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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24 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: Over the weekend, former Tory government minister, Nusrat Ghani, alleged that she had been fired from her position because her “Muslimness” was “making colleagues uncomfortable.” These new claims have reignited calls for the Conservative party to tackle the issue of Islamophobia within its ranks and on Monday morning, PM Boris Johnson ordered an inquiry into Ghani’s claims. In India, a court has jailed a man for five years in the first conviction over religious riots in New Delhi in 2020, when more than 50 people, most of them Muslims, were killed, and lastly Uyghurs in Turkey protested in Istanbul, calling for a boycott of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s treatment of the minority. Our recommended read of the day is by Heather Stewart and Peter Walker for the Guardian on MP Nusrat Ghani’s claims that she was fired from her position due to her faith and how the prime minister told her he “could not get involved” after she told him about the anti-Muslim comments. This and more below:

United Kingdom

24 Jan 2022

Nusrat Ghani: PM said he ‘could not get involved’ over ‘Muslimness’ sacking claim | Recommended Read

No 10 sought to defuse the row on Sunday, saying in a statement that “after being made aware of these extremely serious claims, the prime minister met with Nusrat Ghani to discuss them. He then wrote to her expressing his serious concern and inviting her to begin a formal complaint process. She did not subsequently do so. The Conservative party does not tolerate prejudice or discrimination of any kind.” However, Ghani said that after she had spoken to Johnson about her treatment: “He wrote to me that he could not get involved, and suggested I use the internal Conservative party complaint process. This, as I had already pointed out, was very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on government business.” She added: “In my statement yesterday I was careful not to mention any names or implicate the PM. All I have ever wanted was for his government to take this seriously, investigate properly and ensure no other colleague has to endure this.” Meanwhile the Conservative backbencher MP Michael Fabricant caused fresh controversy by saying it was unlikely Ghani was discriminated against for her faith, because “she’s hardly someone who’s obviously a Muslim”. In the latest of a series of media appearances apparently aimed at shoring up Johnson’s position, Fabricant told LBC: “I think the whole thing actually stinks, the accusation being made by Nus Ghani.” The outspoken backbencher said: “Prejudice of any kind in modern Britain is pretty pathetic … but you know, ministers they come and they go.” “She’s hardly someone who’s obviously a Muslim. I mean I had no idea what religion she is,” he continued. “The Labour MP Keith Vaz, who was of South Asian origin, I do know because we discussed it, he’s a Goan Christian; others are Hindus, others are Muslims or whatever. But with her, it wasn’t apparent. So it does seem rather a lame excuse to me that she claims she was sacked because of that.” Fabricant’s remarks were quickly condemned by opposition politicians. The shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, said: “What an appalling, disgraceful thing to say. If the Tories wanted to show they were serious about tackling Islamophobia, they could start by removing the whip from Michael Fabricant.” There are growing calls for an inquiry into Ghani’s claims, with the cabinet ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid tweeting their support for her. Zahawi, the education secretary, called Ghani “a friend, a colleague & a brilliant parliamentarian”, adding: “This has to be investigated properly & racism routed out.” read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

Why I’m not shocked at the Conservative Party’s appalling treatment of Nusrat Ghani

What also strikes me is the clear disconnect that exists right now in the Westminster bubble, between politicians to media pundits, on the one hand and Muslim communities up and down the country on the other, so many of whom who aren’t shocked by these appalling allegations. Then again, in an industry where just 0.4% of journalists are from Muslim backgrounds, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that our media doesn’t have its finger on the pulse when it comes to Muslim public opinion or issues affecting the community. Over the last few years, I’ve been reporting on the crisis and scandal that is Islamophobia in the Conservative Party for a number of publications, including Metro, Newsweek, and also now at LFF. Make no mistake, Islamophobia exists across society and it is particularly pronounced in the Conservative Party. A Hope Not Hate report found that, 57 percent of party members had a negative attitude towards Muslims, with almost half of party members (47 percent) believing that Islam is “a threat to the British way of life”. In addition, 58 percent believe “there are no go areas in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter”. With such widespread and deep-seated Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, the latest incident of Islamophobia and the appalling treatment of Ghani does not surprise me in the slightest. Tory party members have called for Muslims to be thrown off bridges, sterilised, MPs such as Bob Blackman have invited speakers such as Tapan Ghosh to Parliament, who had a history of praising the Rohingya genocide. The likes of Nadine Dorries and Blackman have retweeted Tommy Robinson, Michael Fabricant has suggested Muslims can’t be English and of course how could we forget the comments of Boris Johnson who compared Muslim women who wear the Burka to looking like letterboxes and bank robbers which led to a 375% increase in hate crimes. Zac Goldsmith ran an Islamophobic campaign against the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. There are countless examples. The party has also quietly reinstated councillors who compared Asians to dogs and described Saudis as ‘sand peasants’. It is riddled with those who hold Muslims, our fellow citizens, in contempt. I’ve written extensively on the party’s denial, obfuscation and downright refusal to tackle this issue. It’s nothing new. It’s been going on for years and the incidents appalling, whether it’s an MP at the receiving end of it, a councillor or grassroots activist. Yet one wonders if those lobby journalists expressing shock now have been living under a rock for the past few years when it comes to the issue of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

