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.

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15 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, as high schools reopened in Karnataka, tweets from across the state show students and teachers allegedly being forced to remove their burqas and hijabs before entering the schools, meanwhile in Europe, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) has warned EU institutions and member states on the attacks against Muslims and the spread of far-right ideas in France, and in Canada, “despite publicly denouncing Islamophobia, federal and provincial governments continue to sustain it, both through overt legislation and in covert refusals to challenge white supremacy.” Our recommended read of the day is by Angana P. Chatterji for Just Security on the elections in Uttar Pradesh, where Hindu nationalist leaders “are energizing their constituents with calls for mass violence” and promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, in line with national trends that are driving widespread and lethal aggression against Muslims across the country. This and more below:


15 Feb 2022

Election in India’s Largest State Accelerates Anti-Muslim Hate Speech and Violence | Recommended Read

Critical elections are proceeding in five states in India, including in its most populous state and political nerve center, Uttar Pradesh. The election there in particular illustrates the majoritarian nationalism that is driving widespread and lethal aggression against Muslims across the country. Amid the balloting that commenced on Feb. 10 and will end March 7, with results due to be announced March 10, Hindu nationalist leaders are energizing their constituents with calls for mass violence. Militant campaigns based on a conspiracy theory that Muslim men are marrying Hindu women to imperil and overpower Hindu culture – and a new law premised on that belief — stand to override the rights of Muslims and other minority communities. The elected head of state, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, is a Hindu nationalist demagogue from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who is seeking a new term with a divisive electioneering strategy that pits minority groups against the majority. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who heads India’s Hindu nationalist BJP government, did not denounce the expressions of hate in Haridwar. Neither did senior, influential leaders of his cabinet, such as Home Minister Amit Shah, whose ministry is charged with internal security. Instead, speaking at a Sikh Gurdwara on Dec. 25, Modi vilified India’s Islamic history. Referring to a revered Sikh religious figure, Modi declared, “Guru Tegh Bahadur’s sacrifice and his heroic acts against [Muslim ruler] Aurangzeb have taught us how the country should fight terrorism and religious extremism.” His message served as a dog whistle to Hindu nationalists to take up arms against a purported threat posed by Muslims to the supremacy of Hindus in India. The election outcome stands to affect Adityanath’s political destiny as well as the 2024 national elections — and with that, the BJP’s political future. Adityanath has declared that he believes the state’s Hindus, who make up approximately 80 percent of its population, will again deliver the state to the BJP this time. In the course of the campaign, Hindu nationalists are using hate speech to rally grassroots proponents and fence-sitters. Hostile messaging targeting Muslims proliferates in gossip and across political institutions and social media. In the face of the onslaught, minority communities and their allies are concerned about the impact of the results, regardless of the outcome. A BJP victory would place Muslims and other minorities at grave risk. At the same time, should a BJP victory fail to materialize in Uttar Pradesh, will Hindutva activists take out their fury on Muslims in the cause of absolutist Hindu nationalism? read the complete article

15 Feb 2022

Indian Muslim girls forced to remove hijab, others protest as schools open

Students and parents say it was humiliating to be asked to take off the hijab before entering the schools in southern Karnataka state where right-wing BJP government banned the Islamic headgear. School authorities at several places ensured on Monday the Muslim students, teachers and other staff remove their Islamic headgear in front of TV cameras before entering the school premises. Footage on social media showed some hijab-clad students returning home in protest after being denied entry into the schools. Some parents reportedly requested the students be allowed to wear the hijab until classrooms but the authorities rejected such requests. Ayesha Imthiaz, a student in Udupi, said it was humiliating to be asked to take off the hijab before entering the schools which resumed classes on Monday. One Karnataka official told media some students walked out of the exam room after authorities refused them permission to wear hijab. read the complete article

15 Feb 2022

'The only reason is to humiliate Muslims as much as possible': India lurches to the right with school hijab ban

