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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19 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, a new study has found that all of the main TV channels in the country have given significant airtime to far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour, meanwhile the Islamophobia in Europe report by Professors Enes Bayrakli and Farid Hafez found that since 2020 and over the last two years, hate crimes against Muslims in the continent have “worsened, if not reached a tipping point,” and in India a group of six Muslim students in Udupi district in India’s Karnataka state are forced to sit outside the classroom because the college administration alleges they are defying the rules since the hijab is not part of the uniform. Our recommended read of the day is by Rokhaya Diallo for the Washington Post on how the growing strength and popularity of the far-right should concern everyone but “shouldn’t obscure the ways in which government policies are already intrusively targeting Islam” and Muslims. This and more below:


19 Jan 2022

France’s far right is a threat. But don’t ignore Macron’s problematic policies | Recommended Read

Never before has the far right appeared as strong in a French presidential campaign as it does now. That should concern everyone who cares about the future of rights and equity in France — but shouldn’t obscure the ways in which government policies are already intrusively targeting Islam. According to recent polling, far-right candidates are poised to receive about 30 percent of votes in the election’s first round. For the first time, two figures from the far right seem almost equally likely to access the second round of the April elections. In recent times, France has experienced several horrendous terrorist attacks committed by people who claimed Islam, and the need to protect citizens is becoming more and more pressing. So a recent bill pushed by President Emmanuel Macron’s government against “separatism,” now retitled as “reinforcing the principles of the Republic,” seemed timely and necessary to many. But, as the law’s content was unveiled and it was subsequently adopted last year, several human rights organizations protested. The law includes a new legal framework for supervising home-schooling, creates a “republican commitment contract” for organizations seeking public funds, mandates greater reporting from religious associations and allows the government to dissolve religious organizations and close houses of worship. Organizations including the League of Human Rights criticized the disproportionate aspects and dangers of the measures in a “text of division and security escalation,” which would “fragment French society” and “casts generalized suspicion against people of the Muslim faith.” The Council of Europe described the bill as “problematic in many respects,” “targeting” and “stigmatizing” Muslims, and “indirectly suggesting a link between this group and foreign or terrorist threats.” And the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights deplored the haste of the text’s creation, identifying “constraints and sanctions” against religious associations, infringements to fundamental freedoms and the spreading of mistrust. Meanwhile, despite the 1905 principle of “laïcité” (French secularism) — based on which the state remains separate from religious affairs — the government has become more intrusive toward Muslim practices. Several Muslim organizations have been dissolved or dismantled — one on grounds including that its fight against Islamophobia was “cultivating the suspicion of Islamophobia within French society.” Another was accused of not properly managing the comments section of its social media; it, too, was dissolved. read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

French media devote most of their coverage to the far-right, study finds

A study in France has revealed a strong tendency by the country's media to give far-right voices airtime and amplify their fringe views. As the country heads towards presidential elections in a few months, many of the country's right-wing and far-right candidates have a stridently islamophobic view of Muslims. Many of the same candidates also regularly pepper their speeches with views against migrants and sweeping statements against minorities. The study by the National Audiovisual Institute (NAI) found that all the main TV channels in France gave significant airtime to Zemmour in particular, sometimes even more than the country's President Emmanuel Macron. BFMTV, the country's largest channel, dedicated almost 35 percent of its coverage for the upcoming presidential elections to Zemmour, a former TV host who has never held elected office before and is now a far-right firebrand. In contrast, editors at the BFMTV decided to give just over 15 percent of airtime to the country's president. Whereas Marine Le Pen, a more established far-right candidate, received almost 15 percent. The authors of the NAI study found that right-wing political events in the country received "privileged" coverage amongst the country's main TV channels. Far-right candidates like Zemmour have proved to be such a ratings bonanza for the country's media that one major TV channel known as TPMP has dedicated almost 55 percent of its presidential coverage to the convicted politician. "TPMP gives an overwhelming emphasis to the far right," said the report with more than 70 percent of references on the channel about far-right candidates. The study went on to add that "overall, the centre, the right and the extreme right are very clearly mentioned more than the political families on the left." read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

Far-right French presidential candidate Éric Zemmour found guilty of inciting racial hatred

Far-right French presidential candidate Éric Zemmour was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and fined $11,400 on Monday, adding another obstacle to a bid that has lost momentum in recent weeks but may leave a lasting mark on French politics. Zemmour’s lawyer vowed to appeal the guilty verdict, which came less than three months before the first round of the election in April. Accusations against Zemmour centered around his description of unaccompanied child migrants as “thieves,” “killers” and “rapists” during a debate on the CNews TV channel in September 2020. Zemmour didn’t attend the criminal court trial in Paris. In a response Monday, he called the verdict “stupid” and “ideological.” “There is an urgent need to drive ideology out of the courts,” he said in the statement. Zemmour has been convicted several times over controversial public remarks, including for provoking racial hatred against Muslims, and a number of legal proceedings are still underway. read the complete article


