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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17 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, the People’s Review of Prevent has been published and warns that the “extension of the Prevent programme into schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair has led to children being targeted in ways that amount to abuses of their human rights,” meanwhile in India, senior schools reopened in the Indian state of Karnataka on Wednesday a week after authorities closed them in the face of protests against a ban on female students wearing the hijab Muslim head covering in class, and in the United States, a new report from IRAP finds that “the Biden administration has failed to rectify the harm done to refugees by the previous administration’s anti-immigrant policies, especially when it comes to reuniting families and instituting fair and transparent refugee vetting.” Our recommended read of the day is by Anhaar Kareem for the Guardian on gendered Islamophobia and the discrimination faced by Muslim women who wear the hijab in France and India. Kareem states wearing a hijab “shouldn’t be a privilege, it is my right. It shouldn’t be something that Muslim women everywhere have to continue to fight for day after day.” This and more below:


17 Feb 2022

I don’t have to choose between my hijab and going to school, but my sisters aren’t so lucky | Recommended Read

This morning as I was intricately pinning my school hijab around my head, I was thinking of how privileged I am to be able to wear my hijab to school. But it shouldn’t be a privilege, it is my right. It shouldn’t be something that Muslim women everywhere have to continue to fight for day after day. I feel for my hijabi sisters all around the world. What would I do if I had to choose between getting an education and wearing my hijab? Recently, a young Muslim student wearing a hijab in the Indian state of Karnataka was taunted by a mob of male anti-Muslim protesters. Watching the footage, I felt disgusted and scared, seeing a young hijabi woman like myself being assaulted, while doing absolutely nothing wrong. Simply trying to get an education. Just last week, shockingly close to home, a hijabi high school student in New Zealand was filmed as other school students forcibly removed her hijab and proceeded to share the video of the taunting on social media. The hijab these women wear is demonised by many in their communities, countries, and unfortunately all around the world. This Islamophobia is devastating, but unfortunately, Muslim women being the subject of hatred and abuse is nothing new. As a young Muslim woman who wears hijab, I know that Islamophobia is common, whether it’s in Australia, India or around the world. However, the sheer dominance of Islamophobic views displayed in comments like these startles me. The legislative discrimination in many countries against the rights of Muslim women to wear the hijab is equally frightening. What Muslim women are experiencing is known as “gendered Islamophobia” and is the hatred we receive with our intersecting Muslim and female identities. While this worldwide vilification of hijabis occurs, we’ve been simultaneously fed lies regarding the acceptance of hijab and the “progression” we are making. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

Is It Anti-feminist to Wear Hijab?

A hijab is the most typical target of Islamophobia in the West. Despite all the rules of political correctness customary nowadays, Muslim women who wear a hijab in non-Arab countries encounter discrimination and prejudice. The Palestinian-Canadian singer Nemah Hasan, who is better known by the name Nemahsis, has released a new song called “Dollar Signs,” in which she describes the oppressive attitude of Western society to those women. With half a million followers on TikTok and thousands of views on YouTube, she hopes to use it to expose the world of young Muslim women living in Canada. And on the way she doesn’t spare criticism of the West. The video clip of the song in which she describes her personal experience, provokes discomfort. She is described in it as an object, as a young woman who knows she will never be considered an equal among equals. She describes what is expected of her: to be neutral, not to express an opinion, and mainly to remain silent. As in her previous clips, for her being different is a source of strength upon which she negotiates her social status. Women who wear a hijab are called motahajiba (veiled women). In a book published in 2018, “Burkini, Confessions of a Veiled Woman,” Lebanese journalist and author Maya el-Hajj described the world of a hijab-wearing woman in a secular Arab community, and the opposition and difficulties she encounters. There is a great deal of similarity between the singer from Canada and the writer from Beirut, but not just between them. In recent years, more and more women who wear a hijab are revealing their inner struggle to define their identity and the boundaries of freedom of choice within the framework forced upon them. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

