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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19 Dec 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In New Zealand, police are investigating a possible hate crime that occurred over the weekend at a waterpark in Christchurch where a Muslim mother and her child were attacked by an eighteen year old with a metal pipe after being taunted with racist remarks, meanwhile in Qatar, the finale of the World Cup culminating in the honoring of star player Lionel Messi with the wearing of a traditional Arab robe called a bisht drew strong criticism from western media, and in Brazil, a recently published study on Islamophobia in Brazil – the first one in Latin America – shows a common trend of discrimination and intimidation targeting Muslim women in the South American country. Our recommended read of the day is by Thaïs Chaigne for FRANCE 24 on how Muslim students in a South Korean city have been met with intimidation, harassment, and bigotry in their efforts to build a small mosque in the area, including numerous incidences involving pigs’ heads left in front of the mosque. This and more below

South Korea

16 Dec 2022

Pig heads, pork barbecues: Islamophobic attacks on a mosque under construction in South Korea | Recommended Read

Muslim students are denouncing Islamophobic acts carried out by opponents of a proposed mosque in Daegu, South Korea's third largest city. Images published online and sent to our editorial team show, among other things, signs with hateful words against Muslims and pigs' heads in front of the mosque. This Thursday, December 15, the "Daegu Anti-Mosque Committee" organized a big barbecue with pork, only a few meters away from the mosque under construction. It is in this area of Daegu, a large city in southern Korea, that dozens of Muslim students from nearby Kyungpook University gather. A few days earlier, on 6 December, a pig's head was placed on a chair in front of the mosque. It was the third time in two months that foreign Muslim students had found this macabre installation, a dubious reference to Islam's ban on eating pork. In Daegu, Muslim students had been meeting since 2014 in a two-storey house that served as a cultural and religious centre. At the end of 2020, they had obtained the administrative green light to transform this centre into a real mosque. But since then, they have faced opposition from a group of neighbours who regularly demonstrate to block the work. These demonstrations have taken an Islamophobic turn on several occasions, as several videos and photos sent to our editorial office by one of the students show. read the complete article


16 Dec 2022

The United States Needs to do More to Help Uyghur Refugees

The Uyghur minority in China is suffering terrible persecution. Human rights advocates and organizations accuse the Chinese government of committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a Turkic minority of some 12 million in western China. Uyghurs trying to escape from China’s brutality have a difficult time reaching safety. The United States is failing Uyghur refugees and asylee applicants. We need to change restrictive policies and find ways to help them. By granting Priority 2 (P-2) status in the U.S. refugee program, Uyghurs can bypass referrals from other entities, like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to reach safety more quickly. Through the successful use of P-2 status for Uyghurs, the U.S. will also bolster its reputation as a defender of human rights. U.S. allies, as well as victims of authoritarian governments around the world, will be inspired by the example set by the U.S. in pushing for Uyghur dissidents to have a safe haven. Meanwhile, Beijing will witness that Washington doesn’t just use the Uyghurs as a talking point but matches its rhetoric with actions. As the Uyghur community in the U.S. grows, greater public awareness and support for it will increase which is exactly the opposite of what Beijing wants. read the complete article

16 Dec 2022

2,398 for the U.S., 1 for Canada: That's the lopsided record on targeting forced labour

Uyghur activist raised a concern during an event in Washington, D.C., this month. It came during a discussion about a new U.S. law targeting modern slave labour. At that think-tank gathering, people were evaluating how the law has worked and how it hasn't since it took effect six months ago. During the discussion, Omer Kanat pointed to one problem: U.S. trading partners. He said some are doing little to stop the trade in forced-labour goods. And he mentioned one country specifically: the one next door. "Canada has not stopped any shipments," the former journalist and prominent Uyghur advocate told the gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Even though [Canada] is obligated to enforce the ban on forced-labour goods under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement." Countries agreed in the new NAFTA to ban imports of products made in whole, or in part, with forced labour; Canada subsequently entrenched the rule in its own domestic law. Yet at this stage, the enforcement record seems lopsided. If one were keeping score, it would look something like: 2,398 for the United States, 1 for Canada. That's how many shipments each country, in the last fiscal year, stopped at customs over suspicions they contained forced-labour goods. read the complete article

