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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14 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, the former mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, says that some politicians are capitalizing on anti-Islamic sentiment to score political points, meanwhile, governor of Xinjiang Erkin Tuniyaz cancels his EU visit following widespread concerns from lawmakers and activists over his role in the Uyghur genocide, and in the United Kingdom, rights groups and civil society continue to call into question William Shawcross’s review of the PREVENT program, with an outcome that many claim is blatantly Islamophobic. Our recommended read of the day is by France 24 on the Indian Tax authorities raid of two BBC offices in the country after the network published a documentary examining the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots. This and more below:  


14 Feb 2023

Tax officials raid BBC India offices after critical documentary | Recommended Read

Indian tax authorities raided the BBC's New Delhi and Mumbai offices on Tuesday, weeks after the broadcaster aired a documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's actions during deadly sectarian riots in 2002. Press freedom in the world's biggest democracy has suffered during Modi's tenure, rights activists say, and the opposition Congress party condemned the raids, saying there was an "undeclared emergency" in the country. A spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the broadcaster of engaging in "anti-India propaganda" but said the raids were lawful and the timing had nothing to do with the government. "India is a country which gives an opportunity to every organisation," Gaurav Bhatia told reporters, "as long as you don't spew venom." Police sealed off the BBC's New Delhi office, which occupies two floors of a high-rise on a leafy avenue in the capital's commercial heart. In a statement on Twitter, the broadcaster said it was "fully cooperating" with authorities. Police sealed off the BBC's New Delhi office, which occupies two floors of a high-rise on a leafy avenue in the capital's commercial heart. A New Delhi-based BBC employee said that officials had been "confiscating all phones" during the tax raid. read the complete article

13 Feb 2023

As a Muslim, Netflix’s Indian ‘Elite’ Took Me Back to the Horrors of Trying To Fitting in at School

I don’t remember the precise moment I became conscious of my Muslim identity. My mother never wore a hijab, the walls in our home were not painted green, and we didn’t fawn over biryani as if it was the end of the world. None of the stereotypes that I noticed in Bollywood movies checked out. It didn’t help that some of my family rituals could be traced to the Hindu Rajput traditions and customs. To my Muslim friends, I was not Muslim enough. But for the bigots around me in school, I was too Muslim. In Class, the Indian adaptation of the Netflix original series Elite, three underprivileged students from a government school make it to the most sought-after private school in Delhi, the fictional Hampton High School, which resembles an art gallery, a luxe office space and a swanky mall all rolled into one. One of the three students is Saba Manzoor. On the school’s first day itself, Saba wears a hijab, much to the annoyance of the school principal who asks her if she plans to wear it every day. During the class introduction, she hesitates to share where she is from and lies that her hometown is in Uttar Pradesh. We discover later that it is actually Kashmir, one of the world’s most militarised zones. When I was halfway into the eight-episode series that was released on February 3, a friend asked if I could relate to the story of Saba Manzoor – a character based on Nadia from Elite who also faces Islamophobia. The answer was an overwhelming yes. I could relate to the fact that much like Saba who does not wear the hijab after the first episode, I had to dilute my Muslim identity in my co-ed, convent school in Mumbai where I studied through the early 2000s – not bring non-vegetarian food for lunch lest my friends assume it’s beef (it wasn’t banned in most of India back then but still looked upon with disgust and suspicion), trying my best to engage with their stories of gods and goddesses, or not making a hue and cry about fasting during Ramadan. read the complete article

13 Feb 2023

Why are YouTube and Twitter helping India block a damning documentary against its leader?

When the big screen blacked out, young people whipped out their phones and continued watching online. College students in India have been screening the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” after the Indian government blocked it. And now India's Supreme Court is considering legal petitions against the ban. The furor only elevated the film’s question: How complicit the Indian prime minister was in a pogrom against Muslim citizens two decades ago. Whether Indians in the diaspora agree with the answer, we should also see how each one of us is associated with violence against minorities, simply by having lived through such events. YouTube and Twitter India have removed links to the documentary at the Modi government’s orders. For vocal Indian users of Twitter, that’s a far cry from owner Elon Musk claiming that he'd make it a free speech platform for democracy. In one scene in the documentary, a survivor of the riot describes how Modi’s office rejected calls for help from a Muslim member of Parliament who was sheltering some families. The M.P. then offered himself to the mob, begging it to spare the others. The mob slit his throat, said the survivor who managed to get away, and then they attacked the women, men and children hiding in the building. The Supreme Court has since dismissed charges filed by the M.P.’s widow on Modi’s role in the riots. read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 Feb 2023

Demonising Islam: Prevent review fulfils dreams of UK's right-wing media

The Prevent review authored by William Shawcross, who once said that “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future”, could easily be seen as the manifestation of Amis’s words. Its basic conclusion is that too little attention has been given to extremism by Muslims, and far too much to the far right. In other words, Britain has effectively forgotten who the real bad guys are. Almost every week, commentators, reporters or reviewers in the right-wing press complain about how there aren’t enough films depicting Muslim countries as backward hellholes, or how a drama on TV wouldn’t dare depict Islam as it has Christianity. Even celebrities are urged to give credence to the idea that there just isn’t the same scrutiny of Islam, or that not enough of the bad things done in its name are the subject of fictional representation. What Shawcross does make clear is that some “examples of centre-right debate, populism, and controversial or distasteful forms of right-leaning commentary and intolerance … [fall] well short of the extremism threshold”. This seems reasonable on the face of it, except for the fact that some of the most notorious far-right or neo-Nazi killers on the planet have quoted from such commentaries. Certain pundits are namechecked in the manifesto of Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people. Others have said conditions should be made harder for Muslims “across the board”. read the complete article


