, and footage of book burnings were widely broadcast around the world. Similar demonstrations took place in the UK, in places with large Muslim populations such as Bolton and Bradford. On February 14 1989 (a date that Rushdie has sardonically described as his “unfunny Valentine”), Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa (or decree) against Rushdie, calling for his murder. The “Rushdie affair” became headline news around the world and the author was forced into hiding for most of the 1990s. As literary critic Anshuman Mondal has argued, the framing of the Rushdie affair and its aftermath in the media has sometimes been troublesome. Representations of the novel as a battleground between free speech and Muslim fundamentalism belie a refusal to engage seriously with a reality that is more complex. What is lost in this characterisation is the fact that many Muslim readers hold conflicting, multi-faceted views about Rushdie and his text. So far, public commentary on the stabbing has overwhelmingly and rightly expressed concern for Rushdie’s wellbeing. There has also been unconditional condemnation of his assailant. Simultaneously, some of this commentary has begun to frame the incident using the familiar free speech versus fundamentalism binary. The attack was undoubtedly an assault on free speech. However, recent scholarship on Islamophobia warns us that a collective eagerness to focus on Islamic extremism can lend itself to a perception of the world in which western-style liberalism is pitched simplistically against religious – and especially Muslim – “barbarism”. This sort of worldview, academics further warn, can lead to an increase in discrimination towards Muslims. Horrific as this incident has been, it’s vital to avoid hyperbolic rhetoric about a “clash of civilisations”. We should also be wary about embracing the kind of free speech fundamentalism that French far-right figures like Éric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen have exploited in the wake of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

The Humanitarian Significance of Michelle Bachelet’s Visit to Bangladesh

On a four-day visit, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is conducting an official visit to Bangladesh from Sunday to Wednesday, upon the invitation of the government of Bangladesh. This is the first ever visit to Bangladesh by any UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights back in 1993. The visit comes ahead of the fifth anniversary this month of the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The recent/massive exodus of Rohingya was sparked by the “Clearance Operation”, a military crackdown by Myanmar, which the UN called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and other rights groups dubbed as “genocide”. However, acknowledging Bangladesh’s great difficulty in dealing with the Rohingya crisis, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet assured the UN’s continued efforts to realise the safe and voluntary return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar. She made the assurance when Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said that the protracted stay of the displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh bears the risk of the spread of radicalism and transnational crimes and thus may hamper regional stability. During her trip to Cox’s Bazar, the high commissioner visited camps housing Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and met with the forcibly displaced Rohingya people, officials and non-governmental organizations. High Commissioner Bachelet appreciated Bangladesh’s humanitarian gesture towards the Rohingyas and recalled that the government took good care of the displaced Rohingyas during the pandemic by providing vaccines. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

Solar Panels Piling Up at US Border on Xinjiang Forced Labor Law

Solar equipment is piling up at the US border in an indication the passage of a law targeting forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region is having a major impact on trade flows. Modules with capacity of more than three gigawatts have been held by US customs since June, Roth Capital analysts including Philip Shen said in a note that cited an industry contact. That’s the same month that the US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act went into effect. The US is the second-largest solar market, but is heavily reliant on imports. China, by far the largest market, dominates the global supply chain, with Xinjiang a key region. Beijing has repeatedly denied allegations of forced labor in the area that’s home to the largely Muslim Uyghur minority. Even before the act went into effect, Washington’s actions had been making it tougher to import Chinese solar equipment. Less than half of the planned solar power capacity additions in the US were installed in the first six months of 2022 due to delays caused by reasons including supply-chain constraints, the Energy Information Administration said in a report last week. read the complete article


16 Aug 2022

Op-Ed: As a Hindu, I can’t stay silent about injustices in India — committed in the name of our faith

I want all the aunties, uncles and young people I’ve been raised around to know that I can’t stay silent about what is happening in the name of our faith in India. How can I speak out about injustice in the U.S. while ignoring India? Modi has waged a political war against poor people, farmers, Indigenous and caste-oppressed groups and Muslims, and because of that, Hindu nationalists now feel free to brutalize those communities. In 2019, he abrogated the semi-sovereign status of Kashmir, the territory trapped between Indian and Pakistani military rule. Thousands of people protested when Modi’s government approved a bill that set religion as a condition for citizenship by only granting citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing neighboring countries. In March, a school district in the southern state of Karnataka — where my family’s roots are — banned students from wearing hijab. Every day reports pile up on social media of Muslims being murdered or sexually assaulted in India at the hands of Hindu nationalists. Meanwhile, journalists critical of Modi have been silenced, incarcerated and harassed. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and other non-governmental organizations have had to halt or limit operations in India. Modi’s election showed me what was right below those polite smiles at community events I attended. At best, elders and even my parents debated me, arguing that Brahmins had also faced discrimination because of India’s reservations system, a version of affirmative action. One auntie — a term of respect we use for older women in our community, even if they’re not related to us — advised me, with love, that India was a lost cause and that I should focus my energy on the U.S. On social media, I’ve been attacked for speaking out at all. When I was last in India in December 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, I got into several tearful debates with cousins repeating horrible stereotypes about Muslims. But conservatism in India is also culturally and financially supported by Indian communities here in the U.S. In November 2019, then-President Trump welcomed Modi to a Houston stadium with 50,000 paying Indian Americans. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

