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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17 Jan 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has expressed “grave concern” against the increasing policing of journalists and journalism in the country, meanwhile in the US, the Hamline University Board of Trustees has issued a statement suggesting the university is reconsidering its stance on academic freedom, following growing criticism of the administration’s decision to not rehire a faculty member who displayed images of Prophet Muhammad in her art history class, and in France, there’s growing backlash and condemnation against French author Michel Houellebecq after comments he made in a 2022 interview resurfaced in which he “seemed to offer a nod of support to acts of violence against Muslims.” Our recommended read of the day is by Shara Talia Taylor and Eryn Mathewson for CNN about the growing number of accomplished Muslim women athletes across the globe and how these women have opened doors for a new generation of athletes. This and more below:

United States

16 Jan 2023

‘I’m not a model. I’m an athlete and people should focus more on my athleticism rather than my clothes’ | Recommended Read

Don’t be surprised if we hear more about Muslim women in sports this year. Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur is the No. 2 seed at the first grand slam of the 2023 tennis season – the Australian Open, which got underway on Monday. Jabeur turned heads in 2022 with thrilling performances at Wimbledon and the US Open, and she’s not the only Muslim woman athlete in the spotlight. Doaa Elghobashy has been training to make Egypt’s Olympic beach volleyball team after she and her teammate were the first Egyptian women to compete in Beach volleyball at the Olympics in 2016. Meanwhile, three-time NCAA All American and Olympic bronze medalist in fencing, Ibtihaj Muhammad aims to empower women and girls through sports, her clothing line and books. And three-time Egyptian Olympian, Aya Medany is working to increase gender equality in sport. These Muslim women have made history in their respective competitions and opened doors for a new generation of athletes. Despite their accomplishments and years of progress making sport more inclusive of Muslim women and girls, there are still hurdles to clear. This is a look at the roads to success for Jabeur, Elghobashy, Medany and Muhammad and how changing rules have impacted their faith and participation in sport. read the complete article

17 Jan 2023

Continued Criticism Leads Hamline to Reconsider (Maybe)

Hamline University has been engrossed in an academic freedom debate this year over the actions of an adjunct instructor at the private Minnesota institution who was teaching global art history. The instructor, Erika López Prater, was discussing Islamic art during one class and briefly exhibited a screen image of Muhammad, the founder and prophet of the Muslim faith. The instructor had warned students in advance of her plan to show the image. A Muslim student complained, and López Prater will not be teaching the course this semester. Hamline administrators said the decision not to renew her teaching contract this semester was warranted because of the tradition of Muslims avoiding viewing images of Muhammad and the belief held by some adherents that doing so is sacrilegious. But a wide coalition of academic and civil rights groups has defended López Prater, and López Prater argued that her nonrenewal violates traditions of academic freedom—and is particularly egregious given her advance warning to students that she intended to show the image. Her defenders have also noted that Muslims are not all in agreement about displaying images of Muhammad, particularly images like the one shown in class, which was from the 14th century, and those that are respectful of Muhammad. read the complete article

16 Jan 2023

My Turn: Guantanamo must be dismantled and not forgotten

Thirty men have died since they were cleared and released from Guantanamo prison. What did they die of? Where were they? Does anyone know? Did we here in the U.S. care? Weren’t they “the worst of the worst” who plotted 9/11? Our government, through four administrations, would have us forget these men, and forget the 35 Muslim men still isolated under military detention at Guantanamo. They would have us forget many things about Guantanamo which otherwise would reveal a cruel and cold-blooded policy of dehumanizing people in order to support a War on Terror. I was just in Washington, DC as a member of Witness Against Torture to protest the 21st anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, and I have some questions. Do we need a War on Terror? Many of us thought so, to answer 9/11, to protect the United States. But, did it have to be a military war? Did it have to target Muslim men? Did it have to ignite a latent Islamophobia? So many questions. So few truthful answers. But we do have some facts. Guantanamo Prison, outside of U.S. borders, on the island of Cuba, received its first prisoners on Jan. 11, 2002. Since then, 779 Muslim men and boys have been held there, almost all without being charged or tried for a crime, almost all released after years of detention so that there are only 35 left. So surely those 35 are guilty of something. But no. Twenty of them have also been cleared for release, since February 2021, yet are still locked up — waiting. read the complete article

16 Jan 2023

Dissent from the left can be patriotic. Martin Luther King Jr. proved it.

Since the early 20th century, generations of left-wing activists and politicians have attacked the ways that racism, classism, nativism, sexism, Islamophobia and other forms of social injustice have been inscribed into the national culture and institutions. The left also has criticized how U.S. policymakers have exercised power overseas. Rather than aiming to promote democratic values, critics claim, the government has sought to secure valuable material resources and seize control of strategic territory. In recent years, critics have argued that many of these beliefs and behaviors were built into the structure of the nation. Invariably, the right, and sometimes mainstream liberals, pounce on such claims, branding left-wing movements as anti-American. Recently, they have leveled similar charges against those who self-critically teach American history, especially the history of racism. Those on the right — in the words of former president Donald Trump — see themselves as defending “the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character.” They see the United States as “the most exceptional nation in the history of the world” and worry about undermining that perception. But it is a myth to argue that criticizing the United States is inherently unpatriotic or damaging. In fact, there is a long history of the patriotic left demanding that the United States do better by appealing to the promise of the republic, not rejecting it. And their pressure has often fueled seminal improvements — ones that most Americans today would agree bettered society. Few moments better captured the potential harmony between dissent from the left and patriotism than King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. read the complete article

