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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21 Dec 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Germany, the German television channel Welt has issued an apology following controversial and shocking comments against Morocco’s national football team during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, meanwhile in Europe, the position for the anti-Muslim hate coordinator remains vacant despite rising Islamophobia, and in Canada, a man in Ottowa is facing hate crime charges following an assault at a business in the town of Barrhaven. Our recommended read of the day is by Nicolas Camut for POLITICO on the European Court of Human Right’s rejection of the appeal of former French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, against his conviction for “inciting discrimination and religious hatred” over comments targeting the French Muslim community. This and more below:


20 Dec 2022

Court upholds French far-right leader’s conviction over anti-Muslim comments | Recommended Read

The European Court of Human Rights rejected the appeal of former French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, who was convicted in France for “inciting discrimination and religious hatred” over comments targeting the French Muslim community. “The court held that the interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression had been necessary in a democratic society to protect the rights of others that were at stake,” the ECHR wrote in a statement released Tuesday. Zemmour’s statements “contained derogatory and discriminatory claims of a kind that might exacerbate a rift between French people and the Muslim community as a whole,” the court noted. In a live appearance on French TV show “C à Vous” in September 2016, Zemmour, who was promoting his new book at the time, claimed that “those who wage jihads” were seen by all Muslims as “good Muslims.” He claimed France was witnessing “an invasion” with “countless neighborhoods … where many young women are veiled,” and said that French Muslims should “be given a choice between Islam and France.” “So, if they’re French … they have to let go of what their religion is.” The Frenchman was sued and convicted by a Parisian criminal court in 2017, which fined him €5,000 for “inciting discrimination, hatred or violence against a group on grounds of their origin or membership of a religion,” according to the ECHR statement. read the complete article


20 Dec 2022

How Lionel Messi’s ‘bisht’ exposed Western media’s racism again

On Sunday, billions of people collectively turned their gaze to the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, as Argentina were crowned World Cup champions after a sparkling final against France. Yet instead of focusing on the majesty of the football the world had just witnessed, Western media opted to fixate on how the emir of Qatar draped Lionel Messi, the Argentine captain, in the traditional Arab cloak known as a “bisht”. A bisht, also known as an aba or abaya in other Arab countries, is a garment symbolic of prestige, honour and stature. It is worn on special occasions and only by senior religious figures, political or tribal leaders, representing immense success. Reactions from several pundits and journalists have reflected the same racism and Islamophobia that have been prevalent throughout the tournament and in the years leading up to it. But they also underscore the lack of diversity that marks most Western newsrooms — which limits their ability to comprehend much of the world beyond stilted stereotypes. read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

German Channel Apologizes After Islamophobic Comments Against Moroccan Players

Germany’s television channel Welt has issued an apology following its controversial and shocking comments against Morocco’s national football team. Welt aired the apology during a news broadcast last week on December 14. The channel did not intend to convey “any offense,” the broadcaster claimed in the apology message. “We sincerely apologize for this error. It was not our intention to offend Islamic religious feelings,” the news host added. On Monday, December 12, Welt sparked uproar online after airing a picture of three Moroccan football players carrying the Moroccan flag and raising their index fingers -- a sign known among Muslims as “Tawhid” – in their dressing room following a Word Cup match. Welt, however, decided that the gesture meant something else; it claimed that the Moroccan players' use of an Islamic sign had been “causing backlash” among watchers of Morocco's win over Portugal. In particular, the channel audaciously equated “Tawhid” with terrorism, arguing that the players' use of the Islamic gesture was problematic as it could mean they sympathized with the terrorist group ISIS. While the sign is indeed used by groups affiliated with ISIS, it remains part of the daily prayers of Muslims everywhere. read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

UN chief says 'biggest terror threat' is white supremacy in West

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the "biggest threat of terrorism" is posed by far right-wing and white supremacist groups in the West, following the arrest of 25 people in Germany accused of attempting to overthrow the government. The UN chief spoke to reporters on Monday during an end-of-year press conference in New York, where he said the case in Germany was just one example of the threat of far right-wing groups 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. Earlier this month, German police arrested 25 suspects during raids across the country that targeted adherents of the Reich Citizens (Reichsbuerger) movement. Prosecutors accused the suspects of "having made concrete preparations to violently force their way into the German parliament with a small armed group". Adherents of the Reich Citizens movement reject Germany's postwar constitution and have called for bringing down the government. Guterres also said that the world must pay attention to the issue of Islamophobia and antisemitism, the former of which rose sharply following the US-led war on terror. A recent report by the Australian-based Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) has found that nearly 86 percent of anti-Muslim posts on social media come from the US, the UK and India. read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

EU Commission ‘fully committed’ to fight anti-Muslim hatred but lacks coordinator