It’s Time to Condition Aid to India

In late June, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was warmly welcomed into the privileged club of the G-7, attending the group’s annual summit as a guest alongside leaders from Argentina, Indonesia, Senegal, South Africa, and Ukraine. In a horrific split screen, Modi and his colleagues affirmed their commitment to democracy and free speech just as Indian police had arrested Teesta Setalvad, a human rights defender and longtime Modi critic, and R.B. Sreekumar, the former director-general of police in Gujarat state, on charges of criminal conspiracy and forgery. The arrests came less than 24 hours after the Indian Supreme Court dismissed a 2013 legal petition by Setalvad that sought to bring criminal charges against Modi, who had been chief minister of Gujarat during 2002 pogroms that saw Hindu mobs terrorize Muslims and that led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. Setalvad’s and Sreekumar’s arrests were only the latest evidence that, 75 years since independence, India’s government institutions are actively undermining Indians’ human rights. But while the uptick in Hindu nationalism under Modi has not escaped attention abroad, another component of India’s democratic backsliding has flown under the radar. Namely, its military’s abuses of human rights. As the United States seeks a deeper security and economic relationship with India, it must ensure that U.S. tax dollars are not used by the Indian government, particularly by the Indian military, to further violate Indians’ human rights. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

‘Attack on a dream’: Muslims in fear as Indian democracy turns 75

As India celebrates 75 years of independence, the country’s Muslims and other minorities say they find themselves in a state of siege. Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014, the South Asian nation has lunged rightwards under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with an overt and organised state patronage to a Hindu majoritarian agenda worrying its Muslims. Critics say Hindu majoritarianism has become a de facto state policy under Modi, with Hindu supremacist groups ratcheting up their demand to turn the country into a “Hindu Rashtra” or an exclusive Hindu state. Across the country, Muslims are facing blatant and subtle discrimination from state and private institutions as well as Hindu right-wing groups backed by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Whether it is what Muslims wear, eat, their places of worship and their constitutional rights to practise and preach their religion – all have been systematically attacked, banned, demolished or diminished since Modi came to power in 2014. For the first time in India’s history, its governing party does not have a single Muslim parliamentarian. “If Hindu Rashtra means assigning second class status to Muslims, then India has practically already become one. Now it’s a question about making it official. Even If they don’t do it, the change has taken place”, author and journalist Dhirendra K Jha told Al Jazeera. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

Eleven convicts in Gujarat gang rape, murder cases freed in India

The 11 convicts in what came to be known as the Bilkis Bano case were freed on Monday from jail in Gujarat’s Godhra town after the state government approved their application for remission of sentence. An anti-Muslim pogrom happened in 2002 after a train carrying 59 Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing 59 people. In the retaliatory violence that went on for days, nearly 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were hacked, shot and burned to death in the western state, one of India’s richest. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister at the time and has been accused of not doing enough to stop the killing and instead singling out human rights defenders fighting for the victims. In one of the most horrific episodes of large-scale anti-Muslim violence, Bilkis Bano was gang raped and her three-year-old daughter Saleha was among 14 people killed by a Hindu crowd on March 3, 2002, in Limkheda area of Dahod district in Gujarat. Saleha was killed by smashing her head on the ground, the court said in its ruling. Bilkis was 21 years old and five months pregnant at the time. She survived by playing dead during the carnage and then lost consciousness. The 11 men convicted were from Bano’s neighbourhood, she later told the prosecutors. Commenting on the release of the 11 convicts, New Delhi-based lawyer Mehmood Pracha told Al Jazeera it is “one more proof of the convicts’ involvement with the political leadership of ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)”. “They were involved in Gujarat carnage against the Muslim community. And now they (government) are living up to their promises which they had made to the criminals, culprits, and their cadres in the (Gujrat riots) case) that they will protect them from all legal prosecution and that’s what they are doing till date,” he said. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

