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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23 Jan 2023

Today in Islamophobia: Across the globe, the Muslim community is outraged after Sweden allows notorious habitual offender Rasmus Paludan to burn copy of Holy Quran, meanwhile in China, the genocide of Uyghur Muslims continues as the campaign has now moved from internment camps to forced labor and lengthy prison sentences, and in the U.S., the military has allowed two Guantanamo Bay detainees to meet with lawyers this weekend even as the number of confirmed cases rose to one-third of the prison population. Our recommended read of the day is by France 24 on how India’s government has blocked videos and tweets sharing links to a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the deadly 2002 Gujarat riots. This and more below:


22 Jan 2023

India blocks 'hostile' BBC documentary on PM Modi | Recommended Read

India's government said it has blocked videos and tweets sharing links to a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role during deadly 2002 sectarian riots, calling it "hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage". The British broadcaster's programme alleges that the Hindu nationalist Modi, premier of Gujarat state at the time, ordered police to turn a blind eye to the orgy of violence there that left at least 1,000 people dead, most of them minority Muslims. Kanchan Gupta, an adviser to the government, tweeted on Saturday that the Indian government used emergency powers under IT rules to block the documentary and its clips from being shared on social media. Orders were also issued to Twitter to block over 50 tweets with links to YouTube videos. Both YouTube and Twitter have complied with the instructions, Gupta said. The BBC documentary cited a previously classified British foreign ministry report quoting unnamed sources saying that Modi met senior police officers and "ordered them not to intervene" in the anti-Muslim violence by right-wing Hindu groups that followed. The violence was "politically motivated" and the aim "was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas", the foreign ministry report said. The "systematic campaign of violence has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing" and was impossible "without the climate of impunity created by the state Government... Narendra Modi is directly responsible," it concluded. read the complete article

20 Jan 2023

India: Are Rohingya refugees being targeted by arson?

India is home to an estimated 40,000 Rohingya refugees who escaped persecution in Myanmar. Close to 20,000 of them are registered with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). On January 10, a fire broke out in a Rohingya settlement in the Faridabad district of Haryana, which is 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the Indian capital, New Delhi. Around 40 Rohingya and Assamese families live in the same settlement. Most of the men in the community work as drivers or daily wage laborers. Five houses were burned to the ground as the fire ravaged the settlement. Mohammad Ismail, a Rohingya refugee and a community leader, said the cause of the fire in Faridabad could not be determined. In January 2021, Ismail's tent was burned to the ground when he and his family were not home. He also lost all his belongings. "Fires keep following us. We don't even bother complaining to the police anymore," he said. Research from the Social and Political Research Foundation (SPRF) India shows that between 2016 and 2021, 12 mysterious fires broke out in different Rohingya camps across India. Four people died, many suffered serious injuries and close to 400 makeshift homes were damaged by these 12 fires. read the complete article

20 Jan 2023

Jahangirpuri: Muslim women face discrimination in getting house help jobs post riots

Scores of women domestic helps in Jahangirpuri lost their jobs after communal clashes broke last year and have been unable to pick up the pieces of their lives, with many compelled to hide their religious identity to find work. Communal distrust runs deep in the northwest Delhi area since the violence in April as many women from violence-hit C-Block claimed that they face discrimination. They claimed that an anti-encroachment drive in the same month added to their woes with several makeshift shops, many run by women, demolished. Nine months have passed since the clashes and the bulldozing of shops, but “we are still to rebuild our lives and repay the loans we took to survive”, said a woman from a minority community. “We always faced unfair treatment because of our religion but the situation deteriorated after the violence,” she told PTI, requesting anonymity. There are several instances of women who to get jobs as domestic helps have had to hide their identity by changing their names, the woman claimed, adding that “houses of people from the majority community stopped giving her sister work”. read the complete article

22 Jan 2023

The Forever Prisoner, a documentary about the US torture machine by Alex Gibney

Alex Gibney's 2007 Oscar-winning documentary, Taxi To the Dark Side, first revealed how the FBI, CIA, and the military, with the knowledge of elected officials and security agents of the state, while also deceiving leaders, kidnapped and tortured innocent people in military prisons and black sites. Justified by legal forgeries appropriately called "the Torture Memos," the torture ring run by the FBI, CIA, and other government intelligence officials is just one in a long line of human rights violations by US foreign service apparatuses. These memos "rationalized the unthinkable," as David Cole, the National Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in a book by the same name. Gibney's most recent film, The Forever Prisoner, according to this interview in Vanity Fair, examines "the moral lines crossed in the name of national security." For example, Strawberry Fields was a classified CIA unit where "the worst of the worst" terrorists were kept, a phrase so overused it ceases to have meaning and refers to anyone and everyone at any time, and is just one of the secrets revealed by unredacted documents Gibney gained access. read the complete article


