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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24 Feb 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri targeted fact checker Mohammed Zubair with Islamophobic slurs on Twitter, meanwhile in China, official government files and photos, which included information of 830,000 individuals, leaked last May have now been organized by a team of researchers to allow for Uyghur people in the diaspora to enter their family members’ names to look for relevant information about them, and lastly, British Muslim influencer Salma Masrour recounts her experience of Islamophobia when she was denied a table at a restaurant in Paris. Our recommended read of the day is by Amardeep Singh Dhillon for Novara Media on how the new far-right is “multi-ethnic and internationalist,” pointing to the growing and disturbing alliance between Hindu nationalists and white supremacists across the globe. This and more below:


23 Feb 2023

White and Hindu Supremacists Are a Match Made in Heaven | Recommended Read

“The media slandered you as extremists, they attacked you, they sided with the radical Islamists […] that’s not going to change: none of them fear the Hindu community. The time for being scared is gone.” This statement could have come from any politician in Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacist government: a call to arms designed to strike fear into the hearts of Muslims (euphemised as “radical Islamists”). But this statement didn’t come from an Indian government minister. These were the words of Steven Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, in a direct-to-camera address to British Hindus. Robinson’s one-and-a-half-hour interview with Op-India was conducted by the Indian media outlet’s editor-in-chief Nupur J Sharma, an ex-spokesperson for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sharma had reached out to Robinson following the violence in Leicester last September but was forced to postpone the broadcast following a public outcry at the attempted platforming of a founding member of the EDL. The interview was finally broadcast at the end of 2022 and has since been viewed almost 10,000 times. Robinson claims that before being banned from Twitter, 15% of his following was from India; he has described the election of Modi as “the start of a populist revolution”. “Pakistani Muslims are aggressors,” Robinson tells Sharma in his interview. “They are into selling heroin, they control drugs, they control violence.” Hindus, by contrast, are a “peaceful, peace-loving migrant community.” He goes on to link the modern-day “oppression” of Hindus to the historical abuses of 17th-century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. He’s clearly done his homework. read the complete article

23 Feb 2023

'I was raging': British Muslim influencer Salma Masrour on fashion and anti-hijab prejudice

At a Yemeni cafe close to Warren Street station in central London, I meet the modest fashion influencer Salma Masrour. Months after a high-profile incident of alleged hijab discrimination at a Paris restaurant, it's back to business as usual for the social media star. After graduating with a degree in pharmacy, Masrour fell into the world of lifestyle influencing, catering to one of fashion’s most lucrative demographics: Muslim women and those looking for so-called "modest style". The sector has grown rapidly in recent decades with fashion outlets from H&M to Burberry releasing modest lines and even advertising their collections using hijab-wearing models. The rights of hijab-wearing women are a topic close to her heart and last November she was at the centre of a social media storm after a restaurant in Paris allegedly refused to seat her on account of her headscarf. In a series of videos that have been viewed more than a million times, Masrour says the popular Gigi restaurant in the French capital told her there was no available seating while her white friend - who does not wear a hijab - was immediately offered a table. “I checked online and it said there was availability, but the way she looked at me just didn’t feel right,” she explained in a video posted after the alleged incident. “Ten minutes later, my friend, who is white and blonde, went in to ask for a table, and was immediately told there was space.” The incident caused outrage online and the restaurant was forced to limit comments on its social media posts due to the backlash. For Masrour, the incident was an insight into the discrimination women who choose to wear the hijab in France face. She has since begun legal action against the restaurant. read the complete article


23 Feb 2023

Canada's new anti-Islamophobia chief under fire over Quebec comments

Shocking attacks on members of Canada's Muslim community have led Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appoint the country's first ever special representative on combating Islamophobia — and the new official is already facing challenges. Even before Amira Elghawaby took office, comments she had made years ago about Quebec resulted in calls for her to step down. In a 2019 opinion piece, Ms Elghawaby, a journalist and human rights activist, accused residents of Canada’s second-largest province of being Islamophobic, sparking outcry from Quebecers as well as leading politicians. Ms Elghawaby — whose new role will see her serve as “champion, adviser, expert and representative” of the Muslim community to the federal government as it addresses issues of Islamophobia and systemic racism — met Mr Blanchet and apologized for her comments. Muslims across Canada have protested against Bill 21, which the conservative provincial government pitched as legislation promoting secularism. Many, however, viewed it as a targeted attack on the Muslim community that further exposed the deep religious and cultural divisions in the country. “It's very clear that anti-Muslim sentiment is behind support for Bill 21,” said Miriam Taylor, an independent researcher and special adviser for community outreach at the Association for Canadian Studies who conducted a survey on attitudes and perceptions of the bill. Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, crimes against Muslims jumped by 71 per cent in 2021 and the country has recorded several attacks on Muslims. read the complete article

