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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01 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, another alleged hate attack on a woman outside an Edmonton mosque has again sent shivers through the city’s Muslim communities and renewed discussion about how to respond to the increasing anti-Muslim violence, meanwhile in France, a group of footballers who call themselves Les Hijabeuses have asked the State Council, France’s highest administrative court, to quash a ruling by the French football federation that headscarves cannot be worn during games, and in the United States, Professor Juan Cole writes about how the Department of Justice has given a pass to violent white supremacists for the past two decades while criminalizing the American Muslim community. Our recommended read of the day is by Jeevan Ravindran for CNN on a recent Instagram post by Vogue France that praised Julia Fox for wearing a headscarf, which sparked outrage online as users pointed out that Muslim women who wear the hijab are ostracized and discriminated against by the French government for doing so. This and more below:


01 Feb 2022

Vogue France says 'yes to the headscarf.' Some Muslim women are not happy | Recommended Read

Vogue France has been criticized after publishing a social media post that many users branded as offensive to Muslim women amid a culture of increasingly public Islamophobia in France. "Yes to the headscarf -- those few words were so simple," French-Moroccan model and activist Hanan Houachmi told CNN via video call. "Yet we've been begging and waiting and fantasizing about the day we will hear them, for us as hijabi women." Houachmi said the hijab had been "reduced to just a simple accessory," with Fox, who is White and non-Muslim, able to wear a headscarf as part of a "trend," while the hijab, in Houachmi's view, is seen by the French government as the "uniform of terrorists." In 2011, France became the first country in Europe to ban all face-covering garments in public spaces, including balaclavas, masks, burqas and niqabs. Several other countries, including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark followed with their own bans, partials bans and local bans of face coverings. Last week, the French senate also voted to ban hijabs for female athletes, although the measure must now be voted on in France's lower house. President Emmanuel Macron and his party oppose the ban. And last year, a move to ban anyone under the age of 18 from wearing hijab in public was rejected by members of the national assembly. Many users have cited Vogue's choice of words in these circumstances as being particularly insensitive for the French edition, given politicians' efforts to clamp down on the hijab, niqab and burqa. "It's almost funny, to be honest, because they make fun of us, insult us and reduce us to objects," 18-year-old Chaïma Benaicha, who lives in the northeast of France, told CNN via Twitter messages. "But when it's a White woman doing it and not a Muslim it's trendy and something new in fashion even though wearing the hijab isn't something we do to please people." Benaicha, who started wearing the hijab at the age of 14, said she received racist and Islamophobic comments at the beginning, and told CNN she found it strange that wearing the niqab is "perceived badly" while wearing a balaclava is "stylish" and "aesthetically pleasing to people." read the complete article

01 Feb 2022


Social media users have criticised Vogue France as “hypocritical” after the magazine praised actor Julia Fox for wearing a headscarf. The post sparked backlash from Instagram users, who criticised the magazine for perpetuating a “double standard” and “praising [Fox] for wearing a headscarf in a country that actively oppresses Muslim women from doing so”. Muslim women’s right to wear the hijab has been a point of contention in France since 1989 when three students were suspended from a school in Creil for refusing to remove their headscarves. Since then, at least 100 girls have been suspended or expelled from schools for wearing a hijab in class. In nearly half of these cases, the exclusions were annulled by the French courts. The country later imposed a ban on face coverings, such as the niqab and the burqa, in 2011. The burqa is a full face veil while the niqab covers everything but the eyes. Earlier this month, the French Senate voted in favour of banning the wearing of “religious symbols” – which would include the hijab – in sports competitions. Elsewhere in sports, the French Football Federation, the governing body of football in the country, already prohibits women from wearing the hijab during official club matches and international games. Given the restrictions imposed on Muslim women in the country, social media users have labelled Vogue France’s post as “frustratingly tone deaf”. “Yes to the headscarf? This is really quite insensitive to the hijab ban in France and glamorising non-Muslim women for wearing something that Muslim women are constantly policed about,” one Instagram user commented. Another wrote: “So the headscarf is OK on a non-Muslim? Fashion is allowed, not religion? Freedom of choice is only for white people?” read the complete article

