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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17 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: A report commissioned by a “UN office said it was ‘reasonable to conclude’ that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China were the victims of stated-backed forced labor and other forms of inhumane treatment,” meanwhile in the United States, activists have expressed outrage after a bulldozer was used during an India Independence Day event in NJ, which has become a symbol for Hindu nationalist politicians and a tool to intimidate Indian Muslims, and in the United Kingdom, authorities are reviewing evidence, including CCTV footage, following a shocking unprovoked assault on a Muslim man who was on his way to pray in east London. Our recommended read of the day is by Rohit Ghosh for Article 14 on how Hindu nationalism has “infected Indian newsrooms,” and Islamophobia has become more open in mainstream media outlets since 2014, and is “manifested in comments, masquerading as jokes, and dictating editorial decisions.” This and more below:


17 Aug 2022

As Islamophobia Infects Indian Newsrooms, Muslim Journalists Persevere Amid The Bigotry | Recommended Read

“If a terror attack takes place in Srinagar in Kashmir, the general comment in the newsroom is that all Muslims are terrorists," said A. "If communal violence breaks out, the common refrain is, ‘Muslims are never going to change. They will remain illiterate’.” “The comments are passed off as jokes, and I’m expected to laugh,” he said. “Despite knowing I'm sitting with them, fellow journalists are not careful with their words. Such things have become common post-2014.” A, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisal from his employers, was referring to the year that the former chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, led the Bharatiya Janata Party to power at the centre. Prime Minister Modi’s two terms heralded an era of Hindu majoritarianism that legitimised the persecution of minorities and the press (documented here and here). The eight Muslim journalists that Article 14 spoke with said that anti-Muslim bigotry in newsrooms of mainstream media outlets—dominated by the Hindu upper caste—has become more open in the years after 2014, manifesting in comments, masquerading as jokes, and dictating editorial decisions including the framing of headlines as well as the selection and display of the stories. Aslah Kayyalakkath, the founding editor of Maktoob Media, an independent media outlet, told Article 14 that Muslim journalists “have been silenced in a variety of ways”, and “newsrooms can re-create Islamophobia”. “Muslim journalists who are critical of the ruling party and ultranationalism have been silenced in various ways or had their work tokenised by largely upper-caste newsrooms,” said Kayyalakkath. “Journalists at leading publications have expressed their experiences of Islamophobia in those companies. Their social media posts have been scrutinised like nothing on earth.” “Newsrooms can re-create Islamophobia when they refuse to promote qualified Muslim reporters, dismiss their story ideas and pigeonhole them as only fit to report so-called ‘Muslim’ stories’,” he said. read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

Ban the Hate Letter Signed by 25 'Academics' – Not Books by Maududi

Thanks to a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and signed by 25 Hindu ‘academics,’ scholars Abul ‘Ala Maududi and Sayyid Qutb received unusual media attention. The letter – ‘Demanding Total Ban on Jihadi Curriculum’ in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jamia Millia Islamia and Hamdard University – alleges that “the never-ending violent attacks on Hindu society, culture and civilization are a direct outcome of such teachings” at these “Islamic” universities. The letter is focused on Maududi. AMU compliantly and swiftly removed not only Maududi’s but also Qutb’s books, which the letter does not even mention. Reporting the ban, Indian Express described Qutb as “Turkish” and Maududi as “Pakistani.” The fact is while Qutb (d. 1966) is Egyptian, Maududi (1903-1979) is Indian-Pakistani. The letter demanding the ban is hateful. Armed with vile aims, it is based on misleading sources, has a mind-defying conspiracy theory and is bereft of academic knowledge, let alone knowledge of Maududi’s rich scholarship. The letter deserves applause, but only for surpassing colonial knowledge in the sheer venom with which it incites division a la Carl Schmitt’s version of friend-enemy politics. My argument is that it is the terror-filled letter, not books by Maududi, which a just democracy should ban. read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

Rights groups decry release of convicts in gang rape, murder case in India

Human rights groups and Muslim representatives have expressed outrage over the release of 11 men serving life sentences for gang rape and murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed over 1,000 people, the majority of whom were Muslims. The 11 convicts in the case of gang rape survivor Bilkis Bano were released from jail on Monday in Gujarat, India's western state, after authorities approved their appeal for "remission of sentence". On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano was gang-raped, and 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter Saleha, were massacred by the mob in the Limkheda area of Dahod district. According to the court's verdict, Saleha was killed by pounding her head on the ground. Bano was 21 at the time and five months pregnant. She survived the carnage by pretending to be dead and then losing consciousness. Bano later told prosecutors that the 11 men convicted were from her neighbourhood. Gujarat is the home state of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the state's chief minister at the time and has been accused of not doing enough to stop the killings. read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