23 Feb 2023

Quebec is trying to legislate white supremacy under the guise of ‘secularism’

Amira Elghawaby was handed a poisoned chalice. Now officially Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Elghawaby has faced an onslaught of attacks since the prime minister announced her appointment. For weeks before she was even on the public service payroll, Elghawaby was smeared, gaslit, and handed down some wildly unrealistic expectations. Worst of all, it would seem she was abandoned by the very people who appointed her. Racialized communities — visibly Muslim women in particular — are facing some very real existential threats in this country. Mosques have been shot up. Entire multi-generational families are hunted down in ‘premeditated’ attacks. A woman was recently punched, fell down a flight of escalator stairs, and wound up in a Toronto hospital. To wear a hijab, turban, or niqab in this country is too often to place a target on your back. Anyone could have predicted the firestorm that would engulf Amira Elghawaby, with Bills 21 and 96 now law in Quebec. And given the low value we place on Muslim lives in this country, especially women, you might say she was set up to fail. The poisonous hate she’s facing now, though, really is enough to make anyone “puke.” There’ve been many calls for Elghawaby to resign, and even for this new role she’s been thrust into to be abolished entirely. Members of both the federal and Quebec legislatures have thrown endless racist and paternalistic shade; and I’ll spare you the details, but the franco pundit class have had especially vile things to say. They’ve questioned everything from Elghawaby’s credibility, to her intelligence, to her personal politics. read the complete article

United States

23 Feb 2023

U.S. Sends Home Brothers Held for Nearly 20 Years at Guantánamo Bay

The U.S. military released two brothers on Thursday who had been held as detainees in the war against terrorism for helping to operate safe houses where suspected operatives of Al Qaeda holed up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Pentagon said that Mohammed Ahmed Ghulam Rabbani, 53, and Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani, 55, who were never charged with any crimes during 20 years in U.S. custody, were flown to Pakistan in an arrangement with authorities there. The brothers were captured by Pakistan’s security services in Karachi in September 2002. They arrived at Guantánamo Bay in 2004 after being kept at a C.I.A.-run detention site in Afghanistan for about 550 days.They were approved for transfer in 2021. It is unclear why they had remained in prison.The Pentagon said that Mohammed Ahmed Ghulam Rabbani, 53, and Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani, 55, who were never charged with any crimes during 20 years in U.S. custody, were flown to Pakistan in an arrangement with authorities there. The younger Mr. Rabbani, who goes by Ahmed, had distinguished himself at Guantánamo as both a prolific artist and a determined hunger striker who survived on nutritional supplements, sometimes forcibly fed to him through a tube. Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer who has represented both men, said Ahmed Rabbani was “very damaged” from a seven-year hunger strike that began in early 2013 and “has a hard time holding food down. But he is getting better on that front.” “The irony is that today, and all through his hunger strike, when they were in communal living, he would cook for the other men,” Mr. Stafford Smith said, adding that the younger Mr. Rabbani wants to run a restaurant after he is reunited with his family. read the complete article


23 Feb 2023

How a search tool offers overseas Uyghurs harrowing insights

Last May, a cache of leaked files and photos from hacked official databases in China's northwestern Xinjiang region shed new light on human rights abuses by Beijing toward the region's Uyghur minority. Images showing teenagers and old women among those detained at the internment camps offered horrific insights into the Chinese government's brutal persecution of the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. The files were obtained by an anonymous source who hacked police computers and leaked them to Adrian Zenz, director of China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in the United States. On February 10, Zenz and his team revealed the full extent of the leaked files, which included information of approximately 830,000 individuals and thousands of images. In addition to the new revelations, Zenz has also introduced a new search tool that allows Uyghur people in the diaspora to enter their family members' Chinese ID, number or their names in Chinese spelling, to look for relevant information about them. "This is the information that the Chinese government has refused to make public, and now that it has been leaked to us, we are letting the Uyghurs search as if they were searching a Xinjiang police computer," Zenz told DW. "It's like an imperfect window into the file system of the Xinjiang police." The new set of data is by far the largest leak of files, Zenz said, and it provides an unprecedented "close-up view" of the campaign of mass internment and other atrocities that have been taking place in Xinjiang since 2016. Most of the data is primarily from Shufu County in Kashgar and Tekes County in Ili and covers the period between 2016 to 2018. read the complete article

