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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20 Dec 2022

Today in Islamophobia: At the UN, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of the threats posed by extreme right-wing and white supremacist groups in the West, meanwhile in India, the horrifying murder of Shraddha Walkar by her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala has given an impetus to the so called ‘love jihad’ narrative in India, a far-right conspiracy theory that claims that Muslim men intentionally lure non-Muslim women into marriages to convert them to the faith, and in the U.S., the recent election cycle made history with 153 Muslim candidates on the general ballot. Our recommended read of the day is by Hanan Zaffar and Danish Pandit for TIME on the rising influence of “Hindutva Pop”, a genre of music that largely includes anti-Muslim and violent lyrics and is being supported by the Hindu nationalist government in India. This and more below:


20 Dec 2022

Hindutva Pop Is the New Soundtrack to the Anti-Muslim Movement in India | Recommended Read

Hindutva is a term used to describe Hindu nationalism, the more than a century-old supremacist movement seeking to establish Hindu hegemony in India. Hindutva pop songs, which have become ubiquitous in the last several years, typically praise the ruling rightwing government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The lyrics spew hate toward Muslims─India’s largest minority community that constitutes nearly 200 million of the country’s 1.4 billion people. Recently, Hindutva pop has also been blamed for instigating violence. Syed Zubair Ahmad, founding editor of Muslim Mirror, an independent media organization that tracks cases of violence against Muslims in India, believes the music normalizes the dehumanization of Muslims in India and encourages listeners to commit violence. “They are making people inure to the violence that accompanies these songs.” “These singers have the full support of the government,” says Ahmad. “This is a win-win situation for both. The singers promote their leaders and policies, and the government in return provides them support and validation.” read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

Three years after Shaheen Bagh: Why the anti-CAA protests were an inflection point in Indian feminism

To remember Shaheen Bagh today is to remember a political moment of invaluable feminist import that marked a historical shift in the trajectory of Indian feminism. The hypervisible presence of ordinary Muslim women at various protest sites articulated a new language to re-conceptualise the negotiations between gender, religion, and the nation-state. Reflecting on the anti-CAA protests three years later, the Shaheen Bagh protests (December 2019-March 2020) stand out as an inflection point for Indian feminism on two fundamental grounds. Firstly, the Muslim women of Shaheen Bagh reconciled the dichotomous identities of religion, feminism, and secularism. By advocating for their rights as citizens, the Muslim women primed their identities as members of the nation-state and established that Indian feminism could respond to issues beyond gender. In priming their identities as citizens, they transcended the discursive predicament of Indian feminism that had been preoccupied with proving Islam as secular and non-patriarchal. However, at numerous Shaheen Baghs that emerged across the country, the political expression of religion through one’s clothing and carrying out daily prayers at protests sites not only articulated the political agency of Muslim women but also disrupted the secular-liberal sensibility that sees religion in public sphere as antithetical to the idea of a “modern-nation state”. By the strategic priming of their identity as Indian citizens to advocate for constitutional rights while not dismissing the registers of religion and gender, Muslim women re-articulated the meaning of secularism. At Shaheen Bagh, Muslim women did not have to transcend religion to acquire membership into a secular-feminist discourse. Instead, by carrying out their religiosity publicly, Muslim women untethered themselves from the political burden of re-interpreting the tenets of Islam as a non-patriarchal, secularist religion. read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

War On Love: Rising Right Wing Narrative On Love Jihad In New India

The horrifying murder of Shraddha Walkar by her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala has given an impetus to the so called ‘love jihad’ narrative in India and is being widely circulated on social media. Love jihad is a conspiracy theory, created by far-right with baseless assumptions that Muslim men lure non-Muslim women into marriages to convert them to Islam. Rooted in Islamophobia and propounded by the Hindutva right-wing across India, this theory is used by politicians of the ruling BJP to reportedly protect ‘Hindu women‘, while completely disregarding women’s rights to decide on their life. As per the national investigation agency of India, no evidence exists for love jihad and it is not even shown in India’s population data where Muslims make up 14% whereas Hindus are around 80%. Maharashtra, ruled by a coalition government in which BJP is a partner, has set up a state level panel named “Inter-caste/Interfaith marriage-family coordination committee”. Headed by BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, the 13-member committee will seek detailed information on the registered and unregistered inter-faith and inter-caste marriages, presumably to make it possible for women and their “estranged” families to get back together. The committee’s head is the same minister who alleged that “Hindus face a threat in the Muslim-dominated Malvani area of Mumbai”. He has also previously stated that “There should be a capital punishment for killing cows and cattle. Cow slaughter should be punishable by death and beef export should be banned.” read the complete article


