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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25 Jan 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the Netherlands, the leader of an Islamophobic far-right group has desecrated the Quran, in the second such instance that took place in Western Europe this week, meanwhile in Germany, a human rights group and 16 people from Myanmar have filed a criminal complaint seeking punishment of Myanmar’s generals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in India, the Hindu nationalist government has accused the BBC of having a “colonial mindset” following the broadcaster’s publication of a documentary focusing on PM Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Our recommended read of the day is by The Bridge Initiative’s Farid Hafez for Haaretz on the history and legacy of the far-right’s obsession with burning sacred Islamic texts and what the recent Quran burning in Stockholm means for European Muslims. This and more below:


24 Jan 2023

Why Is the Far Right Obsessed With Burning the Koran? | Recommended Read

Far-right leader Rasmus Paludan is a serial Koran-burner. In 2019, he staged public burnings of the Muslim holy book in several locations across Sweden, sparking riots in several cities, with dozens of arrests, injuries and damage to property. And he's doing it again, this time setting fire to a Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, which triggered both local and international outrage. Last time around, mainstream politicians expressed their disapproval, while navigating Sweden's generous protections of freedom of speech. Members of the Jewish community called for legal action, recalling the Nazi policy of burning books by "banned" (often Jewish) authors, a prelude to the Holocaust. Said one: "Burning holy books like the Koran – or the Torah for that matter – is a hate crime." But Sweden's political context is different, now: The ruling coalition depends on the support of a highly xenophobic, anti-Muslim far-right party, with roots in Nazism, and Sweden is locked in a geopolitical drama with Turkey over NATO membership. The vicious act of burning the Muslim holy scriptures, which for the far right is a clear symbolic statement of intentions regarding Sweden’s Muslims, is now seen as a distraction rather than a toxic hate crime. read the complete article

24 Jan 2023


TWITTER AND YOUTUBE censored a report critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in coordination with the government of India. Officials called for the Big Tech companies to take action against a BBC documentary exploring Modi’s role in a genocidal 2002 massacre in the Indian state of Gujarat, which the officials deemed a “propaganda piece.” In a series of posts, Kanchan Gupta, senior adviser at the Indian government’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, denounced the BBC documentary as “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage.” He said that both Twitter and YouTube had been ordered block links to the film, before adding that the platforms “have complied with the directions.” Gupta’s statements coincided with posts from Twitter users in India who claimed to have shared links to the documentary but whose posts were later removed and replaced with a legal notice. “The government has sent hundreds of requests to different social media platforms, especially YouTube and Twitter, to take down the posts that share snippets or links to the documentary,” Indian journalist Raqib Hameed Naik told The Intercept. “And shamefully, the companies are complying with their demands and have taken down numerous videos and posts.” This act of censorship — wiping away allegations of crimes against humanity committed by a foreign leader — sets a worrying tone for Twitter, especially in light of its new management. read the complete article

24 Jan 2023

Europe’s far-right desecrates Quran for second time in 4 days

The leader of an Islamophobic far-right group in the Netherlands has desecrated Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in the second such instance that took place in Western Europe this week, threatening to deepen the strain with the broader Muslim world even further. Dutch politician Edwin Wagensveld, the head of the far-right PEGIDA, tore pages out of the holy book before setting them on fire, a video posted Monday on his Twitter account showed. Wagensveld claimed in the video that he received permission from the local authorities for “the destruction of the Quran” in front of the parliamentary building The Hague. He was arrested on two previous occasions because of anti-Muslim sentiments, as recently as last October, during another rally with a small group of PEGIDA supporters in Rotterdam where he once again attempted to torch the Quran. As Wagensveld tore a page out of the holy book and scrunched it up, he said: "Soon, there will be registrations for similar actions in several cities, time to answer disrespect from Islam with disrespect." Wagensveld’s provocation follows a similar Islamophobic protest on Saturday in Sweden, where a Danish extremist burned a copy of the holy book in a police-approved demonstration. The Muslim community worldwide has been outraged since the weekend at anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan, who staged his provocative demonstration in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm while delivering a hatred-filled speech and the Swedish authorities who allowed him under the guise of “freedom of expression.” read the complete article

23 Jan 2023

Rights group files suit in Germany against Myanmar military

A human rights group and 16 people from Myanmar have filed a criminal complaint in Germany seeking punishment of Myanmar's generals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity they alleged were committed in that country after their 2021 government takeover and during a 2017 crackdown on minority Rohingya Muslims. Fortify Rights, a complainant in the case announced Tuesday in Bangkok, said “the individuals responsible for crimes related to both have yet to be held accountable.” About 740,000 Rohingya fled into neighboring Bangladesh after their villages were burned and they became targets for mass rape and murder. The military is accused of carrying out similar atrocities against people throughout Myanmar who opposed the 2021 army takeover and sought a return to democracy, finally taking up arms when their peaceful protects were quashed with deadly force. About half of the 16 people who brought the German complaint are victims of the brutality against the Rohingya and the others suffered abuses carried out after the 2021 army takeover. read the complete article


23 Jan 2023

India bans BBC documentary on PM Modi’s role in Gujarat riots

India has banned a BBC documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in deadly riots more than 20 years ago from being shown in the country, in a move critics decried as an assault on press freedom. A senior adviser for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said directions to block the documentary were issued using “emergency powers” available to the government under India’s information and technology rules. The two-part documentary “India: The Modi Question,” criticizes Modi, who was the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat in 2002 when riots broke out between the state’s majority Hindus and minority Muslims. Violence erupted after the bombing of a train killed dozens of Hindus and was blamed on Muslims. In retaliation, Hindu mobs set fire to Muslim-owned homes and stores. More than 1,000 people – mostly Muslims – were killed, according to government figures. Modi and his ruling ruling Bharatiya Janata Party rose to power in India in 2014, riding on a wave of Hindu nationalism in the country of 1.3 billion, where nearly 80% of the population follow the faith. He has previously denied accusations that he failed to stop the violence in 2002 and a special investigation team appointed by India’s Supreme Court in 2012 found no evidence to suggest he was to blame.The documentary explores an unpublished British government report obtained by the BBC, which the British public broadcaster said came in the form of a diplomatic cable. The report, according to the BBC, reveals the violence which showed the events had “all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing,” claiming there was “widespread and systematic rape of Muslim women.” read the complete article