17 Dec 2022

Sujood, Morocco in the World Cup and what we still don’t know about Muslims

Athletes engaging in open forms of prayer or religious ritual prior to, during or after a game or match is not uncommon — whether an athlete is crossing herself before a big play, lifting a finger up to acknowledge God, kneeling on one knee with head bowed in prayer or prostrating on the ground in sujood. The latter, a practice done mainly by Muslims during ritual prayer (and also as a gesture of submission and thanks — called sajdat shukr — to God outside of ritual prayer), has especially ignited the hearts of Muslims worldwide during this year’s World Cup. This is why, as Morocco continued it’s epic advance into the semifinal match, our Muslim hearts swooned to see them not only win, but do so while being unapologetically Muslim on the field: from reciting Surah al Fatiha, to players hugging and dancing with their mothers on the field, to prostrating at the end of matches. It was a joyous expression of Muslimness in front of a world audience on a global sporting stage the likes of which many of us hadn’t seen in recent memory. Many media outlets rushed to capture this story and describe what was unfolding on and off the pitch with breathless descriptions. But in doing so, mixed in with the haste of churning out constant stories under tight deadlines, some fell short in understanding what they were writing about, a problem I’ve certainly faced myself on occasion in my more than two decades as a religion journalist and editor. Mistakes happen all the time in reporting and writing, despite our best efforts as journalists. By reflecting on this, I don’t mean to call out or belittle the ESPN journalist. But, as Khalil told me, “It’s an interesting moment because a lot of people still think this is connected to Islamophobia. Bias is implicit.” The journalist, Khalil said, may not think he was being Islamophobic but may have thought, “‘I’m going to describe it as I see it, and that’s OK.’ And there wasn’t a push from (his editors) to ensure that he was correct.” In all my years of covering and coordinating coverage of Muslims in America, I’ve questioned numerous times if I need to publish yet another article on some aspect of hijab or how Muslims pray or how Muslims condemn terrorism. But time and again, the necessity to do so is proven when I read reported articles and columns that get wrong things that should be pretty easy to factually and accurately write. “What I don’t want to get lost here,” said Khalil, “is how this whole context of anti-Muslim bias and orientalism is systemic, and this is how it unfolds.” read the complete article

19 Dec 2022

OPINION: Undressing the Islamophobia wrapped around Messi, Qatar and the 2022 World Cup

From the beginning to its stunning end, the World Cup in Qatar has been politicised by western coverage. More salient that the storylines of the footballers taking to the pitch and more striking than the magnitude of the moment to the Middle East, this coverage has shaped the identity of this World Cup in western discourses; and until its final moment, dressed it with bigoted indictments and double standards. The image, of Messi covered and cloaked in the traditional Qatari garment, symbolised union. Even more so, cultural harmony between an Argentinian icon who will always be remembered for cementing his legendary career in Qatar, an Arab and Muslim nation that, like him, was underestimated for its size and stature. Messi’s victory was Qatar’s victory. And being covered in the bisht was a powerful image, and a potent metaphor that, for the western media outlets that sought to mangle the entire image of the World Cup before its initial kickoff, provided one final opportunity. The Telegraph ran a story calling it, “the bizarre act that ruined the greatest moment in World Cup history,” while another Australian outlet accused Qatar of “hijacking” Messi of his moment – a particularly derogatory term for Arabs. Former British footballer and fulltime talking head Gary Lineker raged at FIFA for making wear Messi wear “a little robe,” while the Daily Mail’s Ian Herbert wrote that “Qatar claimed Messi” by dressing him with the bisht, calling the nation a “soulless state” for a display associated with honor. It should come to no surprise that the vast majority of this tirade came from Britain, the faded empire that replaced the spilling of colonised blood with the modern spilling of postcolonial ink. Orientalist bigotry drove British colonialism then, and its ugly residue colours its media coverage over Arab subjects and Muslim objects today – which shrouded this World Cup at its start, its close, and every step and stage in between. read the complete article