Watch: Erazed | Documentary on India’s bulldozer justice against Muslim dissent

On 20 April 2022, bulldozers demolished a string of shops on the roadside in the Jahangirpuri residential area, about 25km (14 miles) from the Indian Parliament. Hundreds of Muslims, mostly fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, perched on the rooftops of mosque and houses and watched the demolition in horror. A couple of hours after the drive began under the protection of police and security forces, India’s Supreme Court stayed the demolition. But for nearly an hour after the top court order, officials continued to demolish structures, including the outer entrance and stairs leading into a prominent mosque in the locality. On April 16, 2022, Shobha Yatra, a Hindu possession had been organised to mark Hanuman Jayanti in Jahangirpuri resulting in an anti-Muslim flare-up. The Hindu youth belonging to the Hindutva groups entered the Muslim locality and threatened to attack the mosque. Genocidal slogans were raised during the rally. Scores of people were injured during the subsequent violence that broke out in the area. Following the violence, Delhi Police arbitrarily arrested Muslim men, calling them “rioters.” It was after a letter from the Delhi BJP chief demanding to “bulldoze illegal encroachments of rioters”, that the authorities undertook an “anti-encroachment” eviction drive in Jahangirpuri demolishing properties belonging to Muslims. Similar demolition drives were seen in Muslim neighborhoods across northern and central India. Muslims argue this is the latest attempt to harass and marginalise them. They point to a pattern of rising Islamophobia under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Muslims said the real reason behind the demolition had nothing to do with the alleged illegality of the building and that they were being punished for being vocal critics of the government. read the complete article


17 Aug 2022

Rohingya demand security as UN rights chief visits Bangladesh camps

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on Tuesday implored the United Nations rights chief for protection after recent murders that have again left members of the stateless minority fearful for their safety. Michelle Bachelet spent the day meeting with residents of the sprawling and squalid relief settlements housing nearly a million ethnic Rohingya who fled persecution in neighbouring Myanmar. Security in the camps came back into focus this month when two refugee community leaders were shot dead, allegedly by an insurgent group active in the camps. Most inhabitants of the camps fled Myanmar in 2017 after an army offensive against the mostly Muslim minority. The crackdown is now the subject of a case at the UN's highest court, with Myanmar's authorities accused of genocide. read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

Why was a bulldozer at an India Independence Day event in New Jersey?

US activists have expressed outrage after a bulldozer was used during an India Independence Day event in the state of New Jersey, something critics say has become a symbol for Hindu nationalist politicians and a tool to intimidate the country's minority Muslim community. Hundreds of Indian Americans held a rally on Sunday to commemorate India's 75th Independence Day in Edison, a town in central New Jersey. The event, organised by the Indian Business Association, is an annual affair. Men, women and children carry the Indian tricolour flag and walk through the streets of a town known for its Indian supermarkets, restaurants and boutique fashion stores. On Sunday, the rally was attended by several local politicians as well as the national spokesperson of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On Monday, photos and video of a bulldozer, adorned with posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ally, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh, rolling through the main road in Edison as bystanders yelled "Jai Shree Ram", a religious chant that has now become a battle cry for Hindu supremacists in India. Adityanath is a vocal supporter of the Islamophobic "Love Jihad" campaign in India that aims to stop Muslims from marrying Hindu women, and he once said that he would place Hindu idols inside every mosque. Minhaj Khan, an activist from New Jersey, told Middle East Eye that it was "a blatant display of anti-Muslim hate". In recent years, bulldozers have come to symbolise the demolition of homes belonging to Indian Muslims on the mere suspicion of participating in protests or riots - and Adityanath was a pioneer of this strategy in his state and is often referred to, both affectionately and pejoratively, as "Bulldozer Baba". read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

Is It My Responsibility to Represent 1.6 Billion Muslims in My Writing?

