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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10 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the discrimination against Muslim school girls continues as some college’s in Karnataka implement a hijab ban, with Muslim students stating, “We used to sit in class all these years with hijab. Now suddenly, they are treating us like criminals. We are hurt,” meanwhile in France, the presidential election campaign is in full swing with candidates focusing on Islam and Muslims, and far-right candidate Eric Zemmour describing a town as “Afghanistan two hours from Paris,” and a new book called, The Xinjiang Emergency, which features some of the world’s top scholars on Uyghur history, culture, politics, and provides a detailed examination of the long-term causes and consequences of China’s repression in Xinjiang. Our recommended read of the day is by Sanya Mansoor for TIME on the elections in BJP-controlled Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state which has been described as the “heartland of the Hindutva (Hindu identity) project,” where Muslims have experienced increased violence and discrimination. This and more below:


10 Feb 2022

What Elections in India's Most Populous State Could Mean for Narendra Modi | Recommended Read

Elections in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh begin on Thursday, Feb. 10 and the stakes are high. Were Uttar Pradesh a country, its population would make it one of the largest countries in the world. Votes in the state return just over 15% of seats to India’s lower house of parliament. “Short of a general election in India, it’s the single biggest political prize on offer,” says Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The bellwether state has long reflected broader sectarian tensions, and the upcoming polls coincide with the midway point of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term in office. “It’s being viewed by the Indian public as a midterm referendum on his rule,” Vaishnav says—in particular on the Hindu nationalist agenda of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Under the BJP’s watch, disinformation and hate speech toward India’s Muslim minority have soared. Lynchings and attacks on Muslims, who make up 19% of the population in Uttar Pradesh and 14.2% in India as a whole, are commonplace and hardline Hindus have openly called for an anti-Muslim genocide. In December 2019, the Indian parliament passed a discriminatory law that blocks some Muslims from citizenship, and encroached on the historic autonomy of the country’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP enacted punitive laws to discourage interfaith marriages, with the state’s chief minister, politician-cleric Yogi Adityanath, promising death for those who “play with the honor” of Hindu women. Headway is also being made on the construction of a temple at the site of a destroyed mosque at Ayodhya, in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. “It’s home to these holy Hindu sites, which in many ways functioned as the nerve center of the BJP’s Hindu politics,” says Dhrubo Jyoti, a New Delhi journalist who reports for The Hindustan Times. “This is the heartland of the Hindutva [Hindu identity] project so if the BJP is unable to retain this state, it’s going to be a symbolic defeat for its agenda, at least temporarily.” read the complete article

10 Feb 2022

‘Targeted harassment’: Muslim girls in India denounce hijab ban

For four days a group of 28 Muslim girls stood in protest in front of the Junior Pre-University college in the Karnataka state after they were denied entry for wearing hijab – an issue that has snowballed to other colleges in the southern state. On Monday morning Farheen (name changed) and her friends were allowed to enter the premises of the college located in the coastal town of Kundapur in Udupi district, but they were in for a shock after college authorities did not allow them to sit in their respective classrooms with other students. On the same day, the college officials posted a notice outside the gate declaring prohibition of hijab in classrooms as part of the college uniform code. “Our teachers told us they will not allow our entry in classrooms or teach us without government orders”, Farheen, a commerce student, told Al Jazeera. It left Farheen and her friends “hurt and humiliated”. An official from the education department visited the girls while they were seated in a separate classroom. “Give up on your hijab. If you hold on to this, you will lose out on your education’, he told us,” Farheen recounted. “How is it fair that other students are being taught and we are told to sit separately and self-study just for wearing a headscarf,” said Farheen’s friend, who also wanted to remain anonymous. “We used to sit in class all these years with hijab. Now suddenly, they are treating us like criminals and keeping us in a separate classroom. We are hurt.” read the complete article

