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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26 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, an Indian Muslim woman journalist writes about what it was like to find her name and photograph on a fake auction site, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, journalists and activists continue to call attention to the history of Islamophobia in the Conservative party, noting that the current incident with former minister Nusrat Ghani is not a one off, and in Canada, a man has been charged for attacking a Muslim woman in front of her children outside of a mosque. Our recommended read of the day is by Shireen Ahmed for CBC on how the exclusion of Muslim women from sport in France is gendered Islamophobia as “laws and policies that prevent choice for women are Draconian and are unacceptable anywhere.” This and more below:


26 Jan 2022

Proposed French law banning hijab in sport is heinous and harmful | Recommended Read

For many years women in hijab (the headscarf worn by Muslim women) could not play soccer due to a hijab ban. This was struck down by FIFA in 2014. But there is one country that has refused to allow hijab-wearing women to participate in soccer. A country that boasts about its freedoms while rejecting personal religious expression and banning women from choosing their own clothing: France. Last week, France voted 160-143 in favour of banning hijab not just from one sport, but from every conceivable competition, be it recreational activity or high-level participation. The proposed law could be ratified as early as January 31 by a vote in the second chamber. This exclusion of Muslim women from sport is gendered Islamophobia masquerading as a shield to protect secularism in the European nation. The existence of 5.4 million followers of Islam living in France is a topic that is polarizing for a country that does not believe in multiple identities along with being, well, French. This may seem baffling considering that historically, the triumphs of French soccer have come at the feet of West African and North African men from Muslim diasporic cultures. There are groups campaigning the French Football Federation (FFF) such as les hijabeuses, who are a youth collective trying to fight this ban. The belief by some in France that hijabs compromise the equal status of players and connect to extremism is nonsensical. As a Muslim woman who has played soccer for more than 40 years, I can assure you that many players, fans, coaches and officials who love the beautiful game just happen to be Muslim. And our intention is not to convert the masses, it is to complete our passes. My objective is to put the ball at the back of the net, not assemble a squad to take to the mosque for worship and then decidedly plot against any nation. I would be heartbroken and angry if I was stripped of my right to play. Banning hijabs is not a feminist answer; feminism implies freedom of choice of spiritual practice, clothing and mobility. Forcing women out of clothing is as violent as forcing women into it. Laws and policies that prevent choice for women are Draconian and are unacceptable anywhere — including France. read the complete article

26 Jan 2022

UN Security Council Should Act on Myanmar Atrocities

United Nations Security Council member countries should abandon their timid approach to the Myanmar military’s mounting atrocities and replace mealymouthed statements with tough action. A year ago, on February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military ousted the democratically elected civilian government, jailed many politicians, and unleashed a wave of violence against protesters opposing the coup, killing nearly 1,500. Renewed attacks on ethnic minority areas have resulted in numerous war crimes. Three-and-a-half years earlier, the same military launched a campaign of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims including murder, rape, torture, and the widespread burning of villages. A UN-backed investigation said the attacks against the Rohingya may amount to genocide. Between the 2017 campaign against the Rohingya and the 2021 coup, the Security Council did little more than issue a handful of statements on Myanmar, failing to put forth a single resolution. This approach surely gave Myanmar’s military confidence that any new wave of repression would largely be met with silence. Calls for the Security Council to hold a public meeting to discuss the violence since last year’s coup have gone unheeded, as has a campaign by dozens of organizations urging the council to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar and targeted sanctions on the junta leaders and military companies. read the complete article

United Kingdom

26 Jan 2022

Baroness Warsi: Nusrat Ghani's claim she was sacked as a minister due to her Muslim faith 'disturbing', says Conservative peer

Baroness Warsi, who was also a former Conservative minister, told Sky News it sends "a shiver" down the spines of British Muslims to know "that this is the kind of thing that could be happening at the heart of government". At the weekend, Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani said she was told by a whip, who she did not identify, that her "Muslimness was raised as an issue" at a meeting in Downing Street. She said she was also told that her "Muslim woman minister status was making colleagues feel uncomfortable" and that there were concerns "that I wasn't loyal to the party as I didn't do enough to defend the party against Islamophobia allegations". Ms Ghani was sacked as transport minister in a February 2020 reshuffle. Speaking to Sky News' political editor Beth Rigby, Baroness Warsi welcomed the PM's announcement of an inquiry but said she hopes "a culture change comes off the back of it". The former Conservative Party co-chair said she "wasn't surprised" at Ms Ghani's allegation "for two reasons". "One, because what has happened to Nus Ghani is an open secret in Westminster - me and many, many colleagues have been aware of this for many months and the way that she has struggled to be heard. "But secondly, because the pattern in Nus's case is very similar to what I have seen in hundreds and hundreds of other complaints that have been made to the party about Islamophobia. read the complete article

