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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04 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, more than 100 prominent Indian Muslim women found images of themselves being used online without permission on a fake auction site called “Bulli Bai,” meanwhile Tesla has opened a new showroom in the capital of Xinjiang, a region where the Chinese government is carrying out a genocide against Uyghur Muslims, and in the United Kingdom, the recent announcement that former prime minister Tony Blair was to be awarded a knighthood has some outraged given his support for the disastrous war in Iraq. Our recommended read of the day is by Shada Islam for the Guardian on how many “European Muslims are concerned about the French stint in the EU chair because they fear that France’s divisive anti-Muslim political discourse will seep dangerously into EU policymaking.” This and more below:


04 Jan 2022

Why Europe’s Muslims are braced for France’s stint running the EU presidency | Recommended Read

Many European Muslims are concerned about the French stint in the EU chair for another reason: they fear that France’s divisive anti-Muslim political discourse will seep dangerously into EU policymaking. The French election campaign essentially means it is open season on Muslims in France. Many French politicians have adopted rampant Islamophobia as an electoral strategy. Toxic debates on Islam and Muslims, mixed with acrimonious intersectional swipes at race and migration, are becoming increasingly venomous. Alarmingly, Muslim-bashing is no longer the preserve of the far-right anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen. Macron’s hardline interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, accused Le Pen, during a recent television debate, of going “soft” on Islam. The former TV pundit Éric Zemmour has brought an even more vicious anti-Muslim agenda to the presidential contest, while candidate for the Gaullist Les Républicains party, Valérie Pécresse, is taking a hard line on immigration, having previously banned the wearing of burkinis at outdoor leisure centres in the Paris region. Macron himself, who is expected to seek re-election, is already enforcing a spate of anti-Muslim policies, including a bill supposedly aimed at preventing “separatism” and the emergence of a “counter society” among France’s six million Muslim citizens. Macron’s government is also under criticism for shutting down the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, a leading anti-discrimination body which documents anti-Muslim hate crimes. The European Network Against Racism warns of a full-blown “Islamophobic witch-hunt” of French Muslims and says the government is using “countless administrative procedures” to close down Muslim-led organisations, mosques, schools, and even Muslim-owned snack bars, on unproven claims of links to the Muslim Brotherhood. But the fear now is that France will use its EU presidency to push for even tougher Europe-wide measures. read the complete article

04 Jan 2022

Governments legalize Islamophobia in Europe: Report

The European Islamophobia Report prepared by professors Enes Bayraklı from the Turkish-German University and Farid Hafez from Georgetown University analyzed the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, including statements in favor of laws that suppress the rights of European Muslims. Some 37 academics, experts and civil society activists specialized in issues related to racism contributed to the report, which analyzed the current status of Islamophobia in 31 countries. In Austria, the government established a “documentation center” in July 2020 to blacklist Muslims. The center compiles information about Muslim institutions, including over 600 mosques and education centers, their ideologies, administrators and addresses, and shared a digital map called the “Islam-Landkarte” containing all this information with the public. The Muslim community was outraged by the government’s policy. A group led by professor Ednan Aslan from Vienna University argued that the digital map portrayed Muslims as potential criminals and resembled blackmailing. They also accused the government of manipulating the public by scapegoating Muslims to get away with corruption allegations. In Germany, a judge of Turkish descent was removed from duty for wearing a headscarf, while the Constitutional Court in Belgium ruled that it was legal to ban political and religious symbols in post-secondary education institutions. The Constitutional Court ruled in early June that a ban on headscarves would not go against the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The case was referred to the Constitutional Court by a Brussels court after Muslim students sued Francisco Ferrer Brussels University College over a ban on all religious symbols. The ruling sparked backlash on social media among young people and students, with rights organizations also decrying the move as a violation of a basic human right. Since the decision, 12 Belgian universities and colleges have assured students they will not impose such a ban, stressing that religious freedom is protected in their classrooms, according to The Brussels Times. read the complete article