22 Jan 2023

Hundreds protest outside Swedish Consulate in Istanbul over Quran burning

Outrage over a Quran-burning incident in Sweden has ignited a second day of protests in Türkiye, reflecting a growing global condemnation against anti-Muslim hatred while complicating the already tense diplomatic relations between the two nations. Some 250 people gathered outside the Swedish Consulate in Istanbul on Sunday, holding flags and banners that said “We condemn Sweden’s state-supported Islamophobia.” Anti-Muslim activist Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of Islam’s holy book outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday, sparking protests in Istanbul and Ankara that night. A sign on a window of the Swedish Consulate read: “We do not share that book-burning idiot’s view.” Mustafa Demircan, one of the protesters, said the act of burning the Quran should not be considered an act protected by the right of free expression. read the complete article

22 Jan 2023

Muslim Activists Misunderstand Islam

For centuries, Islam was seen by many Western scholars—and, unfortunately, by the overwhelming majority of Muslims themselves—as a static, immovable, undifferentiated, and immutable corpus. The Muslim world has always been as diverse politically and culturally—if not more so—than Christendom at any time. Let’s start with the bogus claim that Islam forbids the drawing or painting of religious or holy figures.There is absolutely no such injunction in the Quran, and the Persian and Ottoman empires, as well as various Muslim realms in India, have left us a stunningly rich inheritance of drawings and paintings depicting the mundane of the terrestrial and the sublime of the celestial. Islam developed and expanded in very different ways in the numerous geographical areas penetrated by Muslim armies and the civilians that accompanied them, and later on by traders with their caravans traversing known ancient trading routes while cutting new paths into unknown regions in the fast-expanding realm of Islam. The early Muslim Arabs were greatly influenced politically, culturally, and administratively by the more sophisticated Byzantine and Persian empires they fought during the reign of the Umayyads, the first dynasty in Islam. Muslims, whether in Spain or in India, adapted themselves to the local cultures and incorporated local artisans, bureaucrats, and elites into their own rising political structures. The staggering blunder of Hamline University was in equating the display of reverential images of the Prophet Mohammed for specifically pedagogical purposes with the infamous cartoons mocking Mohammed that the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published in 2012 and 2013, an act that prompted a deadly attack against the magazine staff. read the complete article

22 Jan 2023

'Over 1.5 billion Muslims hurt': Reaction to Quran desecration in Sweden

Muslim world has erupted in anger and alarm after Sweden allowed a far-right racist politician Rasmus Paludan to burn a copy of the Muslim Holy book Quran in front of the Turkish embassy building in Stockholm. Türkiye: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book, the Quran, in Sweden today (21 January), despite our repeated warnings earlier," a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said. Calling the act "an outright hate crime," the ministry said: "Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable." "This despicable act is yet another example of the alarming level that Islamophobia and, racist and discriminatory movements have reached in Europe." Pakistan: "This senseless and provocative Islamophobic act hurts the religious sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world," said a statement from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. Kuwait: The incident "hurts Muslims' sentiments across the world and marks serious provocation," Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah said in statements cited by the state news agency KUNA. read the complete article

21 Jan 2023

Turkish anger after Quran burning, Kurd protests in Sweden

Turkey denounced Sweden after protests in front of its embassy in Stockholm including the burning of a Quran by far-right supporters and a separate demonstration by Kurdish activists. Ankara said on Saturday it was cancelling a visit by Sweden’s defence minister aimed at overcoming Turkey’s objections to its NATO membership. Sweden needs Turkey’s backing to gain entry to the military alliance as fears in Europe grow after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Quran burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, leader of Danish far-right political party Hard Line. In April last year, Paludan’s announcement of a Quran burning “tour” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan sparked riots across Sweden. Surrounded by police, Paludan set fire to the holy book with a lighter following a long diatribe of almost an hour, in which he attacked Islam and immigration in Sweden. About 100 people gathered nearby for a peaceful counterdemonstration. read the complete article

