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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
08 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, a French Muslim lawyer turned writer and activist has started a new initiative aimed at “providing those fighting against Islamophobia with the most complete and useful tools possible,” meanwhile in India, it’s been a month since Muslim girls in Karnataka were barred from entering their classrooms and told not to wear hijab and more schools have begun implementing a similar ban on hijabs, and in the United Kingdom, a Muslim schoolboy in London who was physically stopped by a teacher from praying was told it was an “act of defiance.” Our recommended read of the day is by Mujib Mashal, Suhasini Raj and  for the New York Times on how India’s BJP-led government is tacitly endorsing extremist elements in the country who are taking their militant message into the mainstream, stirring up anti-Muslim hate in a push to reshape India’s constitutionally protected secular republic into a Hindu state. This and more below:


08 Feb 2022

As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels | Recommended Read

Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them” and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. When videos of the event provoked national outrage, the police came. The saffron-clad preachers questioned whether the officer could be objective. Yati Narsinghanand, the event’s firebrand organizer known for his violent rhetoric, assuaged their concerns. “Biased?” Mr. Narsinghanand said, according to a video of the interaction. “He will be on our side,” he added, as the monks and the officer broke into laughter. Once considered fringe, extremist elements are increasingly taking their militant message into the mainstream, stirring up communal hate in a push to reshape India’s constitutionally protected secular republic into a Hindu state. Activists and analysts say their agenda is being enabled, even normalized, by political leaders and law enforcement officials who offer tacit endorsements by not directly addressing such divisive issues. “You have persons giving hate speech, actually calling for genocide of an entire group, and we find reluctance of the authorities to book these people,” Rohinton Fali Nariman, a recently retired Indian Supreme Court judge, said in a public lecture. “Unfortunately, the other higher echelons of the ruling party are not only being silent on hate speech, but almost endorsing it.” The hate speech is stoking communal tensions in a country where small triggers have incited mass-death tragedies. The monks’ agenda already resonates with increasingly emboldened vigilante groups. Vigilantes have beaten people accused of disrespecting cows, considered holy by some Hindus; dragged couples out of trains, cafes and homes on suspicion that Hindu women might be seduced by Muslim men; and barged into religious gatherings where they suspect people are being converted. read the complete article

08 Feb 2022

In India, wearing hijab bars some Muslim students from class

When the students were barred last month from entering their classrooms and told not to wear hijab, a headscarf used by Muslim women, they began camping outside the all-girls high school. The story cascaded across the internet, drawing news crews to the front of the government-run school in Udupi district, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Battle lines were swiftly drawn. The students began protesting outside the school gate and sat huddled in a group, reading their lessons. The school staff, which said the students were defying uniform rules, remained unmoved. A month on, more schools have begun implementing a similar ban on hijabs, forcing the state’s top court to step in. It will hear petitions filed by the protesting students on Tuesday and rule on whether to overturn the ban. But the uneasy standoff has raised fears among the state's Muslim students who say they are being deprived of their religious rights. On Monday, hundreds of them, including their parents, took to the streets against the restrictions, demanding that students should be allowed to attend classes even if they are wearing hijab. “What we are witnessing is a form of religious apartheid. The decree is discriminatory and it disproportionately affects Muslim women," said A. H. Almas, an 18-year-old student who has been part of the weeks-long protests. So far several meetings between the staff, government representatives and the protesting students have failed to resolve the issue. The state’s education minister, B. C. Nagesh, has also refused to lift the ban. He told reporters Sunday that “those unwilling to follow uniform dress code can explore other options.” Because the debate involves alleged bias over a religious item worn to cover hair and maintain modesty, some rights activists have voiced concerns that the decree risks raising Islamophobia. Violence and hate speech against Muslims have increased under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, which also governs the Karnataka state. read the complete article

01 Feb 2022

Blue shawls back Muslim girls in hijab row against saffron shawls in Chikkamagaluru college

The row over students wearing hijab took a new turn in Chikkamagaluru on February 7 when nearly 30 students of IDSG Government First Grade College arrived wearing blue shawls and raised slogans in support of Muslim girls. The students wore blue shawls and chanted Jai Bhim slogans. They said they were in support of wearing hijab in colleges as part of religious practice. At the same time, around 30 students arrived wearing saffron shawls to protest against wearing of hijab. After reaching college, students wearing saffron shawls chanted Jai Ram and they were countered by Jai Bhim slogans by those wearing blue shawls. The situation on the campus became tense for a few minutes before the teaching staff intervened. They addressed the students and told them to maintain calm. read the complete article

