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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03 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, a medical study has found that American Muslims are twice as likely as any other religious group to report previous suicide attempts with experts noting that anti-Muslim sentiment has played a role, meanwhile in India, photographs of more than 100 Muslim women were displayed on an app for auction as “Bulli Bai” of the day, similar to last year’s anti-Muslim incident called “Sulli Deals,” and in Myanmar, an AP investigation finds that the country’s military is “reverting to a strategy of massacres as a weapon of war,” which it has long used against ethnic minorities such as the Rohingya Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by Samir Beharic for Haaretz on Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban and his comments refusing to accept Muslims can be Europeans, and his collusion with Serbian nationalists, all of which Beharic argues “are provoking another war, while the backlash from fellow EU states is barely audible.” This and more below:


03 Jan 2022

Orban's Sinister anti-Muslim Hatemongering Now Threatens Lives in Bosnia | Recommended Read

Today I am old enough to recognize how power-thirsty populists are using similarly dangerous words and actions to the Serb nationalists of the early 90s. After months of intentionally blocking Bosnia's state-level institutions from functioning, the Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik who is the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, is taking concrete steps to establish parallel institutions that would lead to the dismantling of the country, essentially provoking a potential war. Dodik’s repeated calls for Republika Srpska to secede have never been more tangible. It is not Dodik’s warmongering that concerns the ordinary citizens as much as the silence or tacit approval and even support coming from some of the EU member states. One of the staunchest supporters of Dodik and his irredentist plans is Hungary, and its right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Last week, Orbán commented, in relation to EU expansion, that "the challenge with Bosnia is how to integrate a country with 2 million Muslims," going on to query how Europe could manage the security threat of a state with so many Muslims in it. His baldly prejudiced statement caused a backlash – but mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) remember the same kind of Islamophobic rhetoric used 30 years ago by Serb nationalists on the eve of the war. Bosniak member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, Šefik Daferovic described Orbán's anti-Muslim statement as "shameful and rude," noting that it was not Muslims who pose a challenge to Europe, but people like Orbán and their "radical, xenophobic, and racist ideologies." During the same press conference, Orbán poured oil on the flames by announcing Hungary would block any potential EU sanctions targeting Dodik for his separatist actions, and that Budapest would provide €100 million in assistance to the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity. Such actions explicitly undermine the efforts by other EU countries to sanction Dodik in the hope of restraining his secessionist urges. Hungary's sinister role in destabilizing Bosnia and Herzegovina did not end there. The same day as Orban’s inflammatory remarks, a leaked EU report revealed that the EU Commissioner responsible for Bosnia, Olivér Várhelyi – one of Orbán's hand-picked appointments – was effectively acting in cahoots with Dodik. Today, Milorad Dodik and his supporters are digging offensive political trenches, cosying up to Europe’s right-wing populists, and forging plans to re-establish the very same Army of Republika Srpska which not only turned my family and I into refugees, but also committed the worst atrocity in Europe since the World War II, the Srebrenica genocide. This is the first time ever I have ever felt nervous about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. read the complete article

03 Jan 2022

China accuses Walmart of ‘stupidity’ over missing Xinjiang items

China issued a stern warning to Walmart Inc. following allegations that the company’s warehouse stores in the country stopped selling items from Xinjiang, ramping up pressure on the retail giant amid rising tensions with the U.S. over the western province. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog, rejected suggestions that inventory management was behind the shift at Sam’s Club, Walmart’s members-only chain. Consumers will respond with “practical actions” if the company doesn’t “respect the feelings of the Chinese people,” the commission said Friday. The warning underscores how Walmart and U.S. businesses are becoming ensnared in geopolitical tensions over Xinjiang, where the U.S. and United Nations have accused China of suppressing the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population. U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill on Dec. 23 banning companies from selling goods in the U.S. that were made with components from the province — unless they can prove forced labor wasn’t involved. read the complete article

