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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10 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia:  In the United Kingdom, an unofficial tribunal of lawyers and academics has found that “China’s treatment of the Uyghurs amounted under the Geneva conventions to an intent to destroy all or part of a group physically or biologically,” meanwhile in Canada, multiple politicians are speaking out to condemn the reassignment of an elementary school teacher Quebec, who was forced to leave her job after being told her hijab violated Bill 21, and in the United States, the House of Representatives is poised to vote next week on a bill to create a new office within the State Department tasked with combating Islamophobia. Our recommended read of the day is by Philippe Marlière for Open Democracy on the rise of Eric Zemmour in France, arguing that the far-right presidential candidate has “no link to France’s fascist tradition [rather] his meteoric rise comes from the mainstream.” This and more below:


10 Dec 2021

Éric Zemmour is no fascist – he’s the creature of the French establishment | Recommended Read

Is Éric Zemmour, the television pundit turned presidential candidate, a fascist? His ideas on immigration, Islam and gender are no doubt extreme. To date, he has been twice convicted of incitement to racial or religious hatred. Yet to put the ‘fascist’ tag on Zemmour is lazy and unhelpful: it neither sheds light on the reasons for his meteoric political rise, nor does it explain what this current breakthrough represents for French politics. Zemmour indeed sounds like a fascist and has the ideas of a fascist but unlike his electoral opponent Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Rally party, he has no direct link with the French fascist tradition. He comes from the mainstream of French politics, having spent the past 35 years in conservative journalism. In succession, he worked for newspapers and media such as Le Quotidien de Paris and Le Figaro, family-friendly radio stations such as RTL and had a popular talk-show on France 2, the main state television channel. Born in Algeria to Algerian Jewish parents and raised on the outskirts of Paris, Zemmour embodies the vacuity of the French media, which has undoubtedly made him a political star. Various mainstream television and radio stations as well as newspapers have given him a platform to exercise his vitriolic style and express his racist ideas. Zemmour has not faced a hostile environment. On the contrary, he is the creature of the French political, media and economic establishment, which has protected him and promoted him over the years. read the complete article

10 Dec 2021

Just How Frightening Is France’s New Right?

In October, Éric Zemmour, the best-selling French author and media personality who has won a devoted following by applying a throwback intellectual sheen to a familiar populist xenophobia, overtook France’s far-right standard-bearer, Marine Le Pen, in the polls for this April’s presidential election. He officially declared his candidacy at the end of November and held his first campaign rally in Paris last Sunday. Zemmour declared that France is “already plenty diverse.” Listing Savoy, Brittany, Normandy, and other regional cultures, he assured his audience, “We have all the diversity we need!” Soon, a hodgepodge of speakers came to the stage. The first, a brown-skinned “son of immigrants,” generated an ovation with the line “Assimilation is anti-racism.” Another accused President Emmanuel Macron of being a “progressivist, multiculturalist, transhumanist who liquifies our society.” A 22-year-old noted the need to “return to France her pride.” All referred to the country as some variation of “the most beautiful nation on earth.” We were steered by the police into the train station and onto the RER platform, where we boarded alongside Zemmour supporters who had moments ago been whipped into a frenzy over the prospect of halting immigration. Stop by stop, as we commuted back to the Gare du Nord, the composition of the car was physically reconfigured as it filled with precisely the kinds of faces that Zemmour had warned symbolized a new reverse colonization. Here was a microcosm of “replacement” happening in real time as white faces were dispersed, surrounded, then rendered almost invisible by the time we reached Paris. I wondered what those supporters were now thinking. What would they like to do to these people should they have their way in April? Back at home, catching the rest of the speech that we had missed, we heard the beginning of a not-so-subtle answer. Zemmour had named his new political party Reconquest, evoking the medieval expulsion of Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula. read the complete article

United States

10 Dec 2021

US: Muslim staff in Congress demand action against Islamophobia

Dozens of Muslim congressional staff members are calling on leaders of the House of Representatives to take action against Islamophobia, following a series of anti-Muslim attacks on lawmaker Ilhan Omar. In an open letter published on Wednesday, 62 Muslim staffers said that US Representative Lauren Boebert's recent Islamophobic comments against Omar had created "a feeling of anxiety and fear" on Capitol Hill. "Witnessing unchecked harassment of one of only three Muslim Members of Congress - and the only visible Muslim Member - we feel that our workplace is neither safe nor welcome," read the letter which was also signed by 378 allied staffers. "We must now come to work every day knowing that the same Members and staff who perpetuate Islamophobic tropes and insinuate that we are terrorists, also walk by us in the halls of Congress." The letter came shortly after a video surfaced on Facebook where Boebert likened Omar to a bomb-carrying terrorist. In the video, she laughed and said: "I look to my left and there she is - Ilhan Omar. And I said, 'Well, she doesn't have a backpack. We should be fine.'" read the complete article

