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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02 Jan 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Bangladesh, nearly 1,000 Rohingya Muslims living in a refugee camp held a rally demanding a “peaceful and dignified return to their home country of Myanmar’s Rakhine State,” meanwhile in China, media reports state that a Uyghur Muslim preacher, who was serving a five-year sentence in Xinjiang for making a religious pilgrimage abroad, has died of liver cancer in prison, and in the United States, a new study finds that the “number of residents holding Islamophobic and antisemitic views has flatlined, and may actually be shrinking, even as hate crimes increase.” Our recommended read of the day is by Bashir Mohamed Caato for Middle East Eye on the Swedish government’s shutting down of 17 private Islamic schools, which critics say is part of an “anti-Islamic rhetoric” and had “political motives.” This and more below:


02 Jan 2023

Muslim children disconsolate as Sweden forces Islamic schools to shut | Recommended Read

Samsam Ahmad's children, eight and 12, were inconsolable. They had just found out that their school in the Swedish capital Stockholm was closed down, leaving their mother at a loss of how to explain why they would no longer be with their friends in the new school year. In July, Ahmad, like other Muslim parents, was notified in writing by the Swedish Schools Inspectorate that Al-Azhar private Islamic school would be closed down due to "mismanagement". "We were only given one month's notice… but I wasn't given further details. Islamic teaching made up five percent of the school's curriculum," Ahmad told Middle East Eye over the phone. Al-Azhar is now among 17 of Sweden's 19 private Islamic schools that have been closed across Sweden since 2019, with most shuttered this year as the Swedish government cracked down on private religious establishments. Two Islamic schools are currently challenging the decision in court and are still operating. Private Muslim schools teach Sweden's national curriculum, but also provide students with Islamic teachings, the space to practise Islamic rituals and offer halal food. In a letter sent to Al-Azhar, and seen by MEE, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate informed the school, where more than 200 students were enrolled, that the management was deemed "unfit to conduct school activities after it was assessed that children are at risk of being exposed to radicalisation". read the complete article

United States

02 Jan 2023

Alex Lubin's book, "Never-Ending War on Terror", explains it

War is probably one of the last things one wants to think about as a new year begins. As 2023 marks the 20th year of the second invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 and the 22nd year of the so-called War on Terror, revisiting the origins and origin stories of this ongoing, seemingly never-ending war is vitally appropriate. For a generation born after the turn of the 21st Century, and perhaps for many who were born before Y2K, the War on Terror, the ubiquitous security apparatuses and police forces, the transformation of private and public life, anti-Arab feelings and actions combined with an avid rise in White Christian Nationalism, and the shifting economies of security capitalism, seem normal, unavoidable, timeless. Such is the consequence of silence, disavowed, distorted, and ignored historical narratives that present the United States as a victim, that the events of 9-11 have no history, and the total global war on anything anti-American as an exceptional moment. These are some of the issues Alex Lubin engages in the 2021 book Never-Ending War on Terror, published by the University of California Press. "An entire generation of young adults has never known an America without the War on Terror. This book contends with the pervasive effects of post-9/11 policy and myth-making in every corner of American life. Never-Ending War on Terror is organized around five keywords that have come to define the cultural and political moment: homeland, security, privacy, torture, and drone. Alex Lubin synthesizes nearly two decades of United States war-making against terrorism by asking how the War on Terror has changed American politics and society, and how the War on Terror draws on historical myths about American national and imperial identity. From the PATRIOT Act to the hit show Homeland, from Edward Snowden to Guantanamo Bay, and from 9/11 memorials to Trumpism, this succinct book connects America's political economy and international relations to our contemporary culture at every turn." read the complete article

02 Jan 2023

Favourable view of Muslims in the US ticks up, even as Islamophobic incidents rise

The number of US residents holding Islamophobic and antisemitic views has flatlined, and may actually be shrinking, even as hate crimes increase, according to a 2022 poll conducted by Brookings Institute. Favourable views of Muslims in the US have risen substantially over the past seven years. In 2016, 58 percent of those polled by Brookings held favourable views of Muslims, by May 2022 that number had ticked up to 78 percent. Authors of the new report, "The antisemitic and Islamophobic fringe is alarmingly emboldened - but it's shrinking", suggested that Americans' views on Muslims were shaped by a rise in Islamophoic rhetoric during the years of the administration of US President Donald Trump. "As Trump targeted Muslims in his campaign, more Americans, especially Democrats and Independents, seemed to rally behind Muslims, even as anti-Muslim discourse expanded," they said. An increase in antisemitic rhetoric also does not appear to have impacted the views held by the general public. Opposition to a Muslim presidential candidate was substantially higher, with 44 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Democrats saying they would reject a candidate based on their Islamic faith. Despite the high opposition, the poll indicates that both Republicans and Democrats are slowly warming to the idea of voting for a Muslim candidate. The total number of those opposed dropped from 31 percent in 2016 to 26 percent in 2022. Despite the trend in favourability, there has been a significant increase in attacks on Muslim and Jewish groups, suggesting an increased intensity of Islamophobic and antisemitic attitudes. read the complete article


