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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30 Dec 2021

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the calls for violence against and extermination of Muslims “have been met with silence by Modi and others — a silence that translates as an endorsement,” meanwhile in France, two mosques have been damaged in two different cities as racist graffiti aimed at Muslims was sprayed on walls in a western town, and in the United States, the Pentagon is building a second courtroom for war crimes trials at Guantánamo Bay that will exclude the public from the chamber. Our recommended read of the day is by Sarah Hagi for Gawker on Quebec’s Bill 21 and its harmful impacts on Muslim women. This and more below:


30 Dec 2021


In 2019, a secularism law known as Bill 21 was passed in the province, which banned civil service employees (doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc.) from wearing religious symbols. This law affects people of all religious backgrounds, making an already intolerant country and province even less tolerant and leaving already extremely vulnerable groups to become even bigger targets of harassment and hatred. You don’t have to live in Quebec or even Canada to see how laws like this ripple into everyday life, how they normalize seeing people like me as threats, unworthy of respect or basic human rights. I often forget that something I wear every day in public is one of the most politicized items of clothing a woman can have on her body. It’s only when a news cycle surrounding Quebec’s Bill 21 begins that it sets in just how little much of the world thinks of me and my other Muslim sisters who wear some form of a hijab — I certainly don’t spend my days sitting around thinking about what non-Muslims think of me the same way I assume non-Muslims don’t sit around thinking about what I’m wearing. But I see the politicization happening whether laws support it or not. There have been summers where it felt like every news story I read was about a woman being kicked off a beach or out of a public pool because she chose to wear a “burkini” instead of a swimsuit; these are just instances that we see documented. It’s hard to not wonder what I’ve been privately denied based on my beliefs and appearance. The response to Bill 21 frequently devolves into a defense of us rooted in our productivity, typically highlighting that Muslim women are contributing members of society — just like everyone else. How we can do anything — we can be doctors or lawyers or teachers or even CEOs. This used to be my line of thinking and, to some extent, still is. Laws like Bill 21 exist to make our world smaller. The world around us becomes so limited we are faced with a choice to either participate in society or lose our autonomy. This is the reality in a country like France, where laws are so severe Muslim women have told me they have no future there if they choose to cover. I understand that countering the “hijab is a tool of oppression” narrative often means showing how employable and fun and not oppressed we are. I have no judgement towards those who need to use examples of what Muslim women can achieve as a means to survive. But it brings me a very deep sadness that our rights have to hinge on how good we are at assimilating, how they’re always lined with the hope that if non-Muslims see us as normal enough and how if we can be really good at getting jobs we can have the same rights too. That maybe all a violent racist needs is to have a conversation with someone like me to understand maybe they’re wrong. read the complete article

United States

30 Dec 2021

Pentagon Building New Secret Courtroom at Guantánamo Bay

The Pentagon is building a second courtroom for war crimes trials at Guantánamo Bay that will exclude the public from the chamber, the latest move toward secrecy in the nearly 20-year-old detention operation. The new courtroom will permit two military judges to hold proceedings simultaneously starting in 2023. On those occasions, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the four other men who are accused of plotting the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, would have hearings in the existing chamber, which has a gallery for the public. Smaller cases would be held in the new $4 million chamber. Members of the public seeking to watch those proceedings at Guantánamo would be shown a delayed video broadcast in a separate building. It is the latest retreat from transparency in the already secretive national security cases at the base, where the military and intelligence agencies have been restricting what the public can see. That includes forbidding photography of sites that were once routinely shown to visitors and declaring both populated and emptied wartime prison facilities off limits to reporters. read the complete article

30 Dec 2021

From conflict to cooperation: Lessons from the road to Muslim-Jewish partnership

When I started my career in interfaith engagement 16 years ago, Muslim-Jewish relations were generally characterized by friction and mutual suspicion. Many American Jews did not know Muslims and tended to view Islam through the dual lenses of 9/11 and the Second Intifada. Meanwhile, most American Muslims were not engaged with modern Jewish life and often saw Jewish advocacy as fueled by Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian bigotry. When tensions flared between Israelis and Palestinians, our American communities adjudicated the conflict with dueling press releases and reciprocal condemnations. However, in reality thousands of individual trusting Muslim-Jewish friendships among neighbors, co-workers and classmates have emerged in recent years, along with dozens of Muslim-Jewish interfaith initiatives. These generally withstood the May stress test, because Jewish and Muslim Americans are learning to tread the path of partnership together. Today, conventional wisdom in both communities supports engagement over estrangement and cooperation over conflict. However, constructive partnership is not inevitable. For those seeking to travel the road of Muslim-Jewish relations, here are 10 useful tips. read the complete article

