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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15 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: According to a new report by the Islamophobia Observatory, one in six Muslims faced religious discrimination in Luxembourg, meanwhile in the UK, a long delayed probe into the firing of former UK Transportation Minister MP Nus Ghani is set to begin again, following continued critistism from Labor party leadership that the Tory party has yet to address increasing evidence of Islamophobia among its ranks, and in an interview with Jacobin, Professor Deepa Kumar stresses the importance of reflecting on historical imperialism when tracing the roots of anti-Muslim hatred around the globe. Our recommended read of the day is by Alice Kantor for Bloomberg on how an increasing number of Muslims in France are leaving the country due to racism and Islamophobia, especially in the workplace, and seeking opportunities abroad. This and more below:


Discrimination Is Pushing French Muslim Professionals to Jobs Abroad | Recommended Read

Natasa Jevtovic, 38, left Paris for London in 2020 suspecting she would get better job opportunities as a young Muslim woman there. Her bet paid off. Since moving to London, the finance project manager has flourished. She’s been promoted multiple times and now earns twice as much as she did in Paris. She believes none of that would’ve happened if she’d stayed in France, where she said she often experienced Islamophobia while working at a leading French bank. “People would use racist terms and then I would ask them to stop. The whole team would ignore me,” Jevtovic said. On at least one instance, her manager intervened and threatened her position at the company if she continued to accuse her colleagues of discrimination, she said. Jevtovic is part of a wave of educated Muslims who no longer feel welcome in France, especially at work, and are taking their skills where they feel they’ll be valued. A new study by University of Lille professor Olivier Esteves reveals that a number of Muslims — mostly highly-educated white collar employees — are leaving France, contributing to a brain drain that’s increasingly plaguing the euro zone’s second largest economy. Esteves surveyed 1,074 Muslims who left France. More than two-thirds said they relocated to practice their religion more freely, while 70% said they left to face less frequent incidents of racism and discrimination. read the complete article

United Kingdom

14 Feb 2023

What the Knowsley riot tells us about Suella Braverman and the Shawcross report

Last Wednesday, in the House of Commons, Home Secretary Suella Braverman welcomed the Shawcross review of Prevent, including its judgement that the programme had laid too much emphasis on the danger presented by extreme right ideology. Uncomfortably for Braverman, two days later an eruption of right-wing violent extremism broke out in an attack on a hotel housing asylum-seekers in Knowsley, Merseyside. There’s no question that the far right played a major role in stirring up the terrible events in Knowsley. Big Tech must also answer for its culpability in enabling fascism: calls to action circulated on social media, including a YouTube video from the neo-Nazi group Patriotic Alternative. But - and this should trouble the home secretary - there is plenty of evidence that the “respectable right and centre-right” bears a heavy share of responsibility. To understand why, let’s examine the claims underpinning the mob attacks. Knowsley saw the convergence of two moral panics: "Muslim grooming gangs" and an "invasion" of asylum seekers. Both narratives have been heavily promoted in the mainstream press - fuelled by the Conservative government, including Braverman. Just a day after a far-right terrorist attack on a migrant centre in Dover, Braverman called for an end to the "invasion of our southern coast". This language echoed both Nazi-era rhetoric and current white supremacist propaganda. read the complete article

14 Feb 2023

PM's ethics adviser investigates Tory MP Nus Ghani's Islamophobia claim

Rishi Sunak's ethics adviser has taken over an investigation into claims by a Tory MP that she was sacked as a minister for being Muslim. Nus Ghani said a party manager told her "Muslimness was raised as an issue". Labour has said it is "disgraceful" that an investigation into her allegations launched last January has yet to be completed. The probe was delayed following the resignation of then-PM Boris Johnson's ethics adviser Lord Geidt. He left in June and was not replaced until December when Mr Sunak appointed Laurie Magnus, who will now carry on the inquiry. Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds has been pushing for the investigation to be completed, saying the delay "tells you everything you need to know about the Conservatives' commitment to tackling Islamophobia". Asked about the inquiry, Head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission Marcial Boo said he would be following up on it with Sir Laurie. read the complete article


14 Feb 2023

We Can’t Understand Islamophobia Without Recognizing Its Roots in Imperialism

Over the last twenty years, hostility to Muslims has become one of the central themes in political discourse throughout Europe and North America. From Donald Trump to Marine Le Pen, far-right politicians have made Islamophobia into a central plank of their campaigning platforms. At the same time, the United States and its allies have engaged in a series of wars throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The catastrophic fallout from those wars has further strengthened anti-Muslim racism. Deepa Kumar is a professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University and the author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, a book that explores the relationship between imperial militarism abroad and Islamophobic bigotry on the home front. This is an edited transcript from Jacobin’s Long Reads podcast. You can listen to the two-part episode here and here. read the complete article

14 Feb 2023

Governor of China’s Xinjiang region cancels UK visit after backlash

The governor of China’s western region of Xinjiang will not be visiting Britain this week, according to the UK Foreign Office, after a backlash from MPs over alleged human rights abuses in the region. British officials had said if Erkin Tuniyaz visited this week, they would have been prepared to meet with him to raise concern over the human rights situation in Xinjiang. But those plans faced backlash from politicians who highlighted human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in the region. “We understand the governor of Xinjiang has cancelled his visit to the UK,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said. “The UK government will continue to use all opportunities to take action against China’s unacceptable human rights abuses in Xinjiang.” Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against Uyghurs, the mainly Muslim ethnic minority that numbers about 10 million in Xinjiang, including the mass use of forced labour in internment camps. China is also alleged to have forcibly sterilised women in the province. Britain’s parliament has declared the treatment of the Uyghurs amounts to genocide, but the government has said it will not make such a determination. read the complete article