02 Jan 2023

The Origins and Future of Islamophobia in India

On Nov. 21 Jocelyne Cesari, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, along with Kalpana Jain, a journalist and editor at The Conversation US, delivered a discussion on the rise of anti-Muslim hate speech and violence in India. Combining scholarly and journalistic perspectives, the two argued that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have constructed hostile attitudes toward Muslims among the country’s Hindu majority. After Modi came to power in 2014, India experienced a large increase in anti-Muslim religious violence, with many conflicts centered around allegations of Muslims illegally selling and consuming cow meat. Modi and many prominent members of the BJP contributed to the hatred through their inflammatory rhetoric and their unwillingness to address or punish instances of violence against Muslims. The BJP has also recently enacted “security” laws that disproportionally target Muslims. “The moment that the state starts to scrutinize one religious group, they also turn to do it to other religious groups,” Jain warned. Cesari views the current religious tensions as a legacy of British interference in the region. Historically, religious groups on the Indian subcontinent tended to see themselves first and foremost as members of a local community. This local sense of belonging typically superseded religious differences. read the complete article

02 Jan 2023

December diary: Anti-Muslim hate crime, Islamophobia dominates end of 2022

In November, a young Muslim engineering student was casually addressed as a terrorist by his teacher. This month witnessed a government school principal’s arrest for letting his students sing a popular poem called Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua, also known as Bachche ki Dua. From having a cup of coffee with a friend from a different faith to the colour of a railway station, religious intolerance has solidified its presence in the country. This article is a part of’s tracker of incidents of hate crimes and Islamophobic incidents that took place against Muslims across India. read the complete article


02 Jan 2023

What Pope Benedict got wrong about Islam

In a barbed valedictory, my colleague Tom Reese portrays the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as the quintessential German professor, a brilliant theologian “who was not interested in listening to people who had other views.” I couldn’t agree more, and, as Reese points out, few episodes from his papacy show that better than the controversy Benedict stirred up by taking a swipe at Islam in the lecture he gave on faith and reason at the University of Regensburg in 2006. What follows is an updated version of a look I took then at how Benedict stepped wrong. What got Benedict into trouble was his quotation of a nasty put-down of Islam by the learned Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, delivered in a debate with a Persian professor on the relative merits of Christianity and Islam near the end of the 14th century. But even before trotting out the quote, the pope took aim at the principal proof text used today to claim Islam is committed to religious tolerance. Manuel, Benedict mused, must have known the Koranic verse (Sura 2.256) that proclaims, “There must be no compulsion in religion.” Explained the pope, “According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Muhammad was still powerless and under threat.” Snap! Actually, the pope’s own expert begged to disagree. “The consensus of scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, is that Sura 2 is from the Medinah period, when Muhammad had increasing political power,” said Kevin Madigan, S.J., president of the Institute for the Study of Religions and Cultures at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, in an interview with “Commonweal Magazine.” As for the emperor’s now world-famous put-down, it went like this: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This has “a brusqueness that leaves us astounded,” Benedict said, yet he did not venture an opinion on its accuracy. One could be forgiven for concluding that he considered it really bad manners by our lights but not untrue. read the complete article

02 Jan 2023

‘2023 should be Home Year,’ demand Rohingya refugees

“2023 should be Rohingya Home Year,” read a placard held up by a refugee boy as nearly 1,000 Rohingya people in Bangladesh’s refugee camp in the southern border district of Cox’s Bazar held a rally, demanding a peaceful and dignified return to their home country of Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Carrying banners and placards with various slogans like “Rohingya Want to Smile in 2023,” “No NVC (National Verification Cards),” and “Enough is Enough, Let’s Go Home,” a large number of the persecuted people attended the rally on Saturday. Addressing the gathering, Rohingya community leaders lamented that due to uncertainty around their peaceful and dignified repatriation and poor living conditions in Bangladesh’s 33 congested camps, their children are growing up without proper education and guidelines. Currently, Bangladesh is hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017. Every year around 35,000 newborn babies are added to the number of refugees. Despite frequent efforts by Bangladesh, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated on grounds of safety, dignity, and citizenship right that the military junta scrapped in the guise of a controversial 1982 Citizenship Act. “If the situation remains so, we fear that in near future we will be part of a lost generation,” Moulavi Syed Ullah, a Rohingya community leader, said while addressing the rally. read the complete article


02 Jan 2023

China: Former Uyghur Muslim preacher dies in Xinjiang prison

A Uyghur Muslim preacher, who was serving a five-year sentence in China’s far-western Xinjiang region for making a religious pilgrimage abroad, has died of liver cancer in prison, media reports said. Omar Huseyin, 55, was the former hatip, or preacher, at the Qarayulghun Mosque in Korla, known as Ku’erle in Chinese and the second-largest city in Xinjiang, reports Radio Free Asia. Authorities apprehended him in September 2017 amid a widespread crackdown on Islamic clergy and other prominent Uyghurs, for traveling to the holy city Mecca in 2015, the news portal reported. Authorities also detained Huseyin’s three brothers in 2017, one of whom was serving a 12-year sentence for participating in religious activities and died in prison. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Jan 2023 Edition


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