I first started writing my book, Finding Mr Perfectly Fine, for a Muslim audience. Having grown up in the UK where the publishing industry lacks diversity, I didn’t think anyone who wasn’t Muslim, or at the very least, Asian, would be interested in a story about a Bengali girl from London looking for a husband. I posted chapters on a blog that my friends would read, and writing for my own people felt liberating. Not having to worry about the white gaze and not having to write in the same way I live my life – painfully aware of the fact that the scarf on my head makes most people think I’m a spokesperson for Islam – would be a relief, like the exhalation of a breath I had been holding my entire life. And at first, it was. But during the process of looking for an agent and publisher, I realised that my book couldn’t be entirely for Muslims. Yes, they were my core audience, but I had to consider the fact that non-Muslims would read it too. With a fraction of the UK population being Muslims, and with publishers looking for books that would sell, it had to appeal to a bigger audience. I went from writing for my people, to writing for those who had no idea what life was like for someone like me, and slowly, the liberation morphed into shackles. I was no longer merely telling a story, I was ‘representing’, and the responsibility felt overwhelming. I don’t need to explain the way Muslims are portrayed in the media and arts. It’s only very recently that we have had Muslim characters that aren’t victims or terrorists, and are well-rounded humans with desires, goals, ambitions. But the years and years of negative narratives has resulted in deep-rooted, dangerous stereotypes about us. Our women are oppressed/abused, our men are misogynistic/violent, we’re all miserable/angry victims desperate for white salvation/justice. Overnight, I became both a spokesperson and threat, and I’ve been bearing that burden ever since. A couple of decades later, I began writing a book about Bengalis in London and every word I typed felt loaded. I had an agent, and a publishing deal, and I was no longer writing for myself or the handful of people who would read my blog. I was writing for a bigger audience and I had been conditioned to believe that it was my job to portray Islam and Muslims in the best light. I was terrified of writing something that would be seen as portraying Islam/Muslim/Bengalis negatively, I was terrified of fuelling stereotypes. I had no idea how to create characters, and a story, that was authentic yet positive. Did this mean that none of my characters could make mistake or do bad things, because they were Muslim? Yousra Imran, author of the Young Adult novel Hijab and Red Lipstick, says, “The burden of representation as a Muslim author is very heavy. I don’t think any other author from another faith group feels the burden or is held to account the way we are. And of course, it’s absolutely got to do with the level of hate Muslims receive in the media. We feel conscious about not adding to it.” read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

Why is Jordan Peterson’s ‘Message to Muslims’ an Acceptable Form of Bigotry?

Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, sent a message to his five million subscribers on YouTube last week basically urging Muslims to “stop fighting” among themselves and end their inherent religious bigotry towards the Jewish people. He suggested that they should start by first becoming “pen pals” with people they hate. The subtext here is obvious: Muslims are predisposed towards violence and anti-Semitism because of their faith. Said another way, Muslims are barbaric and uncivilized, unlike we people in the West. The video received more than 2 million views within the first 96 hours. It has drawn a sharp response from Muslims on social media but has been almost completely ignored by non-Muslims and the mainstream media, even though Peterson is a world-renowned public intellectual with an enormous social media following. It’s yet another reminder that Islamophobia remains the only “acceptable” form of bigotry in the Western world. read the complete article

United States

17 Aug 2022


However, there is growing confusion over the motive for the killings. Initially believed to be an anti-Muslim hate crime it was then widely reported to be sectarian anti-Shia violence by Sunni Syed. However, as attorney and comedian Dean Obeidallah reiterated, while three of the victims killed were Shia, one was Sunni and claims Syed’s daughter rejected claims he was motivated by her marrying a Shia. This view was reinforced by Muhammad Imtiaz Hussain, the brother of one of the victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain. He stated that his family did not identify as neither Sunni nor Shia however, they did pray Sunni and were raised in the same manner. “It was an individual act. The person who killed had some extreme animosity against my brother,” he told Insider. However, it should be noted other victims’ relatives claim there may be a sectarian issue and in that context, several Muslim organizations spoke out against any conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims in the U.S. read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

What Is Xenophobia? What to Know About Its History in the U.S. and How to Stop It

“Xenophobia” was’s word of the year in 2016, after searches for it surged 938% following the U.K.'s Brexit referendum, and surged again when former president Barack Obama used the word in a speech targeting then candidate Donald Trump. At a glance, the word seems ancient, as it’s made up of two Greek words: “xenos,” meaning “stranger,” and “phobos,” meaning “fear” or “panic.” But the word is actually neo-Grecian, says George Makari, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and it was coined in the 1880s to describe a way of thinking about the first wave of globalization. Merriam-Webster's definition of xenophobia is “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or anything that is strange or foreign,” which differs from racism in key ways. Racism is defined as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Basically, xenophobia is an irrational fear of strangers or foreigners, while racism is the belief that a particular race is inherently better than another. Other forms of discrimination, like homophobia, antisemitism, and Islamophobia, target specific groups, like gay people, Jewish people, and Muslim people, while xenophobia is directed toward anyone who is considered strange or foreign. The United States was ostensibly founded as a nation of immigrants, but xenophobia has been embedded in its history since the beginning. At the turn of the 21st century, xenophobia reached a fever pitch after 9/11. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Muslims were profiled, intimidated, and surveilled in the name of national security. Years later, when Donald Trump, then just a real estate mogul and reality TV host, spread the birther conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama, it was a chilling preview of what was to come in Trump's campaign and eventual presidency. Xenophobic views became one of the defining tenets of Trumpism. According to Makari, who authored Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia, xenophobia is a powerful political weapon. “There’s a super-complex problem — globalization, social media, this new world we live in… and xenophobic views offer a very simple answer,” Makari explains. “It secures a common enemy.” read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