19 Jan 2022

Warriors part-owner backtracks after saying he doesn’t care about Uyghur abuse

Chamath Palihapitiya, a billionaire venture capitalist, posted a clarification of his comments to Twitter on Wednesday. “I recognize that I came across as lacking empathy. As a refugee, my family fled from a country [Sri Lanka] with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere.” Palihapitiya’s comments were made on the All In podcast. He was discussing why Joe Biden’s support for the Uyghurs had not helped the president’s poll ratings. “Let’s be honest, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,” Palihapitiya said. “You bring it up because you really care, and I think that’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. “I’m telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, it is below my line.” He added that caring about human rights around the world is a “luxury belief”. “The reason I think that is we don’t do enough domestically to actually express that view in real tangible ways,” he said. “So until we actually clean up our own house, the idea that we step outside our borders, with us morally virtue-signaling about someone else’s human rights record, is deplorable.” read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

Islamophobia in Europe is at ‘tipping point’: Muslims in Europe speak out

Islamophobia in Europe is a report created by Professors Enes Bayrakli and Farid Hafez who did a study into Islamophobia across Europe and found that since 2020 and over the last two years, hate crimes against Muslims in the continent have "worsened, if not reached a tipping point”. It also sheds light on online abuse faced by visible Muslims and how narratives in European media have spurred Islamophobia. “Hate against Muslims is at an all-time high here in France they make us feel like we are outsiders even if we are born and bred in the country or have children who are French nationals.” Nada says she struggled for years to be accepted for her Muslim identity and had received discriminatory comments from fellow parents at her children’s school. “One mother in my daughter’s school asked me why I want to be different from everyone else and cover my hair. They made me feel isolated and their prejudice leaked out into the playground where my kids would also be the victim of bullying.” It’s not only in school settings in France that Muslims get targeted but also when trying to get employment. Here in the UK, the hijab and face veil may not be banned but it is felt by many Muslims like Fozia Khan, 36, from Scotland, that Islamophobia is a problem that has been "swept under the carpet for far too long." “When we have a Prime Minister that calls niqab-wearing women as ‘letter boxes’ what more can we expect? They (Tory government) haven’t even done an enquiry into Islamophobia yet there have been countless anti-Muslim attacks here in the UK." As the report suggests, Muslims in Europe that The New Arab have spoken to share the sentiment that Islamophobia is still rife and has worsened due to not enough being done about it by those in power. read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

As a Muslim Hebrew teacher, the Texas synagogue hostage attack made me anxious and sad

As a Hebrew teacher, I watched the incident unfold with horror. I couldn’t help but feel that this incident could have happened at my synagogue in London. As a Muslim, a part of me was also concerned about the anti-Muslim rhetoric that might unfold: how people might generalise about Muslim communities as a result and how Islamophobia might be bolstered by the reports. A rise in the far-right across Europe and the US means that Jewish and Muslim communities are more under attack than ever before. In the summer of 2017, Darren Osborne drove into Finsbury Park mosque in London, killing one and injuring nine. In April 2019, John T. Earnest carried out a shooting in Poway synagogue, San Diego. Just days before, he had set fire to a mosque in Escondido. Then we had the October 2019 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. The Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand of March 2019 had happened just a few months before. Right-wing extremism is an overwhelming physical threat to Jewish communities in Europe and the US. However, to discount Muslim antisemitism would be disingenuous. While it is too early to say what the exact motives were, it seems that the perpetrator made links between the structures of power holding Aafia Siddiqui in custody and the Jewish community. The dissemination of right-wing and white supremacist conspiracy theories about Jews ruling the world, or governing the media, unfortunately plagues many Muslim circles. My fear — as is the fear of many Muslims who watched the news of the synagogue hostage situation with horror — is that this latest attack will be used to justify false, Islamophobic narratives about all Muslims. There is precedence for these concerns. read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

Crimes against humanity: Saudi Arabia is 'turning a blind eye to genocide' if Uyghurs are deported back to China