20 Jan 2023

World Uyghur Congress loses legal challenge against UK authorities

The World Uyghur Congress has said it is disappointed to have lost a legal challenge against UK authorities for not launching a criminal investigation into the importation of cotton products manufactured by forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province but would continue to fight for accountability. The WUC took the home secretary, HM Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Agency (NCA), to the high court, claiming an unlawful failure or refusal to investigate imports from Xinjiang, allegedly home to 380 internment camps used to detain Uyghurs and people from other Muslim minorities. It said 85% of Chinese cotton was grown in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and the “vast majority” was manufactured in facilities under “conditions of detention and forced labour”, implicating UK companies that imported from certain Chinese firms. However, on Friday, Mr Justice Dove ruled against the WUC. He accepted the government’s argument that the WUC had not proved that a specific consignment of cotton imported into the UK was the product of unlawful conduct. In his written judgment, the judge further said that for UK companies to be prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act, it would have to be shown that “the consignment had been purchased for significantly less than its value”. read the complete article

United States

22 Jan 2023

The Hamline controversy and the real threat to academic freedom

Over the past few weeks, there has been much debate about academic freedom in the United States. It was sparked by the decision of Hamline University not to renew the contract of an adjunct professor who showed a famous 14th-century Persian painting of the Prophet Muhammad and Angel Gabriel in her art history class. The decision was made following the complaint of a Muslim student who felt offended. Academic freedom defenders have condemned the non-renewal of the adjunct professor, while equity advocates have reiterated the importance of creating university environments that are welcoming and inclusive to America’s rapidly diversifying student population, including Muslims. Speaking past each other, these two camps miss the real problem here: the commercialisation of higher education to the detriment of students and faculty alike. Facing financial pressures to cut costs, even as tuition skyrockets, administrators in both public and private schools have been replacing tenure-track lines with adjuncts since the 1970s. In 2020, two out of every four faculty in the US were adjunct professors on short-term contracts with no guarantee of renewal, getting paid just a few thousand dollars per class. About 25 percent of adjunct professors rely on public assistance and 40 percent cannot meet basic expenses, according to the American Federation of Teachers. read the complete article

22 Jan 2023

More Prisoners Contract the Coronavirus at Guantánamo Bay

The number of Covid cases among terrorism suspects at the prison at Guantánamo Bay has grown, according to people familiar with its operations. One U.S. official reported on Sunday that more than a third of the 35 wartime detainees had contracted the coronavirus. Only two of the men who were confirmed to have the virus by Friday were identified. Both are former C.I.A. prisoners who were never charged. One was the Palestinian prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah, 51, who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, prompting the military to cancel all legal meetings. By Friday, a Somalian man, Guled Hassan Duran, 48, had also tested positive. Both have been detained in the maximum-security Camp 5 prison building that houses men who were held in the C.I.A.’s overseas prison network, called the black sites, and were brought to the Navy base in Cuba in 2006 or 2007. read the complete article

United Kingdom

22 Jan 2023

Exclusive Interview: Athletic's Abdul Rehman - The Positive Impact Of Having Muslim Players In The Premier League

The Premier League is home to some of the best players in world football from across the world. Players from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions come together for the sport they love, diversity being something that has grown massively over the years. In this interview, I speak to the Athletic's Abdul Rehman about the incredible impact Muslim players have had on representing Islam, the next generation of footballers, and them being excellent role models for society. read the complete article

20 Jan 2023

Muslim schoolgirl, 16, beaten and punched in the head in horrific attack in Hounslow

A Muslim schoolgirl was savagely beaten in an unprovoked attack in Hounslow. Victim Amina was punched in her jaw before her hijab was ripped from her head in the horror attack on January 3, and her friend who was with her at the time was also punched in the face. After buying some school supplies in the city centre and heading to a nearby bus stop at around 5.40pm, both girls were spotted by two other girls. During the attack, Amina claims one of the girls, who she described as white, egged on her friend and filmed it. Fatima added: "She was punching [my daughter] repeatedly over and over again in side of the head, her temple, her jaw and between ear and jaw. The girl is a lot bigger than her. My daughter is quite short and petite, there was no way my daughter could protect herself.” At one point when the girl had moved away, Amina said: “What’s wrong with you, you are making my hijab come off?” The girl replied: “What do you think you are bad? It’s not come off yet” and then the attack continued again. read the complete article