26 Jan 2022

Nusrat Ghani’s Tory Islamophobia claims are the tip of the iceberg, it’s been in plain sight for years

For those of us who have experienced Islamophobia and seen it in plain sight for years, the allegations of Nusrat Ghani MP, in which she claims that she was sacked from a ministerial post because of her Muslim faith, were not exactly shocking. What’s shocking is that it’s taken this long for so many in the Westminster bubble to wake up and realise just how bad perceptions of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party are and have been for quite some time. We’ve had MPs like Nadine Dorries and Bob Blackman retweet Tommy Robinson (which both later claimed was done in error), with Blackman even inviting an extremist preacher to Parliament who once praised the Rohingya genocide in 2017 and tweeted: “Shame on Rohingya men. Shame on Islam. Seeing this reproduction rate, how can we blame the Myanmar Buddhists for driving them out?”. Whilst neither MP were promoting the views of these abhorrent individuals, this is insensitive at best. As recently as two years ago, a dossier of 300 cases of Islamophobia among Conservative Party members and those affiliated with the party was submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission by the Muslim Council of Britain. Among other horrific findings, it reported that Conservative Party members called for Muslims to be thrown off bridges, sterilised and forcibly removed from the country. There has long been plenty of evidence of just how widespread complaints about Islamophobia in the Tory party are, the only major change to have taken place in recent days is the media’s attention on the issue. The MCB’s dossier, polls like Hope Not Hate’s and complaints from Muslim Tory MPs themselves should have been evidence enough of a need to address the issue in a real way, rather than kicking it into the grass as we’ve seen so far. read the complete article

26 Jan 2022

No one should be surprised by Nusrat Ghani’s Islamophobia allegations – the inquiry will solve nothing

However, these allegations of Islamophobia will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Allegations of racism have long been plaguing the party. Indeed, former Conservative co-chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said in 2018 that anti-Muslim prejudice had “poisoned” the party. Referring to the incident with Ghani, Warsi said that what happened was “an open secret” in Westminster, adding that colleagues have been aware for “many months” that Ghani struggled to be heard. Michael Gove – communities secretary, no less – has repeatedly come under fire for alleged Islamphobia, from writing a book containing anti-Muslim rhetoric to his role as founding member of the Henry Jackson Society, a neo-conservative think tank which has been criticised for Islamophobia. Just a few months ago, in May, the Singh report commissioned to examine Islamophobia within the Conservative Party found that it “remains a problem” but stopped short of establishing that the party was institutionally racist, which prompted some critics to brand it a “whitewash”. The investigation, by Professor Swaran Singh, found that an overwhelming majority of complaints lodged with the Conservative Campaign Headquarters were upheld and resulted in a sanction. Yet just 50 per cent of these were a suspension and only one resulted in an apology. It appears, then, that the Conservative Party is not prepared to acknowledge, much less tackle, its Islamophobia – the same anti-Muslim sentiment that would have given rise to the incident that Ghani allegedly experienced. As such, it doesn’t inspire much confidence that the Cabinet Office inquiry into the former minister’s complaints will yield any fruitful outcome. If the prime minister was taking the matter that seriously, why did it take over a year for him to act? read the complete article

26 Jan 2022

Workplace Islamophobia is not unique to politics, it’s the experience of too many Muslim workers across the UK

Nusrat Ghani’s experience in the political world is not unique. Baroness Warsi has long called on her party to do better. Islamophobia is not just an issue in the Conservative party, but across the political spectrum. And our politics reflects the experiences of Muslims at work more widely. What happened to Nusrat Ghani should be unacceptable in every workplace – but sadly too many Muslim workers across the UK have similar stories. Recently I sat in on some focus groups that the TUC ran about racism at work. I was struck over and over by the experiences of Muslim participants, ranging from everyday discrimination to vile abuse, targeted harassment and bullying. And too often, it was Muslim women bearing the brunt. They told the TUC they experience Islamophobic aggressions every day, whether it be at work or in wider society. One woman spoke about how she was told that she couldn’t be a role model for pupils at the school she was applying to teach at – because she wore a headscarf. Another said she was paid less as the only Asian on the team. A participant was mocked for “eating curry sandwiches” for lunch. This double discrimination blights lives – and opportunities. read the complete article