United Kingdom

16 Jan 2023

For Britain's sake, we must unleash the potential of Muslim civil society

Monday marks the release of the British Muslim Civil Society Report 2023 at a launch event backed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. Based on a year of on-the-ground research, as the report's author, I explored the significant contributions made by Britain’s Muslims to the charity sector. It is the first report specifically dedicated to this theme, and its recommendations are directed at a range of stakeholders in the Muslim community as well as the wider civil society space. Civil society, sometimes called the third sector, is made up of the charities and voluntary organisations that run our youth and community associations, our soup kitchens, our advocacy groups and our places of worship. They are the indispensable bedrock of a vibrant democracy. The Muslim contribution to this sector is decades old and increasing in importance. Recently released census data indicates that Muslims now make up 6.5 percent of the population of England and Wales, up from 4.9 percent at the time of the last census in 2011. There are now 3.9 million Muslims in England and Wales. This population tends towards youthfulness and will bear a disproportionate degree of the nation’s economic burdens in the coming decades as our population ages. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has described this aspect of Britain’s Muslims as “a strategic national asset” for Britain. Ironically for a religious community that was referred to by a past prime minister as Britain’s “biggest donors” who “give more to charity than any other faith group”, Britain’s Muslims themselves suffer disproportionate levels of poverty. MCB analysis indicates that 40 percent of the Muslim population lives in the most deprived 20 percent of local authority districts. Further research they have shared with me indicates that roughly two-thirds of those Muslims (30 percent of British Muslims overall) live in the most deprived 10 percent of local authority districts in the country. Yet, as my analysis indicates, Muslims have historically tended to send significant proportions of their charitable largesse overseas. read the complete article

16 Jan 2023

Man who shared explosives recipe guilty of terror offences

Elliot Brown, 25, from Bath, shared a video of his Alexa speaker reading out a recipe for how to make the explosive substance thermite. Brown denied wrongdoing but was convicted of collecting information that could be of use to a terrorist. He was also convicted at Bristol Crown Court earlier of the dissemination of a terrorist publication. On the first count Brown was convicted on a majority verdict of 10 jurors to two, and on the second charge by 11 jurors against one, following seven hours and 18 minutes of deliberations. He is due to be sentenced at 10:00GMT on Monday at the same court. The week-long trial heard how Brown, who had no previous convictions, held "extremist views". He was a member of a far-right group chat, in which he exchanged racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic messages with other members. The group chat also contained photos related to the support of neo-Nazism and white supremacy. read the complete article


17 Jan 2023

The radicalization of Michel Houellebecq

Has Michel Houellebecq, France’s favorite literary bad boy, become an apologist for far-right terrorism? In an interview with a niche periodical late last year, Houellebecq predicted that “native” French people would soon be taking up arms and committing “acts of resistance” against Muslims in areas “under Islamic control.” “There will be bombings and shootings in mosques, in cafés frequented by Muslims. In other words, reverse Bataclans,” he said, referring to the Paris concert hall where ISIS terrorists murdered dozens on November 13, 2015. Even by Houellebecq’s provocative standards, the statement broke new ground. Going far beyond his usual criticism of religion — his first big controversy was when he called Islam “the dumbest religion” in 2001 — the “acts of resistance” comment seemed to offer a nod of support to acts of violence against Muslims. The backlash in France has been swift and broad-based. In addition to several Muslim organizations announcing that they would sue Houellebecq for inciting racial hatred, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti came out to say that his comments were “unacceptable” as they “created hatred” and “went against his values.” Even the president of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front party, Jordan Bardella, declined to defend Houellebecq, calling his comments “excessive” — while Caroline Fourest, a public intellectual who’s previously defended Houellebecq’s right to criticize religion under French law, broke with him over the “acts of resistance” quip, pointing out that such acts had already taken place. read the complete article


16 Jan 2023

Delhi Union of Journalists Decries 'Increasing Policing' of Media

The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has expressed “grave concern” against the “increasing policing” of journalists and journalism in the country, and also against the “increasing tendency of flashing hate speech” against communities, especially of minorities. Citing the latest report of Human Rights Watch, which was released recently, the DUJ said the report reflected the “increasing policing of journalists and journalism in India today”. The HRW report spoke of several arrested and jailed journalists with concern, including Mohammed Zubair, Rupesh Kumar Singh, Siddique Kappan, among others, the DUJ added. Referring to the HRW report, the DUJ said, “Most damningly, the Report says the government has ‘intensified and broadened their crackdown on activist groups and the media’. The Report refers to the use of Pegasus spyware to target media persons besides other assaults on the media.” read the complete article


17 Jan 2023

Review of The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity

Could contemporary Islamic reform, Darryl Li asks, be a struggle for justice that is as much about civil rights, antiracism, cross-cultural dialogue, and human dignity as it is about the particular forms and merits of an Abrahamic faith? In considering this question, Li advances an equally provocative thesis: that Islamic jihad plays a central role in realizing this possibility would seem to make Li’s consideration of the question all the more tenuous. The Universal Enemy: Jihad and Empire After the Cold War offers readers a careful monograph focusing on predicaments that faced Muslim fighters during and after the Bosnian war between 1992–95. Conducting fieldwork between 2006–08, Li situates his study in a phase of US unipolar dominance characterized most broadly as a “war on terror” and instantiated by such prisons as that in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to which six of the first arrivals were Algerians who had been living in Bosnia. While documenting how US imperial designs informed Muslims’ lives in the region, Li also argues that jihad’s significance and meaning for Bosnian Muslims and the foreign fighters who rallied to their cause require us to move beyond viewing the phenomenon as a mere counter-response to Western secularism and its well-known cultural and colonial particularisms. According to Li, jihad is a “universalism,” a “loose set of ideals directed at all of humanity” (13). read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Jan 2023 Edition


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