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.

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18 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, authorities have charged a Hindu monk with inciting religious violence after he called for the “genocide” of India’s Muslims at a meeting of right-wing supporters, meanwhile in the United States, the recent hostage crisis at a synagogue in Texas brings forth discussions of interfaith solidarity and growing polarization in the country, and in Norway, the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik gave a Nazi salute on Tuesday as he entered court for a parole hearing that will decide if he should be released after spending more than a decade behind bars. Our recommended read of the day is by James Zogby for The National on the normalization of Islamophobia in the Republican party. This and more below:

United States

18 Jan 2022

The growing cancer inside the Republican Party | Recommended Read

Ms Boebert is part of a new breed of Republican members cut from the same cloth as Donald Trump. They are confrontational, creating outrage to generate attention and money, and bigots who, because they pay no price for their bigotry, continue on their merry way. A toxic disease of bigotry has taken hold in the GOP polity. It didn't start with this congresswoman or with the former president. The anti-Muslim remarks and policies they serve up are merely the fruit of a poisonous tree that was planted and carefully cultivated by some in the GOP for decades. This wasn't always the case. During the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, the White House was respectful in its outreach to the still-new American Muslim community. It wasn't the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 that brought on the change; it was the way anti-Muslim ideologues used 9/11 to foment fear and hatred that made the difference. Specifically, it was the ascendancy of neoconservatives and the Christian right in the Republican party that was largely responsible for the change. Recall how after 9/11, while then president George W Bush was warning Americans not to target Arabs and Muslims, both John Ashcroft, his attorney general, and his neocon ideologues were doing just that. Even some of the networks, not just Fox News, were complicit. When Americans were asking the question "Why did they attack us?", the networks too often gave a platform to well established anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bigots to provide the answers – some were even paid commentators. It was the ascent of Barack Obama that decisively turned the tide. Racism and anti-Muslim bigotry came together in an all-out campaign to "other" the former president. "He wasn't born here." "He's not like us." "He's a secret Muslim who hates America." All were propagated by a well-funded, well-organised campaign. So, when a month ago, the Republican congresswoman was telling her fictional elevator story, she knew she was playing to an audience who had been primed to understand it. Republicans have overwhelmingly unfavourable views of both, while Democrats, possibly in reaction to Mr Trump's policies, have far more favourable views. Considering this background, it's important to recognise that the problem is deeper than one congresswoman or one president. It has become organic to the GOP. They created this bigotry and weaponised it for electoral advantage. It's their cancer, and they must root it out. read the complete article

18 Jan 2022

Synagogue hostage standoff reveals interfaith progress — as well as entrenched hate

The imam, rabbi, pastor and priest had been in a small conference room in the building next door to Congregation Beth Israel for hours worrying and praying for their friend Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and the other hostages inside the synagogue in Colleyville, Tex. Then around sunset came the most emotional moment thus far: the arrival of three Muslim women, friends of Cytron-Walker’s wife, bearing her favorite food — their samosas. When Adena Cytron-Walker saw the trio, she collapsed into their arms. “They hugged for the longest time, all crying on each other’s shoulders,” said Imam Omar Suleiman, a prominent Dallas-area Muslim leader who, like the others in the room Saturday night, have crossed paths with Cytron-Walker and built close bonds through interfaith, also called multifaith, work. But the moment was complex, he said. It contained both close, loving bonds built on respect for religious differences, as well as the reality that religious tensions and anger are growing in an increasingly balkanized America. “This is the beautiful stuff that doesn’t shine out of the ugly crap and hostility. At that moment, all of us cried,” Suleiman said. “The communities there, at the end of the day, are standing there together, with the absolute understanding that this was a lunatic. But you can’t disconnect this from the broader climate and what’s being said and suggested out there.” “It’s a one-off, so in that sense, it’s good; it’s not someone in the community, it was an outsider who came to do something,” said Bob Roberts, a Dallas-area Baptist pastor in the conference room that night. His ministry, for decades, has focused on working with people of other faiths, Muslims in particular. “On the downside, we are so incredibly polarized right now. There is so much suspicion and hate and anger that for some people, this is another excuse for Islamophobia or antisemitism, just to stir the pot again.” The standoff triggered different sentiments among faith leaders, but most shared a conclusion: This feels like a potentially dangerous moment for religious tension in America. read the complete article

