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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16 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, tax officials are searching the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai for a third day straight, as critics question the timing of the searches, which came weeks after the BBC aired a documentary critical of Modi, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the Muslim community in Heaton, Newcastle are scared following an incident last week where a man banged on the door of the mosque and abused families as they left, and in the United States, CAIR is accusing Southwest Airlines of denying a Maryland worker’s request for a schedule change so he could attend a Friday prayer meeting and then firing him when he took a day off. Our recommended read of the day is by James McMurray for the Guardian on why “Britain should never have engaged with this whitewashing of the treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities.” This and more below:


16 Feb 2023

Parliament says China is committing a genocide. Why were officials planning to meet one of the perpetrators? | Recommended Read

The oppression of the Uyghurs and other Turkic and Islamic minority people in China’s Xinjiang region has come into stark focus over the past five years. First, minorities were interned in “re-education facilities” for indeterminate periods. Then came evidence of Chinese “minders” being sent to live with Uyghur families and report on their behaviour, of checkpoints on pedestrian streets, face-scanning cameras, the enforced installation of state spyware on personal phones, forced controls on fertility and the closing or demolition of mosques and other religious sites. Throughout all this, a man named Erkin Tuniyaz has been a leading official in Xinjiang’s regional government, and an enthusiastic defender of this “Sinicisation” of Islam. Since 2021, he has been the formal leader of the entire region. Yet none of this stopped British Foreign Office officials from planning to meet with Tuniyaz during a visit to London – a visit that has now been cancelled, after hurriedly arranged protests, condemnation by prominent politicians from the Labour and Conservative parties, and calls for his arrest under torture laws. The furtiveness of the planned visit implies that the Foreign Office was fully cognisant of how unwholesome it was. Tuniyaz is not a peripheral figure in the mistreatment of Xinjiang’s minority peoples. Indeed, he has been a vocal defender of the mass internment camps there. The British government was aware of this: it has previously condemned the mistreatment of Xinjiang’s minorities and sanctioned other Xinjiang officials – including Tuniyaz’s deputy, Chen Mingguo – for their roles in the outrages that parliament has recognised as a genocide. read the complete article


16 Feb 2023

Indian government’s crackdown on press freedom after BBC documentary critical of PM Modi

Indian tax officials have conducted searches at the BBC offices in that country for the past two days. It comes weeks after India censored a BBC documentary that criticizes Prime Minister Modi. The actions against the British broadcaster put the spotlight on the dwindling democratic freedoms in one of the world’s largest democracies. Bobby Ghosh joined Amna Nawaz to discuss the developments. Amna Nawaz: Examining Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in anti-Muslim raids in his home state of Gujarat in 2002. More than 1,000 people were killed. The documentary cites a British Foreign Office report that called Modi — quote — "directly responsible for the climate of impunity enabling the violence." Modi's government invoked emergency powers to block film clips online and arrested students who held screenings. But students resisted and protested. As the tax raid unfolded yesterday, Modi's Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, denounced the BBC at a press conference. read the complete article

16 Feb 2023

Indian officials probe BBC for 3rd day, alleging tax dodge

India’s tax officials were searching the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai for a third straight day on Thursday seeking information about the organization’s business operations amid allegations of tax evasion, as opposition political parties and other media organizations criticized the move as an attempt to intimidate the media. Some news staff members were questioned overnight but the tax officials on Thursday restricted themselves to the company's business executives and their offices, said some staff members who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to media. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's critics questioned the timing of the searches, which came weeks after the BBC aired a documentary critical of Modi in the U.K. read the complete article

16 Feb 2023

What is the BBC Modi documentary and why is it so controversial?

A BBC documentary on the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi’s, actions during deadly sectarian riots in 2002 continues to cause controversy, with the British broadcaster’s offices raided by India’s tax officials on Tuesday. What is the documentary and why has it proved so contentious? For those who have closely followed Indian news, the allegations in the documentary surrounding Modi and the Gujarat riots are nothing new, having been well-reported in media at the time, as well as documented in numerous books since. However, for international audiences who are less familiar with Modi before he became prime minister, it was one of the first to revisit the whole trajectory of Modi’s rise to power, the controversies that have surrounded it and how they play into his current government agenda. The documentary obtained access to a previously unseen and confidential UK government report produced after the riots that found Modi responsible for the violence and described the riots as having the “hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”. The documentary also featured a damning interview with Jack Straw, UK foreign secretary at the time. read the complete article

16 Feb 2023

Global study blames BJP-backed trolls for threats on journalists

Nearly 75% of women journalists who were part of a global survey that included India said they had been targetted by online violence attacks, and 20% said they had experienced physical attacks as a consequence, said a UNESCO-funded report published by the New York-based International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ). The group, which worked on the studies in collaboration with the “Forbidden Stories” project that has also just released its investigation into the killing of Bangalore-based journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017, has profiled Indian columnist Rana Ayyub among a number of journalists, and has alleged that groups affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were responsible for the attacks and harassment. “Today, an army of trolls evidently aligned with the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP threaten Ayyub at scale; on a daily basis,” the ICF report said. “The abuse routinely feature threats of death and rape. They are disinformation-laced, and they display characteristics of orchestration. They are also deeply misogynistic and redolent of religious bigotry,” the case study released publicly on Tuesday said. read the complete article