10 Feb 2022

Violent clashes over hijab ban in southern India force schools to close

The Indian state of Karnataka has shut its schools for three days after the regional government backed schools imposing a ban on hijabs, leading to widespread protests and violence. The issue began in January, when six female Muslim students staged a weeks-long protest after they were told to either remove their headscarves or stop attending class at a government college in the district of Udupi. Last week, other colleges in the state began to enforce bans after some Hindu students, backed by rightwing Hindu groups, protested that if hijabs were allowed in classrooms, they should be allowed to wear saffron shawls. Saffron is the colour that has become commonly associated with Hindu nationalism. On Saturday, in an apparent backing of schools’ right to impose a ban, the Karnataka state government directed colleges to ensure that “clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn”. Muslim students have argued that their right to freedom of religion is being violated, and have taken the issue to state high court. The students have argued that “religious apartheid” is being imposed in some colleges where women in a hijabs are being allowed to enter but are being kept in separate classrooms. The issue has proved highly inflammatory. At some colleges, Muslim students have been aggressively heckled, while in others the protests between students turned violent, prompting police to charge at crowds and fire into the air. On Tuesday, the state chief minister Basavaraj S Bommai suspended schools and colleges for three days and urged students and teachers to “maintain peace and harmony”. Karnataka is run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), which governs at a national level too. Under its watch there has been a rising tide of anti-Muslim violence and sentiment across India, where 12% of the population is Muslim. The BJP state chief in Karnataka, Nalin Kumar Kateel, has said banning the hijab would ensure that classrooms did not become “Taliban-like”. read the complete article

10 Feb 2022

Hijab Ban in India Sparks Outrage, Protests

Over the past month, several government-run educational institutions in India’s Karnataka state have banned Muslim female students from wearing the hijab, or headscarf. The state government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has backed the discriminatory ban, passing a directive last week saying, “clothes which disturb equality, integrity, and public law and order should not be worn.” Amid increasing tensions and protests between Hindu and Muslim students around the hijab in schools, Karnataka authorities have shut down schools and colleges for three days. On February 8, as the Karnataka High Court heard petitions by Muslim students supporting the right to wear the hijab, viral videos emerged of a mob of Hindu youth heckling a female Muslim student for wearing one. A day later, according to a news report, admission forms of six female Muslim students at the forefront of the protests, including their phone numbers and home addresses, were leaked online. The hijab ban violates India’s obligations under international human rights law, which guarantees the rights to freely manifest one’s religious beliefs, to freedom of expression, and to education without discrimination. Likewise, forcing women and girls to wear religious garments also violates religious freedom and privacy rights under international law. The hijab ban is the latest example of Indian authorities increasingly seeking to marginalize Muslims, exposing them to heightened violence. At the national and state levels, BJP governments have adopted a slew of laws and policies that systematically discriminate against religious minorities and vulnerable communities, especially Muslims. read the complete article

10 Feb 2022

Indian students block roads as row over hijab in schools mounts

Hundreds of students in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata on Wednesday chanted slogans and blocked roads in protest of a hijab ban in the southern state of Karnataka, as a row over wearing the head covering in schools intensifies. The row has drawn in Malala Yousafzai, the campaigner for girls' education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who survived being shot aged 15 by a Taliban gunman in her native Pakistan in 2012, who asked Indian leaders in a tweet to "stop the marginalisation of Muslim women". Local media reported last week that several schools in Karnataka had denied entry to Muslim girls wearing the hijab citing an education ministry order, prompting protests from parents and students. Hindu students mounted counter-protests, flocking to schools in recent days in support of the ban, forcing the Karnataka state government to shut schools and colleges for three days to ease tensions between the two communities. In one incident in a video widely shared online, a lone Muslim student wearing the hijab is surrounded by Hindu male youths shouting religious slogans while trying to enter her school in Karnataka. read the complete article

10 Feb 2022

The ever-turning wheels of Islamophobia in Modi’s India

Just last month, the Government Women's Pre-University College in Karnataka, banned the hijab for its students. If you trace back another month, there was the "Bulli Bai" incident where Muslim women found themselves being auctioned on an app. In fact, the longer you look, the more you will find incidents attesting to the phenomenon of the growing anti-Muslim narrative in India. Earlier, on 6 February, social media was taken up by storm when a footage from Lata Mangeshkar's funeral was released. It showed Shahrukh Khan praying. It was a seemingly innocuous gesture that spiralled things out of control. In a matter of hours, he was accused of spitting at her remains. In truth, he was simply praying for the departed soul as per the Islamic faith. Even for the mobs on the internet, this kind of outpour of outrage seems like a stretch, perhaps. However, and unfortunately, just a glance at the general trend in India makes this sort of reaction unsurprising. As clear as day, all these incidents in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "secular" India amount to one thing: islamophobia. For the Muslims of India, it is an inescapable reality that has pervaded their every waking hour. It doesn't matter if it seems like things are improving in India, the wheels of hate are constantly turning and now it is impossible to control it. The seeds of Islamophobia have been painstakingly planted since 2014 when Bharatiya Janata Party came to power. While Modi plays a more dual role, the BJP is used as his instrument to carry on his ideology of hate. Modi likes to play the part of the secular leader praising Indian Muslims or claiming that terrorism has no religion. But, at the same time, his party politics, that of Hindu Nationalism, Hindutva, is founded on the othering of Muslims. In its essence, Hindutva equates "Indianness" with Hinduism. read the complete article

