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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Hamline University “retracted its characterization of an adjunct professor as ‘Islamophobic’ on Tuesday and has revised a previous statement about academic freedom,” meanwhile a new BBC series focusing on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is bring attention to his Hindu nationalist and anit-Muslim policies, which has sparked a backlash from twitter users of Indian origin, and in Canada, video footage of a student assaulting another student wearing a hijab has been shared on social media. Our recommended read of the day is by Mansoor Adayfi for Al Jazeera who reflects about his detention at the Guantanamo Bay military prison and how dozens of men still remain there despite being cleared for release.

United States

18 Jan 2023

The World Cup, in Guantanamo | Recommended Read

In 2022, we witnessed a World Cup unlike any other – a World Cup that was full of firsts, especially for football fans in the Global South. Taking place in Qatar, it was the first hosted by an Arab country. Millions of Muslims got to experience the world’s top sporting event taking place in their own neighbourhood. The same tournament, however, left me feeling sad and with a throbbing headache. As I watched the games at a café near my home in Belgrade, Serbia, surrounded by football fans glued to TV screens, I struggled to share their joy. The loud noises, animated faces and the excitement in the air transported me back to Guantanamo, in 2010, when we, the prisoners, were permitted to watch the World Cup for the first time. Watching the tournament in Qatar made me revisit the hopes, fears and frustrations I experienced during my 14-year imprisonment and wonder when those of us who survived Guantanamo would finally have justice. I really tried to enjoy watching the 2022 World Cup as a free man, but couldn’t stop thinking about my 35 brothers still stuck in Guantanamo. Were they allowed to watch the games as we did in 2010? Will they ever get to sit in a cafe or their own living room and watch a World Cup final surrounded by their friends and family? read the complete article

18 Jan 2023

Outrage Over an Image of Muhammad Is Itself Islamophobia

In the name of combating Islamophobia, Hamline University in Minnesota has committed a particularly egregious exercise in Islamophobia. Last October, Erika López Prater, an adjunct professor teaching a global art history class, included a masterpiece of 14th-century Islamic art depicting the Prophet Mohammed receiving Koranic revelations from the archangel Gabriel. Recognizing that some Muslims regard depictions of the prophet (and in some extreme cases, anyone at all) as blasphemous, she provided repeated advance warnings to her students, both in the course syllabus and in class. The fundamental questions raised by this case are what is Islamophobia, what is Islam, and who speaks for Muslims? When I was earning my Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the 1990s, I was involved in a lot of campus activism, and I recognized this dynamic at Hamline instantly. This student and her allies are using a phony complaint of discrimination as a power play. Rationalizing their response, university officials noted that, “To look upon an image of the Prophet Muhammad, for many Muslims, is against their faith.” As someone raised and imbued with Islamic values, I know this is true. But no one compelled anyone to look at such an image, and why would one teach an art history course without showing one of the subject matter’s masterpieces? What these students are saying is not that they shouldn’t have been required to look at the image, since most weren’t even in the class, but that this image should never be shown. Thus they are asserting the right to define what is and is not Islamic, and to speak on behalf of all Muslims. read the complete article

18 Jan 2023

Hamline University retracts ‘Islamophobia’ charge as instructor sues

Hamline University retracted its characterization of an adjunct professor as “Islamophobic” on Tuesday (Jan. 18) and has revised a previous statement about academic freedom. The retraction comes in the wake of a firestorm of criticism after the St. Paul, Minnesota, university did not renew the contract of the adjunct, who showed a 14th-century painting of the Prophet Muhammad in her online class last semester. The change in the university’s position came on the same day the adjunct professor sued the university in Minnesota district court, alleging religious discrimination and defamation. The new statement pulls back on that characterization. “Based on all that we have learned, we have determined that our usage of the term ‘Islamophobic’ was therefore flawed,” the chairwoman of the Hamline University board of trustees, Ellen Watters, wrote in a joint statement with its president. López Prater’s lawsuit claims she has not only lost income from her adjunct position, but has also suffered significant emotional distress from her treatment as well as damage to her professional reputation and her future employment prospects. “Hamline engaged in conduct toward López Prater that was extreme and outrageous,” the suit says. read the complete article

18 Jan 2023

Teen boxes out criticism of hijab, finds success with Green Valley basketball

Green Valley High School’s Aiyana Alchawa walks into the opposing team’s basketball gym and gets ready for the stares. The senior guard has come to expect it. Alchawa is Muslim and competes wearing a hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women. While it’s common for people in her religious community to wear the covering, the teenagers at some random Las Vegas-area school aren’t accustomed to seeing it — especially on the court. Kids, she learned, can be cruel. Some are discreet in looking at her. Others point in her direction and share a chuckle with whomever they are sitting. And, unfortunately, a few have had hurtful things to say, like asking if she’s going to bomb the school — a common insult. “You never get used to it, but it’s not going to affect me,” she said. Alchawa says she’s not blowing off the hurtful comments and storing them on the inside. She feels empowered wearing a hijab and is more than comfortable in her own skin. “Kids are good at being bullies, but I know my worth and won’t let them prevent me from playing,” she said. “They aren’t going to get into my head. What they are saying isn’t new. I’ve heard it all.” read the complete article

18 Jan 2023

Understanding the threat of white Christian nationalism to American democracy today