10 Dec 2021

Over 17,000 Christians Condemn Lauren Boebert's Islamophobic Remarks, Demand Censure

More than 17,000 Christians signed an online petition condemning GOP Representative Lauren Boebert's Islamophobic remarks targeting Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. "Conservative Christian and Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert is continuing to smear Rep. Ilhan Omar for Omar's Muslim faith. It's a disgusting pattern of dangerous religious bigotry that cannot be allowed to continue," the petition, launched by progressive Christian group Faithful America, says. The petition was first posted December 2 and has gathered 17,284 signatures as of the time of this writing. "Boebert also said Omar and Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib are 'blackhearted, evil women.' It was not the first time she's said such things about Islam. As a result, Omar is now receiving anonymous death threats," the petition continues. Faithful America adds that Christians "need [to] show Congress that American Christians stand in solidarity with American Muslims, and tell Republican Leader [Kevin] McCarthy and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to formally censure Boebert." read the complete article

10 Dec 2021

House to vote next week on Islamophobia bill, holding Meadows in contempt

The House is poised to vote next week on a bill authored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to create a new office within the State Department tasked with combating Islamophobia, and will also vote on a measure to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress, leaders announced Thursday. House Democratic leaders announced the vote on Omar's bill, scheduled for Tuesday, as they seek ways to respond to Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) recent Islamophobic comments suggesting that Omar — one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress — could be a terrorist. The vote would fall short of progressives’ calls to remove Boebert from her committees, but Democratic leaders are hoping that holding a vote on a bill Omar personally authored will allow the party to present a united front against Islamophobia without going as far as making Boebert the third far-right Republican to be kicked off committees this year. The debate over how to respond to Boebert’s anti-Muslim comments has divided House Democrats and created a headache for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders. Omar’s progressive allies, including all the members of the liberal “Squad,” have introduced the resolution stripping Boebert of her committee assignments — the same punishment applied already this year to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) — and they’re pressing leadership to bring the measure to the floor for a vote. “We have a responsibility to show this country that bigotry is unacceptable,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday. But party leaders are leery of that strategy, fearing that it will only amplify Boebert’s bigoted message on the national stage while empowering the first-term firebrand when it comes to raising campaign funds. read the complete article


10 Dec 2021

The New Strategies of Hindu Supremacists in Britain

In Britain, while many trade unions and Labour Party branches have expressed their solidarity with the farmers and others resisting Modi, there has been a surprising lack of interest in the fact that the BJP’s toxic ideology is coming to our doorsteps here. The Hindu right has systematically set up, or taken over, a host of organisations in the UK. They include: the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), which is the overseas wing of the RSS – the fascistic ideological parent of the BJP; the Hindu Council UK; the National Hindu Students Federation; the National Council of Hindu Temples; and the charity Sewa International, which was exposed in 2002 for channelling funds to organisations which carried violent communal attacks in Gujarat. It is also active as suave British Indian businesspeople and financial analysts, who are the other, hyper-neoliberal, face of the Modi regime – less well-known Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak-type figures. Back in 2014, when Modi first came to power, Alpesh Shah – a hedge fund manager and columnist for UK’s pro-Modi Asian Voice newspaper – wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to make it the business of India’s Government to look at how Hindus are treated worldwide. “This doctrine is not novel in international relations,” he said. “The people of Israel provide protection for Jews wherever they are in the world, of whichever nationality. We shall extend no less protection to Hindus.” The assumption – central to Shah’s letter – that Hindus are under attack was already being used routinely by the BJP and its cohorts in India to instigate violence: lynching, massacres and pogroms against Muslims. More recently, this notion of Hindus as victims has surfaced in the West too, increasingly suggesting that Hindus (like Jews) are under systematic racist attack – both in the UK and globally, and that they face ‘Hinduphobia’ and require justice and protection. Racism, however, requires a contemporary or historical structure which generates and perpetuates it. No such structure exists in the case of Hinduphobia. Unlike antisemitism, Islamophobia or anti-black racism, it has no historical or material basis. In the UK, racism against Indians has always been directed at us as ‘Asians’ – and, since the 1990s, in the form of Islamophobia (if we are Muslims) – but never as Hindus. As someone from a Hindu background, in the nearly 60 years I have lived in this country, I have never faced racism directed at me as a Hindu despite often wearing a sari and a bindi. read the complete article