10 Feb 2022

'They are punishing us for following Islam': Why India's school hijab ban is a thinly veiled attack on Muslim women's education

Every day since the girls were first banned from entering the college premises, they have been sitting outside protesting against the administration – which has marked the six students as ‘absent’ since December 31, 2021. The students have also claimed that the college was preventing them from speaking in their mother tongues – Beary and Urdu – and have also allegedly discouraged students from offering Islamic salutations to each other. Hijabi students from another Indian institution, the Government Junior College in the coastal town of Kundapur, also in Karnataka, have also faced the same treatment. Videos show scores of girls pleading with their teachers to let them into the college after they were also denied entry at the start of February this year. "There is no rule against wearing the hijab," they are heard shouting in the videos that have since gone viral. Such occurrences are becoming a norm in India, where anti-Muslim sentiments seem to be rising, as alleged members of Hindu right-wing groups feel emboldened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The government stands accused of – but denies – encouraging the persecution of Muslims and other minorities by hardline Hindu nationalists since coming to power in 2014. “Earlier it was just our college, now it is other colleges as well which are slowly banning the expression of our Islamic identity, even if it is just a cloth around our head," says 17-year-old student protester Aliya Assadi, who has not been allowed to enter her college since last December. She feels that the college is severely discriminating against Muslim girls to make them give up the hijab and sees her state Karnataka as a "forest where the wildfire of Islamophobia is spreading further every day." Aliya’s parents are extremely worried. While Aliya and her friends are determined to claim their right to practice their religion freely as is guaranteed by the Constitution of India under articles 25-28, her family is apprehensive as these are her last months of pre-university college which are crucial for her career, amid threats by local leaders. Last year in April, Aliya recounts how she was forced to take off her hijab inside her college by the administration and threatened that she won’t be allowed to enter her classroom if her hijab makes an appearance again. Students at the Udupi college have also alleged that in the past the school administration has forcefully pulled hijabs off students’ heads. read the complete article


10 Feb 2022

'France spits on my family': French Muslims' fury as politicians focus on Islam, with one town described as 'Afghanistan two hours from Paris'… after reporter writing about Sharia was forced to go into hiding

French Muslims have spoken of their fury as politicians have focused on Islam during the presidential election campaign, with one far-right candidate describing a town as 'Afghanistan two hours from Paris'. They fear that anti-Islamic rhetoric has now been normalised in France by far-right candidates such as Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen of the National Rally, with some Muslims saying they now live under 'permanent suspicion'. 'I have the impression that today's France spits on my parents, who fought to liberate it, on my parents who come to build its roads, and on me, who has respected all of the rules of democracy and integration,' said Khadija, 38, a social worker in the Loiret region in central France. The anger at anti-Muslim rhetoric in France comes after Zemmour caused a fresh outcry on Monday by describing the town of Roubaix in northern France as 'Afghanistan two hours from Paris'. Zemmour, who has twice been convicted of hate crimes for statements about Islam, told France Inter Radio: 'French people who are Muslims must live in the French way and not consider that sharia law is superior to the laws of the republic.' 'I feel bad, very bad,' said Khadija, who asked that her second name be withheld. 'A few days ago, my five-year-old daughter told me that she did not like being Arab,' she said, complaining of 'living under permanent suspicion, no longer knowing what's behind the baker's smile, or what people really think'. read the complete article

United Kingdom

10 Feb 2022

Spencer has to ‘keep my mouth shut’ while Islamophobia investigation continues

Commons Leader Mark Spencer said it was “a bit rough” that he has been unable to defend himself publicly against accusations of Islamophobia. Mr Spencer was moved from chief whip to his new post in Boris Johnson’s minor reshuffle but his continued role in Government raised eyebrows as he continues to be investigated over his role in MP Nusrat Ghani’s allegations of Islamophobia. The Prime Minister commissioned an investigation to “establish the facts” regarding the Tory MP’s claim that she was told by a whip her dismissal as a minister in 2020 was partly because of concerns about her “Muslimnes ”. Sherwood MP Mr Spencer told BBC Radio Nottingham he had to stay quiet while the investigation – being carried out by Lord Geidt, the Prime Minister’s adviser on ministerial interests – was conducted. read the complete article