United States

16 Feb 2023

The U.S. Is Missing a Chance to Engage the Muslim World

For the past six years, the United States has not had a dedicated special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the 57-country international organization whose membership spans the globe. In the absence of the United States, malign actors China and Russia have filled the void, lobbying the OIC and many of its member states to avoid criticizing their genocidal policies and acts of aggression. The upcoming U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva and OIC ministerial meeting in Nouakchott should spur immediate action to fill the position. The presidential special envoy to the OIC role was created during the George W. Bush administration to positively engage Muslim-majority countries and communities about U.S. foreign policy. The first envoy, Sada Cumber, laid the groundwork for the position and built relationships with key OIC countries. The Obama administration kept the post, naming Rashad Hussain to the position, and expanded its substantive scope, utilizing it to advance foreign-policy priorities with a broad array of potential partners. In his role as envoy, Hussain played an essential role in promoting religious freedom and related human rights, as well as pushing back against blasphemy resolutions at the United Nations. The envoy role was also instrumental in combating Islamophobia abroad. It co-organized with the OIC and the European Union the first-ever U.N. High-Level Forum on combating anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred. Unfortunately, and inexcusably, inattention or disinterest has delayed the process considerably. The administration acted swiftly to name and confirm well-qualified experts on religious freedom, antisemitism, refugees, and global criminal justice, to name a few. In contrast, this position has languished. read the complete article

16 Feb 2023

Muslim group says Southwest Airlines fired worker who wanted time off for prayer meeting

A Muslim advocacy group is accusing Dallas-based Southwest Airlines of denying a Maryland worker’s request for a schedule change so he could attend a Friday prayer meeting and then firing him when he took a day off. In a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the carrier fired Baltimore-Washington International Airport ramp agent Justin Mavins after the company’s “accommodations team” said he couldn’t switch shifts to attend Jum’ah services on Friday afternoon. During the company’s December meltdown, he then used a personal day to go to the prayer meeting and was fired shortly after. Mavins had recently been hired for the ramp agent job at Southwest, so he only was allowed a limited number of attendance issues before he was terminated, the complaint said. Southwest Airlines has had issues with CAIR before. In 2021, the group said Southwest discriminated against a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. In 2016, a Muslim passenger was removed from a flight after speaking Arabic on the plane. read the complete article

16 Feb 2023

Christian Nationalism's Foothold In American Politics

A survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution found that found more than half of Republicans believe the US should be a strictly Christian nation, adhering to the ideals of Christian nationalism or sympathizing with those views. While this remains a minority opinion nationwide, the study also found correlations between people who hold Christian nationalist views and Anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and patriarchal views. read the complete article

United Kingdom

16 Feb 2023

'People are afraid': Heaton Muslims urged to report hate crime after 'Islamophobic attack' outside mosque

A community is being urged to unite against hatred after an alleged hate attack outside their local mosque. Police were called to the Heaton Mosque and Islamic Centre, in Heaton, Newcastle, last week after families reported being abused by a man as they left the building. It was reported the man had also been banging on the doors of the mosque and chased someone down the street. A 34-year-old man has since appeared in court accused of racially aggravated criminal damage, threats to kill and racially aggravated common assault. Today one Muslim woman has told how the alleged attack, on Monday February 6, followed a number of other incidents of Islamophobia people living in Heaton claimed to have experienced over recent months. read the complete article

16 Feb 2023

Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser takes over investigation into alleged Islamophobia

Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser has taken over an investigation into alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party following claims by an MP that her faith was given as a reason why she was sacked as a minister. Sir Laurie Magnus, appointed by the prime minister in December, will look into claims by former transport minister Nusrat Ghani that party whips told her that her “Muslimess had been making colleagues feel uncomfortable”.| Mark Spencer, chief whip at the time, rejected the allegations and described them as “completely false” and “defamatory”. Last week The Independent revealed that the Labour Party had written to Tory chairman Greg Hands calling on him to bring forward the probe. Boris Johnson had in January 2022 ordered the Cabinet Office to launch an investigation to “establish the facts”. But it was left “outstanding” following the departure of the government’s previous independent ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, and two changes of prime minister. Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chairwoman, said it was a “disgrace” that the investigation had not concluded more than a year after it was launched. read the complete article

16 Feb 2023

Woman wearing hijab attacked on bus in west London

A woman wearing a hijab was attacked in a “religiously-aggravated assault” on a bus in west London, police have said. The victim was approached by a man on a bus leaving Westfield Shopping Centre in White City shortly after 10.30pm on November 27, 2022. The man, aged in his 40s, began to speak to her. Despite the women asking him to stop, he proceeded to make further unwanted comments before then assaulting the victim. The man then got off the 207 bus in Uxbridge Road near the town hall. The woman did not need hospital treatment. read the complete article


16 Feb 2023

Two recent stories show that hurt sentiments are the privilege of a few

Frances Widdowson, who was fired from Mount Royal University in 2021, was scheduled to speak at the University of Lethbridge. She has made headlines for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and suggesting that there were educational benefits to the residential school system. Widdowson was going to address students on "How 'Woke-ism' Threatens Academic Freedom," but hundreds of students and faculty members protested against her visit, resulting in the university cancelling the lecture on campus. The cancellation has led to deep worry regarding the erosion of free speech. The Canadian Association of University Teachers raised concerns about the university's commitment to freedom of expression while Alberta's Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides announced that post-secondary institutions will now have to report on their efforts to "protect free speech." The argument goes that no matter how controversial or offensive an idea may be, the cornerstone of a secular and democratic society is to ensure space for its expression. On the other side of Canada, in Quebec and within the federal government, tension is also palpable. Not everyone's wounded sentiments are privileged or deemed legitimate in the same way. Not everyone gets an apology. The principle of free speech isn't evoked equally either. Some are afforded it; others are expected to mince their words. For now, Indigenous people, Black Canadians and Muslims — as well as other equity-deserving communities — have to put aside their concerns and hurt for the greater cause of free speech and secularism. But in comparison, as Elghawaby's apology shows, the wounds of others have to be attended to at once. Hurt sentiments, after all, are the privilege of a few. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Feb 2023 Edition


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