01 Feb 2022

Muslim footballers challenge French hijab ban

A ban on players wearing hijabs during football matches is being challenged by Muslim women in the latest clash between Islam and France’s secular establishment. A group of players who call themselves Les Hijabeuses have asked the State Council, France’s highest administrative court, to quash a ruling by the French football federation that headscarves cannot be worn during games. The case comes during a French presidential election campaign in which Islamism is a key issue, with hard-right candidates such as the pundit Éric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, calling it a threat to French unity. Founé Diawara, 22, joint chairwoman of Les Hijabeuses, called the ban a “great injustice”, adding: “We feel that we are being excluded.” read the complete article

01 Feb 2022

Can the Louvre really counter Islamophobia in France?

From the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean to the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, the French Republic is staging a nationwide exhibition designed to save the young from the prejudices of their parents. It is called ‘The Arts of Islam: A Past for a Present’ (until 27 March), and each of its 18 participating venues contains 10 works intended to challenge the image of joyless Islamic bigotry internalised by many French people – the polls concur on this – in the culture wars of recent years. Instead these installations show Islamic civilisation’s suppleness, its love of luxury and the generally benign nature of its dealings with Christianity and Judaism. They also show the surprising ability of a law-based society to selectively disregard restrictions on sex, booze and human representation in art – to sin, in other words, while not negating the essence and even the practice of the faith. Among the exhibits are a lacquered Iranian pen box embellished with pale women in European-inspired décolleté, a 16th-century Turkish miniature of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the Prophet Muhammad and a statuette of a lion made in Fatimid Egypt and conserved for hundreds of years in a church in the Auvergne. What qualifies such apparently unconnected pieces for inclusion in the same exhibition? The answer lies in modern France. Mugged first by Marine Le Pen and latterly by Éric Zemmour, the polity, including the administration of Emmanuel Macron, has staggered rightwards. And now, as the president enters re-election year campaigning hard against Muslim ‘separatism’, as he goes after religious home-schooling and foreign-trained imams, as poll after poll suggests that most voters regard Islam as incompatible with French values, come these little shows with big ambitions. It’s the variety one finds within the various ensembles – their mixture of the sacred and profane, the frivolous and the deeply serious – that makes ‘The Arts of Islam’ potentially significant. read the complete article


01 Feb 2022

Japan parliament to pass Uyghur rights resolution ahead of Beijing Olympics

Japan’s parliament is set to voice its concerns about China’s alleged atrocities against Uyghur Muslims, joining the list of countries raising the issue days before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The resolution will likely pass in the Japanese parliament on Tuesday, though it has watered down from an earlier draft by referring to the human rights violations as the Uyghurs’ “situation”. It has also deleted the word “condemnation” from the title and abstained from directly mentioning China, reported Bloomberg. It comes at a time when Japan is carefully playing the balancing act of being a key ally to the US but also not riling China, its biggest trading partner in the region. read the complete article

01 Feb 2022

Words of condemnation will not save the Uyghurs from genocide – we need action

Despite all the “Never Again’s” and pledges from politicians to learn the lessons of history, the world continues to be scarred by atrocity crime. Atrocities continue to happen. As I put pen to paper, a genocide is raging in my homeland - the Uyghur region in northwest China. The world cannot say they did not know about what is happening to the Uyghurs. In December last year, after gathering the largest body of evidence that exists, the independent Uyghur Tribunal concluded that the People’s Republic of China are committing genocide against us. Satellite images of sprawling concentration camps and drone footage of men lined up with shaved heads, blindfolded and bound, have been featured on the evening news. Parliaments across the globe have passed motions declaring that the Uyghurs are victims of Chinese state-sanctioned genocide, and multiple governments have condemned the human rights abuses inflicted upon us. But talk is cheap. The measures taken by the international community simply do not go far enough. As it stands, the UK government’s response to the crisis has been limited to sanctions on some low-level officials, and plenty of words of condemnation. What good are words against a genocide? Words will not save my people from destruction, and the longer those words remain decoupled from action, the less comfort they offer. read the complete article