04 Jan 2022

Tesla criticised for opening showroom in Xinjiang despite human rights abuses

Tesla has opened a new showroom in the capital of Xinjiang, a region at the heart of years-long campaign by Chinese authorities of repression and assimilation against the Uyghur people. Tesla announced the opening in Urumqi with a Weibo post on 31 December saying: “On the last day of 2021, we meet in Xinjiang. In 2022 let us together launch Xinjiang on its electric journey!” The post was accompanied by photos of the opening festivities including people holding placards which read “Tesla [heart] Xinjiang”. The US has enacted a range of sanctions and regulatory and other measures against China over its continuing human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including restrictions on US business dealings with local operators and suppliers. President Joe Biden last month signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and the US government intends to conduct a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. Uyghur rights groups criticised the opening of the showroom, reportedly Tesla’s 211th in China. The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged its immediate closure, and the cessation of what it alleged “amounts to economic support for genocide”. “No American corporation should be doing business in a region that is the focal point of a campaign of genocide targeting a religious and ethnic minority,” said the council’s director of national communications, Ibrahim Hooper. read the complete article

04 Jan 2022

Even Congress can agree that we need to stop Uyghur genocide. Why can’t Elon Musk?

What allowed the forced labor legislation to pass a divided Congress is simple: Sometimes an issue of human rights is so obviously egregious that even those who are remarkably inconsistent on other issues get it right. The genocide of China’s Muslim Uyghur population is one of those issues. With overwhelming evidence of the disappearance of over a million people into concentration camps — dubbed “re-education camps” by the Chinese Communist Party — Uyghurs are subjected not only to forced labor but cruel practices meant to break people from their Muslim identity and cultural backgrounds. China has economically muzzled Muslim governments, silenced opposition from sports leagues and athletes around the world and powered forward with arrogance and defiance to erase the Uyghur people and their history. In the face of this behavior, the global community needs to act boldly, lest China and powers like it come to believe that genocide will be tolerated. Only if the world unites against China’s treatment of the Uyghurs can we make it clear that nations and corporations alike are willing to bear the financial and political costs of opposing it. Against this background, Musk’s announcement shows blatant disregard for human rights, preferring to allow a cruel mix of capitalism, communism and concentration camps to strip a people of its dignity for the sake of profit. read the complete article

United States

04 Jan 2022

Republicans and Democrats have split over whether to support multiethnic democracy, our research shows

Our recent research finds that this divergence grows in no small part from a particular group of Americans whose politics are predominantly driven by hatred toward marginalized minority groups. These individuals – whom we call the “MAGA faction” – may be relatively few in number, but hold ideals that are antithetical to multiethnic democracy. A democratic system of government ideally affords all citizens equal representation and protection, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, income, gender, or other areas of difference. That has not always been the case in U.S. history, which has included official and unofficial prejudice, hatred and violence toward non-White, non-Christian citizens, manifested in such ways as Jim Crow laws and the Chinese Exclusion Act, racial profiling, and anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. While civil rights legislation and court decisions reduced some discrimination in recent decades, U.S. society continues fiercely debating whether to strive toward guaranteeing equal protection under the law and voting rights for all Americans. That debate now divides the United States’ two major parties. The Democratic Party tends to push for further advances in the pursuit of racial and gender equality. The Republican Party tends to resist such change, sometimes even leaning toward a past when White, Christian men stood unquestioningly at the top of the American social hierarchy. The phrase “Make America Great Again” invokes that time in a tacit endorsement of democratic backsliding. In our research, we found that Donald Trump’s politics activated and attracted the MAGA faction – a group that had not been securely attached to any particular party. read the complete article

04 Jan 2022

Trump-era policies keeping 'green card lottery' selectees from coming to U.S.