23 Feb 2023

How China’s Uyghurs Are Marginalized and Subjugated by the State

For most Uyghurs in our homeland, the late 1980s and 1990s brought both an economic boom to the region and catastrophic unemployment. This might seem conflicting, but underlying that growth were Han-run companies and Han-run government projects, and very little of the wealth that was generated trickled out into the Uyghur community. Instead of hiring Uyghurs, bosses would bring in Han workers from China to work on construction crews, energy industry projects, and road building. There were communication problems, because almost none of the Han migrants to East Turkestan spoke Uyghur, and also outright discrimination, because many Han viewed Uyghurs as lazy or unwilling to take orders from a Han boss. As a result, even Uyghur college graduates—some of our best and brightest—had trouble finding work in Ürümchi. In the meantime, the Han population exploded. By the year 2000, the Han constituted more than 40 percent of the nearly 18.5 million people in East Turkestan. Uyghurs found themselves increasingly marginalized in their own land, especially in the northern and northeastern regions, where Ürümchi is located, and where the Han population was concentrated. read the complete article


23 Feb 2023

Vivek Agnihotri casts Islamophobic slurs against Muslims in twitter exchange with Zubair

A few days ago, Vivek Agnihotri’s had posted the news that his film, alleged by many to reflect one-sided propaganda. The Kashmir Files, had won the Best Film Award at the Dada Saheb Phalke Award 2023. He had added that he dedicates this award to “all the victims of terrorism, and to all the people of India for your blessings.” Since the release of The Kashmir Files on March 11, 2022, while right wing supporters and audiences had cheered the release, others –including Kashmiri Pandit organization Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh samite (KPSS) had sharply criticised the movie for exaggerating facts, sparking undue controversy, and show-casing all Muslim Kashmiris in a bad light. Mohammed Zubair, of the fact checking website, Alt News then tweeted a fact-check on the same and clarified that Agnihotri’s tweet regarding winning the prestigious government award was misleading as his movie had won an award at a festival named after Phalke, and not the prestigious DadaSaheb Phalke award. Md. Zubair had also tweeted a picture of a post put up by Agnihotri, wherein he had said that Fact checking is the biggest media extortion, and is run by terror organisations. Referring to this same, MD. Zubair had captioned his tweet as “this is Mr. Vivek Agnihotri hates fact checkers.” Offended by the tweets mentioned above, Vivek Agnihotri then tweeted “No, my dear… I don’t hate fact-checkers, I hate when puncture repairers pretend to be fact checkers. Because you are nothing but just a jehadi pimp of India’s enemies & I know very well who is behind you. हरज़िहादीकावक़्तआताहैऔरतेरावक़्तजल्दीआनेवालाहै, संभलकेरहो” (The time for every ‘Jehadi’ comes, and your time is coming soon, be careful.) The term ‘Puncture Repairers’ is a derogatory term used for the Muslim Community, used in order to depict that most of the Muslims are illiterates and thus, open their puncture repair shops. The term ‘jehadi’ is used by the right wingers too loosely nowadays, with the aim of projecting them as an enemy of the nation. read the complete article


23 Feb 2023

An atheist, Muslim and Catholic swapped schools. This is what happened

Muslims are secretive, sexist and dangerous; Catholic priests cast “spells” using sticks bearing the figure of a dying martyr; and secular white Australians are alcoholic bogans who believe footwear in public is optional. When it comes to cultural cliches, the teenage participants in SBS’s provocative three-part social experiment The Swap offer some doozies – even if they don’t hold these views themselves. “Australia likes to pretend we’re a multicultural melting pot but we all live in our own silos,” says Ali Kadri, the experiment’s creator and CEO of the Islamic College of Brisbane (commonly referred to as ICB). “If you never engage with people who are different, that leads to division, mistrust and conflict.” Born and raised in India, Kadri emigrated to Australia to escape the sectarian violence and anti-Muslim riots that killed his first cousin and many friends. Dismayed by the growing “silos” of his adopted country, he devised a novel exercise: over the course of one term, he’d allow a dozen secondary students and their families (a mix of atheist, Muslim and Catholic boys and girls) to immerse themselves in each other’s schools, homes and cultures. Martina Vitale, Mount Alvernia Catholic College: "I think the media has the biggest influence on stereotypes about Muslims because they’re often shown in a bad light. All the good things they do don’t get much prominence so people end up with this idea of them being terrorists. I really think people should watch The Swap because if you don’t, you’ll just be sucked into what the media says and never fully understand what the Muslim faith actually is. What surprised me most is how much more similar we are than we think. Regardless of our backgrounds, we’re all just teenagers. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Feb 2023 Edition


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