Assailed by scandal, UK's Johnson fights for his job

Johnson on Monday ordered an inquiry into claims by a lawmaker who said she was fired from a ministerial job in the government partly because her Muslim faith was making colleagues uncomfortable. Nusrat Ghani, 49, who lost her job as a junior transport minister in February 2020, told the Sunday Times that she had been told by a "whip" - an enforcer of parliamentary discipline - that her "Muslimness" had been raised as an issue in her sacking. read more "The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani MP," Downing Street said. "As he said at the time, the prime minister takes these claims very seriously." The government's chief whip, Mark Spencer, said he was the person at the centre of Ghani's allegations. He said they were completely false and defamatory. "I have never used those words attributed to me," he said. Ghani's allegation came after one of her Conservative colleagues said he would meet police to discuss accusations that government whips had attempted to "blackmail" lawmakers suspected of trying to force Johnson from office. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

Calls for Tory Islamophobia inquiry as PM drawn into Nusrat Ghani row

Boris Johnson is facing calls to launch an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory party after the former minister Nusrat Ghani claimed she was told her “Muslimness” was “making colleagues uncomfortable”. The prime minister was dragged into the controversy this weekend as he awaits the findings of a make-or-break investigation into alleged lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street. No 10 conceded on Sunday that Ghani had raised her concerns personally with Johnson at a meeting in 2020, and said he had responded by encouraging her to make a formal complaint with the Conservative party. A No 10 spokesperson said: “The Conservative party does not tolerate prejudice or discrimination of any kind.” Ghani said she had made clear at the time that she did not think the party complaints process was the right way to tackle her allegations. “He [Johnson] wrote to me that he could not get involved, and suggested I use the internal Conservative party complaint process. This, as I had already pointed out, was very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on government business,” she said. “All I have ever wanted was for his government to take this seriously, investigate properly and ensure no other colleague has to endure this.” Ghani says that when she was sacked as a junior transport minister in a reshuffle in 2020, Tory whips told her that her “Muslim woman minister status was making colleagues feel uncomfortable”. She told the Sunday Times: “It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless.” She received public support from the cabinet ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid. The deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, on Sunday urged Ghani to make a formal complaint to the Conservative party, which she had decided not to do and has now made clear she does not think is appropriate. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

Nusrat Ghani: a Muslim pioneer who was unexpectedly sacked

Nusrat Ghani has been first many times. She was the first Muslim female minister to speak from the Commons dispatch box, the first Muslim woman elected as a Tory MP in 2015, the first woman to represent the Conservative stronghold of Wealden, East Sussex and has said she was the first woman in her family to attend university. While a minister, Ghani revealed she had been bombarded with emails from a Conservative activist and constituent praising Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech and questioning whether immigrants should be allowed to stand for parliament. She has also detailed an “incredibly draining” ordeal where she was stalked for two years by a man she said eventually made clear that he had targeted her because she was a female MP, Asian and a Muslim. In February 2020, Ghani was replaced by Kelly Tolhurst in a reshuffle. The Guardian reported that Ghani had been widely tipped for a job overseeing HS2 but was sacked without explanation. A few months later, the former minister said ethnic minorities had “had enough of warm words and zero action” from the government. Following Boris Johnson’s announcement of a commission on racial inequality, Ghani said on Twitter that the prime minister needed to “crack on with real practical solutions”. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

Nusrat Ghani’s allegations reignite claims that Tory party is Islamophobic

Allegations by the former Conservative minister Nusrat Ghani that she was sacked for being Muslim have reignited accusations that the party is institutionally Islamophobic. Ghani, who was the first Muslim woman to speak from the Commons dispatch box, sent shockwaves across the country this weekend when she alleged in a Sunday Times interview that her “Muslimness” was raised when she was removed from a ministerial job in 2020, and said she was told it was “making colleagues uncomfortable”. The allegations follow what campaigners describe as decade-long fight to get the Conservative party to take these allegations seriously and root out Islamophobia. Campaigners warn little will change unless there is an independent investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into Islamophobia and the party adopts the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims’ definition on Islamophobia. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

