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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23 Feb 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, London police are launching an appeal to find the man who assaulted a woman wearing a headscarf in a hate crime in London in January, meanwhile in India, UN rights experts have called for an end to “misogynistic and sectarian” online attacks against Rana Ayyub, a Muslim Indian woman journalist, asking the authorities to investigate the harassment, and in China, now that the Beijing Olympics have ended rights activists are calling on the U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet to release her long-delayed report on alleged violations in China’s Xinjiang region against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Our recommended read of the day is by Mayyu Ali for the Guardian on how Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and beyond are using poetry to come to terms with atrocities – and as a form of resistance. This and more below:


23 Feb 2022

‘Is the world listening?’: the poets challenging Myanmar’s military | Recommended Read

As Rohingya refugees, we are all too familiar with the military’s capacity for violence and destruction. Over the past year, Rohingya people have watched with terror and anguish as the same military forces that perpetrated genocide against us now unleash their atrocities across the country. The soldiers who once burned us alive and razed our villages are now burning people and villages across the country; the bullets that killed our parents and siblings are now taking the lives of people from all ethnicities and backgrounds. As we listen to new reports of airstrikes, mass killings and incarceration, and see images of people burned alive, tortured or subjected to other unimaginable abuses, we ask again if the world is listening or taking action to stop the military. We also wait for the world to hold the military accountable for the decades of violations of international law it has committed against the Rohingya, Kachin and other ethnic minorities, along with further violations it has committed indiscriminately against the people of Myanmar since the coup. As people across the country make incredible sacrifices to end military dictatorship, we Rohingya people stand in solidarity. We share a desire for freedom, safety and equal rights. Today, more Rohingya live outside Myanmar than in their own country. Those who remain are denied basic rights to healthcare, education and freedom of movement, and are at risk of further acts of genocide by the military. Since the coup, the sense of fear and uncertainty has grown. read the complete article

23 Feb 2022

It’s a mistake to allow Myanmar’s junta to appear in Rohingya case

While the military coup in Myanmar has dominated mention of the country in international news over the last 12 months, the slow wheels of international justice for the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority have continued to turn in the background. In 2017 the Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State were brutally attacked by Myanmar’s military, leaving thousands dead and causing an exodus of an estimated 740,000 refugees to cross the border to Bangladesh in a matter of months. As a result, in 2019 the Republic of The Gambia instituted proceedings against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. It argued that Myanmar was in breach of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide for acts that “intended to destroy the Rohingya group in whole or in part”. In December 2019 the world was afforded the astonishing spectacle of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi vigorously defending Myanmar and its vicious military at the ICJ against these charges. This week, the states returned to the ICJ but some of the actors have changed. Aung San Suu Kyi, along with her president, were arrested at the launch of the coup on 1 February 2021. She has therefore been replaced at the court by the military junta’s Minister of International Cooperation, Ko Ko Hlaing, and its Attorney General, Thida Oo. Both are subject to US sanctions due to the coup and the violent suppression of resultant peaceful protests. The military junta argues that it is the rightful government and that it assumed power through legitimate acts via the 2008 constitution. This argument was clearly fanciful and no serious analysis concurs with this view. Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG)-in exile, comprised largely of elected members of parliament and ethnic minority representatives, has similarly been battling to represent Myanmar. It has achieved some success in the United Nations, largely due to the status quo being retained. However, at the ICJ the junta has prevailed. read the complete article

United States

23 Feb 2022

US politician who previously denounced Islam now wants Muslim holidays to be recognised

Last year, shortly after Republican Ed Durr was elected to New Jersey's state senate, one of his old tweets resurfaced in which he denounced Islam. Last week, the same man introduced a resolution to officially recognise two Muslim holidays. This change of heart occurred, according to a recent report by Politico, after Selaedin Maksut, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-New Jersey held a meeting with the politician in November. Maksut reportedly didn't expect anything specific to emerge from the meeting, particularly from someone who had described Islam as a "false religion" and a "cult of hate". In the end, it made Durr a champion for an important cause of America's Muslim community – recognising Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha holidays. read the complete article

