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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
04 Aug 2022

Today in Islamophobia: A United Nations committee ruled that France discriminated against a Muslim woman who was prevented from attending vocational training in a public school while wearing her hijab, meanwhile in the United States, following a viral video showing police officers beating a Palestinian-American teenager, many of Chicago’s Arab and Muslim communities are sharing their own experiences of mistreatment by law enforcement, and in India, a private school is being investigated by police under a controversial religious conversion law for holding multifaith prayers. Our recommended read of the day is by Miqdaad Versi for the Guardian on how Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak’s promise to double down on the failing Prevent strategy will not only target ordinary British Muslims, “but everyone, as the state gains more power to police what we think.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

04 Aug 2022

Sunak wants to punish those who ‘vilify the UK’. That’s wrong – and he’s chosen the wrong target | Recommended Read

Rishi Sunak promises new leadership for the UK, but that doesn’t seem to be attracting enough support from the Conservative “selectorate”, so this is what he is promising today: he will double down on the failing Prevent strategy, by pivoting to targeting “Islamist extremism” and those who “vilify” the United Kingdom. This would require some agility, so Sunak promises to widen the already fuzzy government definition of extremism – criticised widely for being too expansive – to encompass those who “vilify our country”. The implication seems to be that any public sector worker covered by the Prevent duty would be required to refer anyone they believe is “vilifying” to the authorities. And here’s the first question for Sunak? Would this include nationalists in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, some of whom would readily vilify England? If not, why not? What about writers within our mainstream media, in publications such as the Spectator, whose apparent dislike of the tolerance and diversity that Britain represents seems evident in its pages? The very notion of “vilifying our country” being targeted is illiberal and hugely hypocritical – especially for a former chancellor in a government that claimed to champion free speech and to stand up against the “thought police”. Little wonder that his big new idea is the subject of anger and ridicule on social media. And rightly so, for the victims of this new policy will not just be ordinary British Muslims, who a third of Conservative party members think have a widespread hostility towards our country, but everyone, as the state gains more power to police what we think. And there is irony in that Sunak is aiming to tackle extremism by appealing to a Conservative party membership, a significant portion of whom have “extremist” views about Muslims, according to the current definition of extremism. read the complete article

04 Aug 2022

Sunak ignores Islamophobia appeal from parliamentary group amid extremism row

Rishi Sunak has not responded to an appeal from MPs to combat Islamophobia, amid a row over his proposals on extremism. The former chancellor said he wanted to “refocus” the Prevent counter-terrorism scheme on Islamists, after years of anti-Muslim discrimination allegations, and “add vilification of the UK to the definition of extremism”. Mr Sunak also vowed to “redouble efforts to tackle Islamist extremism” but made no mention of the rising far-right terror threat in his announcement. It came a week after he and Tory leadership rival Liz Truss were sent letters by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. Seen exclusively by The Independent, they call for action after a series of delays and broken promises under Boris Johnson’s government. Mr Sunak and Ms Truss have not yet replied to the letters, and representatives of the former chancelleor have not responded to repeated requests for comment by The Independent. A Liz for Leader campaign source said: “As prime minister, Liz Truss will take a zero tolerance approach to Islamophobia.” The most recent statistics on hate crime in England and Wales show that Muslims are the most targeted religious group. read the complete article