03 Jan 2022

Refugee rescue off Indonesian coast highlights plight of Rohingya minority

Aboard the leaky vessel, more than 50 miles off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province, were more than 100 refugees from the largely stateless Rohingya community. Most of the passengers were women and children, according to local fishermen who rescued the boat, and they were hungry, sick and desperate for shelter. Indonesian authorities initially refused to allow the passengers to disembark, pledging instead to repair the boat and then send it back out to sea. But amid an outcry from rights groups, the United Nations and local residents, the government relented and on Friday finally brought the refugees ashore. The 120 passengers — including 60 women, 51 children and nine men — were transported to a warehouse in the coastal town of Lhokseumawe, officials said, where they would be protected from heavy monsoon rains and screened for the coronavirus. The decision to welcome the passengers “was taken after considering the emergency condition of the refugees on that boat,” the head of Indonesia’s national task force on refugees, Armed Wijaya, told Agence France-Presse. The maritime rescue of scores of Rohingya was a reminder, rights groups said, of the ongoing plight of the persecuted Muslim minority, whose members were targeted in an ethnic cleansing campaign by Myanmar security forces in 2017. It was also a reflection of what the U.N. refugee agency says is a growing trend: More Rohingya refugees, many of whom now live in packed, squalid camps in Bangladesh, are taking risky sea journeys to escape those conditions and seek better lives. read the complete article

03 Jan 2022

Muslims in the West embrace the Uyghur cause

Over the past year, Muslim organizations in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and elsewhere have become outspoken advocates for Uyghur Muslims, who are experiencing genocide at the hands of the Chinese government. The big picture: Governments of many Muslim-majority countries have faced criticism for their silence in the face of China's repression, but Muslim citizens are organizing and speaking loudly about the issue. As the Uyghur genocide has gained more international prominence over the past year, the fate of a once little-known ethnic group is becoming an issue of global concern. What's happening: In September, more than 40 Muslim organizations in the U.S. and abroad announced a boycott of Hilton, after reports that a planned hotel in Xinjiang would be built atop a demolished mosque. In December 2020, more than 70 Muslim student associations around the world and dozens of Uyghur groups wrote an open letter to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), comprised of 57 member states, urging them to denounce China's abuses. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the largest U.S. Muslim advocacy groups, regularly sends out press releases highlighting new reporting on the Uyghur situation in China and demanding action by U.S. lawmakers and the international community. read the complete article

03 Jan 2022

‘Attack on Muslim cemetery new sign of rising Islamophobia in Europe’

An attack on gravestones in a Muslim cemetery in the northwestern German city of Iserlohn on New Year’s Eve is the latest indicator of rising anti-Islam sentiment in Europe, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said late Saturday. About 30 headstones at a Muslim cemetery in Iserlohn have been damaged, police said Saturday. The incident is thought to have occurred late Friday or early Saturday, according to a statement by prosecutors and the Hagen police department. The attack comes amid a worrying rise in Islamophobic crimes in Germany in recent years. Expressing its "sadness" over the incident, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the attack on New Year's Eve was "a new indicator of a sick Islamophobic mentality that has been on the rise especially in Europe and even targets Muslim cemeteries." The ministry urged officials to find the "perpetrators of this disastrous attack" who must be "brought to justice and given the punishment they deserve." It also asked authorities to take the necessary measures to prevent such incidents from happening. According to a recently published report, titled "European Islamophobia Report 2020," a total of 901 Islamophobic crimes were registered by the Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany in 2020. Eighteen anti-Islam demonstrations were held and 16 were organized by the racist PEGIDA movement in Germany during the same year. Furthermore, 2020 saw a rise in online Islamophobia as coronavirus lockdowns were imposed and life shut down across Europe, according to the report. read the complete article


03 Jan 2022

Bulli Bai: India’s Muslim women again listed on app for ‘auction’

Photographs of more than 100 Muslim women, including prominent actress Shabana Azami, wife of a sitting judge of Delhi High Court, multiple journalists, activists and politicians were displayed on the app for auction as “Bulli Bai” of the day. After last July’s “Sulli Deals“, in which nearly 80 Muslim women were put up “for sale”, “Bulli Bai” was the second such attempt in less than a year. “Both ‘Bulli’ and ‘Sulli’ are derogatory words used for Muslim women in local slang. However, this time the Punjabi language was used in the ‘Bulli Bai’ interface along with English,” journalist Mohammad Zubair, who works for fact-checking website AltNews, told Al Jazeera. While there was no real sale involved, the online application – created on Microsoft-owned open software development site GitHub – was, according to Rehbar, intended “to degrade and humiliate vocal Muslim women”. The app was taken down on Saturday, with victims saying the interface of the GitHub extension on “Bulli Bai” was strikingly similar to the one used by “Sulli Deals”. By Saturday evening, dozens of other Muslim women began posting their shock and outrage on social media after seeing their photographs and details on the app. “It is sad to see how these hate-mongers are licensed to target Muslim women without any fear. This is not the first time such an auction has taken place,” said Ara. “The women who have been targeted are vocal women who raise issues of Muslims on social media. It is a clear conspiracy to shut these Muslim women because we challenge the Hindu right-wing online against their hate crimes,” she added. read the complete article