18 Jan 2022

Lawsuit brought against teacher for allegedly removing student’s hijab

The family of a second-grade student at Seth Boyden Elementary School is suing the South Orange–Maplewood School District and teacher Tamar Herman, in response to an allegation that Herman forcibly removed the student’s hijab from her head in October 2021. According to the lawsuit, the family is seeking damages for emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering. The lawsuit was filed by the student’s parents, Joseph and Cassandra Wyatt, on her behalf. Herman is no longer teaching at Seth Boyden, according to the family’s attorney, Robert L. Tarver. According to a statement from the district on Thursday, Oct. 7, the incident was being investigated. However, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, Superintendent Ronald Taylor said the investigation was handed over to the Maplewood Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. According to ECPO public information officer Katherine Carter in an email to the News-Record on Monday, Jan. 10, the investigation is ongoing. read the complete article


18 Jan 2022

Hindu monk in India charged over call for ‘genocide’ of Muslims

Indian authorities have charged a Hindu monk with inciting religious violence after he called for the “genocide” of India’s Muslims at a meeting of right-wing supporters, police said. Senior police officer Swatantra Kumar on Monday said Yati Narsinghanand Giri, an outspoken supporter of far-right nationalists who also heads a Hindu monastery, was initially arrested on Saturday on allegations that he made derogatory remarks against women. He appeared the following day in a court in the town of Haridwar, where he was sent into 14 days of custody for hate speech against Muslims and calling for violence against them. Kumar said the monk Giri, whom he described as a “repeat offender,” was formally charged on Monday for promoting “enmity between different groups on grounds of religion”. The charge can carry a jail term of five years. In December, Giri and other religious leaders called on Hindus to arm themselves for “a genocide” against Muslims during a meeting in Haridwar, a northern holy town in Uttarakhand state, according to a police complaint. He is the second person to be arrested in the case after India’s Supreme Court intervened last week. read the complete article

18 Jan 2022

Hindu extremists in India escalate rhetoric with calls to kill Muslims

India’s Supreme Court says it will investigate after complaints that Hindu nationalist leaders called on followers to take up arms against the country’s Muslim minority. The notice of investigation was issued last week to the northern state of Uttarakhand, where a Hindu nationalist conference in the city of Haridwar was attended by hundreds of right-wing activists. “We must prepare to either kill or be killed,” one of the speakers, Swami Prabodhananda Giri, said at the three-day conference, which was held Dec. 17-19. Anti-Muslim sentiment has been rising in Hindu-majority India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist. But recent calls to violence are shocking in their extremity, experts say, going beyond hate speech to advocate ethnic cleansing. A petition filed to the court said the speeches in Haridwar and at a similar event in the Delhi territory, which includes the nation’s capital, “amount to an open call for murder of an entire community.” The speeches “pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens,” it said, adding that organizers had announced further events. No arrests have been made in either Haridwar or Delhi, and the Modi government has not commented. The official silence, critics say, could be interpreted by Hindu nationalists as a tacit endorsement. read the complete article


18 Jan 2022

Norwegian killer Breivik begins parole hearing with Nazi salute

Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik gave a Nazi salute on Tuesday as he entered court for a parole hearing that will decide if he should be released after spending more than a decade behind bars. Breivik, a far-right extremist, killed 77 people in Norway's worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011. He killed eight with a car bomb in Oslo and then gunned down 69, most of them teenagers, at a Labour Party youth camp. With a shaven head and dressed in a dark suit, Breivik made a white supremacist sign with his fingers before raising his right arm in a Nazi salute to signal his far-right ideology as he entered the court. He also carried signs, printed in English, including one that said "Stop your genocide against our white nations" and "Nazi-Civil-War". Addressing the judge, Breivik described himself as a parliamentary candidate. Breivik, now 42, is serving Norway's maximum sentence of 21 years, which can be extended indefinitely if he is deemed a continued threat to society. read the complete article


18 Jan 2022

Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya says ‘nobody cares’ about Uyghur genocide in China

Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya said during a recent podcast episode that “nobody cares” about the ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in China. The abuse of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in the region has been described as “widespread, state-sponsored forced labor” and “mass detention.” Palihapitiya went on to say that he cared about supply chain issues, climate change, America’s crippled healthcare system as well as the potential economic fallout of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. “Of all the things that I care about, it is below my line,” Palihapitiya said of the Uyghurs’ plight. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 Jan 2022 Edition


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