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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Bangladesh, an increasing number of Rohingya Muslims are fleeing the country as rising crime and poverty in camps is forcing refugees to flee by boat for countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, meanwhile in U.S., families in the community of East Brunswick are urging their local school district to consider Eid al-Fitr an official holiday off from school for all students, and in India, a new BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s involvement in the deadly 2022 Gujarat riots prompts Modi’s BJP party to accuse the film’s producers of “political hatred.” Our recommended read of the day is by Gulcin Kazan Doger for Anadolu Agency on how right-wing governments across Europe are using rhetorical terms, such as “political Islam,” to justify the targeting and criminalization of Muslims on the continent. This and more below:


23 Jan 2023

European gov'ts marginalize Muslims with new discourse derived from notion of 'political Islam' | Recommended Read

The discourse of battling "political Islam," used widely by European governments in recent years, has left the Muslim communities of these countries in the crosshairs. Muslims have suffered limits to their fundamental rights, introduced under the guise of measures against "political Islam" in Austria, "legalistic Islamism" in Germany, and "Islamic separatism" in France. Farid Hafez, a political scientist currently at Georgetown University in the US, told Anadolu about how Muslims are marginalized and criminalized with this new language frequently used in Austria, Germany, and France. Hafez argued that the concept of opposing political Islam was based principally on disintegrating independently organized Muslim civil society that is not reliant on the state. The notions of "political Islamism," "legalistic Islamism," and "Islamic separatism" are all variations on "one and the same concept," he argued. To circumvent allegations of violating religious freedom, authorities in these three European countries avoid speaking out directly "against Islam," but rather against "political Islam," Hafez underlined. This way, they can do such things as introduce discriminatory legislation and crack down on certain parts of the Muslim community, while saying they are not attacking Islam and "really only want to go against the bad (Muslims)," he explained, adding that they also claimed to seek to "protect the vast majority of Muslims." read the complete article

23 Jan 2023

Surging crime, bleak future push Rohingya in Bangladesh to risk lives at sea

About 730,000 Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority present in Myanmar for centuries but denied citizenship in the Buddhist-majority nation since 1982, fled to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a military crackdown. Including others who migrated in prior waves, nearly 1 million live near the border in tens of thousands of huts made of bamboo and thin plastic sheets. An increasing number of Rohingya are now leaving Bangladesh for countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia via perilous boat journeys, as rising crime in the camps adds to longstanding troubles like a lack of educational and work opportunities and bleak prospects of returning to military-ruled Myanmar. Crimes recorded in the camps - including murder, kidnapping, rape, robbery, human trafficking and narcotics trade - have soared in recent years, according to data that Bangladesh police shared exclusively with Reuters. Murders rose to 31 in 2022, the highest in at least five years. read the complete article

24 Jan 2023

Rohingya and Myanmar coup survivors launch legal complaint in Germany against junta

A criminal complaint against individuals linked to Myanmar’s military has been filed in Germany by survivors from ethnic groups across Myanmar, in what activists say is a show of unity that once seemed unthinkable. Sixteen survivors and witnesses of military abuses joined NGO Fortify Rights to file a criminal complaint with the federal public prosecutor general of Germany under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution of mass atrocities in one country, even if they happened elsewhere. “We deserve to have access to justice. We all know the impunity the military has been enjoying for so many years. This is the time to [end] the impunity,” said Nickey Diamond, a complainant in the case and a member of the board of directors at Fortify Rights. The document is not publicly accessible, however senior Myanmar military figures are accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, according to Fortify Rights. The complaint also requests that the German authorities open a “structural investigation” into the situation in Myanmar, which could lead to the documentation of further allegations not covered by the complaint. read the complete article

23 Jan 2023

Erdogan warns Sweden on NATO after Koran burning

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden on Monday that it should not expect his backing to join NATO following the burning of the Koran outside Ankara's embassy in Stockholm. Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members not to have ratified the Nordic neighbours' historic decision to break their tradition of military non-alignment in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has promised that his parliament would approve the two bids next month. But Erdogan has dug in his heels heading into a close election in which he is trying to energise his nationalist electoral base. "Sweden should not expect support from us for NATO," Erdogan said in his first official response to the act by an anti-Islam politician during a protest on Saturday that was approved by the Swedish police despite Turkey's objections. "It is clear that those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country's embassy can no longer expect any benevolence from us regarding their application for NATO membership," Erdogan said. read the complete article


23 Jan 2023

Moradabad’s Hindu College Bans Burqa, Hijab Allowed: Here's What Students Said

After student protests broke out in Moradabad’s Hindu College over ban on entry of students wearing the Burqa, the college authorities have clarified that this isn’t a hijab ban but only a burqa ban. Hindu College, which is one of the oldest colleges in the state of Uttar Pradesh, has a total of over twelve thousand students enrolled in its multiple courses, many of whom are Muslims. Ruckus ensued when on 1 January, a new dress code— a uniform of grey and white —was sanctioned by the university authorities for its students. The dress code began being imposed properly by the third week of January, when burqa-clad students were stopped from entering the university premises, following which many sat on protests challenging the rule. The incident was widely reported as being a ‘hijab ban’, drawing parallels with the Karnataka hijab ban imposed across the state’s government schools and colleges. read the complete article

23 Jan 2023

BJP accuses BBC of 'visceral political hatred' for Modi as documentary fallout spirals

