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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, police in New Delhi have detained several students who gathered to watch the new BBC documentary examining the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots, meanwhile in Sweden, new research shows that antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise, with 51% of all hate crimes targeting Muslims in the country 2021, and in Canada, Quebec City launches Muslim Awareness Week as the city comes up to the sixth anniversary of the deadly Quebec City Mosque attack of 2017. Our recommended read of the day is by Newley Purnell for The Wall Street Journal on Twitter CEO Elon Musk reinstating several Hindu nationalist accounts that were previously banned for spreading hate and intolerance against Muslims.


26 Jan 2023

Musk’s Twitter Reinstates Hindu Nationalist Accounts That Disparage Muslims | Recommended Read

Twitter Inc. under Elon Musk has reinstated several previously suspended Hindu nationalist accounts that were popular in India, one of its largest markets by users, with human-rights groups saying the move has spurred a resurgence of divisive religious material on the platform. Some of the accounts that were suspended had been reported for posting hate speech aimed at religious minorities in India, according to groups that reported them. Upon their return in recent weeks, some have tweeted material denigrating Muslims and others. The tweets include a debunked video that the person who posted it claimed showed a Muslim cleric spitting on rice before serving it to others, another calling Pakistani Muslims “rectums,” and a retweet of a user who called the Quran “the source of all evil.” Twitter last week blocked more than 50 tweets containing the first episode of a BBC documentary that examined Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s leadership during deadly 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat when he was chief minister of the state, according to the Indian government. Human-rights groups say they are alarmed that Mr. Musk has in recent months interacted on Twitter with accounts they say espouse views of Hindu supremacy. Mr. Musk in November responded with a laughing emoji to one user’s tweet criticizing “leftists.” The same user has in the past tweeted support of the theory that Muslim men in India trick Hindu women into marriage to force them to convert to Islam. read the complete article

25 Jan 2023

Quran burning in Sweden reminds of Europe's 'dark hours,' say anti-Islamophobia activists

Rasmus Paludan, an extremist Swedish-Danish politician, burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, on Saturday outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm with both police protection and permission from the Swedish government. Morocco, Qatar, Türkiye and many other countries – as well as social media users – condemned the act, expressing their concerns amid a rise of extremist tendencies in Europe. Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Swiss academic, told Anadolu that those incidents were not the first of their kind to occur, and that similar acts had been perpetrated in the Netherlands and the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention center. "It is not only a will to clash ideas but also to humiliate and dishonor," he said, adding: "The spirit that generates today reminds us of the dark hours of Europe at the time of the Second World War and the treatment of the Jews." According to Ramadan, "these types of provocations" aiming for confrontation are "self-fulfilling prophecies where we trigger the emotions and the reaction of someone else" by harming sacred values, "in order to prove that they (these people) are not one of ours." Lawyer Rafik Chekkat, the founder of an "Islamophobia" platform, also compared those acts to Europe's 20th century antisemitism. "The anti-Muslim racism helps today reconfigure the political field in many countries in Europe, by letting far-right groups extend their audience," he said. For Chekkat, the Muslim question and Islamophobia have become "catalysts" of the European far-right groups' reconfiguration. read the complete article

25 Jan 2023

Normalizing hate and Islamophobia in Europe

While European countries struggle to contain the violence perpetrated by anti-immigrant criminals, including anti-Muslim groups, and deal with the root causes of their violence, little is done to contain their hate speech or Islamophobia. While the overwhelming majority of Europeans reject their violent tactics, their rhetoric is moving from the fringes to the mainstream. Rantings against Islam are gradually becoming common in political campaigns and everyday discourse. This process threatens to normalize hate speech, especially Islamophobia, in many parts of Europe. Confusing incitement with freedom of speech has made it difficult to address this growing threat. However, while freedom of expression is a universal value enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international agreements have attached duties associated with its exercise. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the main human rights instrument adhered to by most countries, seeks to address that balance. While it holds that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression,” it adds that the exercise of such a right “carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions,” including “for the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or morals.” Many countries have included such safeguards in their national laws. read the complete article