23 Jan 2023

‘Why I would talk to Shamima Begum’ : Shelina Janmohamed hosts first UK news podcast fronted by a Muslim woman

“I find it intriguing that just because I’m a Muslim woman, I get asked by the media to give my opinion about a terrorist attack. Why should I have a view?,” asks Shelina Janmohamed. The award-winning advertising executive, who wrote a best-selling book about growing up as a British Muslim woman, has just landed a job heading a major national news podcast, and believes existing news coverage has got a problem. “All the commentators you see on the news are from the same bubble,” says the author, named one of Britain’s 100 most influential women by the BBC. “They leave me shouting at the TV. The perspective and experiences of young Muslim women and other groups are missing from the limited range of voices on air. Muslim women are talked about in the news but never allowed to tell their stories.” It’s a deficit that the mother-of-two hopes to fill with The Shelina Show, the first UK-wide weekly news podcast fronted by a Muslim woman. read the complete article

20 Jan 2023

UK: Football, Islamophobia and the 'unconscious racist'

"Jocularity” and “banter” are the adjectives that a British Football Association (FA) panel concluded best fitted the behaviour of John Yems. The former Crawley Town manager was found guilty of a dozen instances of using racist and discriminatory language towards players. Yet, the panel said Yems was not a “conscious racist”. A list of Yems' comments shows how the former manager targeted Black and Muslim players with stereotypes and offensive language. Prejudice towards Black players in football is sometimes seen as a relic of the past, but it continues to this day, as evidenced by the backlash against three young Black players who missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final - or by the puny sanctions given to clubs and fans who have abused players with racist language or gestures. Another clue as to why Yems might have been deemed an “unconscious racist” is the language he used against Muslim players, likening them to bombers and terrorists. Ordinarily, such language would be seen as Islamophobic, defined by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims as “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. Suggesting that an Iraqi youth player might blow up the stadium, as Yems did, would fit the bill. But the group’s definition, endorsed by a range of Muslim organisations, has not been adopted by the Conservative government in Britain. Rather, the Tories have regularly pandered to Islamophobes as a strategy to win votes and gain favour. Their refusal to see racism against Muslims as a problem on par with other prejudices has allowed the widely held belief that Muslims are fair game. When Baroness Sayeeda Warsi spoke a decade ago about Islamophobia having passed the dinner-table test, few might have thought football was infected by it. But while Islamophobia - or the acceptance of it - might be driven from the top, it does not always come from the expected quarters. read the complete article


23 Jan 2023

China’s New Anti-Uyghur Campaign

Starting in late 2017, Uyghur and Kazakh émigrés from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China began hearing frightening reports from relatives and friends at home—or began losing contact with those relatives and friends entirely. Through early 2018, journalists and researchers began to flesh out the story: in the vast Central Asian territory annexed by China in 1949, also known to many exiles as Eastern Turkestan, the government was rounding up people who do not belong to the country’s Han ethnic majority (including the Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group) and locking them in camps. At their peak, these facilities interned between one and two million people, and detainees were subjected to psychological and physical torture, rape and sexual assault, forced administration of pills and injections, persistent hunger, and sleep deprivation. Beijing at first denied the existence of what Chinese government documents and signs on the facilities labeled “concentrated educational transformation centers,” but officials later admitted to establishing “vocational training centers,” which they claimed would end extremism and alleviate poverty. With their clear echoes of genocides in the twentieth century, the camps prompted outrage from international organizations, human rights groups, and governments—some of which sanctioned Chinese companies and officials in response. Although the Chinese Communist Party dismissed the criticisms as “lies,” it appeared to respond. By 2019, authorities had moved many of the internees out of the camps, announcing that they had “graduated.” This suggests that the CCP does, in fact, care about international opprobrium. But the change was largely cosmetic, and most of the internees have not been freed. Many of the camps have simply been converted into formal prisons and detainees given lengthy prison sentences, like several hundred thousand other non-Han people who have been imprisoned since the start of the crisis. Over 100,000 other internees have been transferred from camps to factories in Xinjiang or elsewhere in the country. Some Uyghur families abroad report that their relatives are back home, but under house arrest. And Beijing has also been forcing tens of thousands of rural Uyghurs out of their villages and into factories under the guise of a poverty alleviation campaign. Today, the total numbers of non-Han Chinese people in coerced labor of one form or another may well exceed the numbers interned in camps from 2017 to 2019. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Jan 2023 Edition


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