Their parallel journeys seemed to continue when both men received a golden ticket to come to the United States through the diversity visa program. It grants visas to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. through a random lottery process. Despite overcoming the slim chance of being selected –– less than 1% on average –– only one of them was able to take advantage of the program. This was due to Trump-era policies that have largely halted the issuance of diversity visas and deprived many selectees of their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move to America. Sistani, who won the lottery in 2015, booked a ticket to the U.S. the following year. But Davarani, who was selected five years later in 2020, never made his way here because of former President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” and later policies that restricted the inflow of immigrants in order to protect the U.S. workforce amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the two men, both 30, live more than 7,000 miles away from each other. Sistani, now a resident of Columbus’ North Side, is exploring new career options that would utilize his past work experience as an electrical surveyor and a salesman, while Davarani, in Ahvaz, is struggling with the lack of opportunities in his home country and the daily discrimination facing non-Muslims like him and his family. Al-Akhras works for Morrison Urena, a California-based law firm that focuses on advocating for the diversity visa program. Over the past two years, the firm filed six lawsuits against the Trump and Biden administrations on behalf of more than 12,000 lottery winners — including Davarani — who suffered the consequences of the presidents’ policies. In response to the lawsuits, federal court judges have ordered the Biden administration to reserve approximately 17,000 more visas that could be issued to those selected in 2020 and 2021 and their family members. But Biden's team has filed a Notice to Appeal in multiple cases. It is not yet clear which parts of the orders the administration is hoping to overturn. read the complete article

04 Jan 2022

Donald Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Facebook suspended after Twitter permanently bans her

Facebook has suspended Republican Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene’s account for posting coronavirus misinformation, a day after Twitter permanently banned her account for a similar message. The Congresswomen from Georgia on Saturday had falsely written about ‘extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths’. Her post addressed life in the US ‘before Covid’ and ‘after Covid’ and questioned public health measures including vaccine mandates, testing and wearing masks. Serving her first term in the House, Greene has been embroiled in numerous controversies related to her social media posts that have supported conspiracy theories, called for violence against political opponents and spread racism, bigotry and Islamophobia. Greene previously backed the QAnon conspiracy theory stating that Trump was fighting criminal elites in the politics, business, entertainment and media industries. read the complete article


04 Jan 2022

Online ‘Auction’ Is Latest Attack on Muslim Women in India

Her screen filled with dozens of calls and messages from friends, all sharing the same screenshot of the profile created of her on the app, a fake auction site called “Bulli Bai.” Ms. Bég, a former journalist with an active online presence, wasn’t alone. More than 100 other prominent Indian Muslim women, including artists, journalists, activists and lawyers, found that online images of themselves were being used without permission on the app, which went up on Saturday and was taken down again within about 24 hours. In June a similar app, called “Sulli Deals,” appeared. (Both terms are derogatory slang for Muslim women.) That one remained up for weeks and was taken down only after complaints from victims. Though the police opened an investigation, no one has been charged in that case. India’s online space is rife with misogyny and harassment of women. But the two “auctions” have amplified concern about the organized nature of the virtual bullying, and how targeted smears and threats of violence, particularly sexual violence, are deployed to try to silence women, especially those critical of some of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies. On Monday, the police in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said they had opened an investigation and filed a criminal complaint against several Twitter handles and developers of the app, based on the complaint of a Muslim woman. But many complaints said the lack of progress on the previous investigations had inspired little confidence. For years, Ms. Bég has been a vocal critic of India’s governing Hindu nationalists and their anti-minority policies under Mr. Modi. She has faced intense internet trolling, including death threats, on Twitter. Over the years, as the pressure has intensified, she said, she started self-censoring, avoiding critical posts on the policies of the Hindu nationalists. She said she had been worried about the rising intolerance, but the latest episode showcased how the online machinery was being used to make vocal Muslim women withdraw from public life, essentially eliminating any counternarrative. read the complete article

04 Jan 2022

We don’t want an FIR, we want arrests, say Muslim women listed for ‘auction’ on Bulli Bai app