26 Jan 2023

Rohingya are drowning at sea. Asia’s leaders are to blame

In early January, a boat with 185 Rohingya refugees washed ashore on the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province. They had spent weeks at sea in desperate conditions, fleeing cramped and overcrowded camps in Bangladesh in search of a better life. More than half were women and children. Sadly, they are far from alone. Since November last year, at least three more boats have landed in Aceh after similarly perilous journeys, carrying hundreds of refugees, with at least 20 people dying at sea. According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), thousands of Rohingya, including women and children, resorted to perilous boat journeys in 2022. At the same time, it is deplorable that common people have had to step in to do what governments in the region are supposed to do. From India to Indonesia, states in South and Southeast Asia have for years turned a blind eye to the plight of Rohingya “boat people”, refusing refugees a chance to land on their shores and even pushing their vessels back to sea. This is illegal — a violation of the non-refoulement principle under international law bans nations from sending people back to where they are at risk of serious human rights violations. It is also immoral behaviour, and regional states must change course immediately to prevent even more lives from being lost at sea. Rohingya people have taken to boats from Myanmar for years to escape the genocide we are facing in our native Rakhine state. In recent years, it is increasingly refugees from Bangladesh who have risked their lives on dangerous sea journeys. Close to one million Rohingya refugees live in camps in Bangladesh. read the complete article

25 Jan 2023

Rohingya genocide victims seek justice through German lawsuit

Human rights NGO Fortify Rights Tuesday filed a criminal complaint against senior Myanmar military generals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the organization filed its claim in Germany. Half of the 16 individual complainants survived the Rohingya genocide in 2016 and 2017. Along with the individuals’ testimonies, the complaint draws on more than 1,000 interviews with survivors of international crimes in Myanmar since 2013. The complaint alleges that the Myanmar military committed acts of genocide, including the systematic rape, killing, torture and imprisonment of the Rohingya minority. It also argues that senior military officials failed to take any action to prevent these crimes from happening or punish the perpetrators. CEO and co-founder of Fortify Rights Matthew Smith described the lawsuit as an attempt “to seek justice” against the Myanmar military who have “enjoy[ed] complete impunity” against crimes which “cannot go unpunished.” This complaint is part of wider efforts to ensure accountability, which include an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the scope of the ICC’s investigation does not encompass the vast majority of crimes against the Rohingya, as the crimes were not committed on territories under its jurisdiction. August 2022 marked five years since the Myanmar military’s “most egregious attacks on the Rohingya people,” and rights groups allege that the country continues to perpetrate a process of ethnic cleansing. According to Human Rights Watch, 900,000 Rohingya live in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Those who remained in Myanmar are “subject to government persecution and violence, confined to camps and villages without freedom of movement, and cut off from access to adequate food, health care, education, and livelihoods.” read the complete article


25 Jan 2023

Why Modi doesn’t want India to watch BBC film on Gujarat carnage

India’s right-wing government has used emergency powers to block the airing of a BBC documentary which questions Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Calling the two-part BBC film, India: The Modi Question, a “propaganda piece”, the government ordered Twitter to take down more than 50 tweets linking to the documentary while YouTube was instructed to block any video uploads. A screening of the documentary at one of India’s premier universities on Tuesday was disrupted by the authorities, who allegedly cut the power and internet lines to the office of the students’ union which had organised the event. India media reports said stones were thrown at students watching the film. Similar screenings were also reported from other parts of the country, while opposition leaders, journalists and activists continue to share links to the BBC documentary on social media to defy the government order. The 59-minute documentary alleges that Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat at the time, ordered the police to turn a blind eye to the violence that went on for days. The film cites 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 attacks on Muslims. It also said the violence was “politically motivated” and the aim “was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas”. The riots were impossible “without the climate of impunity created by the state government … Narendra Modi is directly responsible”, it concluded. read the complete article

26 Jan 2023

BBC film on Indian PM Modi, 2002 riots draws government ire

Days after India blocked a BBC documentary that examines Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role during 2002 anti-Muslim riots and banned people from sharing it online, authorities were scrambling to halt screenings of the program at colleges and restrict clips of it on social media, a move that has been decried by critics as an assault on press freedom. The two-part documentary “India: The Modi Question” has not been broadcast in India by the BBC, but India’s federal government blocked it over the weekend and banned people from sharing clips on social media, citing emergency powers under its information technology laws. Twitter and YouTube complied with the request and removed many links to the documentary. The ban set off a wave of criticism from opposition parties and rights groups that slammed it as an attack against press freedom. It also drew more attention to the documentary, sparking scores of social media users to share clips of the movie on WhatsApp, Telegram and Twitter. Press freedom in India has declined in recent years and the country fell eight places, to 150 out of 180 countries, in last year’s Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. It accuses Modi’s government of silencing criticism on social media, particularly on Twitter. read the complete article