04 Aug 2022

‘It felt so powerful’: how I was seduced by the UK’s far right

It was just horrible. I started developing anger management issues pretty early on, and then I made some friends in the year above me. They were openly racist, but they protected me at school. They would make Islamophobic comments. I was a big fan of wrestling, and they were wrestling fans, so we’d go from talking about wrestling to talking about Islam. They would pick on the Pakistani guy who ran the local shop. I was on the sidelines watching. I was just a naive little kid. When they left school, it left a void and that’s when I started to look at far-right content online. After school I’d lock myself in my bedroom and get on the internet. I was looking for videos all the time and it’s such a big rabbit hole. With the algorithms, one far-right video leads on to another and another, and the next thing I know I’ve spent hours online. I started going to demonstrations. My first was in Dewsbury. We got flags and banners and we were walking in a big formation into town and it just felt so powerful. It felt like we were unstoppable. The speeches were pure Islamophobia. At first I was nervous, but then it always felt like that layer of protection was there because they have their own security guys. We’d go into a town or city with a large Muslim population – Dewsbury, Leicester, London – and we’d have no idea what the plan was, and we pretty much always got a hostile reaction. I got addicted to that adrenaline rush. I’d always get psyched up. You’d be in the car or on the train, and you’d feel butterflies in your stomach and you couldn’t wait for it. And then we went to a big demonstration in Birmingham. I think it was one of the highest turnouts at a Britain First rally. Everybody got drunk in the morning, it was absolute chaos. People were fighting with the police, trying to get through to an anti-fascist counterdemonstration across the road. I was controlling the Facebook camera feed and I said in the commentary: “The police are attacking us” – and that wasn’t true. I remember thinking afterwards: that’s wrong. What I did was pure propaganda, it was nowhere near the truth. read the complete article

04 Aug 2022

Plymouth woman opens up about the abuse she receives for wearing a hijab in the city

A Plymouth woman who accepted Islam just before the pandemic halted the world has opened up on her journey - including the abuse she has unfortunately received. Halima, who does not wish to share her last name, explained she was trying to find belonging and that's what brought her to Islam. In the beginning, Halima - who was born and raised in Plymouth - attended an open day at Piety Islamic centre and got "goosebumps" upon entering. "I remember thinking, ‘this is home, this is where I belong'," she said. Due to the fear of how people would react, Halima wore her hijab and prayed in secret, but said it didn't last long. "My mum just asked me ‘why are you taking your hijab off?’ - she somehow knew I’d been wearing it, she must have seen me, but all she said was as long as I was happy," she explained. "It was fine. I don't think I was waiting for permission but eventually, I took shahada [the Muslim declaration of belief] in February 2020, right before we got locked down.” "I think I was just trying to find somewhere to belong," she explained. Since then Halima has found life in Plymouth difficult and has suffered multiple religiously-aggravated attacks. During the covid lockdown Halima was attacked in a supermarket whilst she was with her children - which she feels has left her youngest child scared. Explaining the incident, Halima said she had gone to the shop just outside the city centre and was "physically attacked". "A lady in the aisle kept asking me ‘how can you be proud to be British wearing that’ and kept saying ‘how can you wear that', she said. "I still remember the incident and what hijab I was wearing, it was black with white spots. During the attack, I wasn’t worried about me but I was trying to protect my children and push them away as this woman was coming for us. "Eventually, someone pulled her away and kicked her out, but I think that moment has stayed with Owyn and I think he doesn’t want it to be repeated in his school and that’s why he asks me to be normal in his school." read the complete article


04 Aug 2022

Muslim women in India allege bias in hiring for jobs

Lubna Aamir, 28, is a dentist by training. But practising her profession remains a dream for her. In 2018, the Pune resident started applying for a job at clinics across India through email. She even dropped resumes in person at some clinics. “I wanted to branch out to what we call the class practice and have an experience beyond local circles,” Aamir told Al Jazeera. She applied for jobs at nearly two dozen places but there was no response “despite having very good credentials”. “I had scored excellent grades and had an internship from a government college which is much sought after in the dental industry. My work profile was good. Still, I was not getting any response,” she told Al Jazeera. Muslims make up nearly 14 percent of India’s 1.35 billion population but do not have the same representation in government or private sector jobs. Multiple government-appointed commissions have found the community is at the bottom among India’s social groups in terms of education and employment. One of those commissions, headed by now retired Justice Rajinder Sachar, found in 2006 that India’s Muslims were disadvantaged in social, economic and educational terms. Less than 8 percent of them were employed in the formal sector compared with the national average of 21 percent, the commission said in its report. According to the 2011 census, the last conducted by the government since the 2021 exercise was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the participation of Muslim women in jobs was less than 15 percent, whereas it was more than 27 percent for Hindu women. The corresponding figures for Buddhist and Christian women were 33 percent and 31 percent, respectively. The situation has worsened since 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power, with the government pursuing policies targeting the Muslim minority and their economic and religious rights. read the complete article