23 Feb 2022

My hijab is an expression of identity, liberation and strength

My Hijab! What is it about my hijab that scares you so much? Why is it that when I wear a scarf around my neck, I am a modern, independent woman but when I wear that same scarf around my head, I am oppressed, subjugated, and backward? Why is it that one feels unsafe sitting next to a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf but not a thought crosses the mind sitting next to the one whose head is covered with a hat? Why is it that when you see a Muslim woman, an image of a terrorist comes to mind but not even for a second you would consider a mass shooter when a white man walks in? Why is a Muslim woman in France fined for wearing a face-covering (niqab) but also fined for not wearing a face-covering (mask) during a pandemic? Why is it that you would walk up to me to ask if I feel hot wearing my head covering in the summer heat but you would never ask a non-muslim woman why she’s wearing pants instead of shorts in the same heat? Why is it that one feels the need to liberate hijabi women from assumed tyranny of their religious and cultural beliefs? Though the practice of covering one’s hair has been part of most faiths, Muslim women face the most scrutiny for wearing a head covering due to modern-day politicization of Islam, the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment, and prejudice which is rooted in the fear that Muslim values are incompatible with progressive western values. The biased, hyped-up, and fear instilling media coverage of scattered incidents involving Muslim perpetrators has led to a stigmatized portrayal of all Muslims as a boogyman without any regard to the effects of such Islamophobic rhetoric on the daily lives of an average Muslim. The manipulation of the fear of Muslims has always been an effective tool and strategy for the political power grab and therefore it’s no surprise the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric correlates with election time in many countries. read the complete article

23 Feb 2022

Letter: critical race theory is Republicans’ new Sharia law ‘bogeyman’

To the Editor, A decade ago Republican state legislators were up in arms, so terrified about the “threat” posed by Sharia law (Islamic religious law), that they felt compelled to pass laws that specifically banned the implementation of this foreign law system in their states. Of course, Sharia law could never have been imposed on any jurisdiction in the country, including those ruby red states. The legislators’ faux alarm was a cynical maneuver to play to the anti-Muslim hostility common among their constituents. Red meat to the base. The current Republican bogeyman is critical race theory or CRT. These lawmakers are all atwitter; they don’t want public school students exposed to this theory, claiming that it might make young learners “uncomfortable.” Since CRT is only discussed at the college level as an elective course, there is zero chance that students enrolled in middle or high school would be exposed to CRT. Yet, this fact does not deter the Republican lawmakers who believe that tilting at the CRT windmill will pay dividends come election time. Red meat to the base. read the complete article


23 Feb 2022

UN rapporteurs slam 'misogynist' attacks on Indian Muslim journalist

UN rights experts have called for an end to "misogynistic and sectarian" online attacks against a Muslim Indian woman journalist, asking the authorities to investigate the harassment. Rana Ayyub, a fierce critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hindu nationalist ideology of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been the target of a relentless campaign of online abuse - including death and rape threats. She is the "victim of intensifying attacks and threats online by far-right Hindu nationalist groups", the independent rapporteurs, who do not speak for the United Nations but are mandated to report to it, said in a statement on Monday. They said these attacks were in response to Ayyub's reporting on issues affecting India's minority Muslims, her criticism of the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and her commentary on the recent hijab ban at schools and colleges in the southern state of Karnataka. read the complete article

23 Feb 2022

Muslim women in India protest state’s ban on hijab in schools

Muslim women in southern India are seeking to overturn a state policy that allows schools to ban the hijab in a case that has polarized the country and added to concerns about discrimination against its Muslim minority. A court hearing on the issue in the southern state of Karnataka is continuing this week. Students challenging the ban on the hijab, or headscarf, say it infringes on their right to education and religious freedom in Hindu-majority India, where secularism is enshrined in the constitution. Hindu nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiment have been rising in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, critics say. In recent months, prominent Muslim women in India have appeared on unsanctioned apps listing them for “auction,” while Hindu nationalist leaders have openly called for Muslims to be killed. Modi says his policies benefit all Indians. But his party faces several key state elections this year, and political observers say the hijab debate could fire up his base. read the complete article