Wali Hamdullah and Nur Muhammed Rozi, whose Hajj pilgrimage from Turkey ended abruptly more than a year ago following their mysterious detention in the Saudi capital, have become victims of a tense standoff between the Gulf country, Beijing, and activists demanding their release and return to Turkey. The duplicity of states willing to trade Uyghurs for loans and infrastructure projects has been well documented and most recently the case of Idris Hasan detained in Morocco attracted sympathy from the world but impotence in the face of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) pressure on Casablanca to return him to China. News that the Saudi government had ordered their extradition to China on January 3, 2022, has devastated them and the worldwide Uyghur community, fearing for their own safety were similar orders to be made against their countrymen, not only in Saudi Arabia but around the world. The two men are currently being held in al-Dhahban Mabahith (intelligence) prison north of Jeddah according to Human Rights Watch. Speaking to The New Arab this week, Hamdullah's 21-year-old daughter Sümeyye Aytürk was distraught. "My father has done nothing wrong. He was an independent, hard-working and kind man," she said. "He was good-natured, outgoing and hospitable. It is heartbreaking to think that his simple pilgrimage to a Muslim country should have ended with his extradition to China." Increasing economic and political ties between Beijing and Riyadh ensures that there is intolerance to criticism on either side and so any demands by China to return what they claim to be "stray" Uyghurs are unlikely to be opposed. read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

How Aafia Siddiqui’s case symbolises 'the lies' of War on Terror

Siddiqui is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2010 for attempting to shoot US military officers while being detained in Afghanistan in 2008. Siddiqui appeared on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists but was never convicted of terrorism. The attack on the synagogue has since put Siddiqui in the centre of at least three high-profile hostage-taking incidents. In 2012, reports indicate that a group of US national security officials received an offer from the Pakistani government that if Siddiqui were released, Islamabad would secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, missing since 2009. Siddiqui attracted the attention of US law enforcement after the 9/11 attacks. Top FBI officials and the Justice Department described her as an “Al Qaeda operative and facilitator” in 2004. In 2008, she was arrested in Afghanistan. US officials said they found her carrying handwritten notes describing how to make dirty bombs and a list of various locations in the US that could be targeted. While being interrogated, authorities say, she grabbed the M-4 rifle of a US Army officer and opened fire. Marwa Elbially, Siddiqui's attorney, said she refuted the allegation and maintains that soldiers at the interrogation were surprised by her presence and yelled, "she's loose", and then shot her. “If she was ‘Lady Al Qaeda’, as the Western media often likes to pejoratively present her, you would think that the charge sheets would include acts of terrorism. And yet that wasn't the case,” Abdulrazaq, the researcher, told TRT World. Her conviction that embodied “the injustices of the post-9/11 US judicial system” was widely criticised. “She has come to epitomise everything that was wrong with the War on Terror, the injustice, the lies and the heavily fuelled Islamophobic agenda,” Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist who uncovered the story of Siddiqui, told TRT World. read the complete article

United States

19 Jan 2022

11 hours of prayer and solidarity at the Colleyville synagogue standoff

On Saturday morning (Jan. 15), my wife and I were in the car with our kids in the back seat when we heard from a friend that there was a hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, involving a rabbi. I’m an imam in Irving, a half-hour drive from Colleyville. We checked Congregation Beth Israel’s Facebook page. There were still only a few hundred viewers — word had not spread yet that a real-life hostage taking was being livestreamed. It was becoming clear from the hostage-taker’s ramblings that he was a Muslim. I immediately reached out to two Dallas rabbis I know, Nancy Kasten and David Stern, to offer comfort. In recent years, when any place of worship is attacked anywhere in the world — often by white supremacists — clergy in the Dallas area call each other in solidarity. When a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, was attacked, faith leaders and congregations immediately came to our side, as they did after the (now thankfully obsolete) Muslim travel ban. But it could also be a Jewish temple or an AME church. The solidarity is the same. There was nothing political in our discussions — no talk of terrorism or how the local community would deal with the event. Our discussion was all pastoral, which was enough: What do you say to a wife and daughter who are wondering if they’ll ever see their husband and father again? At about 6 p.m., shortly after the first hostage was freed, two Pakistani Muslim women were allowed into the church. They were members of an interfaith group Charlie belonged to. They hugged Charlie’s wife and daughter for a long time, all four of them crying, and all of us watching and crying as well. These weren’t people who had just met at an interfaith dialogue. They were close family friends. They had brought a dinner of samosas — filled dough pockets that are a staple in South Asia. Charlie’s wife laughed for a moment, saying that these women’s samosas were his favorites. If he wants some, she joked, he needs to get out alive. The women tearfully assured her that inshaAllah (God willing), he would get to share dinner with them. read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

Biden nominates Muslim woman to the federal bench, a first in US history as he diversifies the judiciary

President Joe Biden intends to nominate a Muslim woman for a federal judgeship for the first time in U.S. history Wednesday as part of his administration's push to reshape the federal judiciary with historic diversity. Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, is Biden's nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. If confirmed by the Senate, Choudhury would become the first Muslim woman to serve as a federal judge and the first Bangladeshi-American. The latest round of eight nominations – the 13th since Biden took office one year ago – brings Biden's total judicial nominees to 83 and continues his administration's efforts to put more women and judges of color on the federal bench. read the complete article