04 Aug 2022

Hindu activists force Muslim University to remove writers Qutb, Maududi from syllabus

India's Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has decided to remove books by renowned Islamic thinkers and scholars, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi and Syed Qutb from its syllabus taught in the Department of Islamic Studies. "In order to avoid the controversy, the University has decided to do away with the optional paper on Islamic thinkers, including Maududi and Shaheed with immediate effect," the spokesperson for the University, Shafey Kidwai, said, according to The Hindu. AMU reportedly dropped the influential twentieth century Muslim writers after Hindutva activist Madhu Kishwar, along with other Hindu nationalist academicians wrote to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. A senior AMU staff member was quoted by India Today as explaining, "This decision has been taken in response to a recent letter that was written by social activist and academician, Madhu Kishwar, along with some other academicians, to PM Modi, in which the books of these authors were demanded not to be taught to the students. The academicians had not just named the AMU, but also the Jamia Milia Islamia and Hamdard Universities, claiming that all these universities had books written by Pakistani authors in their curriculum." read the complete article

04 Aug 2022

Indian school faces criminal probe over multifaith prayers

A private school in India is being investigated by police under a controversial religious conversion law for holding multifaith prayers that included the Islamic declaration of faith, an officer said Tuesday. Video on social media showed students at the Florets International School in Kanpur reciting prayers that included texts from four major faiths - Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism. Several rightwing Hindu outfits and Hindu parents held street protests in the city at the weekend. Religious conversion has long been a flashpoint in India, which is majority Hindu but also has the world's second-largest Muslim population. Communal tensions have sometimes run high and in recent years Hindu extremist groups, as well as local governments run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have sharpened their attack against proselytisation. The school is in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh state, which last year passed a law criminalising all religious conversions without prior state approval - legislation that critics said was targeted against Muslims. Police on Tuesday said the school's manager was being investigated under the law for offending religious beliefs following allegations by Hindu parents that the school was "preparing" the students to convert to Islam. read the complete article

United States

04 Aug 2022

Men sue Alaska Airlines, alleging discrimination, after removal from flight

Two men, both of whom are Black and Muslim, are suing Alaska Airlines for alleged racial discrimination and violations of their civil rights, saying they were kicked off a flight in February 2020 over text messages in Arabic. Abobakkr Dirar and Mohamed Elamin, both American citizens, were heading out on a business trip together from Seattle to San Francisco when they were unjustly removed from their flight, according to their complaint filed against the airline in federal court Tuesday. A passenger sitting next to Dirar in first class saw him texting in Arabic. The passenger, who didn’t speak or read Arabic, was alarmed by the messages and complained to a flight attendant before exiting the plane, according to the lawsuit. That passenger’s concerns led to a chain reaction of “unjustified, unnecessary, and self-serving display of discriminatory security theater,” the lawsuit alleged, even after it was clear the text messages were innocuous and neither man posed a threat. Advocates said the incident reflects a pattern of xenophobia and Islamophobia that Muslim and Middle Eastern passengers experience while flying. In the years since 9/11, some Muslim travelers have reported additional security screenings, racial profiling and invasive religious questioning at airports and on flights. “Flying While Muslim has been for far-too-long a very real phenomenon,” CAIR-WA Executive Director Imraan Siddiqi said in a statement. “This incident with Alaska Airlines is one of the most egregious examples of this happening in recent years.” read the complete article