For California’s Uyghur community, Winter Olympics are a slap in the face

Like Yilamujiang, Sidick is from Xinjiang, a northwest region of China that’s home to the Uyghur people, a Turkic ethnic minority that has been oppressed and displaced by the Han Chinese majority. Sidick couldn’t bring himself to watch the opening ceremony. Students he’s mentored in Xinjiang have disappeared, and he cut off contact with his siblings there to protect them as the Chinese government has repressed and incarcerated the Uyghur community in that region. But from his home in Santa Clarita, he read news about the torch lighter who state-run media said was of Uyghur heritage. And he was struck by one detail of the footage of her family cheering her on from Xinjiang: No men were present. “You know why?” asked Sidick, the founder and president of the Southern California-based nonprofit Uyghur Projects Foundation. “Because the males are in concentration camps.” For years, members of the U.S. Uyghur community — which numbers between 8,000 and 10,000, with about 1,000 living in Southern California — has advocated for the world to take action on the human rights abuses occurring in Xinjiang. To many, the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award this year’s Winter Olympics to China felt like a slap in the face. “This is absolutely shameful,” said Bugra Arkin, 30, who runs a Uyghur restaurant in Alhambra. “The spirit of the Olympics is to bring peace and unite people, but it’s taking place in a country committing genocide.” read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

Uyghur activists disappointed with IOC’s Olympics performance

As the 2020 Beijing Winter Olympics continue, Uyghur activists and advocates say they are disappointed with the choice of the host country, as well as with the International Olympic Committee and the games’ corporate sponsors. The games are taking place in China despite years of documented human rights violations against China’s Uyghur community. “China does not deserve this winter Olympics while genocide is happening in China,” Mustafa Aksu, a Washington-based Uyghur activist who grew up in the Xinjiang region of China, told The New Arab. Over the past several years, a growing number of rights organisations and countries, including the United States, have used the term genocide to describe the forced labour, sterilisation, displacement and internment of ethnic Uyghurs from Xinjiang. This is an acceleration of a decades-long policy of forced assimilation in the region. In response, the US, the UK, Australia and several other major countries have joined a diplomatic boycott of the games. Despite this increased awareness of China’s policies toward its mainly Muslim Turkic minorities, the IOC decided to move ahead with the Winter Olympics in Beijing, showing that hosting the Olympics does not necessarily lead to better human rights, as was hoped after the 2008 games in Beijing, Zumretay Arkin, programme and advocacy manager at the World Uyghur Congress, told The New Arab. “They could have said we’re not OK that you’re committing atrocities. Or we’ll take the games away,” Peter Irwin, senior program officer for advocacy and communications at the Uyghur Human Rights Project, told The New Arab. “When Thomas Bach says we won’t get involved in politics, do you need to see mass killing before you pull out? Where is the line? If crimes against humanity isn’t the line, where is it?” “We’re asking the IOC to not be an enabler,” he added. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

A Twitter analysis shows what’s common between Hindutva fanatics, Islamophobes and incels

The so-called “freedom convoy”, which began in January in Canada’s Ottawa, has garnered international attention and sparked a flood of social media conversations. To get a sense of how these conversations are framed, we analysed tweets circulating in the “freedom convoy’s” social media sphere. Posts associated with #IStandWithTruckers and #TruckersForFreedom2022 claim to be fighting against state control. Our analysis of Twitter is part of a larger preliminary examination of social media used by right-wing extremist movements in Canada, the United States and India. What we found is a story of fascinating parallels and the discovery that seemingly disparate right-wing movements use similar logic. Their arguments rely on several myths, which are not mutually exclusive. The nostalgic yearning for a golden age of freedom is a common theme across extremist movements. This is often a shared desire to return to a time when their nation was racially “pure”. There is a general feeling among far-right groups that there was less state intervention in that “golden age”, and that men could do what they wanted as long as they could defend themselves. By framing their struggle as one for freedom and self-determination, the convoy presents its members as “saviours” of a once-unsullied nation, now contaminated by immigrants, racialised peoples, Muslims and others. Other extremist movements use the same logic. Islamophobes desire a return to a Christian nation, racists crave a return to a white nation and Incels wish for a patriarchal society in which men had unimpeded sexual access to women. In India, right-wing Hindus yearn to restore a Vedic golden age, aspiring to restore the purity of their mythical Hindu-only rashtra (nation). read the complete article