Tory MP Stuns People By Declaring Islamophobia Can Only Impact 'Obvious' Muslims

Michael Fabricant lashed out at his Tory colleague Nusrat Ghani over her allegations of islamophobia in the government, saying “the whole thing actually stinks”. Ghani has alleged she was removed from her role as a minister for the department of transport in 2020 because her “Muslimness” was “making colleagues uncomfortable”. No.10 has now ordered an inquiry into the claims and promised the prime minister “will take it seriously” – but Conservative MP Fabricant said Ghani’s claims seemed “very suspicious” to him when speaking to LBC on Sunday. He said, “I think the whole thing actually stinks” because it’s currently “open season” on the whips office and Boris Johnson as people are trying to get the prime minister to resign. Fabricant also claimed dismissed Ghani’s allegations because “she’s hardly someone who is obviously Muslim” as he had “no idea what religion she was”, before suggesting her allegations seemed “rather a lame excuse to me”. His words infuriated many people, and Labour frontbenchers even started calling for the Conservatives to remove the whip from Fabricant. read the complete article


24 Jan 2022

Clubhouse: Police arrest 18-year-old for creating chatroom to abuse Muslim women

The Delhi police have arrested an 18-year-old from the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh state for allegedly creating a Clubhouse chatroom targeted at abusing Muslim women. The action was taken after a screen recording of conversations on two chatrooms went viral on Twitter. The recording showed 18 to 20 participants discussing the “pink private parts of Muslim women”, and “Oedipus complex” involving a “Muslim mother”, among other lewd remarks. On 18 January, Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal issued a notice to the Delhi Police demanding action against the participants of both groups. The Delhi police lodged police cases against unknown persons under various sections of the Indian Penal Code following this. These chatrooms come close on the heels of two cases where pictures of Muslim women were put up for online auction. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

India: Man jailed in first conviction over 2020 New Delhi riots

An Indian court has jailed a man for five years in the first conviction over religious riots in New Delhi in 2020, when more than 50 people, most of them Muslims, were killed. The riots, the worst such violence in the capital in decades, followed months of protests against a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against the Muslim minority in the Hindu-majority country. Prosecutors and witnesses on Thursday said Dinesh Yadav was part of a mob of up to 200 mostly Hindu rioters who vandalised and set fire to the house of a woman named Manori. Yadav’s lawyer, Shikha Garg, said that apart from the jail term, New Delhi’s Karkardooma Court on Thursday also ordered him to pay a fine of 12,000 rupees ($161). “We will file an appeal before a higher court,” Garg told Reuters news agency. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which draws its support mainly from the majority community, changed the citizenship law in 2019 to expedite citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Many Muslims in India opposed the exclusion of their community in the law and launched protests, with a women-led sit-in in New Delhi being the epicentre of the demonstrations. The sit-in protests in the northeastern part of the Indian capital were attacked by mobs, which soon escalated into religious violence towards the end of February 2020, in which dozens of people were killed and houses and mosques torched. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

'Hijab Is Our Fundamental Right', Say Students Over Entry Ban in College

Eight female students at the government-run Pre-University College for Girls in Karnataka’s Udupi have been denied entry into classes for the past three weeks because they wear hijabs. Our constitution guarantees freedom to practice one’s religion. Moreover, the state government has no policy over dress codes. But, the college claims that the religious headscarf violates the institution’s dress code. The students are studying commerce and science in 11th and 12th grade and state that they have not attended classes since December 27 over the diktat. As they stand outside classrooms waiting to be let in, they continue to be marked absent. The Wire spoke to the girls about the situation. Here is what they had to say. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

‘Bulli Bai’ And The Gendered Layers Of The Objectification Of Muslim Women

The recent online auction of Muslim women via a mobile application by the name of Bulli Bai that put up journalists, university students and activists, including the 65-year-old mother of Najeeb Ahmed, a hate-crime victim, and Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi “on-sale” has sent shock waves across the country. However, the “shock” in itself is rather unsettling- it points to the fact that hundreds of acts of microaggressions and Islamophobic violence perpetrated on Muslim women in India every day that are passed off as trivial and innocuous have disastrous repercussions. We as a nation have jeopardised the most rudimentary human rights of our Muslim citizens by constantly putting their humanity to test under the dangerous garb of hypernationalism. It thus becomes crucial for us to collectively examine how deep the triangulated rot of misogyny, capitalistic dehumanisation and anti-Muslim hatred has percolated the nation, and make amends before it’s too late. We mustn’t forget that the knot of misogyny and communal hatred is systemically backed, and thus, is also deployed by women who endorse the agenda of majoritarian oppression just as often. In this case too, an 18 year old woman hailing from Uttarakhand, lent an active hand in running the online hate campaign. More importantly, the mainstream media that works hand in hand with an oppressive regime dictates who has authority and who does not, who is permitted to use violence and who will be subjected to it. With extensive genres dedicated to various forms of porn, it does not come across as a coincidence that we witness these expressions of violence against women in real life. While evaluating the Bulli Bai case and violence against Muslim women in the country at large, it becomes integral to understand that the male gaze not only conditions and dictates attitudes about sex and gender but further intensifies deep-rooted male-chauvinistic, hyper nationalist values of an oppressive regime. read the complete article