04 Aug 2022

US police 'beating of Arab teenager' sparks anti-racial violence protests

Activists applauded the release of US-Palestinian teenager Hadi Abuatelah to his family after he was arrested and then allegedly beaten by police during a traffic stop last week. Despite his release, activists say it will not stop their determination in demanding justice for the 17-year-old who reportedly suffered broken bones following the incident near Chicago. "We're committed, not only to securing Hadi’s release but that justice is served. We want a true investigation into the police department," Muhammad Sankari, lead organiser with the Chicago area-based Arab American Action Network, told The New Arab. "Not only should the officers get fired, but they should face criminal prosecution for violating his rights," said Sankari. The video that surfaced last week reportedly shows three white police officers, one of whom worked as a trainer, repeatedly beating Abuatelah after he'd been subdued. The alleged assault ignited outrage around the world, particularly for the Chicago area's Arab and Muslim communities, many of whom are talking about their own experiences of mistreatment by law enforcement in light of this recent incident. "There’s deep-seated racism in southwest [of Chicago]. Offices didn't see him as a human being when they looked at Hadi, and they took in out on him with police brutality," Sankari said. An AAAN report published in May found that so-called "Suspicious Activity Reports" essentially criminalised Arabs and Muslims by tracking their everyday activities, often without cause. read the complete article


04 Aug 2022

The only way to “win” the war on terrorism is to end it

Over the weekend, a US drone fired a Hellfire missile that assassinated Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda who had served as one of the strategists behind the terrorist group’s targeting of American civilians worldwide. The strike, which the US says killed no civilians, was months in the planning. It was the first known US strike in Afghanistan since August 2021, when a drone fired a missile that killed 10 civilians, including aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and his seven children. The two strikes cannot be separated. Together they represent the arc of the war on terrorism and its enduring risks. The US has so depleted al-Qaeda’s leadership that the terrorist network is a different, and weaker, organization than it was two decades ago. But in the process, the US killed more than 900 civilians in 14,040 confirmed drone strikes in the 2010s, and an estimated 47,245 Afghan civilians were killed in the last two decades of war. So it must be asked: Is it worth killing a family every so often to get a Zawahiri, or an Osama bin Laden, every couple years? The legal authorization from 2001 used to justify a generation of deaths in drone strikes remains active. And while the Biden administration has significantly reduced drone strikes compared to Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s terms, it does continue to launch attacks on Iraq, Somalia, and Syria. The US isn’t sending hundreds of thousands of troops into Afghanistan anymore. But it maintains a base in Qatar to conduct what it calls “over the horizon” operations in Afghanistan as needed, and has small troop presences in a number of other countries. Biden as a candidate had pledged to end endless wars, and indeed he withdrew the US military from Afghanistan last year. But ending the war on terrorism would mean taking away the capabilities of the legal framework and drone-war architecture to ensure that a returned President Donald Trump, or a future Trump-like leader, won’t accelerate the program without oversight. If the war on terrorism, as Biden suggests, will continue, it will not be “won,” just as George W. Bush’s freedom agenda for the Middle East never won hearts and minds. The way to win the war on terrorism is to simply end it — and this week is as good of a time as any. read the complete article