19 Jan 2022


Two decades ago, on Jan. 11, 2002, the US military began detaining Global War on Terror (GWOT) prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, opening one of the longest and darkest chapters of its abusive responses to the 9/11 attacks. The US has unlawfully imprisoned hundreds of foreign Muslim men — and even boys — at the offshore naval outpost for months or years, nearly all without charge. President Joe Biden should not let another year pass without ending detentions at Guantánamo for good. Disconcertingly, Biden let this tainted anniversary pass with no public statement, despite his pledges to close the Guantánamo detention center. Instead, he left it to the Pentagon to share the positive but meager news that it had cleared five more of the 39 prisoners still held at Guantánamo for transfer, which brings the number of those approved for repatriation or resettlement abroad to 18. Yet, the Pentagon set no date for the transfers. So far the Biden administration has only let one man leave Guantánamo. Some men still detained there were cleared for transfer a dozen years ago. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has begun work on a second courthouse at Guantánamo to prosecute prisoners. Many people in the United States may only be vaguely aware of the systematic abuses the US military has committed against the 765 men and 15 boys it has detained at Guantánamo since scooping them up abroad with the help of allies like Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s by design. Only people cleared by the Pentagon can fly to the heavily guarded base. Nor does the US publicly broadcast the proceedings from Guantánamo’s military commissions, fundamentally flawed courts the Pentagon created just to prosecute prisoners at the base. Even journalists need special permission to observe them, either remotely from a US military base or at Guantánamo behind soundproof glass — and either way with an audio delay to censor exchanges on often insufficient national security grounds. Sometimes the court even withholds information from the defense attorneys and the accused themselves. Yet, for many around the world, Guantánamo remains one of the most enduring symbols of the abuses the US inflicted on foreign Muslim men, many of them Black or brown, in response to the 9/11 attacks. As we note in a new Human Rights Watch report for the Costs of War Project at Brown University, the continued detentions and flawed prosecutions at Guantánamo are profoundly damaging in myriad ways. read the complete article


19 Jan 2022

Muslim girls wearing hijab barred from classes at Indian college

When A H Almas, 18, and two of her friends stepped into their classroom on a December morning, the teacher immediately shouted at them: “Get out.” The Muslim girls were not allowed to sit in the classroom because they were wearing the hijab, or headscarf. “When we arrived at the door of the classroom, the teacher said we cannot enter with the hijab,” Almas told Al Jazeera. “She asked us to remove it.” Since then, a group of six Muslim students at a government-run women’s college in Udupi district in India’s Karnataka state in the south are forced to sit outside the classroom because the college administration alleges they are defying the rules since the hijab is not part of the uniform. But the girls told Al Jazeera the hijab is “part of their faith” and practising it is “their right guaranteed under law”. They have maintained a defiant stance even as the administration has allegedly used “pressure tactics” to coerce them to give in. The girls have been marked absent from their classes since December 31 even as they say they are going to the College every day. “We are not going to budge, no way,” Aliya Assadi, who is a part of the group, told Al Jazeera. read the complete article

19 Jan 2022

After ‘auction apps’, lewd Clubhouse chat targets Muslim women. Delhi Police file FIR

A chatroom on social media platform Clubhouse Monday afternoon discussed how and why “Muslim gals are more beautiful than Hindu gals” and how sexual relationships with them would increase the “virtue” and “good deeds” of those practising “Sanatana Dharma”. A video recording of the chatroom, posted on Twitter, showed around 18-20 participants discussing “pink private parts of Muslim women”, “Babri Masjid”, “ghar wapsi (conversion to Hinduism)” and “Oedipus complex” among other lewd, Islamophobic and sexist remarks. The Delhi Police Tuesday registered an FIR in the case under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion) and 354A (sexual harassment). The Delhi Commission for Women had written to the Delhi Police seeking action earlier Tuesday. read the complete article

19 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

United Kingdom

19 Jan 2022

Ex Guantánamo detainee plans legal action to restore British passport

A former Guantánamo detainee is planning legal action against Priti Patel to try to restore his British passport, which was stripped from him eight years ago after two trips to Syria. Moazzam Begg’s application for a new passport was rejected in September 2021, even though a terror prosecution relating to his time in Syria collapsed in 2014, after which police said they accepted he was innocent. Frustrated by the delays and complaining of a lack of explanation, Begg, who works with the Cage advocacy group which campaigns to help people caught up in the “war on terror”, said he felt he had little choice but to apply for a judicial review. “I’ve met with leaders of countries and government ministers; the police have said I’m innocent; but all of that seems to count for nothing. When I met with Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, when the Guantánamo cases were settled [in November 2010], he said he would like to turn over the page, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Begg said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Jan 2022 Edition


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