United Kingdom

17 Feb 2022

Trojan Horse affair: We need the truth. Only the New York Times has tried to tell it

Will it take 70 years till we learn the truth about another fake letter - the letter which launched the so-called Trojan Horse scandal? The Trojan Horse episode was set in motion when an anonymous letter arrived at the office of Albert Bore, the leader of Birmingham City Council, in November 2013. The story led to several government investigations, the most important of which was carried out by Peter Clarke, former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism chief, for the Department for Education. Even though it is widely thought to be a hoax, Clarke did not attempt to confirm or refute its authenticity. If the British press has anything to do with it, the answer is yes. It’s taken foreign media in the shape of the New York Times to investigate what really happened. The eight-part NYT podcast is compulsive listening, and I’m not going to spoil the story by giving away its punchlines. But the podcast shows beyond reasonable doubt that the letter was a forgery, while exposing serious flaws in official reporting into the Trojan Horse affair. Yet, it’s largely been ignored, rubbished or patronised by the British media. The same British media which was convulsed by a moral panic over the summer of 2014 about what, thanks to the New York Times, we can now see as a fabricated event. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

Muslim boy, 4, overheard by teacher talking about Fortnite questioned by police

A four-year-old British Muslim schoolboy was questioned by police after teachers overheard him talking about Fortnite. This is part of the review into the Government's Prevent strategy which aims to "reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists". The People's Review of Prevent, which calls to abolish the strategy, found that "there is no problem of integration of British Muslim communities and no basis for regarding them and their families with suspicion" and slammed the policy as 'Islamophobic'. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

Prevent report: Trojan Horse hoax led to ‘abuses’ of children

The extension of the Prevent programme into schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair has led to children being targeted in ways that amount to abuses of their human rights, a new report into the UK government's controversial counter-terrorism strategy has warned. The People’s Review of Prevent, published on Tuesday, also cited new evidence suggesting that the Home Office is continuing to rely on profiling of Muslim communities in allocating Prevent resources, with almost three-quarters of Muslims in England and Wales living in “priority areas”. The report describes Prevent as “ineffective, disproportionate, and discriminatory” against Muslims. It suggests that the strategy is undermining values that it purports to promote such as tolerance and free expression and says that it has been “overwhelmingly directed at children and young people where it represents an abuse of their rights”. It cites examples including an eight-year-old boy who it says was asked to recite the Quran during an interview by two counter-terrorism police, conducted without his parents’ knowledge following a Prevent referral by his school. “Prevent must be withdrawn, for the sake of our children and young people and for the sake of our democracy. Its purpose is ‘ideological’ and its withdrawal would have no detrimental consequence for national security,” the report concludes. The People’s Review of Prevent was conducted by Layla Aitlhadj, the director of Prevent Watch, a campaign group that supports people affected by the strategy, and John Holmwood, an emeritus professor in sociology at the University of Nottingham, and is backed by human rights campaign groups and Muslim community organisations. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

Two-Thirds of Conservative Councillors and Chairs Accused of Islamophobia REMAINED IN PARTY