United States

26 Jan 2022

The brotherhood of Guantánamo Bay

I was raised in a family that emphasised strong religious values such as brotherhood, compassion and kindness. I also observed these morals practised throughout my small village in Yemen. Years later, it was only through my interactions with fellow detainees at Guantánamo that I fully understood what this meant. Through our shared faith, we developed a bond that could not be broken, even as we suffered the most horrendous torture and abuse. Like the other detainees, I did not know where I was, why I was there, or why there were constant beatings and shouting. I was confused, terrified, angry, and would often rebel against the constantly changing rules. Being imprisoned for 14 years, I essentially grew up in Guantánamo. I would often recall the lessons I was taught in my childhood and even during the relentless abuse, would reflect on the Prophet’s tradition and teachings about moral character. After living together for years, being transferred from one camp within Guantánamo to another, from makeshift cells to solitary confinement to prison cells, we, the prisoners developed a close-knit community. We had a shared life, culture, and memories. We went through it all together, for better or worse, and became a family. In 2010, when we were transitioned to communal living in Camp 6, our bond deepened. Interrogators and guards were fewer, camp rules were relaxed to give us more freedom, and we began to interact more with each other, as well as the camp staff. Instead of praying in separate cages, we were able to pray collectively in rows like we would in mosques. Instead of eating on our own, we were able to enjoy meals together just like we would at home with our families. Instead of playing with a foot ball alone, we were able to play in teams just like we would outside of prison. And instead of talking to the same neighbours every day in the cages, we now could talk to tens of prisoners in different blocks. We did not have much, but we had each other. read the complete article

26 Jan 2022

Windsor Woman Becomes First Muslim Woman Endorsed for House Seat in CT

It’s a historic moment in Connecticut politics == Maryam Khan is the first Muslim woman to be endorsed as a candidate for the Connecticut House of Representatives. “As a woman, as a woman of color, as an immigrant, a teacher, young person, there's a lot of of diversity that I bring to the state legislature,” Khan said. Maryam was nominated for Connecticut’s 5th District seat representing Windsor and Hartford and it's representation she says is part of her motivation, setting an example for young Muslim women. “At their age, I didn't know what local politics was. I didn't know what people could do to be involved and I didn't think that there would be room for me in a place like that. So I'm happy that they're able to have that and they're able to see that, you know, you can be both Muslim and you can be, you know, part of your community,” Khan said. read the complete article

26 Jan 2022

Trump’s Travel Ban Forever Changed The Lives Of Muslims Around The World

A year-long HuffPost investigation found hundreds of cases of Trump’s ban changing the lives of Muslims, both inside the United States and around the world. Families have been ripped apart. Educational and employment opportunities have been denied, maybe forever. People have missed milestones like birthdays, funerals and weddings. Some gave up on coming to the U.S. and instead relocated to another country, while others have been trapped in war zones. The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs tallied 41,876 visas denied between December 2017 and January 2021, but no single agency or organization has collected comprehensive data on how tens of thousands of people, many of whom were American Muslims, were affected. But over the last year, HuffPost collected 874 stories of people who, like Saleh, are still feeling the impact of Trump’s travel ban five years later. In an attempt to account for the ban’s far-reaching implications, HuffPost spoke to lawyers, immigration groups and advocacy organizations; interviewed dozens of families; and sifted through nearly a hundred lawsuits. These numbers are not comprehensive due to legal and practical limitations — including the fact that not all impacted individuals could or did seek legal help — but the analysis is the first of its kind and provides an in-depth glimpse into the physical, mental and economic toll of those denials. read the complete article


26 Jan 2022

Man charged after attack on Muslim woman outside northeast Edmonton Mosque

Edmonton police have charged a 34-year-old man after a Muslim woman was attacked in front of her children outside of a mosque on New Year's Day. Police said the man was arrested and charged after he allegedly attacked a woman in northeast Edmonton, near the Al Ameen Mosque at 54th Street and 122nd Avenue. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a release that the attacker targeted a Black Muslim woman, who was in a vehicle with her three children. The NCCM said the man punched and spit on the vehicle while yelling violent threats at the woman. The man at one point left the area but he returned with a shovel and continued his attack. Mosque property was also damaged. Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the NCCM, said the incident has affected many in the community. "Incidents like this result in a great deal of trauma, they result in a great degree of insecurity and they result in a great deal of fear," he said. "We've had repeated attacks on primarily Black Muslim women. This is unacceptable. It needs to stop and we really need a whole government approach." read the complete article

26 Jan 2022

When will Canada take Islamophobia seriously?