Negotiations between government representatives and the protesting students has thus achieved little breakthrough. For a while, one of the schools did allow girls in hijab to attend school, but they were made to sit in separate classrooms. So in response, one of the students filed a case in the Karnataka High Court in the state capital of Bengaluru, stating that wearing the hijab was a fundamental right accorded by Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 of the Indian constitution, which provides the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion. Though no final order has been passed by the judge, hearings continue. Currently, a stand-off prevails in Karnataka with minority groups fearing that their persecution may continue to spiral out of control, a phenomenon lay at the feet of Narendra Modi's exclusionary policies. In this case, as has happened in so many others, ruling BJP members have made matters worse by issuing statements that defend the hijab ban. Discussing why religious intolerance is growing in India, Ashok Swain, Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at the Uppsala University in Sweden, told The New Arab that, “The only reason is to humiliate minority Muslims as much as possible. This is part of the ruling regime’s larger agenda of creating a Hindu state. It polarizes the society, helps them to get the majority in the elections, and with it getting an electoral legitimacy to enforce Hindu majoritarianism.” Discussing the phenomena of right-wing politics in India, Lakshmi Sreenivasan, a psychologist and D&I consultant from Mumbai explained to The New Arab that, “This is a politically motivated issue. We have seen how Right-Wing (RW) students marched in hordes with saffron colour coordinated shawls and ‘safaa’. To call this as harassment would be trivializing the current plight of Muslim communities’ in India. The right wing politics, abetted by the media and funded IT cells on social media have consistently targeted Muslim women for their religious identity, as well as vocal women from other communities for their opinion.” In Sreenivasan’s opinion, “Minority persecution is foundational to India's right wing policies. The hijab is just an excuse, this is entirely about a woman’s choice. The constitution gives the right to practice one’s religion and hence more than a practice of faith, it is about constitutional rights.” read the complete article

15 Feb 2022

India's hijab dispute reaches its most populous state

A dispute over restrictions on the wearing of the hijab by female students in a southern Indian state has now reached India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, with a group of youngsters asking a college to ban the head covering. In Uttar Pradesh, in the country's north and bordering New Delhi, a group of more than two dozen young men reached the Dharma Samaj College in Aligarh district on Monday and handed a memorandum to its officials seeking a complete ban on the hijab within its compound. They had saffron shawls around their necks - typically worn by Hindus - said the college's chief proctor, Mukesh Bharadwaj, adding he did not recognise the people. Currently, religious garb is not allowed in classrooms, but can be worn elsewhere on campus. "Two years ago the same issue was raised and it has been raised again. We do not allow any type of religious uniform and we have a civil code of uniform for everyone," Bharadwaj told Reuters by phone on Tuesday. "There is a changing room for girls and they can change their dress there before attending class," he said. "We are investigating the matter." Uttar Pradesh, estimated to have as many people as Brazil, is ruled by a Hindu monk from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party and is in the midst of a multi-phase election that ends next month. Hindu-Muslim disputes are often used for political gains in the state. read the complete article

15 Feb 2022

Staff, Students Asked to Remove Hijab at Gates as Karnataka Schools Reopen

As high schools reopened in Karnataka on Monday, February 15, tweets from across the state have surfaced, showing students and teachers allegedly being forced to remove their burqas and hijabs. On Monday, high schools were reopened amidst Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code imposed in areas of Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Bengaluru. In places, enforcement of this order led to scenes that were captured on video. The news agency ANI has tweeted a video purportedly showing a teacher asking students to remove their hijab before entering the school in Mandya town of Mandya district. An altercation is seen, in which, according to ANI, a parent is heard requesting the teacher to allow students into the classroom so that they can take their hijab off after that. “But they are not allowing entry with hijab,” the parent purportedly says. Journalists Deepak Bopanna also tweeted videos from the same Mandya school, showing how teachers and staff too were forced to take off their hijabs before entering the school. Journalist Imran Khan tweeted that Mandya district administration had issued instructions to schools to not allow teachers in with the hijab, mandating that the hijab must be removed at the gate itself. The videos show women, purportedly members of staff, complying with the order. read the complete article