30 Dec 2021

Suit: Missouri shooting range made Muslim woman remove hijab

A firearms store and gun range in suburban Kansas City refused to let a Muslim woman use the range unless she removed her hijab, a Muslim civil rights organization alleged in a federal lawsuit. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the law firm of Baldwin & Vernon in Independence alleges that the gun range at Frontier Justice in Lee’s Summit enforces its dress code in a discriminatory way that disproportionately affects Muslim women. Rania Barakat and her husband went to Frontier Justice on Jan. 1, 2020, to shoot at the gun range. According to the lawsuit, Barakat was told she would not be allowed to use the range unless she removed her hijab, a religious head covering typically worn by Muslim women. The manager said the gun range had different rules, according to the lawsuit. The couple left the store after the manager became “aggressive and loud,” the suit alleged. The lawsuit contends that it is Frontier Justice’s policy to turn away Muslims wearing hijabs, citing several social media posts from other Muslims about being refused use of the shooting range. It also claims that Instagram posts from Frontier Justice show customers wearing baseball caps turned backward, and hats and scarves. read the complete article


30 Dec 2021

Christians on edge in India’s Karnataka ruled by Modi’s BJP

On December 23, his fears came true, albeit at a place around 160km (100 miles) away. A Hindu vigilante mob barged into a convent school in Karnataka’s Mandya district and disrupted a small Christmas celebration taking place. They shouted at the teachers and ordered them to stop the celebration, accusing them of “converting” Hindu children to Christianity. On the same day, the Karnataka state assembly passed a new anti-conversion legislation, called the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021. The bill now awaits its passage in the state legislative council to become a law. “There is immense fear among the Christians,” the pastor told Al Jazeera, referring to a spate of recent attacks against the community and their places of worship across Karnataka, a state governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Karnataka will be the 10th state in India to enact the so-called “Freedom of Religion” law. The legislation bars religious conversions, except when a person “reconverts to his immediate previous religion” – a clause that critics say is aimed at enabling India’s many Hindu supremacist groups to convert Muslims and Christians into Hindus. Moreover, marriages conducted with the intention of conversion can be cancelled and those found guilty can be jailed for up to 10 years, according to the bill. The ruling BJP claims the bill aims to stop “the illegal and large-scale conversion of Hindus to Christianity” – an allegation the party has yet to prove. Opposition parties and civil society groups have termed the proposed law “unconstitutional and undemocratic”. read the complete article

30 Dec 2021

In India, calls for Muslim genocide grow louder. Modi’s silence is an endorsement.

“If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a militant organization, at a conference in the city of Haridwar, 150 miles north of New Delhi. “Be ready to kill and go to jail.” At the same event, another Hindu seer invoked the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as a model for what can be done to drive Muslims away, a monstrous event that has been covered in the media. The Dharma Sansad (Hindu convention) was attended by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party. Videos of the packed event have been circulating on social media. Attendees made pledges to turn India into a Hindu nation. Unsurprisingly, the calls for violence and extermination have been met with silence by Modi and others — a silence that translates as an endorsement. Inciting violence is a crime in India, but Pandey and the other speakers remain free. The police are supposed to be investigating but have been very slow to act — since they know full well these leaders have the protection of the ruling political class. In fact, these Hindu leaders have now been emboldened to form a paramilitary force of monks who they claim will lead an armed fight against the 220 million Muslim population in India. Days after the conference, Tejaswi Surya, Modi’s handpicked youth leader and a BJP member of parliament, called for bringing Indian Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism, “the mother religion.” He then tried to walk back his comments. What is happening in India, where calls for genocide and ethnic cleansing are a centerpiece of our political debates? read the complete article


30 Dec 2021

Indonesia relents on plan to push back boat carrying 100 Rohingya refugees after outcry

Indonesia on Wednesday said it will let dozens of Rohingya refugees come ashore after protests from local residents and the international community over its plan to push them into Malaysian waters. At least 100 people, mostly women and children, aboard a stricken wooden vessel off Aceh province were denied refuge in Indonesia, where authorities said on Tuesday they planned to push them into Malaysian waters after fixing their boat. After a day-long meeting on Wednesday between officials in the coastal town of Bireuen, Jakarta backtracked and said the refugees’ boat would be towed to shore on humanitarian grounds. The earlier plan by authorities in Aceh to send the refugees to Malaysia also angered local people in Bireuen, where a group of fishermen on Wednesday organised a protest demanding authorities allow the Rohingya to disembark. “We saw videos of their condition on social media. They need water and food. They must be treated with kindness as human beings,” Bireuen resident Wahyudi told AFP. read the complete article