It hasn’t been an easy five years for Muslim communities across Canada. Not since a mass murderer rampaged through a Quebec City mosque five years ago, killing six worshippers and injuring many more. Since then, Muslims across the country have engaged in surreal discussions around self-protection, such as how to duck for cover or file out safely should another shooter barge through the front door. These conversations are reminders of how hate has captured Canada. Some may not have noticed, many have probably forgotten. But Muslims in Canada are forced to remember because we live in a new normal. This was made clear last summer with the shocking murder of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario. We don’t have to accept this status quo. Today’s troubling climate is made largely possible by hate peddled and organized in online spaces that do little to stem the venom. We need to look no further than the Quebec City attacker himself who frequented online hate groups. The federal government has since stepped up and, despite wrangling over language and debates over free speech, showed a willingness to at least address the systemic nature of online hate speech and harm. While ad hoc steps have been taken to address Islamophobia along all these lines, much more needs to be done, and in a more cohesive manner. Perhaps the most important reminder as we approach the fifth anniversary of the Quebec City mosque attack, is that no real traction can be made if our habit is to forget the lessons of the past which, for so many, are as painfully present as they are past. read the complete article


26 Jan 2022

What It Feels Like to Be a Muslim Woman Auctioned Online by India's Right Wing

As the first day of the new year dawned in New Delhi, I woke to find that I had been put up for auction on the Internet. There it was: a photograph of me with the words “Your Bulli Bai deal of the day.” Bulli is a derogatory term reserved for Muslim women and bai, meaning maid, is another derogatory term often used by India’s right wing for Muslim women. Having written stories critical of the government for the last two years—dealing with attacks on members of the Dalit caste, crimes against women, COVID-19 mismanagement, and hate crimes against Muslims—I was no stranger to trolling. In fact, I am one of the 20 most abused women journalists in India. But being auctioned? There were nearly 100 more women on the list—prominent ones, such as broadcasters, politicians, authors, pilots, and actors. Like me, all were Muslim. There has been a marked increase in the persecution of Muslims since the BJP, pursuing a Hindu nationalist agenda, came into power in 2014. Across India, Muslims are being refused housing and Muslim artists have quit their jobs because of threats from hardline Hindu groups. Trumped-up criminal cases have been filed against journalists for news reports not favorable towards the ruling party. Editors and writers at the media organization I work for, The Wire, have faced charges ranging from defamation to “promoting enmity,” having “intent to cause riot” and posting “provocative tweets.” read the complete article

Sri Lanka

26 Jan 2022

The Rise of Religious Extremism & Anti-Muslim Politics in Sri Lanka

On 28 October, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed the militant Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara to head a presidential task force on legal reforms, shocking many in Sri Lanka and beyond. Gnanasara is the public face of the country’s leading anti-Muslim campaign group, Bodu Bala Sena (Army of Buddhist Power, or BBS). He is widely accused of inciting inter-communal violence, including two deadly anti-Muslim pogroms in June 2014 and March 2018. Convicted of contempt of court for a separate incident, Gnanasara was sentenced to six years in prison but received a presidential pardon from Rajapaksa’s predecessor, Maithripala Sirisena, in his final months in office. The act of clemency came after intensive lobbying by nationalist monks and an upsurge of anti-Muslim sentiment in the aftermath of the 2019 Easter bombings, a series of attacks on churches and tourist hotels carried out by a small group claiming allegiance to the Islamic State, or ISIS. Observers across the Sri Lankan political spectrum, including some Buddhist nationalists, expressed dismay – at times, outrage – that the president could name someone whose disrespect for the law and hostility to non-Sinhala Buddhist minorities are a matter of public record to head a commission ostensibly designed to prevent “discrimination” and ensure “humanitarian values”. Critics have called the appointment “irrational” and even “incomprehensible”. In fact, it is anything but. The Rajapaksa government is deeply unpopular, including among large sections of its core Sinhala Buddhist constituency, and desperate to divert public attention from its economic mismanagement. There is thus a clear if deeply unfortunate logic for it to bring back to the fore the best-known proponent of a theme that was key to getting the president elected: fear of Muslims as a source of “religious extremism”. read the complete article


26 Jan 2022

Shooting targets mosque in Germany

An attack by assault rifles has targeted a mosque in Germany’s Saxony-Anhalt province. Two individuals heard shots near the Islamic Cultural Centre in Halle, according to a statement made by police, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Monday. The police discovered three bullets on the ground. Eyewitnesses noted that a 55-year-old person from a building across the mosque opened fire on the mosque from his home. Police reportedly confiscated two weapons found in his home. Meanwhile, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany condemned the incident in a Twitter post. The council also said the mosque had faced similar attacks in the past. Germany has experienced a rise in racism and anti-Muslim hatred in recent years. Germany is home to 81 million people and hosts the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Of the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, at least 3 million are of Turkish descent. The Turkish community in Europe is concerned with the rising trend of Islamophobia and Turkophobia in Western countries and has called on European states to escalate measures against hate crimes. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Jan 2022 Edition


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