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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06 Dec 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., according to a new study out of Rice University and West Virginia University, fear of being a target of a hate crime is high and is contributing to mental health issues especially among the Muslim and Jewish community, meanwhile in Canada, a Muslim woman traveling from overseas to visit her daughter and son-in-law in was the target of Islamophobic abuse in a shopping center parking lot, and in the UK, the latest episode of The Conversation Weekly’s podcast shines a light on the impact that professional athletes can have on curbing hate speech and Islamophobia. Our recommended read of the day is by Sheema Khan for The Globe and Mail on how a french policy banning individuls from wearing religious symbols on the pitch has had a “painful impact on many aspiring French Muslim female soccer players, who have faced a choice between the sport they love and their faith.” This and more below:


05 Dec 2022

Soccer is truly the beautiful game, unless you are a French Muslim woman who wears a hijab | Recommended Read

Soccer has a simple, universal appeal – all you need is a ball, a couple of teammates, and voilà, the dreams are yours to make. Except if you are a Muslim woman in France who wears a hijab. According to a decree by the French Football Federation (FFF), anyone playing, coaching or officiating on a French football pitch is banned from wearing religious symbols. For all the focus in World Cup media coverage on Qatar’s policies towards migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community, hardly anyone has made a peep about how a soccer powerhouse – France – bars Muslim women from participating in the sport simply for wearing a hijab. France has a tortuous history of harmonizing its growing Muslim population and its official policy of secularity, or laicité. Suffice it to say that the hijab has never been welcomed in the land of liberté, égalité et fraternité. After a 2004 ban on wearing “conspicuous religious symbols,” including the hijab, in French public schools came into effect, the niqab was also banned in public spaces in 2010. Curiously, while mask mandates were implemented in France throughout the pandemic, niqabs were still subject to fines. The FFF’s rule runs contrary to official FIFA policy, which lifted its own hijab ban in 2014. The policy has had a painful impact on many aspiring French Muslim female soccer players, who have faced a choice between the sport they love and their faith. read the complete article


05 Dec 2022

Covid Protests in China Raise Hope for Solidarity Among Activists Abroad

“Everyone has woken up,” she said. “Slowly. Change takes time.” The recent protests in China have rippled well beyond the mainland, to cities around the world with large contingents of Chinese students — even Hong Kong, where the pro-democracy protests of 2019 were crushed and dissent of any kind is now dangerous. On the mainland, the protests may have drawn more attention to the Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim Turkic minority who have been the target of a crackdown that detained vast numbers of them in internment camps. Many in China were aware of a Covid lockdown in Xinjiang that led to shortages of food and medicine. Then the deadly fire last month in the regional capital, Urumqi, set off the recent protests. But activists and experts said that while the protesters knew about the fire and expressed solidarity with Uyghurs about the lockdown, that empathy did not necessarily extend to the group’s broader plight. “Most people in China don’t really understand the camp system,” said Darren Byler, an anthropologist who studies the minority populations in northwestern China and the Uyghur diaspora. “They don’t see Xinjiang as the Uyghur homeland. They see Xinjiang as a part of China, another province far away.” But some Uyghurs overseas who attended recent protests saw some hope for changing minds. read the complete article

United States

05 Dec 2022

Religious violence increases anxiety among Muslims and Jews, even if they have never been personally targeted

Fear of hate crime looms especially large in the minds of Jews and Muslims, even if they have never been personally targeted, according to a new study from Rice University and West Virginia University. “Fear of Religious Hate Crime Victimization and the Residual Effects of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia” appears in a recent edition of Social Forces. Using data from the 2019 edition of the nationally representative Experiences with Religious Discrimination Study survey, the authors found that among religious groups, Jews and Muslims were most likely to express fear of being targeted. These concerns were explained in part by individuals’ personal experiences with being discriminated against, but also their knowledge of discrimination against close friends and family and their greater religious visibility (that is, they are more likely to wear outward symbols of their religion). “While individuals’ fear of hate crime victimization might be partially explained by direct experiences, some of it is the result of historical and modern-day trauma suffered by religious peers,” said Chris Scheitle, a professor of sociology at West Virginia University and the study’s lead author. “We attribute this residual fear to the deep-seated culture of antisemitism and Islamophobia within the U.S. and violence attributable to that culture, as well as the collective memory of historical religion-based victimization of Muslim and Jewish communities,” said co-author Elaine Howard Ecklund, director of Rice’s Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance. read the complete article

05 Dec 2022

Ron DeSantis: Republican rising star alarms Muslim, Palestinian communities

In 2006, after being promoted to lieutenant in the US Navy, Ron DeSantis headed to Guantanamo Bay where he spent several months as an attorney making sure the detainees received rights afforded under Pentagon regulations, as well as under the Geneva Conventions. Not much is officially known about his time at the prison, which at its peak held nearly 800 Muslim men that were captured as part of the US-led war on terror. But a recent interview from a former Guantanamo detainee helped shed some light on DeSantis' time there. Mansoor Adayfi said in a podcast with the Empire Files that while he was being force-fed at the prison, he saw DeSantis laughing. "Ron DeSantis was there watching us," Adayfi said. Middle East Eye reached out to another former detainee who said he could not remember whether or not he met DeSantis during his time there. A defence attorney told MEE that he had met DeSantis once while at Guantanamo, but said the meeting was "unremarkable". After serving in Iraq and then working at Guantanamo, DeSantis went on to pursue a political career that has in part been defined by leading legislation targeting Muslim and Palestinian communities. And now, DeSantis' political stock has risen after he won a landslide reelection for governor this past November during the midterm elections, beating his opponent by nearly 20 points. As the Florida governor floats a potential 2024 bid for president, which would mean a face-off against former President Donald Trump, Muslims and Palestinians are worried about what that would mean for their communities. "A presidential run of such a man as a GOP candidate would send a very negative message, not only to American Muslims but to all minorities in this country," Osama Abuirshaid, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, told MEE. "The core of this message is that the Republican Party still represents an incubator of racism, intolerance, and Islamophobia, and that this party does not respect the values of equality for all citizens." read the complete article


