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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24 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Laura Loomer, an anti-Muslim extremist and self-described “#ProudIslamophobe,” lost her Republican primary race in Florida to incumbent Rep. Daniel Webster on Tuesday, meanwhile in Canada, a man dressed in an outfit in the style of the Knights Templar gatecrashed celebrations at Calgary’s Muslim Heritage Day festival, and in India, police have arrested a BJP state legislator  for promoting enmity in the name of religion after Muslim groups demanded his arrest for his comments about the Prophet Muhammad. Our recommended read of the day is by Ahmed Twaij for Al Jazeera on how mainstream western media’s emphasis on the appearance of Arab women masks their successes. This and more below:


24 Aug 2022

Western media needs to stop fixating on how Arab women look | Recommended Read

Earlier this month, British publication The Economist, published an article titled, “Why women are fatter than men in the Arab world”. This overtly racist and sexist headline reflects a pandemic of focus on the appearance of Arab women that spreads beyond this one writeup to Western mass media and popular culture as a whole. The piece didn’t have a byline, so we have no notion of whether the author has ever visited the Middle East, let alone Iraq and Egypt — the two countries the article stereotypes with sweeping statements. Having headscarf-wearing family members myself who compete in a variety of sports, I was saddened to read the author conclude that “in any case, headscarves and clothes that cover the female body make public exercise cumbersome”. I cannot imagine how disillusioned this could make young hijab-wearing aspiring athletes feel. Olympic medallists like Ibtihaj Muhammad and Hedaya Malak, who wear the hijab, would probably have a lot to say about this writer drawing conclusions on their behalf. After all, the German gymnastics team was rightly praised for refusing to wear bikini-cut leotards at the Tokyo Olympics in protest against the sexualisation of their sport. Other stereotypes fuelling the article range from women opting to be housewives over a working life or submissive women crumbling to the demands of the oppressive men in their lives. These generalisations negate the trailblazing work of women role models across the region, such as Iraq’s Thikra Alwach, who in 2015 became the first female mayor of a capital city in the Middle East, a feat yet to be accomplished in London, for example. This isn’t just about The Economist article, however. Whether it is the incessant push to ban them from wearing the headscarf in France or their over-sexualization in media, the mainstream Western emphasis on the appearance of Arab women masks their successes. Films and TV shows have perpetuated this problem. According to a study by the University of Southern California Annenberg, only 24 percent of all Muslim characters in Hollywood (and there aren’t that many) are women. They are usually characters who are weak, oppressed or are included for their perceived exotic beauty, according to the Geena Davis Institute. read the complete article


24 Aug 2022

Indian legislator from Modi’s BJP arrested after Prophet remarks

Indian police have arrested a state legislator from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party for promoting enmity in the name of religion after Muslim groups demanded his arrest for his comments about the Prophet Muhammad. The arrest of T Raja Singh, a member of the legislative assembly in the southern state of Telangana, on Tuesday came months after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suspended a spokesperson for her remarks on the Prophet that led to a diplomatic backlash against India. “He has been charged with promoting enmity in the name of religion,” Joel Davis, a senior police official in Hyderabad city, told Reuters news agency. “This is about the recent video that he posted.” Hundreds of Muslims protested against Singh on Monday evening after the video appeared on social media, footage from the media showed. In the video available on social media, Singh, in an apparent reference to the Prophet, said an “elderly man had married a girl decades his junior” – remarks similar to the ones made by BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma earlier this year. The Hindu nationalist BJP on Tuesday suspended Singh for violating the party’s code, Indian media reports said. read the complete article

24 Aug 2022

Outrage in India as 11 men convicted of rape and murders in Gujarat violence walk free

The bitter irony was not lost on Bilkis Bano, who watched as the group of men who raped her 20 years ago were released from prison by a state government in western India– the same day that in an independence day commemoration speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for greater respect toward women. Bano was 21 when she was attacked by a violent Hindu mob in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat. The 11 men convicted of gang raping her when she was 21 and pregnant, and murdering 14 members of her family, walked free last week. “How can justice for any woman end like this?” Bano asked in a statement released by her lawyer. “The release of these convicts has taken from me my peace and shaken my faith in justice.” A petition challenging their release has been accepted by India’s top court and may come up for a hearing this week as calls for ‘Justice For Bilkis’ grow louder in India. Around 6,000 civil rights activists, writers, filmmakers and journalists have written to India’s Supreme Court with pleas to revoke the early release of Bano’s rapists. “We urge women in India to break their silence, to go to courts. But today, so many are wondering, what’s the point?” said journalist Barkha Dutt, who has covered the Bano case since the beginning. “At that time, I was young, bewildered, overwhelmed and angry. Twenty years later, I am even angrier. What message is this sending to India’s women?” read the complete article

24 Aug 2022

India's top court to hear petition against release of 11 men who gang-raped pregnant Muslim