30 Dec 2021

Islamophobia in Europe remained highest in 2020: Report

Islamophobia in Europe “has worsened, if not reached a tipping point,” according to a new report released on Wednesday. The 886-page report titled European Islamophobia Report 2020 was co-edited by Enes Bayrakli, an international relations professor at Istanbul-based Turkish-German University, and Farid Hafez, a political scientist from Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative. “Looking back at the last six years, many observers will unanimously agree that the state of Islamophobia in Europe not only has not improved but has worsened, if not reached a tipping point,” they wrote in the annual report being published since 2015. The editors said it was one of the reasons why they picked an image of a politician for the front cover of this year’s edition, which features French President Emmanuel Macron – a politician, who they said “is widely regarded as representing a centrist and mainstream political movement.” “This very fact serves as a further revelation that the center has become more extreme in relation to Islamophobia. French and Austrian Muslims have been left in the hands of brutal state violence that has been legitimized in the name of counterterrorism laws,” they asserted. read the complete article


30 Dec 2021

Uyghur man jailed for 25 years in China tells wife ‘don’t forget me’

Mehray Taher, 27, remembers the day her husband Mirzat, 30, was sentenced to 25 years in jail by the Chinese Government. ‘I remember just being in denial. I sat there like “No, that can’t be true”‘, she tells ‘I was crying non-stop, I don’t even know where the tears were coming from. ‘I was thinking “25 years, my husband will be 55 when he gets out. How is that possible?’ Official papers state Mirzat was arrested for alleged separatism – but Mehray says he is an innocent man whose ‘only crime is being Uyghur’. Human rights experts believe up to 1.5 million Uyghur Muslims have been imprisoned in concentration camps. While there is ‘no evidence of mass killings’, forced sterilisations and abortions amount to genocide, a UK-based unofficial tribunal recently concluded. China has consistently denied all allegations. Mehray says she has only spent 14 months of her five-year marriage with Mirzat as he has been repeatedly forced into camps, which China insists simply provide ‘extremists’ with a ‘re-education’. read the complete article


30 Dec 2021

Mosques vandalised, Muslims targeted with racist graffiti in France

Two mosques have been damaged in two different cities in southeast France as racist graffiti aimed at Muslims was sprayed on walls in a western town. Several Islamophobic attacks have taken place in France recently amid a government crackdown on mosques under a controversial “anti-separatism” law. Two mosques were vandalised early on Tuesday in La Mure and Domene in southeast France, according to local media. When the congregation arrived at the mosque in La Mure, which is run by the Turkish Muslim community, they found that the trash bins in front of the building had been overturned, the mailbox and door handle damaged, and a small Turkish flag pennant was partially burned. Islamophobic graffiti such as "Muslims are harmful" was written on the wall of the mosque as well. Security forces have launched an investigation into the incident. In a separate incident, a person believed to be drunk entered a mosque in Domene on the evening of December 27, damaged the place and wrote statements on a tablecloth accusing the imam and the community of inciting terrorism. The attacker managed to escape from the mosque. The security forces are investigating whether there is a connection between the two attacks. read the complete article

United Kingdom

30 Dec 2021

Muslim hikers say abusive comments won't stop them

When Haroon Mota set up a page called Muslim Hikers during lockdown, he received lots of messages from people glad that a community had been created. It's since grown to become a group for hundreds of people across the UK who meet up to get active outdoors together. But when they posted pictures of their big hike in the Peak District on Christmas Day on social media, they received abusive comments. Haroon says it won't stop them and "the true spirit of the [hiking] community" has been "overwhelming". On Christmas Day over 130 people joined the early morning hike for a few hours, including support groups of divorced women who were left during the pandemic. The walk was planned as a winter hike and the group were welcomed by people they passed in the countryside. But when they posted pictures from the day on Facebook, some comments suggested they were not "proper walkers" and a group so large would damage the trails and the ecosystem. The majority of comments "were supportive" but the pictures which were shared on another walking group attracted some criticism. Haroon says it's worst for people travelling for the first time. "We're subjected to these comments online, but they do and can happen in person as well. "There are already perceptions of the outdoors being a white domain which is unwelcoming. "There's been many documented reports of people wearing a hijab and or men in traditional attire being subjected to unkind comments and racist slurs." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Dec 2021 Edition


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