The US Must Acknowledge the Role Racism Plays in Migration Policies

As Ukrainian refugees fled for safety from the recent Russian invasion, the world rallied to support and show solidarity with the people in Ukraine. Everyone's profile images on social media reflected the color of the Ukrainian flag as the United States and the globe stood in strong solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We should welcome any immigrants in need. However, this show of solidarity starkly contrasts the overwhelming silence when Haitians, Central/Latin Americans, and Afghans were forced to flee their homelands because of similar conditions. Rather than being greeted by compassion, countless people are still blocked at the U.S. borders and forced to wait in deplorable conditions. Seeing how the world rallied to support people fleeing the invasion of Kyiv quickly took me back to my memories of the U.S. siege of Afghanistan in 2001. I was 14 years old in Texas, and there weren't many people taking a stand in defense of the people of Afghanistan; rather, quite the opposite. I will never forget watching my peers watching videos of the violence occurring in Afghanistan that year, and rather than expressing sympathy for people struggling to survive a violent occupation, my peers were yelling racial and Islamophobic slurs. At 14 years old, I had to sit in the back of the room in shock, not knowing what to say or to do. Everyone deserves safety and equity to move, and this recent pivot in U.S. policy to support the movement of the Ukrainian people has shown how this is possible. Unfortunately, this "pivot" has its limitations. While thousands of Europeans enter the U.S., Black and brown folks are left behind to suffer the consequences of global white supremacy. read the complete article

17 Aug 2022

Guantanamo at twenty: What will it take to close 'Gitmo' once and for all?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 'war on terror' prison at Guantanamo Bay. We're joined by a panel of experts to discuss the dark history of 'Gitmo', who remains there today and what it might take for the Biden administration to close it, once and for all. read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Aug 2022

Muslim man assaulted and called a “f****** terrorist” as he walked to a mosque

The Metropolitan Police are reviewing evidence, including CCTV footage, following a shocking unprovoked assault on a Muslim man who was on his way to pray in the E1 area of London. Tell MAMA has liaised with the police on their behalf following the attack on July 25, including requesting updates about the ongoing investigation. Wishing to maintain their anonymity, he informed Tell MAMA of his desire to see those responsible caught to prevent them from harming other Muslims. Recalling the anti-Muslim attack, he mentioned how after leaving a bus, he passed a pub where, unbeknownst to him, the perpetrator stood. The perpetrator, described as a white male in their mid-to-late 40s, followed and began abusing him before assaulting him with punches and kicks. The racist language included statements like, “You are a f****** terrorist; what are you doing in this country? Shall I give you some pig to eat?”. Injuries included a broken nose and bruising to an arm and shoulder, adding that he felt targeted due to his ethnicity and religious clothing. read the complete article


17 Aug 2022

UN Report Points to Modern Slavery Practice in China's Xinjiang

A special report commissioned by a United Nations office said it was "reasonable to conclude" that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China were the victims of stated-backed forced labor and other forms of inhumane treatment. The Chinese government's policies in its northwestern region of Xinjiang have been the subject of international scrutiny for several years. More than a million Muslims, mainly Uyghurs, have been systematically detained in so-called "reeducation" centers for over a half a decade, research suggests. Instances of forced or coerced labor as part of this process have added to concerns in the West and galvanized countries including the United States to legislate against the abuse. Beijing, which previously denied the existence of such facilities, later said they were created for the purposes of counterterrorism and deradicalization of religious extremists in Xinjiang. In 2020, China's top envoy in London said the centers were "in line with the principles and the spirit" of documents produced by the UN. Concerns about forced labor were a misunderstanding of its poverty alleviation measures, the government said. The latest report, made available on Tuesday by Tomoya Obokata, special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery for the UN Human Rights Council, concluded that forced labor among Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities "in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing" has been occurring in Xinjiang. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Aug 2022 Edition


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