03 Jan 2022

Dismissing Communal Hatred as 'Only' an Electoral Tool Is to Miss the Big Picture

Scholars and political observers say we should understand the recent surge in hateful campaigns and violence against Muslims and Christians in Gurgaon, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the context of the forthcoming elections in states including UP, Uttarakhand and Goa. They explain the communal pitch as a ploy by the Bharatiya Janata Party to take voters’ attention away from the real issues of inflation, unemployment, hunger, etc. And they counsel us not to panic since this communalism, even if not welcome, is understandable as an electoral strategy by the BJP to create a majority for itself. Normalcy will return once the elections are over, they believe. One never asks why, even if only to mobilise Hindu voters, the BJP and its leaders have to keep anti-Muslim hatred alive. Can they not attract a Hindu to the election booth who is not driven by anti-Muslim hatred? Other parties too need voters. Why is it that they do not have to create an ‘out-group’ which is in conflict with their ‘in-group’? The argument that this is temporary and will pass is facile, and has been proven wrong by the leaders of the BJP. They know that for anti-Muslim hatred to sound authentic to the electorate, it has to be turned into a routinised drill in everyday life. You cannot talk about it only in election campaigns and then forget about it. The constituents have to be turned into habitual Muslim sceptics, if not active haters. The case of Assam tells us that anti-Muslim hatred is not just instrumental and cannot remain temporary – it is a political and social pathology. It has to be turned into socio-political practice. It is not only in the events of communal violence like 2002 or 2013, when people’s personal identities dissolve into communal identity. Now through speeches, small-scale violence and their publicity, the targeted group becomes homogenised, depersonalised and dehumanised, fuelled by the passions of hate. read the complete article

03 Jan 2022

Karnataka: Govt College Students Denied Entry Into Class For Wearing Hijabs

Six Muslim students were barred from attending classes on account of their wearing hijabs at a pre-university (PU) college for women in Karnataka’s Udupi district, Hindustan Times reported. Apart from the dress-code issue, the students and their parents also claimed that they were not allowed to talk in Urdu, Arabic or Beary languages. As a result of these restrictions, the students began demonstrating outside the classroom on Saturday, January 1, and have been there for three days now. According to the students, school authorities had called the parents of these students to discuss the matter but had made them wait for four hours when they did come to school and that principal Rudra Gowda refused to discuss the issue with them. Another student told the newspaper that no such issue was present before they started wearing hijabs to the college. The students have also not been given attendance for the days when they came to school in their hijabs, causing concerns that they might fall short of their attendance requirements. Gowda claimed that, while students could wear hijabs on the university premises, they were not allowed to wear them within the classroom in order to enforce “uniformity”. He told local media that “no provisions to have hijab as the uniform” in the school were in place and thus the students were not allowed to wear them. read the complete article


03 Jan 2022

Two decades of Islamophobia: The invisible toll on the health of Muslims in Canada

In the last five years, more Muslims have been killed in targeted hate-attacks in Canada than in any other G7 country.1 Twenty years ago, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Canada, like many countries, enacted strict anti-terror legislation. Although the stated aim of this legislation was to keep all Canadians safe, Muslim Canadians have experienced quite the opposite in the years that followed the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Act. For two decades, Muslim Canadians have endured every day aggressions while bearing witness to more violent acts of Islamophobia. Muslim Canadians report being regularly harassed and subject to microaggressions at work, school and in public spaces. Mosques and community centres have come under violent attack. Canada has become a country where wearing a hijab can put a target on your back, and where many mosques now require security. But there are other, more insidious impacts on Muslims that aren’t nearly as visible: on health and health equity. How might Canadian policy mechanisms be used to heal the last twenty years of damage done to the Muslim community? Is there a role for policy to meaningfully improve Muslim health and experiences in the health care system? read the complete article


03 Jan 2022

Vandals demolish Muslim cemetery in Germany

About 30 headstones at a Muslim cemetery in the northwestern German city of Iserlohn have been damaged, police said Saturday. The incident occurred late Friday or early Saturday, according to a statement by prosecutors and the Hagen police department. Authorities issued an appeal for information from anyone who witnessed the vandalism or has information that could help the investigation. The attack comes amid a worrying rise in anti-Muslim crimes in Germany in recent years. read the complete article