75 Years After Independence, a Changing ‘Idea of India’

The evening before he was sworn in as newly independent India’s first prime minister 75 years ago on Aug. 15, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the Indian nation. There was immense curiosity around the world. Nehru’s address, which quickly became known as his “tryst with destiny” speech, is remarkable for its eloquence and his awareness of the task that lay ahead for his nation. At the time, the subcontinent was still undergoing a bloody partition, during which millions of people would die and tens of millions of lives would be uprooted. Three-quarters of a century later, under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the country’s narrative is undergoing its broadest shift since independence. India’s secular, liberal founders such as Nehru are increasingly lost from view—and blamed for the tragedy of Partition. Modi’s government wants to turn India into a more assertive, nationalistic, Hindu nation—where minorities exist but are expected to be subservient and grateful. As government officials, including Modi, increasingly mix Hinduism with politics, and as minorities, particularly Muslims, find increased restrictions against displaying their faith, India is fast becoming the country Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, warned about when he demanded a separate nation for British India’s Muslims. The eight years of BJP rule have changed India’s governing ethos—and what the “idea of India” means today. Instead of being a multi-everything society that celebrates its diversity, it has become a majoritarian entity, fearful of its minorities and keen to subjugate them. Hindus have lynched Muslims on the suspicion of possessing meat. The central government has used national security laws to arrest human rights defenders—including Christians and Muslims—who had been working for the poor, in many cases with no charges filed and bail denied. In the populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the BJP-run state government has razed the homes of Muslims who have challenged the government. Indian jails are filled not only with criminals awaiting trials but also with dissident human rights activists, journalists, writers, and others whose voices an older India might have celebrated. read the complete article

United States

16 Aug 2022

The Albuquerque murders are a wake-up call for American Muslims about our own communities

As always, it’s important to discuss Syed’s case as an individual one, lest we risk painting all Muslims with a single stroke of extremism. Syed has denied involvement in the four killings, yet has a history of violence according to court records. In 2013, a boyfriend of one of his daughters claimed Syed, a Sunni, attacked him because he belonged to the Shia sect of Islam. He also allegedly beat his wife and son. None of these arrests led to charges being held against Syed: twice, the people involved declined to press charges, and the third time, Syed attended an intervention program. While we await confirmation regarding the motives and police investigation, the curtain has nonetheless opened to reveal the undeniable disharmony that divides Muslims – not only in the Middle East and Asia, but also here on western soil. Muslims are Muslims, you might think, naively. But as Egyptian-American scholar Leila Ahmed writes in Women and Gender in Islam, different interpretations of Islamic sources can yield “fundamentally different Islams”. So much so that, as a Muslim journalist, I find the phrase “Muslim community” in the singular to be inaccurate and simplistic. Today, there is no sole, uniform community – or ummah – as much as Muslims would like to lay claim to one. Muslim feminist scholar Amina Wadud elucidates this fact in her newly released book, Once in a Lifetime: “When people say the ‘Muslim ummah’ today, it is just romantic. We are far too diverse and divided for it to mean what it used to as a unified collective with a single interpretation of things; things are now far too complex for such uniformity.” When Albuquerque, New Mexico first started making headlines for its string of Muslim murder victims, the initial assumption was that these were anti-Muslim hate crimes influenced by Islamophobia. Why else would anyone kill Muslims in America, a country to which many Muslims fled after experiencing religious persecution within their own countries? Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia – attacks, arrests and general mistreatment of minority sects take place unchecked in many of these Muslim-majority countries. But the US isn’t a place we’d expect to see such intra-faith violence. Oftentimes we view Islamophobia to be the main concern of Muslims in the west — but if you ask me, these sectarian animosities are more divisive, dangerous and destabilizing to our communities. Especially post-9/11, Muslims tend to collectively sweep the faults, issues and injustices within our communities under the rug, fed up with the scrutiny and surveillance we already face because of our hijabs, our beards, our dark skin and our countries of origin. Sharing and spreading news of a Muslim man’s arrest for murders of fellow Muslims is the last thing we want to do when still in “damage control” mode from a terrorist attack that occurred more than two decades ago. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

Abortion Care Is Part of My Faith

I have lived much of my life trying to make my own country comfortable with my presence. But that is difficult to do when I embody so many things that it opposes. As a Muslim woman, my religion is contentious for my fellow Americans. I figured out later in life that “one nation under God” meant a Christian God, not Allah. I was raised by a Muslim father who took me to Friday prayers and always bought me a present for Eid. But after Friday prayers, I would take my hijab off as soon as I got into the car, because once I left the mosque, I didn’t feel safe. I decided not to wear a hijab as a young girl, because I was initially too scared. I had anxiety about being physically or verbally assaulted. Now, because of my race and that I choose not to wear a hijab, it is never assumed that I am Muslim. The intersections of my identity have deeply informed my cultural and political beliefs. At the epicenter of Islam is empathy and the ability to practice it. Ramadan is an important time for us, because it is an opportunity to humble ourselves and recognize the collective suffering that is experienced across the world. We are asked to lead our lives with empathy and take time to understand our positionality in this world. That could be from an economic, social, or even cultural privilege. This mentality is intertwined with the teachings of Islam and has engrained a firm belief in me that we are not here to dictate the lives of others. As we are in a moment where people with the capacity for pregnancy are being denied abortion care as a constitutional right, I have reflected more on how my religion and support for abortion are not at odds. Regardless of my religious beliefs and being supported by them, religious validation should not be required to support abortion care. We live in a country deeply influenced by Christian ideology that excludes the rest of us while maintaining a monolithic American vision. To live in America means to accept Christian ideals as the foundation of our politics. To be included in American politics means to conform to Christian ideals. And this was proven to be true on June 24, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The overturning is another red flag in this abusive relationship with America. Roe v. Wade is not only an issue of the right to choose, but religious singularity. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