14 Feb 2023

Xinjiang’s governor should be arrested, not welcomed by the British government

If Erkin Tuniyaz, the governor of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in north-western China, goes ahead with his expected visit to the UK this week, survivors of the region’s network of camps want him to be arrested and tried for perpetrating genocide, not to be welcomed by the British government. As the present chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Standing Committee on Xinjiang and a long-time member of that committee, Tuniyaz is directly implicated in the atrocities being perpetrated there. Tuniyaz allegedly oversaw forced family separations and the other horrors hidden behind the barbed wires and concrete walls of the region’s concentration camps. For over seven years, the Chinese government has subjected the Uyghur people to inhumane treatment, including forced sterilisation, cultural erasure, forced labour, political indoctrination and torture. The British government must be aware of this, and of Tuniyaz’s role in what the UK Parliament itself has declared genocide. Yet the Foreign Office in London has attempted to justify meeting Tuniyaz (who is Uyghur himself) on the grounds that officials will press him for change. This is a legitimate goal, but since its inception, the Xinjiang chairman’s office has been purely symbolic, a token gesture of the Chinese Han government towards the “autonomy” and ethnic self-governance of the Uyghur region. Appealing to Tuniyaz for change is pointless. read the complete article

15 Feb 2023

The taboos are falling fast as the EU embraces the far-right racist approach to migration

European Union leaders want to reinforce their controversial “fortress Europe” policies by clamping down even harder on inward migration. This reveals a deep and self-defeating disconnect between the 27-nation bloc’s internal actions and its international aspirations. The EU’s self-image is that of a benign power and a force for global good. European leaders spend a lot of time telling the world about the virtues of “European values”. There is even an EU commissioner whose sole task it is to promote the “European way of life”. Other countries are constantly taken to task, often through the imposition of sanctions, for their failure to align with international human rights standards. Yet external perceptions of the bloc are determined not by fictionalised narratives but by the real-life experience of African, Asian and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees who seek EU protection. The EU’s image is also increasingly judged against the treatment of its own black and brown citizens. Regrettably, the record is poor on both counts, prompting justified accusations that the bloc is guilty of double standards and has a human rights policy based on selective outrage. Internal squabbling, rising numbers of migrant crossings and racist far-right narratives that demonise migrants and refugees have left EU plans for more humane migration management in tatters. read the complete article


14 Feb 2023

Indian tax agents raid BBC offices in wake of Modi documentary

Indian tax authorities have raided the offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the country in the wake of a documentary that examined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in 2002 anti-Muslim riots, according to the BBC. In a tweet, the BBC news department’s press office on Tuesday said the tax authorities were “currently at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and we are fully cooperating”. “We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible,” the statement said. A source at the company told Al Jazeera that employees’ laptops and mobile phones had been seized. Those in the offices at the time of the raid were not allowed to leave and employees scheduled for night shifts were told not to come in pending further advice, the source said. read the complete article


14 Feb 2023

Demands for Amira Elghawaby to resign prove Islamophobia is alive and well in Canada

When the federal government announced the appointment of Amira Elghawaby as the special representative on Islamophobia, I saw a glimmer of hope. Elghawaby has a stellar track record of advocacy work, has been engaged with Muslim communities for years, and is a visibly Muslim woman herself, making her the ideal inaugural representative. But, of course, that feeling was short-lived. The attacks began immediately, as pundits and politicians alike took comments she made in a 2019 Ottawa Citizen column out of context and accused her of painting all Quebeckers as racist. For many individuals, however, it does not matter that she cited cold, hard polling data. Or that she co-authored the piece with Bernie Faber, an activist from another religious community, one that has seen antisemitic hate crimes rise. Or that a recent study has shown that the effect of Bill 21 has disproportionately affected Muslim women. Or that hate crimes have spiked in recent years both in Quebec and across the country, with Black Muslim women facing the brunt of the effects of gendered Islamophobia. In that recent study by the Association for Canadian Studies, 78 per cent of Muslim women surveyed in Quebec said that their sense of acceptance in Quebec has deteriorated over the past three years, since Bill 21 became a reality. Two-thirds of the Muslim women surveyed have either been a victim of or a witness to a hate crime; 73 per cent feel less safe in public. This legislation has had tangible effects on the experiences of Muslim women in Quebec and across the country. Muslims in this country should not have to prove our humanity, to prove that we are “worthy” enough be treated like any other person. It is 2023, six years after the Quebec City mosque shooting (Premier François Legault did not attend commemoration events this year, citing “family obligations”) and a year and a half after the Afzaal family was murdered in London. Heck, the Quebec City mosque shooting was cited as an influence for the 2019 Christchurch shootings, yet public discourse in this country is still debating whether Islamophobia itself exists. It is embarrassing and also a distraction — which is perhaps exactly the point. read the complete article


14 Feb 2023

One in six Muslims experienced religious discrimination in 2021

One in six Muslims faced religious discrimination in Luxembourg in 2021, according to a new report. The Islamophobia Observatory also found that women are much more prone to facing Islamophobia than men. One in five Muslims in Luxembourg said that they had witnesses incidents of islamophobia. This represents a 9% decrease compared to 2020. Observatory president Jasmin Jahic argued that the first pandemic year had radicalised some people: "Many people were at home and spent a lot of time online, which increased the rate of cyber-islamophobia. The same happened to other types of discrimination, such as racism and antisemitism." Despite existing discrimination, the report finds that Muslims in Luxembourg are exposed to less hate than those living abroad. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Feb 2023 Edition


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