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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21 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the Netherlands, a former Dutch far-right MP and right-hand man to Islamophobic politician Geert Wilders recounts his somewhat unlikely journey to converting to the Islam, meanwhile in Canada, former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi recently spoke to the Senate Committee on Human Rights and urged politicians to support Amira Elghawaby, the newly appointed envoy to combat Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby, and in the India, newly discovered charred remains of two Muslim men in the village of Barwas have lead to regional and nationwide questions after reports emerge that police in the province were disregarding evidence and not following up with investigations into the killings. Our recommended read of the day is by Imran Mulla and Peter Oborne for the Middle East Eye on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s failure to defend the BBC following the Indian government’s raids on the media organization’s offices in India last week. This and more below:


21 Feb 2023

Sunak's refusal to defend the BBC against Modi is a threat to free speech | Recommended Read

Over the past few weeks, a new bully has appeared on Sunak’s horizon - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And Sunak isn’t standing up to him either. Modi’s government in India is renowned for brutal attacks on the country’s media. So much so that in 2022 an international media watchdog ranked India 150th out of 180 countries in its index of press freedom. Now the Modi government has turned its fire on the BBC, Britain’s national broadcaster and one of the most respected news organisations in the world. Shockingly, neither Sunak nor his government has lifted a finger to defend it from the Indian prime minister's assault. Modi is furious with the BBC because in late January it released a two-part documentary on his relationship with India’s 200 million Muslims. The BBC documentary revealed that a British government report found Modi “directly responsible”. Although it was aired only in Britain, and featured interviews with members of India’s ruling BJP party who defended Modi, the Indian government’s response was ferocious. It banned the documentary and called it “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage”. It ordered YouTube and Twitter in India to block it on their platforms - and they seem to have complied. Throughout all this, neither Sunak nor his ministers said anything. In parliament, a Labour politician asked Sunak about the documentary. The prime minister made no attempt to defend the BBC. Instead, he replied that he did not “agree at all” with the BBC’s characterisation of Modi. read the complete article

20 Feb 2023

Identities: Western media must stop weaponizing the hijab to further their agendas

As a child, I would frequently try on the hijab in an effort to mirror my mom. Growing up embracing the sacredness of the hijab, to seeing it transform into a political tool feels like hitting a dead end. Maybe it was always like this. But for a younger me, it was a hard reality to confront. Time and time again, the hijab has been one of the foundational elements of colonial feminism. This framework refers to the colonizer civilizing a so-called “Muslim world” by saving Muslim women from their veils. To the outside world, this visible symbol of Islam is a looming danger; an unacceptable force. It’s a rebellion against Western values. When the French held Algeria under its colonial rule in the 1950s, they conducted mass unveiling ceremonies to demonstrate Muslim women’s liberation from the veil. “We must first of all conquer the women; we must go and find them behind the veil where they hide themselves …” stated Frantz Fanon, describing the French colonial doctrine. To the French, introducing Western values to Algerian women through clothing was essential to outline this liberation. The idea of the “poor Muslim woman” was officially born. Through this trope, colonizers could justify their violent imperialist project and destabilize the fundamental structures of Islamic societies. The hijab became a global weapon, its destruction unthinkable, so unthinkable that wars would be justified under its name. read the complete article

20 Feb 2023

Aziz Abdullah: Uyghur asylum-seeker death heaps pressure on Thailand

Aziz Abdullah died after he collapsed in the Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok where he was being held. He was part of a wave of more than 350 Uyghur asylum-seekers who fled from Xinjiang in western China in 2013, and were detained in Thailand. China has been accused of committing crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, where human rights groups believe more than a million people have been held in a vast network of detention camps in recent years. Beijing, which calls them "re-education camps", denies all allegations of abuse. Aziz Abdullah had been a farmer in a remote part of south-western Xinjiang, and arrived in Thailand with his pregnant wife, his brother and seven children sometime in late 2013. Activists who have been in touch with inmates at the Immigration Detention Centre say he had been seriously ill for more than three weeks, but that the Thai authorities had refused to send him to hospital until he collapsed. Activists say his group was trying to reach Malaysia, and eventually Turkey, when they were intercepted in southern Thailand. read the complete article

20 Feb 2023


The use of AI in mobile apps is becoming prominent as we see the demand for AI to revolutionize photography through Lensa, a mobile app that generates a person’s avatars based on a photo they upload. While this has been a fun activity for many people on social media, it has caused an uproar in the Muslim community. Many Muslim women who used Lensa reported that the avatars the app generated of them were hypersexualized. Although they uploaded a photo wearing a hijab, many of the avatars generated were hijab-less and immodest. This does not come as a surprise. The Guardian, in partnership with the Pulitzer Center’s AI Accountability Network, issued an exclusive story that confirmed, “AI tools rate photos of women as more sexually suggestive than those of men, especially if nipples, pregnant bellies or exercise is involved.” read the complete article