04 Aug 2022

Why I founded an abortion support network for Muslims

Muslim identity is not monolithic. Muslims come in all shapes and sizes and, in turn, we navigate through various systems of privilege and oppression. For many of us, our Muslim identity coincides with other forms of marginalisation, like racism, class oppression and misogyny. The way this shows up in abortion work varies. In some ways it is explicit; racism in healthcare means that racially marginalised Muslims experience poorer health outcomes than white people. There are also misconceptions about who exactly has abortions. When people think of reproductive healthcare, they rarely think of Muslims. The shock on an abortion practitioner’s face when they see a visible Muslim walk into a clinic is indicative of how this space is not made with us in mind. We are erased from these spaces and the way Muslims might access abortion is often not considered. I founded Ad’iyah Muslim Abortion Collective because I believe that Islam and abortion care cannot only co-exist, but actually work in harmony with each other. Islam compels me to fight for justice, but I cannot fight for anything unless I have full ownership and autonomy of my body. Despite this, abortion remains a taboo topic to bring up in Muslim spaces. If mentioned, the only thing that will be discussed is its permissibility, furthering the narrative that abortion is only permissible in situations of great danger and trauma. Religious practice – like everything in our current world – has not escaped the grasp of colonialism. The Quran makes it clear that Islam is a faith of anti-oppression and thus anti-colonialism, yet things like misogyny, anti-Blackness and ableism can easily be found in many spaces dedicated to Islamic practice. The contrast between what Islam allows us to do and what people who interpret the faith for their personal ideologies say we can do is stark, leaving people feeling restricted and unsupported in times of need. This is seen strongly in the way abortion care is discussed, or rather not discussed, in Islamic spaces. read the complete article


04 Aug 2022

France discriminated against hijab-wearing vocational trainee -U.N. document

A United Nations committee ruled that France discriminated against a Muslim woman who was prevented from attending vocational training in a public school while wearing her Islamic head scarf, according to a U.N. document. In 2010, Naima Mezhoud, now aged 45, was due to train as a management assistant at a course held in a state high school, where teenagers are prohibited by law from wearing the hijab. When she arrived, the head teacher of the school in the northern outskirts of Paris barred her from entering, according to the document which was seen by Reuters. Six years earlier, in 2004, France had banned the wearing of hijabs and other visible religious symbols in state schools by school children. Mezhoud argued that as a higher-education student, she should not have been targetted by the law. "The committee concludes that the refusal to allow (Mezhoud) to participate in the training while wearing her headscarf constitutes a gender and religious-based act of discrimination," the U.N Human Rights Committee determined, according to the document. The possible ramifications of the U.N.'s ruling were not immediately clear. Freedom law expert Nicolas Hervieu of the Paris Institute of Political Studies said that according to legal precedent, it was unlikely that France would comply with the committee's decision. read the complete article


04 Aug 2022

No Escape: A gut-wrenching account of China's purge, persecution and genocide of the Uyghur people

How did she want to die? Firing squad, lethal injection or the noose? Mihrigul Tursun was issued with an orange uniform, the colour of a death row inmate, and told she would be executed within the month. She should choose carefully because each bullet would cost her parents $100 a piece. Camp survivor Mihrigul's testimony is just one of the many harrowing tales woven into the autobiography of Uyghur-American attorney, Nury Turkel, whose inauspicious birth fifty-two years ago in a Chinese Cultural Revolution labour camp set the course of his life unwittingly on a trajectory which would see him rise to become one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential men. The horrifying memoir, No Escape, The True Story of China's Genocide of the Uyghurs, traces the author's tortured beginnings from the time his 19-year-old mother, five months pregnant with her first child was sent away as punishment for her "intoxication with separatist ideology." For five months after his birth between flag raising at dawn and singing songs in praise of Mao, the young mother would cry in pain trying to give her severely malnourished child the milk she never had. Some fifty years have passed since the Mao purges ended, but Turkel paints an equally bleak picture of life today for his people under Xi Jinping. Far from being just another account of the already well-documented atrocities taking place in the Uyghur heartland, his book delves deeply into the historical and socio-political context of East Turkestan (the Uyghur exiles' preferred title for Xinjiang) and the Turkic peoples who have laid claim to it since time immemorial. He challenges the world to make sense of what the New Statesman has described as perhaps the "largest mass incarceration since the Holocaust" and warns of a future in which an unbridled and ambitious China's lack of accountability remains unchecked on the world stage. read the complete article


04 Aug 2022

Fatima Payman: Meet Australia's first hijab-wearing senator

At just 27 years old, Fatima Payman is making history in Australia’s parliament. She is the first hijab-wearing senator, the first Afghan Australian to be voted in, and the youngest person in the current parliament. She tells the BBC her election is significant for Australian Muslims. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Aug 2022 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results