05 Dec 2022

Taxpayer Ombudsperson goes public over impasse with CRA over Muslim charity audits

Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson felt obligated to go public over an impasse between his office and the Canada Revenue Agency as he investigates complaints that the CRA is unfairly targeting Muslim charities, he said in an interview Monday. Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier asked Ombudsperson François Boileau to look into the complaints last year, specifically in relation to the activities of the agency’s Review and Analysis Division, or RAD, which works closely with Canadian national-security agencies. The watchdog was also asked to review the CRA’s efforts to make its employees aware of unconscious bias and how that could perpetuate discriminatory behaviour toward charities run by racialized communities. Mr. Boileau is aiming to submit a report to the Revenue Minister by March, 2023, but says it will be incomplete because the CRA is declining to hand over key documents. “We don’t have access, so we don’t have the tools to do our job,” said Mr. Boileau, expanding on concerns he recently expressed to a Senate committee investigating the issue of Islamophobia. The government’s request for a review was a high-profile political pledge made as part of a July, 2021, National Summit on Islamophobia attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. read the complete article

05 Dec 2022

Man spews series of hateful comments toward Muslim woman in B.C. parking lot

A Muslim woman travelling from overseas to visit her daughter and son-in-law in British Columbia was the target of Islamophobic abuse last week, and police say they are investigating the incident. On Nov. 30, the woman and her daughter parked in the parking lot of Wings restaurant in Burnaby, B.C., to purchase groceries from a store across the street. It had snowed the night before and there was no street parking. Because it was her first time to see snow, the woman took out her phone to start filming. In the video, the daughter can be seen leaving the car. A man then approaches the woman, who is left inside, and begins to tell her she can't park there if she's not a customer. Despite the woman informing the man she doesn't speak English, he continues to berate her, becoming increasingly aggressive. Then he starts to take issue with her hijab. The woman arrived earlier that week to spend time with her daughter and son-in-law. It was her first time in Canada. The couple have lived in Canada for many years and have always felt safe. But seeing how their mother was treated left them shocked, angry and hurt. "I'm a proud Canadian. My wife too. This is not the Canadian way. This is not how you treat visitors and immigrants," the woman's son-in-law said. "But, to be honest, Islamophobia is very real in Canada." read the complete article

United Kingdom

05 Dec 2022

How celebrity footballers can help reduce prejudice against minorities – podcast

In the latest episode of Discovery, an ongoing series via The Conversation Weekly podcast, we hear about recent research that showed how a Muslim celebrity footballer helped reduce Islamophobia. When Mohamed Salah joined Liverpool football club in 2017, he quickly became the Premier League team’s star player. As Liverpool went from success to success, fans embraced the Egyptian footballer, who is a practising Muslim. They even invented new songs about him, including the refrain: “If he scores another few then I’ll be Muslim too.” For Salma Mousa, a political scientist at Yale University in the US, Salah’s popularity presented an opportunity to study a psychological hypothesis called the parasocial contact theory. This suggests that mass exposure to celebrities from minority groups can improve tolerance towards them. Mousa wanted to know: “Does exposure to Mo Salah reduce Islamophobia and reduce prejudice toward Muslims?” When Mousa and her colleagues designed a suite of experiments to answer that question, they reported what they called the “Mo Salah effect”. read the complete article


05 Dec 2022

The Hindutva Threat Outside India

India is the world’s largest democracy and its Constitution enshrines secularism, but leaders in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) espouse an ideology called Hindutva, loosely “Hinduness”, often called “Hindu nationalism”. The Party is linked to groups such as the paramilitary Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, often collectively referred to as the Sangh Parivar. The RSS can be among the first groups to offer help after natural disasters, but its militants can also show extreme intolerance, including violence against religious minorities, and maligning writers and artists. Many senior officials in the Indian government, including current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are or have been RSS associates. There have been Hindutva attacks on Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. The most horrific instance was the 2002 killing of some two thousand Muslims in Gujarat after Muslim mobs were accused of having set fire to a train carrying Hindu nationalists, killing 58 people. Attacks against Christians are widespread and escalating. Hindutva ideology can be distinguished from Hinduism itself. It demands neither a theocratic state nor Hinduism as a state ‘religion’. It is national-cultural project, rather than ‘religious’ in the strictly doctrinal sense used in the West, and self-identifies as the soul of India itself. Sangh Parivar militants maintain that religious minorities, including Muslims and secularists, could support Hindutva—and therefore if they do not, they are betraying the nation. The mainstreaming of Hindutva politics, especially since the BJP returned to power in 2014 under Prime Minister Modi, has led to a widespread narrative that Hindus in India are in danger from Muslims as a result of population changes, interfaith marriage, and illegal Muslim immigration. This has led to discriminatory laws on citizenship and marriage. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Dec 2022 Edition


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