19 Dec 2022

Sri Lanka navy rescues over 100 Rohingya adrift in rough seas

Sri Lanka’s navy has rescued 104 Rohingya adrift off the Indian Ocean island nation’s northern coast, an official said. Tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya suffer hardships in cramped refugee camps in Bangladesh after they escaped violence by the Myanmar military. The United Nations said the military operation was conducted with a “genocidal intent” and it was investigating Myanmar officials. Many Rohingya in Bangladesh and Myanmar risk their lives every year by attempting to reach Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia on rickety vessels. Their numbers have surged following deteriorating conditions in the camps and last year’s military coup in Myanmar. read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

UN chief warns of far-right, white supremacy threats in West

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of the threats posed by extreme right-wing and white supremacist groups in the West in the wake of authorities in Germany uncovering a group that planned to launch a coup attempt. The UN chief, speaking to reporters during his annual end-of-year press conference in New York on Monday, said the case in Germany was just one example of the threat posed by the extreme right-wing to democratic societies around the world. “It has been demonstrated that the biggest threat of terrorism today in Western countries comes from the extreme right, neo-Nazis and white supremacy,” Guterres said. “And I think we must be very clear and very firm in condemning every form of neo-Nazism, white supremacists, any form of anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred,” he said. “This is clearly a threat, and we must fight that threat with enormous determination,” he added. read the complete article

19 Dec 2022

Reaction to Lionel Messi wearing a bisht while lifting the World Cup trophy shows cultural fault lines of Qatar 2022

Tamim then placed a black and gold bisht – a traditional item of clothing worn in the region for special events and celebrations – on the Argentina captain before the 35-year-old was handed the trophy. Messi didn’t wear the item of clothing for long, taking it off shortly after the trophy presentation and celebrating with his teammates in Argentina’s distinctive jersey. Amid the criticism, Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), an organization charged with organizing the World Cup, tried to explain the reasons behind the bisht. “It is a dress for an official occasion and worn for celebrations. This was a celebration of Messi,” Al Thawadi told BBC Sport. “The World Cup had the opportunity to showcase to the world our Arab and Muslim culture. This was not about Qatar, it was a regional celebration. “People from different walks of life were able to come, experience what was happening here and get to understand that we may not see eye to eye on everything, but we can still celebrate together.” Others on social media were outraged by the criticism of the bisht, saying it was steeped in ignorance and misunderstanding of Qatar’s culture. It was another example, they said, of the constant criticism the country has received since winning the right to host the tournament. read the complete article

United States

19 Dec 2022

Why the 2022 election was historic for Muslim women's representation

A record number of Muslim women ran for office in 2022 — and they won. The election cycle made history with 153 Muslim candidates on the general ballot, per a report released by Jetpac Resource Center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Sixty-one percent of Muslim women candidates won, compared with 56 percent of Muslim men. Mauree Turner, the only nonbinary Muslim in the midterm elections, won a second term in the Oklahoma legislature. It's a notable shift in a country with a deep history of Islamophobia. Sahar Aziz, professor of law at Rutgers University and author of "The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom," attributed this rise in representation to two factors: immigration history and differing reactions to Islamophobic society. Aziz said these gains in representation are partly due to a "generational coming of age" that is common with new immigrant populations. Over 70 percent of American Muslims are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came to the United States after national origin quotas were abolished in 1965, making many Muslims second- or third-generation Americans. "With those changes, you will have people who are now born and raised in the U.S., educated only in the U.S., their parents were born and raised in the U.S.," Aziz said. "So they have the social network, human capital and the familiarity with the society as a political system that [now] they're much better equipped to run for office." read the complete article

19 Dec 2022

Where American Muslims Are Now, and What Lies Ahead?