United States

17 Dec 2022

Gov. Murphy says N.J. will not ‘stand for anti-Muslim behavior’ after incidents

In the wake of a series of anti-Muslim incidents in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy visited an Islamic center on Friday to pledge that his administration will help protect residents who practice the religion. “We will not stand for anti-Muslim behavior,” Murphy said during a speech at the Islamic Center of Old Bridge. “We will not stand for any intimidation of your right to worship. And we will, whether it’s (through) the hard edge of law enforcement or using my bully pulpit or social media or, importantly, where I choose to stand and speak.” “We have the back of the Muslim community in this state — period, full stop,” the Democratic governor added. Murphy didn’t reference any specific instance, but his appearance came after a series of anti-Muslim incidents last month in Middlesex County, where Old Bridge is located. Four Islamic Centers in the county were targeted on Nov. 26 when a truck displaying a digital billboard with anti-Muslim messages and photos from 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai drove through the premises, according to security footage provided by New Jersey’s Council on American-Islamic Relations. A CAIR-NJ spokeswoman said the incidents were “deliberate and well-coordinated.” read the complete article

16 Dec 2022

Two Muslim homes in San Carlos park vandalized in suspected hate crime

Two Lee County Muslim families who live on the same street believe they may have been the victims of a hate crime. They said they’ve been taunted and their homes have been vandalized… and even broken into. The families who live along Love Road in San Carlos Park said they’ve been experiencing hate in recent weeks. Hassan said that when he and his family moved into the neighborhood, a sheriff’s deputy came to check on them to ensure they were doing okay. Since moving into this home from Palestine, they said it has become a nightmare. “We’re so peaceful. We love everybody. We want everyone to love us at the same time,” Hassan said. His wife said that a group of teens in the neighborhood recently taunted her. “They would do sign language with their hands mocking me because of how I’m dressed. Since then, we haven’t come outside,” she said. But Thursday night, the family said someone tried to kick in their door while she and her kids were inside. “My wife was behind the door inside the house and they were trying to kick the door open while she was in fear,” Hassan explained. Mohamed Al Darsani owns a home across the street and also said his place was also vandalized Thursday night. “They destroyed the windows on the first floor… they destroyed the mirror on my car,” Al Darsani said. He said someone also tore out his phone lines and spray painted vulgar graffiti on his driveway and said he believed he was being targeted because he is Muslim. read the complete article


16 Dec 2022

‘Us Canadians are not a threat to you’: Are old world conflicts behind the ugly outcry against a new Mosque proposal in Brampton?

The Brampton And Regional Islamic Centre (BARIC) currently sits at 4525 Ebenezer Road, serving as the only Masjid in East Brampton. In an interview with The Pointer, a representative for the Centre said their current facility is not big enough to support the local Islamic community as its numbers continue to grow. A report detailing the proposal was presented to Brampton Council Monday night, offering an opportunity for community members to share their thoughts. While the agenda accounted for 200 delegates, that number grew to over 400, filling the lobby of City Hall and requiring Council to only allow handfuls at a time into the chambers to delegate. The meeting itself lasted until 4 a.m., with each delegation reduced from five to just two minutes. For anyone familiar with the longstanding tension that has defined so much of the political, social and cultural dynamic of the South Asian subcontinent for centuries, what unfolded Monday night and into early Tuesday morning was an unfortunate reminder that far away conflicts are often imported to Canadian shores. The Islamic Centre’s spokesperson hinted at the likely motive behind the intolerance expressed during Monday’s meeting. Scrolling down the long list of delegates signed up to speak during the planning meeting, the vast majority of names have one thing in common: they are Hindu. The opposition of Hindu-Canadians toward various Islamic-based religious-cultural efforts in Peel’s diverse Muslim communities has become more common in recent years. read the complete article