India's Supreme Court will hold a hearing on a petition challenging the release last week of 11 Hindu men convicted of the gang rape of a pregnant Muslim woman during Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 in the western state of Gujarat. Dozens of women in Mumbai protested on Tuesday against their release and carried placards demanding justice for the victim, who said last week she had not been told the men would be freed and that it had shaken her faith in justice. Her 3-year-old daughter was among those killed during one of India's worst religious riots. More than 1,000 people died during the violence, most of them Muslims. The petition has been brought by a group of women including Subhashini Ali, a politician and member of the Communist Party of India; Revati Laul, an independent journalist; and Mahua Moitra, a member of parliament from the opposition Trinamool Congress Party, attorney Kapil Sibal said. Sibal said the court had agreed to hear their public interest litigation petition demanding the men serve their full life sentences. No date has yet been set for the hearing. read the complete article

United States

24 Aug 2022


Zaynab Mohamed has moved one step closer to her dream after winning Democratic primary elections last week. With this victory, she is on the threshold to become first Black and youngest woman elected to the Minnesota Senate. On Tuesday’s vote, Mohamed, a 25-year-old Minneapolis resident, beat Todd Scott by earning 68 percent of the vote. “When I first thought about running for office, it was because I wanted to make people’s lives easier, not harder,” Mohamed said in a victory speech Tuesday night, Sahan Journal reported. “It’s not just a campaign slogan; it’s a phrase that basically has meant a lot to us.” Working as a community advocate with the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, she is running to replace retiring state Senator Patricia Torres Ray. read the complete article

24 Aug 2022

Anti-Muslim Extremist Laura Loomer Loses GOP Florida Primary

Laura Loomer, an anti-Muslim extremist and self-described “#ProudIslamophobe,” lost her Republican primary race in Florida to incumbent Rep. Daniel Webster on Tuesday. Webster narrowly held onto his seat with just 5,000 more votes at 50%. Webster, 73, who has served in the House since 2011, is set to face Democrat Shante Munns in the general election in November. Loomer, an alt-right provocateur and conspiracy theorist, has a long record of spewing anti-Muslim bigotry. After a white supremacist massacred 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, Loomer wrote on the platform Telegram: “Nobody cares about Christchurch. I especially don’t.” She also previously called the Islamic faith a “cancer” and frequently harasses Muslim Americans, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Loomer has incited her Instagram followers to “rise up” against Omar, and in 2018 tweeted that Omar is part of a religion where “women are abused” and “forced to wear the hijab.” She was kicked off Twitter for hateful conduct and responded by handcuffing herself to a door at Twitter’s headquarters in New York City in protest. read the complete article


24 Aug 2022

Calgary Muslim Heritage Day festival sees alleged anti-Muslim display

Amid celebrations at Calgary’s Muslim Heritage Day festival on Saturday, a man dressed in an outfit in the style of the Knights Templar gatecrashed the event. The man wearing the getup was spotted in Olympic Plaza, and it’s alleged he walked around the festival grounds. The outfit is inspired by what the Catholic Knights Templar wore during the crusades — religious wars instigated by the Catholic Church and fought between Christians and Muslims between 1095 and 1291. University of Calgary associate professor Tinu Ruparell says the person wearing the outfit was sending a clear message. “This is a pretty conscious effort to isolate one community — Muslims in Calgary — for hatred and bigotry,” Ruparell said. “I think it’s appalling.” Calgary’s Olympic Plaza hosts a plethora of events from Culture Days to protests and celebrations. Saturday’s gathering was meant to honor Muslim heritage and celebrate food, art, and history. He adds divisiveness appears to be more common in Alberta nowadays. He stresses that when Islamophobia or any messages of hate are displayed, people shouldn’t ignore the issue. read the complete article

24 Aug 2022

How Québec’s Bill 21 could be vanquished by a rarely used Charter provision

This November, the Québec Court of Appeal will hear an appeal of Hak v. Attorney General of Québec on the constitutionality of Bill 21, which prohibits public service workers from wearing religious symbols. The trial decision upheld the law in most respects, except for its impact on the management of the province’s minority-language school boards. Despite the harsh effects of the law — primarily on Muslim women like Grade 3 teacher Fatemeh Anvari, who was removed from a Québec classroom for wearing a hijab — you might think the appeal is bound to fail. That’s because the Québec National Assembly attempted to shield Bill 21 from Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms by invoking Sec. 33 of the Charter, known as the “notwithstanding clause.” Sec. 33 allows laws to operate “notwithstanding” certain rights and freedoms contained in the Charter, like the general equality right of Sec. 15 and the freedom of religion right of Sec. 2. But what the Québec government appears to have overlooked is the existence of Sec. 28 of the Charter, which states: “Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.” The provision is unique in that it was drafted by women advocates — not government lawyers — and was included in the Charter virtually unchanged from what they initially proposed. Its purpose was to guarantee that other provisions of the Charter worked to advance, not detract from, the genuine equality of all women in Canada. When Sec. 33 came on the scene in November 1981, these same women advocates fought an epic battle to ensure Sec. 28 was not subject to it, and that the notwithstanding clause could never be used by legislatures to erode women’s rights. It was apparent from the beginning that Bill 21 was primarily aimed at Muslim women wearing religious head coverings (like the niqab, exposing the wearer’s eyes and the hijab, exposing the wearer’s face). read the complete article