There are about three and a half million Muslims in the U.S., comprising just over one percent of the total U.S. population. Although some believe that number is underestimated, that makes Islam currently the third-largest religion in the United States. By 2040, the Pew Research Center projects that Islam will grow to become the second-largest religion in the country. The poll covers a number of different areas, such as attitudes toward job creation, education, Islamophobia, race, civic engagement, civic responsibility, and the direction the country is taking. Some of the most surprising findings are to do with voting. American Muslims are already a powerful, although not necessarily predictable, voting bloc. Muslim voter registration numbers have climbed significantly since 2016, and they now vote at levels on a par with the general public. But with voter suppression efforts continuing at all levels of federal, state, and local government, Muslims are more likely than any other faith or non-faith group to encounter obstacles to voting, according to the American Muslim Poll 2022: A Politics and Pandemic Status Report, released by The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). The poll found that the voter registration rate among Muslims has been dramatically trending upward over the last six years. Eight in ten Muslims are eligible to vote, and 81% of those eligible Muslims are registered to vote, as compared to 84% registered voters in the general population. There were several surprises in the poll, according to Mogahed. First, Muslims were the most likely faith community to say they had experienced barriers to casting their ballots to vote in elections. “This was the first time we realized that American Muslims were dealing with” voter access issues, Mogahed said. read the complete article

19 Dec 2022

State lawmakers consider bill to name January ‘Muslim Heritage Month’

New Jersey lawmakers are considering naming January “Muslim Heritage Month” in New Jersey. Lawmakers have introduced a bill to make it so. The bill is backed by state Sen. Joe Pennacchio. Lawmakers say the goal is to increase awareness and appreciation of Muslim American communities in New Jersey. The Council of American-Islamic Relations testified on behalf of the new legislation. "If the state of New Jersey truly takes great pride in the religious and cultural diversity of its residents, it is critical to pass Senate Joint Resolution, SJR-105, which would recognize our large community in the state,” says Madina Ouedraogo, government affairs manager for CAIR-NJ. CAIR says it hopes the new bill can bring more awareness to the rise of anti-Muslim incidents in New Jersey. read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

The High Cost of American Heavy-Handedness

On September 20, 2001, as rescue workers combed through the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center, U.S. President George W. Bush stood before a joint session of Congress and put the world on notice. “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make,” Bush declared. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Despite the Bush administration’s subsequent attempts to frame the “war on terror” as a battle for Muslim hearts and minds, the U.S. approach to counterterrorism would, over the ensuing 20 years, increasingly default to hard power. Today, force has become so ingrained as Washington’s reflexive response to twenty-first-century threats that soft-power tools have all but disappeared from discussions of how to head off possible catastrophe. As Washington pivots from counterterrorism to great-power competition, it would be well advised to reexamine some of the lessons it learned during the 20-year war on terror. In my role as a senior CIA operations officer, I personally witnessed the damage that the United States’ heavy-handed approach to its dealings with allies did to its international relationships. When the agency pursued al Qaeda in Pakistan, it often had to do so without the help of officials in Islamabad—despite American threats. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president from 2001 to 2008, claimed in a 2006 CBS interview that Richard Armitage, the U.S. deputy secretary of state at the time, had warned Pakistan’s government after 9/11 that if it did not cooperate with the United States, it should be prepared to be bombed “back to the Stone Age.” (Although Armitage denied having threatened military force, he acknowledged in an interview with NBC that he had told Pakistani officials that they “would need to be with us or against us” in the U.S.-led effort to confront al Qaeda. But given my own experiences working with American and Pakistani officials during the war on terror, I suspect that Musharraf had the right takeaway.) This example would seem to demonstrate the effectiveness of an aggressive approach, but there is a reason the CIA and its partner intelligence services don’t rely on coercion: it doesn’t work. Any wins tend to be short-lived, and, in the longer term, such an approach undermines partnerships and sows lasting resentments. I found in my dealings with foreign interlocutors that the sympathy the United States enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 decreased steadily in the years that followed. read the complete article


19 Dec 2022

Film uncovers Aust-Muslim soldiers' tales

The sacrifices made by Australia's Muslim soldiers are an untold part of the Anzac legend, according to researcher Dr James Barry. His new film, Crescent Under The Southern Cross: Saluting Our Muslim Anzacs, explores the contribution made by these servicemen during World War II. "It breaks that stereotype of Muslims as a recent group arriving in Australia in the past 30 or 40 years, and the stereotype of Muslims being not really interested in contributing to Australia," Dr Barry from Deakin University told AAP. The soldiers came from all over the world including Albania, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Some were working as farm labourers when the war broke out, others were pearl divers evacuated from the north when Japan invaded Indonesia. "These men were adventurous, they came from small villages all the way to Australia, a country which wasn't very welcoming to them at the time and also was isolating for them," Dr Barry said. Their fates were varied: while some were classified as enemy aliens, others joined battalions or even the Special Forces. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Dec 2022 Edition


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