08 Feb 2022

Turbulent priest: India's anti-Muslim firebrand and possible future PM

A monk known for his incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric leads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party into elections in India's most populous state Thursday, where a strong win could put him in pole position to succeed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yogi Adityanath, 49, has stirred controversy since his surprise appointment in 2017 as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India home to over 200 million people -- more than the entire population of Brazil. Office has done nothing to temper his views, and as he seeks a second term he is exhorting Hindu voters to back the BJP while riding roughshod over Muslims who make up one-fifth of the state's population. A hardline protege of Modi, Adityanath has soared in popularity beyond Uttar Pradesh, thanks to his fiery speeches and projection as a tough, no-nonsense administrator. "He is brazenly open about his Hindu politics and ideology... He has projected himself as a Hindu leader and that's what brings him crowds and votes," said journalist and political commentator Sunita Aron. read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Feb 2022

Muslim schoolboy in London forced to stop praying by teacher who saw it as ‘act of defiance’

A Muslim schoolboy in London who was physically stopped by a teacher from praying was told it was an “act of defiance.” Thaher Tarawneh, 12, had been forced to pray outside because his school’s prayer room was closed. He and his friends were praying in the playground of the recently opened Ark Soane Academy when they were interrupted and aggressively told to “stop at once.” Tarawneh continued to pray while his friends fled the scene. At that point, a member of staff allegedly grabbed him around the waist and removed his blazer from the floor, which he was using as a prayer mat. He was then sent home for the afternoon and forced to sign a statement that he said was not a true reflection of events. His father told MyLondon: “We try to educate our children to have certain beliefs, and it should not be up to any member of staff to try to challenge them. “It is my understanding that the other children ran away because they were terrified of this staff member shouting.” Tarawneh’s parents asked to see CCTV footage of the incident, but say their request was denied upon arrival at the school. They have filed a formal complaint with the school and with Ealing Council. The school has confirmed a formal investigation is underway. Tarawneh’s parents are considering removing him from the school, saying he may be “being discriminated against because of his religion.” read the complete article


08 Feb 2022

France: New anti-Islamophobia platform seeks to regain the initiative

As France's political environment becomes increasingly hostile towards Muslims, new initiatives by the community seek to make themselves heard. Starting a platform dedicated to the question of tackling endemic Islamophobia in France, isn't without its challenges. For one, the country's political establishment won't even acknowledge the term. At worst, the country's politicians banned the country's only organisation collecting data on rising anti-Muslim violence in the country. That, however, hasn't stopped Rafik Chekkat, a former lawyer turned writer, activist, and animator, from starting an organisation called 'Islamophobia' aimed at being an umbrella platform of resources. "Our objectives are multiple," says Chekkat speaking to TRT World. "We want to provide those fighting against Islamophobia with the most complete and useful tools possible. To do this, we must grasp Islamophobia in all its dimensions: political, religious, social, economic, psychological - and deploy our discourse on all media, including podcasts, videos, and magazines, in order to reach the widest possible audience," added Chekkat. The ambitious objectives reflect the scale of the challenge Muslims face in the country. French President Emmanuel Macron over the past few years has incrementally ratcheted up his government's anti-Muslim policies, which has included the closure of Muslim schools, mosques, Islamic charities, organisations monitoring Islamophobia, publishing houses, and even pressuring mosques to sign a charter that forbids talking about discrimination and racism faced by the community. "The motivations for such repression is clear," says Chekkat, and the aim ultimately is "to sanction any Muslim discourse that is directly critical of the ongoing attempt to neutralise the public space." "Any question relating to Islam in France is thus the subject of immediate politicisation… under the guise of the fight against political Islam." read the complete article