Islamophobia continued to grow in 2021, according to a report by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In the EU, most anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic incidents were recorded in France, which, together with Germany, hosts the highest number of European Muslims. This growing trend was recently pointed out by the Council of Europe, the pan-European human rights organisation. In a resolution adopted in October, it stressed the need to “address this phenomenon as a matter of priority” and condemned the “use of Islamophobic rhetoric in public and political discourse, particularly by populist and far-right movements”. “Unfortunately, on a national level, very few member states are taking actions that go hand in hand with far-right parties gaining power,” Swedish MEP Evin Incir told EURACTIV, pointing to the cases of Sweden and Italy. The Swedish MEP, rapporteur of an EU Parliament resolution on anti-racism, expressed concern over the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and its normalisation “within the political establishment of some countries”. “When hatred against Muslims becomes normalised by words, then the distance between words and actions becomes smaller and we see that all across our member states.” In 2015, the Commission created the position of anti-Muslim hatred coordinator, together with the anti-Semitism coordinator, to tackle discrimination across member states and coordinate integration efforts with civil society organisations. Yet, the anti-Muslim hatred coordinator post has been vacant since July 2021 and the EU executive is still in the process of finding “the right candidate,” a Commission official told EURACTIV. read the complete article

20 Dec 2022

TikTok executive refuses Jake Tapper’s multiple requests to acknowledge China’s treatment of Uyghurs

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Tuesday, a TikTok executive refused multiple times to acknowledge China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, which the US State Department has labeled a genocide and a United Nations report said may constitute “crimes against humanity.” In response to Tapper’s question, “Do you acknowledge that the Chinese government has Uyghurs and others in concentration camps?” Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, said, “That’s not what I focus on.” TikTok is a Chinese-owned platform that has come under intense scrutiny by US lawmakers and security experts as the social media app has grown exponentially more popular over the past several years. Critics argue China’s national security laws could force TikTok — or its parent, ByteDance — to hand over the personal data of customers in the United States. The company has also been accused of censoring content that is politically sensitive to the Chinese government, including banning some accounts that posted about China’s mass detention camps in its western region of Xinjiang. The US State Department estimates that up to 2 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in these camps. read the complete article


20 Dec 2022

Man charged with assault in Islamophobic attack in Barrhaven

Ottawa police say a 57-year-old man is facing charges following an assault at a business in Barrhaven in November. The hate and bias crime unit charged the man with assault, mischief, and causing a disturbance. Police claim the man was making xenophobic and Islamophobic remarks during the incident on Nov. 6. The accused was not identified in a news release Tuesday. Police say he is due in court in February. read the complete article

21 Dec 2022

Debate over proposed new Brampton mosque deemed civic win but also prompts concerns Social Sharing

Hundreds of people flocked to Brampton's city hall last week for a unexpectedly popular meeting of the city's planning and development committee. Normally, fewer than 12 people attend. This meeting attracted 649. At the heart of the matter: the proposed construction of a new mosque in the city's east end, where there isn't one currently. Many Muslim Bramptonians spoke in favour of the new building, though some residents voiced concerns about increased traffic and potential crime. Mayor Patrick Brown said he was concerned some comments had a "flavour of Islamophobia," but following a year of woeful civic engagement (just 87,155 people cast a ballot in October's municipal election) he and councillors who spoke to CBC Toronto were buoyed to see so many people getting involved in a public debate. "Democracy works best when we have the most participation," said Gurpartap Singh Toor, the regional councillor for Wards 9 and 10. "We want people to come fill city hall." read the complete article

United States

20 Dec 2022

New Jersey lawmakers considering resolution to establish January as Muslim Heritage Month

New Jersey state legislators hope to pass a bipartisan resolution recognizing January as Muslim Heritage month statewide. Advocates for the resolution want the measure to pass both state houses before the end of the current legislative session, Republican State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio – who is a sponsor of the resolution – told CNN. “This is an important thing that we can do to show our Muslim friends” camaraderie and thankfulness for their contributions, Pinnacchio said. New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. Incidents of hate against Muslims have been on the rise in New Jersey, according to Dina Sayedahmed, communications manager for the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). She added that her office has recently received more than 160 calls for help and hopes it will help reduce the number of hate incidents against Muslims. read the complete article


20 Dec 2022

'People Think No Woman Could Wear a Hijab Out of Choice': Stories of Everyday Discrimination

On September 20, 2022, the government of Karnataka told the Supreme Court that Muslims girls in Udupi were goaded into wearing a hijab to school by the Popular Front of India (PFI) through social media messages. The state government made the argument while responding to a petition challenging the ban on wearing a hijab to school imposed by Karnataka, and upheld by the state high court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court that wearing a hijab was part of a ‘larger conspiracy’ orchestrated by the PFI to create social unrest. On October 13 this year, the Supreme Court of India delivered a split verdict on pleas challenging the Karnataka high court order that had upheld the ban. A constitutional bench comprising the Chief Justice of India will now examine whether Muslim girls can or cannot wear a head scarf in school. The ban on wearing a hijab in classrooms may have highlighted the Karnataka government’s intolerance towards minorities, but the bias against the head scarf, it seems, is an old one. Muslim women who wear hijabs claim they are used to disapproving glares and people dismissing them as backward and uneducated. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Dec 2022 Edition


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