23 Feb 2022

How a Simple Conversation Brought About Hindu-Muslim Unity in a UP School

After much thought and discussion, we decided to conduct a workshop with all the teachers of the school. An invitation titled Bring out the Best in Your Class was sent to the teachers. A “fun, meaningful and thought-provoking” Saturday morning was promised. As the conversations progressed, the energy in the room began to change. Everyone loves talking about themselves and everyone enjoys a good story. As the teachers asked each other questions and listened to the answers, sounds of laughter and “Really? You too? Same here!” began to be heard around the room. Fifteen minutes passed, then 30 and then 45. Finally, an hour had passed. Some pairs had finished their conversations and were chatting happily about other things, while others continued to engage in deep conversation. We finally called for an end to the activity. “How many of you would say you made a new friend?” we asked. Every single hand in the room went up. “How many of you realised you have more in common with each other than you realised?” Again, every hand went up and the teachers proceeded to give examples. “And finally,” we asked, “how many of you will now give each other the benefit of the doubt if something goes wrong between the two of you?” As the teachers raised their hands yet again, one of them, an older teacher, stood up and said, “Our joys and sorrows, hopes and fears are so similar. Simply seeing each other’s human-ness and how similar we all are has shown us that we need to care more for each other. For many of us, our role models were our teachers. We need to be the same for our students.” After the workshop finished, this teacher came up to me, smiled and said, “We realised you deliberately put us in Hindu-Muslim pairs, and we are glad you did. Because it showed us that in the end, it really doesn’t matter.” read the complete article


23 Feb 2022

The Olympic horror show

First, the Games took place in the planet’s most grotesquely surreal country, where mechanical perfection is served up on the souls of imprisoned dissidents in Tibet and Hong Kong and slaughtered ethnic Uyghurs in northwest China. To mitigate findings by the U.S. State Department that China has committed genocide against the Uyghurs, the Chinese added a Uyghur torch bearer to the Opening Ceremonies. Those clever authoritarians. Of course, it’s entirely possible the torch bearer was recently released from a reeducation camp where she disavowed her religious beliefs. Or maybe she was featured as reward for reporting her illegally pregnant mother, whose forbidden would-be offspring likely would be terminated by Chinese officials. Or maybe the torch bearer hoped to secure the return of younger siblings kidnapped by the government and sent to “boarding schools” to be reformed into proper communists. These are the sorts of things Uyghurs have experienced as China has sought to eliminate their culture, language and religious beliefs. read the complete article

23 Feb 2022

Activists urge UN rights chief to release delayed report on Xinjiang

Now that the Beijing Winter Olympics is over, U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet must release her long-delayed report on alleged violations in China's Xinjiang region against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, urged Bachelet to issue her office's findings before her March 7 speech to the main annual session of the U.N. Human Rights Council which opens next week. Roth, noting that Bachelet's spokesperson had said in early December that the report would be released within weeks, told a news briefing in Geneva: "We still don't have it, we are at a loss as to what is going on...There is just no longer any excuse for this ongoing, long delay." There was no immediate comment from Bachelet's office. Diplomats have also voiced dismay at the unexplained delay and fears that the evidence Bachelet's office may have collected over the past three years may lose their relevance. Rights groups accuse China of widescale abuses against Uyghurs and other minority groups, including the torture, forced labour and detention of one million people in internment camps. China says the camps are re-education and training facilities and denies any abuse, saying it is fighting religious extremism. read the complete article

United Kingdom

23 Feb 2022

UK police launch appeal after man tried to rip headscarf off London woman in hate crime

A woman wearing a headscarf was assaulted in a "hate crime" in London in January, according to a statement released by the British Transport Police on Friday. A man approached the woman on-board a DLR service as it approached Poplar station in East London and made racial slurs about her headscarf and attempted to pull it off, the statement reads. The man then reportedly ripped the victim's rucksack off her back, causing its strap to tear, the press release added. London Transport Police say officers are investigating the issue, and have called for witnesses to assist their investigation by identifying a white man wearing a red jacket and a blue hood, who was captured by a CCTV camera. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Feb 2022 Edition


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