21 Feb 2023

Crackdown on child marriage tears families apart in India’s Assam

On February 3, the police in Assam – ruled by the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – went on an arrest spree as part of a mass crackdown against child marriage. Within 24 hours, more than 2,000 people, including grooms, their family members and religious leaders allegedly involved in underage marriages of girls were imprisoned in makeshift jails. More than two weeks later, the number of arrested people stands at more than 3,000, including 93 women. Shahjimina Khatoon, who claims she was 18 when she married 18 months ago, said the police arrested her father-in-law. With a toddler in hand, Khatoon is clueless as to when he will return home. Her husband works as a daily wage earner in Karnataka. Khatoon alleges her father-in-law was arrested because they are Muslim. “I think the arrests related to child marriage are to harass Muslim people.” Along with the unprecedented large-scale arrests of people to prevent child marriage, critics of the latest step by Assam chief minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma say it is “anti-poor and anti-minority as most of the arrested people belong to the Muslim community”. As per the government data, Assam has the highest percentage of Muslims after Indian-administered Kashmir, with Muslims comprising 34 percent of the northeastern state’s 31 million people. At least nine of the state’s 31 districts’ populations are more than 50 percent Muslim. read the complete article

20 Feb 2023

Bhiwani: India anger over charred bodies linked to cow vigilantes

The discovery of two charred bodies in a burnt vehicle in India's Haryana state has led to anger and questions over police handling of the case. Police say the bodies belonged to two Muslim men from neighbouring Rajasthan state who had been reported missing. Their relatives say they were killed by right-wing Hindus who reports say accused them of cow-smuggling. Leaders of the Bajrang Dal group have denied the claims as have police, who say they're investigating the killings. Slaughtering cows - venerated by Hindus - is illegal in a number of Indian states, including Rajasthan and Haryana. While buffaloes are exempt from the rule, buffalo meat sellers and cattle traders - many of them Muslim - have often been assaulted in recent years by Hindu vigilante groups who have accused them of transporting beef. After the two bodies were found in the Bolero, several media reports said the men may have been attacked by cow vigilantes on suspicion of transporting beef. read the complete article

United Kingdom

20 Feb 2023

Government must help unlock the potential of British Muslim civil society

In recent years, there has been an unprecedented need for civil society to step up, and strong local communities have been our first line of defence. Yet civil society sometimes feels fragmented between one-size-fits-all models and more creative and bottom-up ways of addressing problems. So, I was proud to welcome Mercy Mission’s inaugural report, The British Muslim Civil Society (BMCS) Report 2023, with colleagues on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. Its intensive research, covering the breadth of a vibrant and growing Muslim community, makes a huge contribution to debating the future of civil society. The BMCS report makes a powerful case for public services and civil society alike to engage the huge potential of British Muslim civil society. There are now 3.9 million Muslims in England and Wales. This population is young, bears a disproportionate degree of the national economic burden, and will continue to do so in the coming decades as Britain’s population ages. Forty per cent of Muslims live in the most deprived 20 per cent of council areas. A social burden attends the economic one - Islamophobia has reached record heights in recent years. But surveys in the report highlight a recurring theme beyond inequality and social exclusion – the extent to which British Muslims are driven to contribute out of a sense of civic duty arising from their faith. Our faith calls on us to serve our neighbours of all faiths and none. read the complete article


20 Feb 2023

Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi urges politicians to support Amira Elghawaby

Canada's first special representative on combatting Islamophobia officially takes office on Monday, but it has been a very bumpy road for Amira Elghawaby, who has been under criticism in Quebec for weeks for what she says is Islamophobia in the province. Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi recently spoke to the Senate Committee on Human Rights and urged politicians to support Elghawaby. He spoke with Global News' Farah Nasser on Sunday about why that backing is important. read the complete article


20 Feb 2023

Dutch former anti-Muslim politician recounts his journey to Islam

A former Dutch far-right MP and right-hand man to Islamophobic politician Geert Wilders recounted his somewhat unlikely journey to converting to the Islamic faith. Speaking to Anadolu, Joram Van Klaveren said that he was born in 1979 in Amsterdam to a devout Calvinist family and has been interested in different belief systems since his youth. Noting that he started university while seeking answers to his questions about Christianity, Klaveren said it was then that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks happened. “So that confirmed my ideas and later on (2004) Theo Van Gogh, the famous filmmaker here, he was killed by a guy who called himself a jihadi. So I thought, okay, all these people are crazy, I have to do something and that's why I joined the (Wilders’ Islamophobic) Freedom Party.” Underlining that previously he only read Western writers on Islam, Klaveren said that on the contrary Murad advised him to only read Islamic sources, and there was a large contrast. “Then in the end I got like almost 2 Islams. Of course there’s just one Islam, but I got the Islam from the Orientalists, the Westerners, the people who were not Muslim, and (then later) the ‘real deal’ Islam as it (really) is.” On rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe in recent years, Klaveren said one of the things that fuels Islamophobia is mass culture, mentioning how Arabs and Muslims are constantly shown as terrorists, especially in Hollywood movies. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Feb 2023 Edition


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