10 Dec 2021

Uyghurs subjected to genocide by China, unofficial UK tribunal finds

Uyghur people living in Xinjiang province have been subjected to unconscionable crimes against humanity directed by the Chinese state that amount to an act of genocide, an independent and unofficial tribunal has found. Hundreds of thousands and possibly a million people have been incarcerated without any or remotely fair justification, the tribunal’s chair, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, said as he delivered the tribunal’s findings in London. “This vast apparatus of state repression could not exist if a plan was not authorised at the highest levels,” Nice said. The UK-based Uyghur Tribunal comprises lawyers, academics and businesspeople. It has no government backing or powers to sanction or punish China, but its organisers hope the process of publicly laying out evidence will compel international action to tackle alleged abuses against the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group. The tribunal’s report says crimes including torture and the systematic suppression of births have occurred. Nice said China’s treatment of the Uyghurs amounted under the Geneva conventions to an intent to destroy all or part of a group physically or biologically, a judgment he said largely rested on the suppression of births. In response to the findings, a cross-party group of British MPs urged the Foreign Office to re-examine its refusal to join the Biden administration and declare a genocide in Xinjiang. read the complete article


10 Dec 2021

Quebec teacher’s removal for wearing hijab a ‘cowardly’ move, minister says

Multiple politicians are speaking out to condemn the reassignment of an elementary school teacher in Western Quebec, who was forced to leave her job after being told her hijab violates the province’s law that forbids teachers from wearing religious symbols. That law, known as Bill 21, was passed in June 2019 and bans the wearing of religious symbols such as hijabs, kippas and turbans by teachers and other government employees deemed to be in positions of authority. “It’s cowardly,” said Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, who is also a Montreal-area MP. “This type of discrimination isn’t reflective of the Quebec society I want to live in.” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has previously shared stories of hatred he faced for wearing a turban, also slammed the school board’s decision. “There are no concerns about her capacity and ability to teach, no concerns about whether she’s providing good education to kids, simply because of the way she looked and the way she dressed, she is no longer able to teach those kids,” he said. “On a personal note, I know what that’s like — to feel like you don’t belong because of the way you look, and to not be able to do what you love because of the way you look. That’s what’s happening right now, and why this bill is so wrong.” read the complete article


10 Dec 2021

How a terrorism law in India is being used to silence Modi’s critics

Over the next three decades, Parvez defended human rights and documented the alleged violence, torture and enforced disappearances of Kashmiris by Indian armed forces. After he lost a leg in a landmine explosion in 2004, he was instrumental in getting rebel groups to agree to a landmine ban. It was work that won him international accolades. But last month, in the early hours, the 44-year-old was arrested at his home by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), the central bureau which investigates terrorism cases, and taken to jail accused of “terror-funding”. It is the latest case to trigger accusations that dissent is being stifled under the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi. But under the shadow of Parvez’s arrest, Modi is one of the world leaders taking part in US president Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, which began on Thursday. The Indian prime minister is expected to take a “prominent role”, including giving an address about “democracy commitments”. The law under which Parvez was detained, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), stands accused of being unconstitutional and undemocratic. UAPA, ostensibly a terrorism prevention law, has instead routinely been used by the Modi government to detain those deemed critical of the government, from lawyers and activists to journalists, priests, poets, academics, civil society members, and Kashmiri civilians. The use of the law before Modi’s government came to power in 2014 was negligible. But between 2014 and 2020, 10,552 people were arrested under UAPA. read the complete article

Bosnia and Herzegovina

10 Dec 2021

Don’t let the crisis in Bosnia spiral into another catastrophe

The UK Parliament recently debated the rapidly deteriorating situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), with elected lawmakers warning the country is teetering on the brink of civil war — one that will likely usher in a repeat of the violence that swept the former Yugoslavian state during the mid-1990s and culminated in the mass killing of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in what is commonly known as the Srebrenica genocide. The violence was also marked with systematic rape of thousands of Bosniak women. Alarmingly, the same political forces from three decades ago are playing the same dangerous game today. The seventh and current Bosnian Serb leader, Milorad Dodik, mimics the first – the convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic – by weaponising Islamophobia and framing Bosnian Muslims as an existential threat to the Serbian people, while egged on by Europe’s anti-liberal leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. The current crisis was triggered by Dodik’s threats to dismantle the Dayton Accords and secede the Serbian entity Republika Srpska from BiH. It was response to a move by the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in July to ban Srebrenica genocide denialism, which has reached levels that are getting “out of hand” in recent years because of rising ultranationalism among Bosnian Serbs. “For all that painful history, the same Serbian ultra-nationalist forces have recently amped up their efforts to both deny the reality of the genocide and glorify the violence that contributed to it,” observes Bosnian American commentator Riada Asimovic Akyol. “Serbian nationalist songs about slaughtering Muslims are frequently blasted during the day or night in order to terrorise the sparse population of Bosniak returnees in Srebrenica.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Dec 2021 Edition


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