United States

01 Feb 2022

US Muslims react to Biden's nomination of first Muslim woman to be federal judge

Muslims across the United States are celebrating President Joe Biden’s judicial nomination of Nusrat Choudhury, who, if confirmed by the Senate, will be the first Muslim woman to be appointed as a US federal judge. Choudhury, a Bangladeshi American among the eight nominees announced by the White House on 19 January, is the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, a position she has held since 2020. Before that, she served as the deputy director of the national ACLU’s racial justice programme, following a stint as a senior staff attorney for the organisation's national security project, and was a Marvin M Karpatkin Fellow. In 2020, leading Democrats called on Biden to appoint Muslim federal judges if he were to be elected. Choudhury's over a decade-long commitment to fighting for civil liberties and justice for all has been the talk of the town. To many, one of the most notable roles of Choudhury's career was when she was the litigator in the Raza v. City of New York lawsuit against the NYPD’s unjust surveillance and profiling of Muslims. Last year, Choudhury, along with 78 religious, civil and community organisations, fought for the Chicago police board to fire John Catanzara, an officer who made anti-Muslim statements. The officer eventually faced a disciplinary hearing and resigned a day later. Choudhury has long been an outspoken critic on the frequency of unarmed Black men being killed in America, writing in 2014 that it happens too often and that there needs to be a comprehensive ban on racial profiling. She also challenged the No-Fly List of the US government, a database that government agencies use to decide who is allowed to board flights. In 2012 Choudhury was the litigator in the first federal lawsuit challenging the No-Fly List procedures. read the complete article


08 Feb 2022

Sending $100,000 to fight Bill 21 is first step in fighting Islamophobia

The Act Respecting the Laicity of the State is better known as Bill 21. It prohibits the wearing of religious symbols in public institutions like schools, courts, and governmental bodies. It was enacted in 2019 and was upheld in 2021. It is, simply put, controversial. Miriam Hamou is London’s most recent councillor, representing Ward 6. Her first motion ever, was to oppose this bill. “I was nominated in November and then this came along. And I was like, ‘Okay, so we’re, you know, we’re right out of the gate.'” She along with Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan and Mayor Ed Holder, put forward a motion that did more than “send solidarity” to Quebecers. It proposed sending $100,000 to legal funds of a lawsuit against the bill. The lawsuit is led by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization of Canada, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. The motion passed on December 21st, though not unanimously and not without debate. Every councillor stressed that they oppose Bill-21 and what it stands for. The real debate came with what the city can do. The push for sending this money comes from Mayor Ed Holder’s vow to end Islamophobia in London. That’s largely spurned by the Our London Family Tragedy. read the complete article


08 Feb 2022

Podcast: Muslims fear becoming the target for persecution, again

This week, there are concerns that anti-Muslim sentiment in the military is driving violent behaviour towards the Muslim community, with reports of detentions, beatings and religious persecution aimed at Muslims. This story is by journalists from Frontier Myanmar. Doh Athan is a weekly podcast which looks at human rights issues from around Myanmar. It is made by local journalists with media partners from around the country. Doh Athan is made through a partnership with Fondation Hirondelle and the support of our donors. read the complete article


08 Feb 2022

Is the balaclava trend offensive? These Muslim women say it’s complicated

All winter, balaclavas have swept the internet. On Tik Tok, #balaclava has nearly 158 million views. There are dozens of tutorials on the platform showing how to crochet your own, how to style it for winter fashion and how to make your own from a scarf. And almost as many people in the comments pointing out and cracking jokes about how similar the style is to hijab — particularly the scarf DIYs. Feelings about the trend get especially complicated in places like France and Quebec, where laws bar people wearing religious symbols from certain public spaces. Mask mandates issued by the same bodies of government have further complicated the conversation about wearing face-coverings, like a niqab. Muslim Montreal-based stylist Amira Bahmed has mixed emotions about the trend. On the one hand, trends spread widely and fashion often draws inspiration from different cultures, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary. But on the other hand, she’s seen how double standards with laws related to head covering have affected people in her life. While one is done for style and the other is a personal religious choice, Bahmed said it would be nice if this trendy moment could be used to question just why one is treated so differently than the other. “Can we learn that in the end, it's the same thing?” she said. And Ginella Massa, host of “Canada Tonight with Ginella Massa” on CBC, has similar thoughts. Two celebrity examples immediately came to mind. “White women like Julia Fox and Kim Kardashian have the luxury of covering up because it’s ‘cool,’ but I wish anyone who celebrates modest fashion also advocate for the women who were doing it long before them, and being chastised for it,” Massa wrote in a message to the Star. Massa has dealt with harassment about wearing hijab on TV throughout her career as a broadcast journalist. And she noted that racialized women like herself disproportionately face backlash and are targeted while wearing hijab. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Feb 2022 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results