01 Feb 2022

Spectre of 1936 and 1980 haunts Beijing 2022 as fear and repression breed silence

Zumretay Arkin is remembering the day she thought she might change the International Olympic Committee’s mind. It was October 2020, and human rights groups, representing Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, and the democracy movement in Hong Kong, were granted a meeting with senior IOC figures to discuss their concerns about the Winter Olympics in Beijing. “I explained how millions of Uyghurs are being arbitrarily detained in concentration camps,” she says. “The IOC was told survivors’ stories of rapes and torture, forced sterilisation and repression. And about families who have not heard from relatives for years. “All of us shared personal experiences of loss and sacrifice,” adds Arkin, who fled Xinjiang when she was 10 years old. “And do you know what the first thing that [the then] IOC vice-president, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, said?” She pauses. Shakes her head. “‘The world is a complicated place’.” “That was the tone in which the IOC addressed us throughout the meeting,” she says. “It was extremely condescending. They were just like: ‘Yes, OK, but we’re not here to change the world’.” In a statement to the Guardian, the IOC confirmed it had met with the human rights groups and told them that the Olympic Games are the only event that brings the entire world together in peaceful competition. “The IOC has neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country,” it added. “Given the diverse participation in the Olympic Games, the IOC must remain neutral on all global political issues.” read the complete article

United States

01 Feb 2022

The Hypocrisy of American Islamophobia

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson excused one of the leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers organization implicated in the January 6 insurrection by describing him as “a devout Christian.” It’s safe to surmise that he wouldn’t have offered a similar defense for a Muslim American. Since September 11, and even before that ominous date, they have suffered bitterly from discrimination and hate crimes in this country, while their religion has been demonized. During the first year of the Trump administration, about half of Muslim Americans polled said that they had personally experienced some type of discrimination. No matter that this group resides comfortably in the American mainstream, it remains under intensive, often unconstitutional, surveillance. In contrast, during the past two decades, the Department of Justice for the most part gave a pass to violent white supremacists. No matter that they generated more terrorist attacks on US soil than any other group. The benign insouciance of the white American elite toward such dangerous fanatics also allowed them to organize freely for the January 6 assault on the Capitol and the potential violent overthrow of the government. Donell Harvin was the chief of homeland security and intelligence for the government of the District of Columbia in the period leading up to January 6. He assured NBC News’s Ken Dilanian that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security seemed completely oblivious about the plans of white supremacist hate groups to violently halt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory, despite plentiful evidence on social media that they were preparing to bring weaponry to the Capitol. Consider now the treatment that the very same agencies offered distinctly inoffensive Muslim Americans. Rutgers law professor Sahar Aziz has argued that many white Americans see Muslims not merely as a religious group but as a racial one and have placed them on the nethermost rung of this country’s ethnic hierarchy. Muslim Americans are regularly, for instance, profiled at airports and subjected to long interrogations. Over many years, the New York City Police Department gathered intelligence on more than 250 mosques and student groups. The FBI even put field officers in mosques not only to spy on, but also to entrap worshipers who, alarmed by their wild talk, sometimes reported them to… the FBI. read the complete article

01 Feb 2022

Who were Pittsburgh’s earliest Muslims? Who built the city’s first mosque?

In the 1930s, Black Pittsburghers established one of the first chartered Muslim mosques in the United States. How? In one sense, it was sheer perseverance, said Sarahjameela Martin, executive director of the Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh who is writing a book on local African American Muslim history. During the early decades of the 20th century, many Black Southerners migrated North, escaping racial violence and seeking industry jobs. Some of these migrants were Christian. Others were suspicious of Christianity, recalling that many enslaved Africans were forced to convert to the faith in the United States. Scholars estimate that 10-30% of Africans enslaved in the United States were originally of Muslim descent. For migrants seeking “to revert” to the Muslim faith — the term often used in Islam instead of convert to capture a sense of return to an original or natural state — Pittsburgh offered an African American Muslim community just beginning to coalesce or organize. The earliest Muslims in Pittsburgh were likely formerly enslaved Black Americans who came to the city by way of the Underground Railroad, Martin said. For her, that history is personal. read the complete article