After an outburst of outrage, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw informed on Sunday that an investigation was underway and the perpetrator’s account had been blocked on GitHub. FIRs have been filed in the matter in Delhi and Mumbai while the Hyderabad police and National Commission for Women have taken cognizance of the issue. However, no arrests have been made yet. The targeted women, some of whom have been vocal about the issue on social media, are now urging authorities to take strict action against the perpetrators of the alleged online harassment. Former journalist Hiba Beg wrote on Twitter, “We don’t want an FIR, we want arrests. Enough of bread-crumbing - show us actual action. We cannot let this happen a third time!” In July 2021, the ‘Sulli Deals’ case had emerged in which an app like ‘Bulli Bai’ was used to upload photographs of Muslim women and ‘auction’ them. In a similar vein, a woman named Sidrah tweeted in response to NCW’s action in the matter, “Hello. Good morning. Do you do anything other than taking cognisance after outrage?” Artist Sayema suggested that the Bulli Bai incident is a “reflection of India’s broken justice system” and a “dilapidated law and order arrangement”. She wrote, “There are many Muslim names, including mine, in the obnoxious Bulli Deals It's a reflection on India's broken justice system, a dilapidated law and order arrangement. Are we becoming the most unsafe country for women?” read the complete article


04 Jan 2022

Quebec’s religious headgear ban is at odds with Canadian liberal norms. Why are politicians afraid to say so?

Erin O’Toole, leader of Canada’s Conservative Party — whose embattlement owes in large part to a persistent inability to demonstrate right-wing bona fides — has finally found an issue where he’s prepared to be a dogmatic reactionary: Quebec’s headscarf ban for public-sector workers. Last month, after the ban was evoked to remove a Muslim schoolteacher from her classroom duties, O’Toole reportedly let it be known to his parliamentary caucus that no public dissent on the issue would be tolerated. During the last federal election, the Conservative boss prided himself on handling the matter with the greatest of finesse: Sure, he explained, he had reservations in theory about banning religious headgear, but he also respected Quebec’s right to pass its own laws and would never pick a fight over an issue it holds so dear. Though his public rhetoric is often opaque, this is still basically his position today. O’Toole’s alleged decree has been of a piece with other high-level responses in Canada to the schoolteacher’s firing, a move that’s made the Quebec headgear ban, which is known as Bill 21 and has been theoretically controversial for months, suddenly feel more real. As has been the case throughout the law’s life, recent reactions have been harsh and judgmental — not to the Quebec government, of course, but to other Canadians who feel they have a right to weigh in. This sort of rhetoric is based on the premise that the appeasement of Quebec is the highest purpose of Canadian politics and that the province’s aggressive nationalism must never be permitted to flare into separatism. To the extent Quebec’s comfort conflicts with other elements of the Canadian regime, it’s accordingly the former that must take precedent. This theory runs counter to the hierarchy of priorities outlined in the Canadian constitution. The purity of Francophone Quebec culture is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, which is why Legault is in the process of getting the document changed to stick in words to that effect. Free exercise of religion is, however, which is why Legault had to exploit the constitution’s contentious and rarely used “notwithstanding clause” to pass Bill 21 as an explicitly unconstitutional law. read the complete article

United Kingdom

04 Jan 2022

Tony Blair’s knighthood is an insult to people like me who grew up in the shadow of the Iraq war

In the early hours of 2022, we learned that former prime minister Tony Blair was to be awarded a knighthood on the new year honours list. Yet his name is a shuddering reminder to people like me of some of the most heinous war crimes committed in recent memory, and the devastating atrocities that continue to unfold in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. When the news broke that Blair was to receive a knighthood, I had a distinct sense of disbelief and shock. In my opinion, he is thoroughly undeserving of this honour – it is an insult to the people of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, as well as to the people of Britain. As a millennial, I am part of the generation that vividly recalls growing up in the shadow of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In early 2003, I remember seeing news coverage of people marching in the streets, unfurling their white banners against the looming threat of a destructive war. Up to 2 million people took part in Stop the War Coalition protests. The demonstration in London on 15 February 2003 was the largest protest ever held in Britain. Although my peers and I were schoolchildren, we knew something was wrong. We witnessed the people of the UK uniting against injustice, and marching because they feared what lay ahead. The weeks, months and years that followed saw endless destruction and chaos in Iraq. The Iraqi people were robbed of their lives and livelihoods. We watched televised scenes of buildings falling, homes being bombed, and both military personnel and civilians being killed. The British public knew such a war would have devastating implications, and Blair appeared to me to ignore this, while our country became a fertile breeding ground for extremism and a prime target for terrorism. My generation saw clearly how these events were linked to each other like a chain reaction. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Jan 2022 Edition


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