Almost two-thirds of Conservative Party councillors and association chairs investigated or suspended in recent years for making racist or Islamophobic statements or actions have been reinstated or remained in post, an investigation by the Byline Intelligence Team and The Citizens has found. As part of the investigation, 83 reports were analysed, 56 of which were made from 2019 onwards, of active party councillors or Conservative association chairs being formally investigated or publicly apologising for racially charged activity, overwhelmingly on social media. Of these, 51 (61%) were not forced out of the party, 21 were permanently suspended or expelled, and 11 resigned before investigations into their actions could be completed. Council members have remained in post after sharing, among other things, inflammatory content from far-right organisations like Britain First and the EDL, making references to British “no-go areas” practising Sharia law, calling for a worldwide ban on the hijab, and insinuating that Muslims are trying to “invade the UK”. This evidence contradicts the comments made by Boris Johnson during the 2019 General Election campaign that the Conservatives have a “zero tolerance” policy on Islamophobia. He told reporters at the time that “obviously whenever we have an incident of antisemitism or Islamophobia or whatever in the Conservative Party, we take a zero tolerance approach… We have a one bounce and we deal with it approach to this.” read the complete article


17 Feb 2022

Protests continue against hijab bans in India

As protests spread across India after rows over the wearing of hijabs in schools Muskaan Khan has inadvertently become the face of resistance for young Indian Muslim women amid an escalating row over hijabs, or headscarves. In a video that has gone viral, the 19-year-old student can be seen entering her college as a mob of men approach her wearing saffron shawls - a colour associated with Hinduism and Hindu nationalist groups. Protests started when a pre-university college in Karnataka's Udupi district implemented a ban on headscarves - the college said students could wear the hijab on campus but not in the classroom. The protests have since spread across the country. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

Senior schools reopen in India's Karnataka state amid hijab row

Senior schools reopened in the Indian state of Karnataka on Wednesday a week after authorities closed them in the face of protests against a ban on female students wearing the hijab Muslim head covering in class. A court is deliberating the recent ban on school girls wearing the hijab imposed by Karnataka authorities, the latest issue of contention involving India's Muslim minority, who make up about 13% of the Hindu-majority country's 1.35 billion people. Protests against the ban by some Muslim students and parents earlier in the month drew counter protests by Hindu students who draped saffron-coloured shawls around their necks. That colour and garment is worn by Hindus. The ban is on the wearing of the hijab in classrooms, not elsewhere on school premises. However, some schools have asked students and even some teachers to take off their hijab or the more enveloping burqa upon entering the school. read the complete article

17 Feb 2022

Hindu nationalism is a threat to Muslims and India’s status as the world’s largest democracy

“I was targeted because of my religion,” he said. “I live in fear that anyone can beat me up and there’s nothing I can do. It makes you feel helpless.” Fueled by Hindu nationalism, encouraged by authorities and carried out with impunity, oppression of Muslims has become so pervasive in India that experts said it is undermining the country’s standing as the world’s largest democracy and raising doubts about its future as a secular state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, have long fanned anti-Muslim sentiment as part of a winning strategy to galvanize support from Hindus, who make up 80% of India’s 1.4 billion people. But the violence and harassment have intensified in the run-up to assembly elections in five states this month and next. A decisive victory in the party’s stronghold of Uttar Pradesh could signal the continued political viability of Hindu nationalism and bolster Modi’s chances of winning a third term in 2024. “The BJP has sent a message that it’s OK to go after Muslims,” said Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India. “This is what makes them popular. This is why we’re seeing attacks and persecution on a wholesale level.” As nationalists have amplified their calls for India to rewrite its constitution and forge a Hindu nation-state, mob rule has taken hold. read the complete article


17 Feb 2022

French bill banning hijabs in sports events moves to National Assembly

A draft bill that would ban the wearing of the hijab in sporting competitions will pass on to France's National Assembly after the Senate on Wednesday declined to vote on the legislation. The broader bill is devoted to "democratising sport", including how the big sporting federations are governed. But it includes a clause, previously attached as an amendment by the conservative-dominated upper house, stipulating that the wearing “of conspicuous religious symbols is prohibited” in events and competitions organised by sports federations. The move is, however, opposed by President Emmanuel Macron's centrist government and its allies who command a majority in the National Assembly, which has the final vote. The place of religion and religious symbols worn in public is a long-running matter of controversy in France, a staunchly secular country and home to Europe's largest Muslim minority. Identity and Islam's place in French society are hot-button issues ahead of April's presidential election, with two far-right candidates whose nationalist programmes question Islam's compatibility with the Republic's values polling nearly 35% of voter support between them. read the complete article