10 Feb 2022

Can China use the Beijing Olympics to ‘sportwash’ its abuses against the Uyghurs? Only if the world remains silent

One issue should be getting more attention: what I and other scholars are calling the “Xinjiang emergency” – the mass detention of between one million and two million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. To many observers, China attempted to sportwash its human rights abuses in Xinjiang by selecting a cross-country skier of Uyghur origin to take part in the lighting of the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremonies of the games. Although the move attracted criticism from human rights activists, there’s been virtual silence from governments and corporate sponsors on the Uyghur issue since the Olympics began. Without any real action to put pressure on Beijing, China’s propaganda machine will continue to deflect accountability, instead touting the false narrative that Uyghurs enjoy a “peaceful, harmonious and happy life”. In a recently published book I edited, The Xinjiang Emergency, some of the world’s top scholars on Uyghur history, culture, politics and identity provide a detailed examination of the long-term causes and consequences of China’s repression in Xinjiang. Our group of scholars has concluded the Chinese state’s actions are consistent with the attempted cultural genocide of Uyghurs. Only a few governments around the world have gone as far as to label it a “genocide”. The French parliament was the latest to do so on the eve of the Olympics, following in the footsteps of the US government and parliaments in Canada, the Netherlands and the UK. read the complete article


10 Feb 2022

Man charged in fatal London, Ont., truck attack on Muslim family to head straight to trial

A man facing terror-related murder charges in the attack of a Muslim family last summer in London, Ont., will head straight to trial. Nathaniel Veltman is accused of deliberately hitting the Afzaal family with his truck on June 6. Federal Crown attorney Lisa Matthews told a London court that the case received a preferred indictment on Jan. 21, which means the preliminary hearing will be skipped. Veltman faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, in what prosecutors allege was an act of terrorism. Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed while out for an evening walk. The couple's nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously hurt. Police have alleged the incident was motivated by hate against the Islamic faith. Veltman is next in court on April 8 for a judicial pretrial and then in the Superior Court of Justice on April 12. read the complete article

United States

10 Feb 2022

Right-wing commentator with white supremacy ties endorses Janice McGeachin for governor

A right-wing commentator with links to white supremacy groups, antisemitism and Islamophobia has endorsed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin to be Idaho’s next governor, according to a news release from McGeachin’s campaign office. Michelle Malkin, a former Fox News contributor, has been tied to anti-Muslim groups ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy, published books defending World War II internment camps and racial profiling in the U.S., and has been a regular contributor to a Canadian white supremacist website for two decades. Malkin has also taken heat from conservative groups over her support for a well-known Holocaust denier. In her endorsement, Malkin applauded McGeachin’s clashes with other Idaho Republicans. Gov. Brad Little has not announced his run for reelection as governor but is actively campaigning and raising money. In Wednesday’s news release, McGeachin said she was “honored to receive this endorsement and the support from such an important voice in the conservative movement.” The release described Malkin as a “freedom fighter.” read the complete article


10 Feb 2022

A year ago, Facebook contributed to a military coup in Myanmar. Its response has been an appalling failure.

After Myanmar suffered a military coup on February 1, 2021, analysis showed that Facebook had played a large part in fomenting the conflict. Though it promised to improve its practices, the world’s largest social media platform continues over a year later to do the bare minimum to save face while failing to support its users in Myanmar, citing unmet promises and unenforced new policies as progress without investing in meaningful solutions. Last year, Media Matters compiled an in-depth timeline examining Facebook’s role in Myanmar and major instances in which the platform has failed its 28.7 million Burmese users -- more than half of the nation’s population. Since then, the situation in Myanmar has only worsened. The country is witnessing “violent reprisals” by government forces, “including the torture and killing of 40 civilians in July 2021.” The link between online Facebook posts and offline violence had been well-documented for years prior to the coup. In 2017, unmoderated hate speech and threats against the Muslim Rohingya minority exploded on the platform. An independent investigation commissioned by Facebook in 2018 also found that the company had not done enough to stop its platform from being used to foment real-world harms. In fact, Facebook’s parent company Meta is currently facing a $150 billion lawsuit “over allegations that the social media company did not take action against anti-Rohingya hate speech that contributed to violence.” Facebook promised to do better. It has not. Even though activists have been warning the platform for a year that its actions aren’t enough, questionable pro-military content is still served up to its users and the platform has not announced legitimate investments, like significantly increasing resources and staffing, to provide support to its Burmese users. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 10 Feb 2022 Edition


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