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India's ruling party, has accused the BBC of "visceral political hatred" for the Narendra Modi government, as controversy over a recent documentary that zooms in on the prime minister's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots continues to spiral. Over the weekend, Delhi took the extraordinary step of exercising emergency laws to block the screening and the sharing of links to the BBC documentary that implicates Modi in the anti-Muslim pogroms that left around 2,000 dead in three days of mayhem in the western Gujarat state 21 years ago. In an interview with Middle East Eye, Shazia Ilmi, a leader within the BJP, defended the Indian government's decision to block clips of the interview on social media, including Twitter and Youtube, claiming that it would stir social unrest in the country. "Why create unrest in the society based on a falsehood? India is hosting the G20 ... Don’t you think that this propaganda film will adversely impact India’s relations with other countries?" Ilmi asked rhetorically. "[The] BBC documentary is propelled not so much by the love of the minorities but more by the visceral political hatred for the ruling dispensation of the Modi Government," Ilmi added. Since part one of the two-part series, India: The Modi Question, was broadcast last week, the Indian government has repeatedly accused the BBC of spewing propaganda against Modi. read the complete article

23 Jan 2023

India’s Blocking of BBC Documentary Reflects Broader Crackdown

The Indian government’s blocking of a BBC documentary on the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat state in 2002 is just the latest attempt to prevent criticism of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last week, the BBC released the first of a two-part series, “The Modi Question,” highlighting findings of a previously unpublished report of the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office that investigated the 2002 riots when Prime Minister Modi was chief minister of Gujarat state. Soon after the documentary’s release, Indian authorities invoked emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules to compel social media platforms to take down the video in India. In 2022, India’s Supreme Court exonerated Modi of criminal responsibility, upholding police findings that there was not enough evidence to prove criminal conspiracy. But wounds heal and human rights obligations are met when there is a true commitment to justice and reform. Instead, BJP supporters have honored men convicted of gang rape and murder in the 2002 riots. The BJP’s ideology of Hindu primacy has infiltrated the justice system and the media, empowering party supporters to threaten, harass, and attack religious minorities, particularly Muslims, with impunity. The Modi government has adopted discriminatory laws and policies against Muslims and attempted to curb independent institutions. It has frequently used draconian laws to jail critics. read the complete article

24 Jan 2023

India university warns against screening BBC documentary on Modi

A top Indian university has warned its students’ union of strict disciplinary action if it goes ahead with a planned screening of a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it might “disturb peace and harmony” on the campus. Modi’s government has dismissed the documentary, which questioned his leadership during deadly riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, as “propaganda”, blocked its airing and also barred sharing of any clips via social media in the country. The students’ union of New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, long seen as a bastion of left-wing politics, said on Twitter it would screen the documentary, India: The Modi Question, at its office at 9pm (15:30 GMT) on Tuesday. The university administration said on its website it had not given permission for the documentary to be shown. “This is to emphasise that such an unauthorised activity may disturb peace and harmony of the university campus,” the university said. President of the union, Aishe Ghosh, invited students on Twitter to the screening of the documentary that has been “‘banned’ by an ‘elected government’ of the largest ‘democracy'”. read the complete article

United States

23 Jan 2023

Eid should be a school holiday, Muslim parents say as N.J. district weighs calendar change

A group of parents in East Brunswick is urging the district to designate Eid al-Fitr — the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan — as an official holiday as communities across New Jersey continue to grapple with questions about which religious holidays to include on school calendars. In addition to asking for a day off for all students for Eid al-Fitr, which will be in April this year and next year, parents in the large Middlesex County district are also asking for a second day off for a larger Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha. The dates for both holidays change from year to year. read the complete article


23 Jan 2023

UN body condemns Quran burning in Sweden

The high representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has condemned the burning of the Muslim holy book by a Swedish-Danish far-right politician as a “vile act”. Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, carried out the stunt outside the Turkish embassy in Sweden under the protection of local police on Friday. “While the High Representative stresses the importance of upholding the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right, he also emphasises that the act of Quran-burning, amounts to an expression of hatred towards Muslims,” a spokesperson for Miguel Angel Moratinos said in a statement released on Sunday. Moratinos, who heads a UN agency that describes itself as “devoted to promoting understanding across diverse communities”, said he was concerned about the rise in “discrimination, intolerance and violence … directed against members of many religious and other communities in various parts of the world”. read the complete article


23 Jan 2023

Dutch leader of far-right PEGIDA group desecrates copy of Quran

The Dutch leader of the far-right group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), has desecrated a copy of the Quran in the Netherlands, threatening to escalate the already tense situation following a similar anti-Muslim incident in Sweden over the weekend. A video posted on social media on Monday showed anti-Muslim provocateur Edwin Wagensveld tearing apart Islam's holy book before showing it being set on fire. After he was arrested on two previous occasions because of his anti-Muslim activities, Wagensveld claimed in the video that he received permission from the city of The Hague for the "destruction of the Quran." A separate post on his Instagram account showed a letter, signed by Mayor of The Hague Jan van Zanen allowing him to use "objects" in his protest, but prohibiting him from burning it due to public safety. "The right to protest and the right to freedom of expression are constitutionally and treaty-protected human rights and freedoms," the letter said. But it added that "in principle burning objects is not permitted, because this can cause danger." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Jan 2023 Edition


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