United Kingdom

03 Jan 2022

The Muslim hiker inspiring his community to hit the hills

“I was coming down Mount Snowdon and in the far distance I thought I could see brown people, and I thought my eyes were kidding me. Then, as I descended and got closer, I realised they were women in hijabs. I was like ‘wow Muslim women on the mountain’, like ‘am I dreaming?’” Haroon Mota, the founder of Muslim Hikers, is remembering a walk he did around 15 years ago and, if you look at the statistics, his shock at seeing members of his own community out on the trails makes sense. Only 1% of national park visitors come from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. A 2021 report by the countryside charity CPRE reported data showing ethnic minorities have, on average, 11 times less access to green space than their white counterparts, and that only 20% of BAME children who visit natural environments go to the countryside, compared with 40% of white children. Muslim Hikers is a community group set up by Mota to encourage Muslims to get outside, though anyone is welcome. Since launching the group in 2020, he’s received criticism from trolls for being “exclusionary” and “creating divisions”. Mota brushes those comments off, confident in his values and purpose. “It is what it says on the tin. There is a very clear under-representation and to overcome that, you’ve got to cater for that community. Everybody’s welcome. But our focus is to try and help the Muslim community and I think there’s nothing wrong with that.” The group’s most recent walk was on Christmas day. One hundred walkers came from around the UK to hike up Mam Tor in the Peak District. After the hike, some of them excitedly shared photos of the trip to the Derbyshire and Peak District Walks Facebook group. It wasn’t long until some members of the group left “vile, racist comments”, says Mota. “It’s like the migration of the wildebeests in the Serengeti, they just keep coming,” one white woman wrote underneath the images. While another said: “And I bet not 1 of the 100s help to repair the paths when they become damaged …absolute disgrace.” Responding to the comments, Mota said: “It was such a shame seeing hateful comments ... It’s only a small minority of people who act like this but it sure does provide justification for calls to make the outdoors more diverse and inclusive. It won’t deter us one single bit.” read the complete article

United States

03 Jan 2022

Muslims face a suicide crisis in America. The taboo of talking about it must end.

In the United States, our recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry — through a partnership among our StanfordMMHIP Lab, the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding, and the Institute of Muslim Mental Health — showed that American Muslims are twice as likely as any other religious group to report previous suicide attempts. As noted in the Economist, it is hard to imagine that this is not linked to the high rates of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment that defined post-9/11 experiences for most American Muslims. But there’s more too. Mental health is not only stigmatized and culturally and religiously congruent resources not easily accessible, but American Muslims also suffer from unique stressors in their daily lives that hurt their mental well-being. For example, our study showed that experiencing discrimination — especially the combination of Islamophobic and gender-based discrimination — increased suicide attempts by 180%. And gay and bisexual Muslims were eight times as likely to report attempting suicide. Cultural assimilation also plays a major role. U.S.-born Muslims were much more likely to attempt suicide than their immigrant-born predecessors. Ultimately, the study underscores that there is a growing suicide crisis afflicting the American Muslim community. read the complete article


03 Jan 2022

Myanmar military reverts to strategy of massacres, burnings, AP investigation finds

The Myanmar military had stormed Done Taw at 11 a.m. on Dec. 7, he told the Associated Press, with about 50 soldiers hunting people on foot, killing 10 people including five teenagers. A photo taken by his friend shows the charred remains of a victim lying face down, holding his head up, suggesting he was burned alive. “I am very upset, it is unacceptable,” said the 19-year-old, who like others interviewed by the AP asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. The carnage at Done Taw is just one of the most recent signs that the Myanmar military is reverting to a strategy of massacres as a weapon of war, according to an Associated Press investigation based on interviews with 40 witnesses, social media, satellite imagery and data on deaths. The massacres and scorched-earth tactics — such as the razing of entire villages — represent the latest escalation in the military’s violence against both civilians and the growing opposition. Since the military seized power in February, it has cracked down ever more brutally, abducting young men and boys, killing health care workers and torturing prisoners. They also signal a return to practices that the military has long used against ethnic minorities such as the Muslim Rohingya, thousands of whom were killed in 2017. The military is accused of killing at least 35 people on Christmas Eve in the village of Mo So, an ethnic Karenni region. But this time, the military is also using the same methods against people and villages of its own Buddhist Bamar ethnic majority. The focus of most of the latest killings has been in the northwest, including in a Bamar heartland where support for the opposition is strong. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Jan 2022 Edition


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