01 Feb 2022

Edmonton's Muslim community asks for urgency in wake of latest attack

An alleged hate attack on a woman outside an Edmonton mosque has again sent shivers through the city’s Muslim communities and renewed discussion about how to respond to the rash of violence . On Jan. 1, police arrested a 34-year-old man who allegedly attacked a Somali woman and her children as they waited in their car outside northeast Edmonton’s Al Ameen mosque, where the children were attending a Qur’an class. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), which first publicized the incident on Jan. 25, said the man allegedly punched and spat on the vehicle while uttering Islamophobic threats, then left the mosque and returned with a shovel. Edmonton police said there is evidence the man’s actions were motivated by hatred. The accused — who according to court documents lives a block away from the mosque — has been charged with mischief and uttering threats and is scheduled to appear in court Monday. Habiba Mohamud, a member of the Somali community, met with the woman and her family Friday. She said all four of the woman’s daughters — aged four to 12 — were present at the time of the incident. Since Dec. 8, 2020, when a man was charged with assaulting a Muslim mother and daughter outside Southgate Centre, Edmonton area police have responded to at least nine allegedly hate-motivated attacks , the majority against Muslim women who wear hijabs or other forms of head covering. read the complete article


01 Feb 2022

Justice is the only answer to Myanmar’s bloody military reign

Exactly one year ago, on February 1, the Myanmar military launched a coup and opened another bloody chapter in my country’s history. Since then, the junta has driven the state to the brink of collapse and committed widespread atrocities. There is now only one way to break this cycle of abuse: pursuing mechanisms of international justice that can hold those responsible to account. Over the past 12 months, there has been a steady stream of horrific news from Myanmar, as more than 1,500 people have been killed in protest crackdowns and massacres. In one recent incident, on Christmas Eve, the army massacred some 35 people – including women and children and two charity workers – in Kayah State. Thousands of others have been arrested while the junta has made routine use of torture against those protesting against its rule. In Rakhine State, the Rohingya minority continues to face an ongoing genocide and live in what amounts to an open-air prison. The junta has arrested Rohingya trying to flee to Bangladesh and imposed even tighter restrictions on freedom of movement. Many are also caught in the crossfire in the simmering conflict between the military and the Arakan Army armed group. If there is a silver lining from the coup, no matter how small, it is the renewed sense of interethnic solidarity. As a Rohingya, I often used to face abuse when I posted on social media about the army’s crimes in the past. Now, however, I receive support, understanding, and even apologies from those who used to spew hatred against Rohingya. People have realised that the military is our common enemy. The Tatmadaw, as the military is known in the country, has terrorised the people of Myanmar for decades, committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. They have done so with absolute impunity, knowing their crimes would have no consequences. That is why we need the international community to step in and provide justice. Thankfully, real progress has been made in this direction in recent years. read the complete article


01 Feb 2022

Hindutva's Circulation of Anti-Muslim Hate Aided by Digital Platforms, Finds Report

Digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Reddit, and GitHub have hastened the proliferation of anti-Muslim hate that forms the architecture of Hindutva crimes in India, the Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) has said in its report. At least 60% of the participants surveyed said they have come across content on digital platforms that incites violence against Muslims, the report titled Experiences of Muslims in India on Digital Platforms With Anti-Muslim Hate found. The report – which involved in-depth interviews of Muslims and 213 hours of online participant observations on digital platforms – said that the digital infrastructure of Hindutva is organised around building disinformation and accelerating the circulation of hate. The data was gathered between November and December 2021. CARE found that while 40% of the participants surveyed said that over the last year they had been called offensive names as a result of being a Muslim, 60% of the respondents reported coming across content on digital platforms stating Muslim immigrants will take over India. The report further said the narratives of hate are often centred on specific events and policy decisions made by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and dissenting responses to Hindutva. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 01 Feb 2022 Edition


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