13 Feb 2023

Naheed Nenshi says politicians play role in spreading Islamophobia

Naheed Nenshi had some choice words for both federal and provincial politicians, who he says are capitalizing on anti-Islamic sentiment to score political points. Nenshi, the first person of Muslim faith to be elected as mayor of a major North American city, was speaking to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights. He said he hopes the committee “pulls no punches” and stands up for the Muslim community and against those who help spread anti-Islamic hate. “I would love to see for this committee a straight-up condemnation of religiously bigoted laws across this country, including Bill 21 in Quebec,” Nenhsi told the committee in a video conference presentation. He said in recent years, both federal and provincial politicians have used anti-Islam sentiment to score political points, and that is something that has to stop. read the complete article

13 Feb 2023

Hypocrisy and White Secular Fragility: Why Amira Elghawaby Has Nothing to Apologize For

Quebec has a problem with Islamophobia. If you have any doubts, you need look no further than the political party that leads it. The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) was elected for its first term on a promise of cracking down on religious minorities and using the Notwithstanding Clause to ensure they could do so legally. They were reelected this past October despite their leader, Francois Legault, publicly making xenophobic remarks, including that he considered immigrants to be a threat to Quebec society. Since Legault took office the first time, hate crimes in Quebec have risen exponentially because of he and his party’s willful blindness of the bigotry and violence they have openly encouraged. One recent example of this bigotry is calling for the resignation of Amira Elghawaby, a journalist who was recently appointed to be Canada’s new special anti-Islamophobia advisor, by Jean-Francois Roberge, Quebec’s minister responsible for secularism. The calls for her resignation are due to an article Elghawaby co-authored in 2019 in the Ottawa Citizen shortly after Quebec’s secularism law aka Bill 21, was forced through the National Assembly. Elghawaby, who is set to take office on February 20, 2023, has since apologized for what she wrote. Let me be among the many to say she has nothing to apologize for, and demands that she resign are indicative of not only the plague of xenophobia that continues to fester in Quebec, but also of the immense hypocrisy of the Coalition Avenir du Quebec and its supporters. read the complete article

United States

13 Feb 2023

Christian nationalism needs to be distinguished from civil religion

Ten percent of Americans are adherents of Christian nationalism, with another 19% in sympathy with its ideals, according to a new PRRI survey. These two groups are far more likely to hold racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views than the rest of the U.S. population. Among white evangelicals, 29% rate as adherents, with an additional 35% as sympathizers. None of this is particularly surprising. Donald Trump cranked up God-and-country fervor, and no religious segment of the population has been more fervent than white evangelicals. In the 1930s, “Christian,” long employed as an umbrella characterization of American society, was appropriated by America First nationalists to signal that no Jews need apply. Antisemitic radio preacher the Rev. Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest, prompted the creation of an organization called the Christian Front; other such organizations included the Christian American Crusade, the Christian Mobilizers and the Christian Party. In response, liberals began using “Judeo-Christian” to rename the religious tradition that all Americans were presumed to share and that was supposed to undergird the struggle against fascism and, later, communism. But then, in the 1980s, “Judeo-Christian” was seized upon by the religious right as a rhetorical cudgel in its political war against secularism and the values of “the ’60s.” Civil religion still lives on, however. It’s represented in a resolution condemning white nationalism that the Democratic National Committee passed earlier this month, harking back to the “Judeo-Christian” version that took shape during World War II. It’s there in Tisby’s concept of Black Christian Patriotism, which resembles the civil religion of America before the rise of fascism. The “Christian” political religion of the 1930s lives on as well, in the form of today’s white Christian nationalism. read the complete article


13 Feb 2023

Iain Duncan Smith accuses Xinjiang governor of ‘murder’ at Uyghur protest

Iain Duncan Smith has accused the Chinese governor of Xinjiang of murder as he joined Uyghur activists protesting against his reported visit to Britain. Demonstrators gathered outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Monday after it emerged that Erkin Tuniyaz, the chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, could meet UK officials, a scenario Duncan Smith branded “unacceptable”. Tuniyaz was expected to come to the UK this week, according to the reports, with some speculating he has already arrived. The UN has accused China of “serious human rights violations” in Xinjiang and human rights groups believe more than 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in camps. China is also alleged to have forcibly sterilised women in the province. Duncan Smith told protesters: “We do not meet with people who murder others. Government should be above that. “There is no negotiation until China stops what it is doing and restores the rights, privileges and freedoms for the people of Xinjiang who are Uyghur.” read the complete article

13 Feb 2023

Xinjiang governor cancels EU visit amid Uyghur abuse blowback

The governor of the Xinjiang region in China has canceled his controversial trip to Paris and Brussels, three people with knowledge of his plan told POLITICO. The cancelation of Erkin Tuniyaz’s tour followed widespread concerns from lawmakers and activists that Europe would be rolling out the red carpet for the man in charge of the Chinese region where extreme measures against the Uyghur Muslim community amounted to what the U.N. calls potential crimes against humanity. News of the trip being called off was relayed to people invited to his reception parties planned by Chinese diplomats in France and Belgium. “Due to scheduling reasons … [the event] is postponed,” according to an email sent to the EU guests in Brussels, the text of which was seen by POLITICO. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Feb 2023 Edition


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