The rising influence of white Christian nationalism in some circles of American politics is posing a major threat to the health of our democracy and our culture. A new PRRI/Brookings survey of more than 6,000 Americans takes a closer look at the underpinnings of white Christian nationalism, providing new measures to estimate the proportion of Americans who adhere to and reject Christian nationalist ideology. The survey also examines how Christian nationalist views intersect with white identity, anti-Black sentiment, patriarchy, antisemitism, anti-Muslim sentiments, anti-immigrant attitudes, authoritarianism, and support for violence. Additionally, the survey explores the influence Christian nationalism has among our two political parties and major religious subgroups today. On February 8, Governance Studies at Brookings and the Public Religion Research Institute will host the release of this new groundbreaking national survey. A panel of experts will discuss the survey results and what they reveal about Christian nationalism, the state of American democracy, and the health of our society. read the complete article


19 Jan 2023

UP: Girls denied entry to Moradabad college for wearing burqa

Some students of the Hindu college in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad were denied entry to the college for wearing a burqa despite the prescribed uniform code for the students here. The girls have alleged that their college was not letting them enter the college campus wearing burqa and are compelling them to remove it at the entrance gate. On the said matter, a scuffle broke out between the students, the Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha workers, and the college professors who remained adamant about sticking to the prescribed rules. A video of the scene from the Hindu college has been making rounds on the Internet. Meanwhile, the college professor, Dr AP Singh said that they have implemented a dress code for the students here and anybody who refuses to follow it will be barred from entering the college campus. To this, the members of Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha submitted a memorandum to include the burqa in the dress code for college and allow the girls to attend their classes wearing it. read the complete article

18 Jan 2023

India’s Modi Urges His Hindu Nationalist Party to Not Discriminate Against Muslims

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged members of his ruling party to reach out to Muslims and other religious minorities, a rare move to tone down sectarian tensions as he prepares to host the Group of 20 summit later this year. The leader told senior members of his Bharatiya Janata Party that “nobody should be excluded, regardless of whether they vote for us or not,” said Syed Zafar Islam, a party spokesman, in a phone interview. The Indian prime minister has sought to present the country as a force of unity as it takes on the G-20 presidency. However, the South Asian nation has seen rising anti-Muslim sentiment as Modi and the BJP have pushed ahead with their Hindu nationalist agenda since first coming to power in 2014. Since his re-election in 2019, Modi revoked Article 370 of the constitution that granted special autonomous status to India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, and approved a citizenship law that discriminates based on religion. He has also pushed for a national citizens registry in the northeastern state of Assam and laid the foundation stone for the construction of a Hindu temple at a site where a 16th century mosque was razed. read the complete article

18 Jan 2023

British TV documentary on India’s Modi sparks controversy

A new BBC series called “India: The Modi Question” that puts under scrutiny Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approach towards India’s Muslim population has fuelled controversy, sparking backlash from twitter users of Indian origin. The first episode of the two-part series aired on Tuesday, and the second part is due to be broadcast next week on January 24. “Narendra Modi’s premiership has been dogged by persistent allegations about the attitude of his Government towards India’s Muslim population. This series investigates these allegations and examines Modi’s backstory, as well as other questions about his politics when it comes to India’s largest religious minority,” BBC said. In the first episode of the series, BBC investigates Modi’s rise through the ranks of the leading right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leading up to his appointment as the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat in 2001. That’s where the controversy starts. Modi’s term in Gujarat was tarnished by the 2002 Gujarat riots which were triggered when a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was burnt, with 59 people reported dead and the blame cast on Muslims. Violence erupted in the days of rioting that followed. Up to 2,000 people - a vast majority of whom consisted of Muslims that were targeted by the Hindu population - were killed, tens of thousands were displaced, and hundreds of mosques and dargahs were destroyed. The BJP government of Gujarat drew heavy criticism for its disdain in containing the organised massacre against the Muslim minority. read the complete article


18 Jan 2023

Ontario school board investigating after video appears to show Hijab-wearing student being assaulted

“I want to remind you and your children that Islamophobia is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at our school.” That’s what the principal of a secondary school in Mississauga, Ont. told parents in a letter after a student wearing a hibjab was allegedly assaulted by another student and the footage of the incident was shared on social media. “Islamophobia and all forms of oppression need to be uprooted from our schools and communities,” Omar Zia, principal of The Woodlands School, wrote in the letter dated Jan. 17. CTV News Toronto is protecting the identities of the children involved. In a statement to CTV News Toronto, a spokesperson for the Peel District School Board said that an investigation into the December incident is underway. "Woodlands Secondary School responded promptly to the incident and has completed its school investigation," the statement reads. read the complete article


18 Jan 2023

‘What place do Muslims have in Europe’s future?’

An outspoken critic of Islamophobia, Austrian academic Fared Hafez spent two years facing prosecution for terrorism offences after special forces raided his home. His case was dropped, but he still questions whether Muslims will ever be accepted in Europe. read the complete article

18 Jan 2023

Sea ‘a graveyard’ as number of Rohingya fleeing Bangladesh by boat soars

The number of Rohingya refugees taking dangerous sea journeys in the hope of reaching Malaysia or Indonesia has surged by 360%, the UN has announced after hundreds of refugees were left stranded at the end of last year. Rohingya in Bangladesh refugee camps have warned that human smugglers have ramped up operations and are constantly searching for people to fill boats from Myanmar and Bangladesh headed for Malaysia, where people believe they can live more freely. More than 3,500 Rohingya boarded boats in 2022 compared with 700 the year before, reviving a route between the Bay of Bengal and southeast Asia which was used to move thousands of Rohingya until 2015, when the discovery of mass graves in Thailand forced a crackdown. Shabia Mantoo, a UNHCR spokesperson, said smugglers are using “false promises and false hope” to lure desperate people, and that regional governments need to act to prevent trafficking and protect any Rohingya who arrive on their shores. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 19 Jan 2023 Edition


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