24 Jan 2023

Why India Banned the BBC’s Modi Documentary

A BBC documentary focused on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relationship with the country’s Muslim minority has led New Delhi to accuse the broadcaster of a “colonial mindset” and threatens to disrupt U.K.-India ties. India: The Modi Question examines Modi’s role as chief minister of Gujarat during a three-day period of communal violence in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people died, including 790 Muslims. Despite not airing in India, the documentary returns the events to the public eye, which has angered India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The first part of the documentary was released last week, with a second installment scheduled to air Tuesday. Over the weekend, India blocked the film and banned people from sharing clips on social media, citing emergency powers under its information technology laws. Twitter and YouTube have complied with the move. Ultimately at issue is that Modi has never apologized for the violence in Gujarat. The European Union and the United States initially said he would not be welcome on their shores, but by 2012—when it became apparent that he might lead the BJP—those de facto bans were removed. A Special Investigation Team report in India essentially ensured that Modi would not face censure or prosecution in the country. His supporters have repeatedly cited this as evidence of his innocence. Last June, India’s Supreme Court upheld Modi’s exoneration by the report. Meanwhile, many of those found guilty for the violence have been released, most recently 11 men convicted for gang-raping a pregnant Muslim woman; they had served 14 years of their life sentences. read the complete article


24 Jan 2023

‘Never again’ must include the Uyghur in China

After World War II and the tragedy of the Holocaust, the world adopted a phrase that expressed its newfound resolve: “Never again.” Never again would the world stand by and watch an entire people group be targeted for extinction. Never again would the world allow tyrants and thugs to engage in genocide without consequences. But today, the world is doing just that with respect to the Uyghur people of East Turkistan. If we really do mean “Never Again,” we cannot allow this to happen. Thousands of Uyghurs have been killed; millions have been imprisoned in concentration camps; its women are forcibly sterilized, and their children forcibly aborted; and the CCP makes no distinction between Uyghur adults and children, who it persecutes or imprisons at whim. I am a member of the Uyghur people. Many Uyghurs are members of the Islamic faith, which the CCP has identified as a threat, and seeks to annihilate within East Turkistan. Fortunately, I was able to make it to the United States in 2008. Many of my family members have not been so lucky. read the complete article


24 Jan 2023

Q&A: The Quran taught racist Dutch leader to shun hatred and embrace Islam

The fascinating evolution of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders' right-hand man Joram Van Klaveren, who recently shared his story of conversion with us. Not so long ago, Joram van Klaveren was one of the close political aides of Geert Wilders, who's known as the "godfather of Dutch far-right extremism". While writing an anti-Islam book, Klaveren's perspective on Muslims began to change. The process of understanding Islam cleared his doubts and apprehensions, leading him to accept Islam and become a devout Muslim in 2019. As Europe is plagued by rising anti-Islam sentiment and vile acts of the Quran burning are becoming a norm, TRT World spoke to Klaveren about his fascinating evolution. read the complete article

United States

24 Jan 2023

Hamline faculty urge university president to resign amid dispute over Islamic art, academic freedom

Hamline University faculty on Tuesday overwhelmingly called for college President Fayneese Miller to resign, saying they "no longer have faith" in her ability to lead the institution after administrators "mishandled" a controversy over Islamic art and academic freedom. "It became clear that the harm that's been done and the repair that has to be done, that new leadership is needed to move that forward," Jim Scheibel, president of the Hamline University Faculty Council, said in an interview Tuesday. Miller had not responded to requests for comment by Tuesday evening. In an interview Monday, Miller said the episode has been painful and uncomfortable and described it as "a learning experience." The call for Miller's resignation comes at a tense time for the St. Paul private university, which drew international attention after it decided not to renew the contract of an art instructor who showed images of the Prophet Muhammad in class. The faculty members' statement said they affirm both academic freedom and their responsibility to provide an inclusive learning environment and "these values neither contradict nor supersede each other." It said they reject "unfounded accusations of Islamophobia" and threats that have read the complete article


24 Jan 2023

Being a woman in France, it is common to see men act with impunity and get away with sleaze

The latest annual report by the French government’s principal equality watchdog reveals that the country “remains very sexist in all its spheres”, and there are calls for an “emergency plan” to combat growing violence against women. One aspect of the original Deneuve letter that I found particularly disturbing was the suggestion that those who suffered fondling on public transport – or “bothering” to use the euphemism – should just get over it. As a university student in Paris, I helped set up a group advocating for temporary sex segregation on commuter trains, because the problem was critical. As the situation across the country, and in every field of life, worsens, I am regularly appalled at the way France’s secularism – or laïcité – is routinely weaponised to criminalise Muslim women for wearing the “wrong” type of clothing, in the “wrong” place. Whether they are at school, involved in politics, in sports tournaments, working as nannies or simply out and about, those caught wearing a full-face veil (even in an age of Covid), or just a headscarf, risk an official reprimand and fine. That 21st century France actually convicts and humiliates women for their choice of clothes says everything about the republic’s woeful approach to a sexism crisis that shows no sign of abating. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Jan 2023 Edition


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