17 Dec 2022

How a Town Famous for Xenophobia Fell in Love With Immigrants

For years, the small town of Hérouxville in rural Quebec was the embodiment in the province of deep, nativist hostility toward immigrants. The town didn’t have any immigrants, but it once adopted a code of conduct that left no doubt that they, and their perceived customs, were unwelcome. Hérouxville, the code warned, did not tolerate “stoning women to death in the town square” or “burning them alive” or “treating them as slaves.” The people of Hérouxville, it cautioned, celebrated Christmas and didn’t cover their faces, except maybe for Halloween. So it may come as a surprise that Hérouxville is now embracing immigrants and is eager to accommodate them. “We’ve had a break from our past,” said Bernard Thompson, Hérouxville’s mayor and a onetime supporter of the code. “We now want as many immigrants as possible.” The sharp shift in this small town’s attitude comes as Canada is seeking to open its doors even wider to immigrants as a crucial strategy for its economic vitality. Canada’s federal government has announced plans to welcome record numbers of new immigrants over the next three years, with the goal of adding 1.45 million immigrants to the country’s population of 39 million. In contrast to other Western nations, where immigration has cleaved societies and fueled the rise of political extremism, there is a broad consensus in Canada over the value of immigration. Hérouxville’s reversal on immigration stemmed from a combination of factors, including an aging population, a low birthrate, the need to fill an acute labor shortage, but also profound shifts in views among younger generations and the personal journeys of individuals like Mr. Thompson. If asked, the mayor said, he would even allow Muslim immigrants to use a vacant office in the city hall building as a prayer room — though he was not legally bound to do so. “If we’re unable to respect each other’s culture, whether it’s religious or not, I think that’s a mistake,” the mayor said. “We have to show an openness.” read the complete article


19 Dec 2022

A questionable refusal: On the rejection of Bilkis Bano’s review plea

It is a matter of concern that the Supreme Court has declined to review its May 2022 order holding that the Gujarat government is the “appropriate government” to decide on the premature release of 11 convicts serving life terms in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, which also involved the gruesome murder of several others. A court’s jurisdiction to review its own order is limited to correcting any error apparent on the face of the record. It is also a discretionary remedy and generally not heard in open court. However, it appears that the two-Judge Bench has failed to address a significant error in its finding that the decision on remission should be made by the Gujarat government. The case, which arose from one of the many heinous crimes that took place during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, had been transferred for trial to Mumbai by the Court. The appeal arising from it was heard by the Bombay High Court. Section 432(7) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) says the “appropriate government” is “the Government of the State within which the offender is sentenced”. Despite this clear provision, the Bench had taken the view that as the offence had taken place in Gujarat, and the trial in Mumbai, further matters had returned to the jurisdiction of Gujarat on conclusion of trial. It had also noted that the transfer of the trial to another State had taken place under “extraordinary circumstances”. read the complete article

17 Dec 2022

Why students are protesting the end of a fellowship named after India’s first education minister

Mohammad was more confident of getting the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, which supports scholars from India’s religious minorities. But last week, the Narendra Modi-led government discontinued it. The announcement has left Mohammad feeling betrayed and hopeless. “I cannot go for higher education without financial support,” he said. “This decision is a huge setback for me.” The Maulana Azad National Fellowship was launched in 2009 after a high-level committee recommended that the government take specific measures to address the educational gap between Muslims and other communities in India. Muslims form 14.2% of India’s population, but students from the community constitute only 5.5% of enrolments in the country’s colleges and universities, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education conducted in 2019. The Maulana Azad National Fellowship, named after India’s first education minister Abul Kalam Azad, is open to all religious minorities in India, but the majority of its recipients are Muslim. In 2018-’19, according to government data, of 1,000 Fellows, 733 were Muslim. The government’s decision to discontinue the fellowship has fuelled protests from student groups both inside and outside campuses, with activists calling it an attack on the educational prospects of minorities. They also say that the move is a part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government’s anti-minority policies. read the complete article

New Zealand

19 Dec 2022

Baby readmitted to hospital after being allegedly jumped on in suspected racial hate crime