15 Feb 2022

Far-right violence, attacks against Muslims 'escalate' in France

A Brussels-based human rights watchdog has warned EU institutions and member states on the attacks against Muslims and the spread of far-right ideas in France. “The country is showing marks of a growing far-right within its institutions,” the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) said in a statement on Monday. The watchdog denounced “the escalation of attacks against Muslims and civil society organisations who work against racism and anti-Muslim hatred in France.” They added that Europe should be concerned by the French government's “increasingly divisive discourse and strategies” that are based on far-right ideology and target Muslims and civil society organisations. “Under the guise of national security, civil society organisations have been dissolved, mosques have been raided, and schools and Muslim-owned businesses closed,” contrary to the principles of the rule of law, ENAR said. The watchdog also noted that fundamental rights “of racialised people in France, and Muslims in particular” are under threat in France. They asserted that the freedom of expression and association is particularly in danger. For this, they cited a recent report from the French Observatory of Associative Freedom that documented 20 abusive sanctions against NGOs without legal or factual bases over the past five years. ENAR stressed these actions have a “chilling effect” on Muslim communities and civil society because they are “considered guilty until proven innocent.” read the complete article


15 Feb 2022

Symbolic Action Doesn’t Address Canada’s Islamophobia

While Simon Kennedy, Deputy Registrar General of Canada, proclaimed January 29 as the “National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia” in 2021, the Canadian government has yet to take tangible action against Islamophobia. Despite publicly denouncing Islamophobia, federal and provincial governments continue to sustain it, both through overt legislation and in covert refusals to challenge white supremacy. Islamophobic violence has been intensifying in Canada over the past few decades, with more Muslims being targeted in hate crimes here in the past five years than in any other G7 country. After 9/11, the war on terror and the ensuing military invasion of Afghanistan laid the foundation for both a normative and legal context of Islamophobia in Canadian society. Since then, outright Islamophobic violence has steadily risen: between 2012 and 2015, hate crimes against Muslims in Canada increased by a staggering 253 per cent, and averaged at 140 incidents per year between 2018 and 2020. While the process by which Muslims are dehumanized in Canadian society was first codified in Canada’s post-9/11 policies and the war on terror, it has persisted purposefully unchecked. Islamophobic violence has always occurred against a backdrop of systemic othering wherein Muslims are consistently located as a threat to Canada’s national character. Canada is host to vast networks of white supremacist groups unified by a staunchly anti-immigrant and Islamophobic ideology. These networks commonly promote conspiracy theories about Muslims challenging “Canadian values” – effectively an implicit way to say that Muslims threaten the presumed whiteness of Canada. This white supremacist rhetoric is overtly visible in both of Canada’s most recent instances of mass Islamophobic violence – the 2017 Quebec Mosque shooting and the 2021 London van attack, where four members of the Pakistani-Canadian Afzaal family were murdered because of their religion. In both cases, the perpetrators were found to frequently hold interest in white nationalist sites and personalities that demonized Muslim immigration and Islam. read the complete article


15 Feb 2022

Myanmar: Rohingya Genocide Case Steps Toward Justice

International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings beginning February 21, 2022 underline the critical importance of bringing justice for the Myanmar military’s abuses against ethnic Rohingya, Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center said today. The groups released a question-and-answer document outlining recent developments in the case, including the impact of the February 1, 2021 military coup in Myanmar, on the ICJ proceedings. The hearings at the court from February 21 to 28 are for the case brought by Gambia against Myanmar alleging that the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State against Rohingya Muslims violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). “The International Court of Justice hearings are the next step in the landmark case to break the cycle of violence and impunity in Myanmar,” said Nushin Sarkarati, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The case could build a pathway to justice, not only for the Rohingya, but for everyone in the country.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Feb 2022 Edition


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