United States

17 Feb 2022

How the Muslim Ban Lives on for Some Refugees

A year into the Biden administration, it’s time to assess what they have accomplished following their promises to welcome refugees. According to a recent RCUSA report card, the administration’s efforts have been mixed. The Biden administration has failed to rectify the harm done to refugees by the previous administration’s anti-immigrant policies, especially when it comes to reuniting families and instituting fair and transparent refugee vetting. While President Biden took swift action to rescind the Muslim ban the day of his inauguration, the ban continues to keep primarily Muslim and Black refugees out of this country—in impact if not in name. Today, IRAP is releasing data obtained through one of our lawsuits, which shows that refugees affected by the Muslim ban continue to suffer under the Biden administration. Take the example of Anisa, whose family’s story is featured in the Washington Post article. Anisa is a Somali woman who resettled in the U.S. with her sister ten years ago. Since then, they have been waiting for their mother and brother to join them here, working multiple caregiving jobs in the meantime to support the family. They were on the cusp of that joyful day on October 24, 2017, when their mother and brother, with an approved refugee application in hand, boarded a flight that was supposed to bring them here. Unbeknownst to them, however, while they were in flight, the Trump Administration issued yet another ban. On a planned layover in Turkey, they were stopped from boarding their connecting flight because they were Somali—and refugees from Somalia had just been banned from entering the United States. After being sent back to Uganda, their case was put on hold without any explanation. Now, over four years later, they’ve been told that their case is denied “as a matter of discretion.” The settlement data makes it clear that Anisa’s mom and brother are not outliers. In fact, the majority of refugees who were on the cusp of coming to the U.S. in October 2017 still have not arrived. read the complete article


17 Feb 2022

Historic Uyghur culture is under existential threat

This tenacity of cultural difference pervades Uyghur society, despite the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to compel the Uyghurs to adopt the habits, aesthetics and modes of production of the Chinese Han majority. Across the Uyghur region historic old cities are torn down, but Uyghurs build similarly designed homes on the urban outskirts. In the late 1960s, the Uyghurs’ network of sacred pilgrimage sites was closed for two decades, but when restrictions eased in the 1980s, the shrines sprang back to life. Today, Uyghur musicians use jobs in the state’s propagandist theatrical extravaganzas to support their own artistic endeavours. The Chinese state has taken an interest in the meshrep, which is now central to its cultural industry in the Uyghur region. In 2010 the Chinese government won recognition for it on Unesco’s “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding”. The Chinese state supports lavish staged performances in the regional capital Ürümqi and tourist destinations such as Kashgar, and it trains musicians in official, scripted versions of the meshrep at the Xinjiang Arts Institute. These performances pry the meshrep out of its community context in favour of large theatres. The audience is composed of strangers, who spectate rather than participate. Community aid, social interaction and any lyrics deemed “religious” are all gone. “The time of meshrep” under the moon has become the time of variety shows under the klieg lights. Today, restrictions on gatherings of more than a few Uyghurs in private settings have made the meshrep almost impossible. The loss for Uyghurs accustomed to the interweaving of art, life and cultural transmission in the domestic heart of their local communities is expressed in a folk poem, recorded by the Uyghur ethnographer Rahile Dawut: I’ll take my day of meshrep over your royal throne. I’ll take my songs and melodies over your comforts and ease. As the Chinese state prosecutes an unprecedented war on the Uyghurs, officials often describe their assimilation policies as the gift of modernity. Villages are destroyed and replaced with clusters of identical concrete buildings. Farmers are forced into factories. Those who dissent find themselves in concentration camps, billed as vocational training centres preparing Uyghurs for a more “civilised”, Chinese life. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Feb 2022 Edition


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