A newborn baby who was allegedly jumped on during a suspected racist attack at a Christchurch beachside park has been readmitted to hospital. Police are investigating whether the alleged assault on a woman and 3-week-old baby at Scarborough Park in Sumner on Saturday evening was racially motivated. The woman and baby were lying in a tent after going out with friends when the attack happened. People nearby came to their aid and apprehended an 18-year-old male thought to have been responsible. But they want to know why it took police so long – about 90 minutes – to attend. The alleged offender – who has been charged with assault and will appear in the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday – made racist comments to the family after the incident, Fouda said, including saying “go back to your country”, and telling them they “can’t even speak English”. A group of people, including Fouda, ran after him, apprehended him and removed a metal bar from his possession. Maha Galal, a voluntary social worker with the Christchurch Muslim community, said there had been numerous incidents of what appeared to be hate-motivated attacks in recent months. There were two others she knew of where people were told to “go back to your own country”, while and the comment “terrorist” was made to March 15 survivors in public. Each time they were told by police there was nothing they could do. read the complete article


18 Dec 2022

Brazilian, female, and a Muslim convert: 'I am afraid to wear a hijab'

Two months ago, Poliana Veiga de Souza, a 28-year-old Muslim convert living in Vitoria, Espirito Santo State, was at a bus stop with a friend after leaving the mosque when an unknown man appeared out of nowhere and began to shout at them. Both de Souza and her friend were wearing hijabs. “He came in our direction saying that we were weak women, whose husbands are accustomed to cut off heads in their countries and wanted to do the same here in Brazil,” she recalled, describing that he apparently had a furious outburst only for seeing them. After converting – or reverting, as she prefers to say – to Islam in 2017, that was the first time that she experienced such a threatening attack, she told Middle East Eye. “He acted very violently and intimidated us. Since then, we are being escorted to the bus stop by the sheikh or another brother of the mosque every week,” she added. A recently published study on islamophobia in Brazil – the first one in Latin America – showed that cases like de Souza’s are rather common among Muslim women in the South American nation. The survey, carried out by the Anthropology in Islamic and Arab Contexts Group, led by anthropologist Francirosy Barbosa, showed that 73 percent of the female interviewees have already suffered some sort of aggression on the streets. Most of the attacks were verbal, but 10 percent of them report to have been physically assaulted. Barbosa, a professor at the Department of Psychology of the University of São Paulo in Ribeirao Preto and a Muslim convert herself, explained that Islam has been steadily growing in the country over the past 20 years. New waves of immigration from Muslim countries and an increasing number of converts have been the central reasons for that phenomenon. Women have taken the lead in that process, with 70 percent of all conversions. “Brazil is generally seen as a cordial country. But when it comes to islamophobia, it may only be cordial – if that is really the case – for women who come from a Muslim family, have a car, and live in a protected context,” Barbosa argued. For Muslim women living in poor neighborhoods and using public transport every day, the risks are much greater. read the complete article


17 Dec 2022

Qatar offers World Cup visitors an introduction to Islam

Fatima Garcia donned a headscarf and a black abaya — a long, loose-fitting robe — over her clothes as she walked into a mosque in Doha to learn about Islam. In Qatar to enjoy the World Cup with friends, the Salvadoran visitor took a day off from soccer to go sightseeing at the Katara mosque, where preachers have been introducing Islam in multiple languages to curious fans from around the world. “Qatar is my first exposure to Islam,” Garcia said inside the house of prayer, also known as the blue mosque for its beautiful turquoise tiles. “Qatar has been a life-changing adventure because it gives you a perspective on different cultures.” Hundreds of thousands of visitors have come to Qatar during the World Cup. For many it’s their first visit to a Muslim country. Those who don’t venture far beyond the stadiums and Doha’s glitzy hotels will have only limited exposure to the country’s religion, such as hearing the call to prayer at a distance or witnessing Muslims prostrate at prayer rooms in stadiums, airports and hotels. But for those who are curious to find out more about Islam, Qatari authorities and religious officials are eager to help. “What we’ve seen is that they’ve made an effort to change the image that we have in the West of seeing Islam. It’s breaking that barrier,” said Carlos Bustos, who along with his sons had dressed in traditional Qatari clothes. “They’ve told us that we’re very different but we see more similarities than differences,” he said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Dec 2022 Edition


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