United Kingdom

24 Aug 2022

Players and prayers: The impact of Muslims in UK football

He runs towards the corner flag while pointing to the fans who are in hysteria. Alongside him appears fellow Senegalese forward, Papiss Cisse. They both lower themselves to the ground to assume a position of prostration, an element of Islamic prayer known as Sujud. This is the moment during which a worshipper is closest to their Lord. In the position, one is as physically as low as the body can be, while being as spiritually high as the soul can be. This crucial component of Islamic prayer has become such iconic imagery within the English game. So much so, in fact, that the celebration made it into the world’s biggest football video game, FIFA 13. Our outgoing Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, likened Muslim women who wear burqas to ‘letterboxes’ prior to taking office. A week after this unashamed Islamophobic comment was made, it was reported that Islamophobic incidents rose by 375%. At the same time as this statement was made, establishing a very different narrative about Muslims, was footballer Mohamed Salah who was lacing his boots for the beginning of the 2018-2019 Premier League season. This was the second season in a row he was expected to achieve the title of top scorer, also known as the Golden Boot. Mo Salah, a man born in a small Egyptian village a few hours north of Cairo, is shaping up to be one of English football’s greatest ever strikers and has not been afraid of representing his faith outwardly and openly, on and off the field. In fact, he even inspired an Anfield anthem. Fans sing: “If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me. If he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim too. If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me. Sitting in the mosque, that’s where I wanna be!” A Stanford University study found that Salah’s presence was fundamental in a decrease of hate crimes in the city of Liverpool by 18.9% as well as a 53% drop of anti-Muslim Tweets amongst Liverpool fans. Whilst increased diversity and inclusion within the UK’s favourite sport is something to celebrate, it is important to note that it hasn’t always been like this. read the complete article

Bosnia and Herzegovina

24 Aug 2022

Death and Other Exiles: The Empty Spaces Bosnia’s Muslims Left Behind

My father died of Covid-related complications in March, at the age of 67. He was a professor of law, with a focus on Islamic and comparative legal history, and a long-standing interest in the late Ottoman and Habsburg impact on Bosnia. A significant part of his work was dedicated to studying the status of Bosnian Muslims in the post-Ottoman period and how, in the Balkans, particular Islamic institutions outlived the Ottoman Empire. It was his own biography, though, that exemplified the more modern historical experience of Bosnia's Muslims: As targets of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, inhabitants of a new political and cultural geography which featured blank spaces where vibrant communities had once thrived. The Muslims of Visegrad had faced existential threats for generations. Living on the border with Serbia, they'd faced repeated attacks by their neighbors and marauders from the neighboring state. The Karcics and Tabakovics had to flee Visegrad in both world wars. Countless Muslims faced their deaths in repeated assaults over the years. The Drina river had become a mass grave for eastern Bosnian Muslims for over a century before the most recent massacres, during the Bosnian war, took place. The repeated cycles of killings, forced expulsions and fleeing led many Muslims to emigrate to or near Sarajevo over the generations. The pull factors of higher education and employment in the capital led many to leave Visegrad. My father went to study at the Gazi Husrev-bey high school there and then to study law before graduate studies in Belgrade. The Bosniak Muslims who stayed in Visegrad were once again subject to a new cycle of genocidal violence in 1992. The atrocities committed were particularly gruesome with mass killings, rapes, torture and expulsions. Particularly brutal were executions on the old bridge. After 1992, the Muslim community that had existed in Visegrad for so long was no more. While expulsions of Muslims in previous cycles of violence had led to their resettlement in Bosnia, the forced migrations of 1992 led many to seek refuge abroad. Visegrad Muslims and their descendants are now living not only in Bosnia but are scattered around the globe. Many members of the Karcic and Tabakovic families lived abroad in the 1990s, but most have returned to Bosnia over the years. It was clear to him – as to most Bosniaks - that after 1992, the Visegrad chapter of their lives had closed. From then onwards, the town had been "cleansed" of its Bosniak population. Like many Bosniaks from Visegrad, through a lawyer, he and his siblings sold their family home in the center of the town for a truly meager sum. Thus ended the connection to Visegrad of one branch of the Karcics. In one of his last newspaper articles, my father recalled a beautiful old house known as "Baruh’s corner" on his street in Visegrad. In the 1960s, when he was growing up there, the Jewish community no longer existed. Only the name of the corner had remained. In schools, nobody spoke about the famous Jewish intellectual, Kalmi Baruh, who hailed from Visegrad. Today, more than six decades later, for children growing up in Visegrad, there is no longer a Bosniak Muslim community: There are empty spaces, lost spaces, in geography and memory. Visegrad’s once multi-ethnic character is a thing of the past. Meanwhile, a Visegrad neighborhood has now become the focus of a revisionism that intends to write the Muslim presence out of its history entirely: Andricgrad, known as the "Disneyland of Serbian nationalism," is a fantasy of how the town would have looked if the Ottomans had never arrived. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Aug 2022 Edition


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