Somali-American candidates overcome hurdles in pursuit of Ohio Statehouse seats

For the first time in its history, Ohio is on the precipice of having a Somali American — maybe even two — serve in the state legislature. It's an accomplishment that members of the new American community say has required overcoming a host of roadblocks: years of internal political apathy as well as external racism and Islamophobia, less-than-favorable municipal electoral systems, and hesitance from the state’s Democratic leadership. Munira Abdullahi, 26, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, prevailed over those factors by winning the Democratic primary for Ohio House of Representatives’ District 9 in a landslide on Aug. 2. She campaigned on a progressive platform of Medicaid expansion, green energy and investing more in affordable housing. Abdullahi’s success means she is almost guaranteed to win the general election in November; her district in Columbus leans so heavily Democratic that the Republican Party is not even fielding a candidate. She said she does not take the responsibility lightly. “I truly believe the legislature needs to reflect the community that it serves,” she said. “I think having someone who has been part of the community — who understands the struggles, understands the people in a personal capacity — will make a huge difference in having their concerns heard.” Another Somali American candidate, Ismail Mohamed, 29, is neck-and-neck with another candidate in the Democratic primary for House District 3 in Columbus, another heavily Democratic district. read the complete article

16 Aug 2022

Anti-Muslim Hate Is Just as Horrific When It Comes From Muslims

Last week, when authorities announced the arrest of a man in connection with two of the killings, we breathed a sigh of relief. But his name, Muhammad Syed, was a gut punch. We knew there was a possibility that the killings were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment — but few of us expected that a Muslim would be arrested. Many Muslims across the country have expressed the hope that these killings were not sectarian acts. Indeed, intra-Muslim sectarian attacks are rare in the United States. It’s horrific to think that anti-Muslim hate from a fellow Muslim may have played a role — but religious leaders and communities across the country are contemplating that possibility. After the arrest, Imam Khalid Latif, a Sunni chaplain and the executive director of the Islamic Center at N.Y.U., wrote a powerful Twitter thread urging fellow Sunnis to proactively confront anti-Shiite hate and uplift Shiite voices. He concluded his message with a prayer for the Sunni community: “Help each of us to be the best of their supporters at this time and to do our part to obliterate hatred in all of its forms, including anti-Shia hatred, even if that means speaking out against those who are close to us.” It pains me when Muslim Americans, even inadvertently, mimic the oppressive views or behaviors of xenophobes and nativists. We should know better. Particularly since Sept. 11, we’ve been on the receiving end of jokes and slights about terrorism, jihad and Shariah that become talking points for anti-Muslim zealots. Muslim Americans have been asked to prove our loyalty to our country, and our patriotism is routinely questioned. This has (or should have) made us cherish and fight for the values of tolerance and religious pluralism that allowed our parents to build mosques, establish their communities and raise children who could one day be the heroes of the American story. And yet we, too, can succumb to prejudice. Sometimes that prejudice presents as a monopoly on understanding and communicating the beliefs of Islam, a religion of around 1.8 billion people. It builds artificial walls between coreligionists — and fellow Americans. read the complete article


16 Aug 2022

Military says it is probing ‘wider patterns’ of abuse against Rohingya

The Tatmadaw has said it is investigating “possible wider patterns of violations” against Rohingya civilians in Rakhine state during military attacks on villages in 2016 and 2017. In a statement published in state media on Tuesday, the military’s True News Information Team also announced there would be a court-martial to try soldiers who committed abuses in Chut Pyin and Maung Nu villages in Maungdaw. Scores of Rohingya men, women and children were massacred in each village in August 2017, Human Rights Watch and others reported. The military’s Judge Advocate General has been analysing the report from the government’s Independent Commission of Inquiry into the attacks, the statement added. That analysis “has reached the point where the Office is investigating possible wider patterns of violations in the region of northern Rakhine in 2016-2017,” it said. “Allegations regarding villages in the Maungdaw area are included in the scope of this wider investigation.” Rights groups are likely to argue Tuesday’s statement is another attempt to deflect international pressure for real accountability for the attacks, which UN investigators have labelled genocide. In July Human Rights Watch labelled a separate court-martial to punish soldiers for abuses against the Rohingya as an “accountability sham”. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Aug 2022 Edition


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