24 Jan 2022

'We are not a monolith': Study reports on range of experience with discrimination of diverse Muslim women

An Edmonton professor who has studied the experiences of Muslim women locally and across the country says research that considers their layered identities can shine a light on their unique challenges. On Sunday the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) released a report that found Muslim women experience poorer social and economic conditions compared to their non-Muslim counterparts, while others such as queer, disabled and Black Muslim women — along with newcomers and single mothers — experienced poorer outcomes still. Muna Saleh, an assistant professor at Concordia University of Edmonton, found the report resonated with her own research, which explored the experience of Muslim women who fled Syria with children living with disabilities. “We are not a monolith,” Saleh told Postmedia Sunday, noting that while many Muslim women encounter gendered Islamophobia, their experiences vary with different social circumstances. “Not all Muslim women experience the world in the same way,” she added. “It depends on where you live, the different parts of who you are, how you identify, how you dress, how you look — the colour of your skin, unfortunately.” In the past year, Edmonton saw a string of violent and racist attacks targeting several Black and Muslim women — many of whom were attacked in public while wearing the hijab, a traditional head covering worn by some Muslim women. “Black Muslim women have been sounding the alarm for decades, in research, in writings and in different venues,” Saleh said, noting that women belonging to this group experience not only misogyny, but also anti-black racism and gendered Islamophobia. “The most recent spate of attacks that mostly targeted Black Muslim women really highlights what they’ve been saying,” she added. read the complete article

24 Jan 2022

Hijab ban divides younger voters from boomers

By and large, Quebecers seem more annoyed than angry about the move by the mayors of some of Canada’s big cities to help finance legal challenges to the bill. Forty-eight per cent feel the municipal politicians involved should have stuck to their own knitting. But that’s significantly less than the proportion that supports Quebec’s right to legislate on the matter of secularism, whether they approve of the resulting law or not. Meanwhile, reaction to the mayors’ move among their own constituents is mixed. And the poll found little evidence of a groundswell of support from outside of Quebec for the federal government to join the ongoing court challenge of Bill 21. Unsurprisingly opposition to a federal court intervention runs highest in Quebec. But that should not be read as a signal to the Supreme Court to steer clear of the debate. On the contrary, 57 per cent say they want the top court to pronounce on Bill 21. By all indications, the court’s findings will have a major and perhaps decisive impact on the conversation about the law both in Quebec and in the rest of the country. Whether the federal government signs up as an intervener or not falls somewhere between a political distraction and a side issue. For perhaps the most significant finding in the poll is the existence of a wide gap between the outlooks on Bill 21 of the oldest and the youngest cohorts of Quebec voters. While the restrictions imposed on teachers by Bill 21 enjoy the support of three out of four baby-boomers, only one in four among the 18-to-24 age cohort agrees with the measure. read the complete article


24 Jan 2022

Eric Zemmour: 'I Will Make Sure That Muslims Respect France'

In an interview with Israeli daily Maariv, the french pundit said he "will make sure that Muslims respect France." While "Muslim countries are free to establish Islam as a state religion," argued the far-right journalist turned politician, France would not tolerate Muslims coming to France preach and give lessons about integrating or accepting Islam as French religion. He argued that he does not intend to change Islam, but that he is mainly concerned with "protecting the French people, their identity, their language, their history, their tradition and their customs." Styling himself as the president France needs to oversee and protect its identity, Zemmour appeared to wonder why "only the French elites wonder if this [protecting French identity and values from Islam] is legitimate." The pundit reiterated his opposition to the display of any religious symbols in French streets, referencing yarmulkes and explaining that Muslim symbols are not his only targets. Although anti-Islam propaganda has been a staple in Zemmour’s campaign for president, the bulk of his statements to Maariv suggests the far-right political commentator is implicitly softening his traditionally harsh comments on immigrants and Muslims since a court fined him last week for racist and Islamophobic comments he made in September 2020. read the complete article


24 Jan 2022

Uighurs in Turkey call for boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Dozens of demonstrators from China’s Uighur Muslim ethnic group have protested in Istanbul, calling for a boycott of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s treatment of the minority. The protesters gathered outside the city’s Turkish Olympic Committee building on Sunday, waving the blue-and-white flags of the independence movement of East Turkestan, a group Beijing says threatens the stability of its far western region of Xinjiang. “China does not have the right to host the Olympics while committing all the torture, cruelty and genocide against Uighurs,” said Uighur housewife Munevver Ozuygur, who said she had relatives in camps in China. The United States and many of its allies, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan and Denmark, have said they will not send official diplomatic delegations to the games in protest against China’s rights record. The Winter Olympics begins on February 4. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Jan 2022 Edition


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