25 Jan 2023

India police detain students gathered to watch BBC documentary on Modi

Students were detained by the Delhi police on Wednesday as they gathered to watch a recent BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India has dismissed as propaganda and blocked its streaming and sharing on social media. This follows similar disruptions, some of which turned violent, at gatherings this week by students to watch the documentary that questions Modi's leadership during deadly riots two decades ago, as his opponents raise questions of government censorship. Modi, who is aiming for a third term in elections next year, was chief minister of Gujarat in February 2002 when a suspected Muslim mob set fire to a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, setting off one of independent India’s worst outbreaks of religious bloodshed. In reprisal attacks across the state at least 1,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims, as crowds roamed the streets over days, targeting the minority group. Activists put the toll at around 2,500, more than twice that number. The government has said the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" released last week is a biased "propaganda piece" and has blocked the sharing of any clips from it on social media. Ahead of one of those screenings at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia university, 13 students were detained amid a heavy police deployment. The university blamed the students for creating a "ruckus on the street" and said they did not have permission to hold the show, police said. read the complete article

United States

25 Jan 2023

Biden Leery of Involvement in Potential Plea Deal in Sept. 11 Case

A military tribunal case against five Guantánamo Bay detainees accused of conspiring with the hijackers has spun its wheels for more than a decade with no trial in sight. Now it is the Biden administration’s turn. Prosecutors have proposed ending what could be more frustrating years of litigation, suggesting a deal in which the defendants would plead guilty in exchange for being spared the possibility of the death penalty. But prospects for resolving the case remain murky, underlining political and legal obstacles that have hardened in the generation since the attacks. The White House is distancing itself from the negotiations, declining to weigh in and leaving it to the Pentagon to decide how best to proceed. Officials there, however, are said to be uncertain they have the right to decide on a course of action with such major implications. The issue remains politically fraught. Some relatives of the nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11 attacks want a trial with the prospect, however distant, of executing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the attacks, and his four co-defendants. Others oppose the death penalty on principle, have no faith that the tribunals will obtain justice or have become resigned to the idea that, because the defendants were tortured by the Bush-era C.I.A., capital punishment is unlikely. read the complete article


25 Jan 2023

Swedish government fails to protect Muslims, Jews

The Swedish government has failed to prevent religion-based hate crime against Muslims and Jews. In 2021, Muslims bore the brunt of more than half (51%) of all hate crimes against religious groups in Sweden, according to a report published by the National Crime Prevention Council. They were followed by Jews (27%), Christians (11%) and other groups (11%). Muslim and Jewish women are more likely than men to become victims of hate crimes. The 2021 Religious Freedom Report by the US State Department stated that many hate crimes in Sweden were not being reported to police. read the complete article

New Zealand

25 Jan 2023

Jacinda Ardern May Need Ongoing Security, Amid Torrent of Abuse and Threats

University of Auckland researchers analyzed posts from online platforms including Gab, 4chan, Telegram, Reddit and 8kun dating back to 2019 that mentioned Ardern and six other high profile male and female officials from across the New Zealand political spectrum. Ardern was found to have faced between 50 and 90 times more online vitriol than any of the others. She was mentioned in more than 18,000 posts, with 5,438 classified as strongly negative, angry, sexually explicit or toxic. The research also found the abusive messages increased in the second half of last year. Kate Hannah, director and founder of independent research group The Disinformation Project, said the genesis of the abuse directed at Ardern was her response to the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack in which 51 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on Muslim worshipers at two mosques. “Her swift intervention in the banning of the assault rifles and the iconic visual imagery of her wearing hijab had a lot of power internationally in both the mainstream media and in online discourses,” Hannah said. “That’s when we first started seeing rhetoric.” read the complete article


25 Jan 2023

Quebec Muslim Awareness Week: launch of events to counter Islamophobia

"We want them to get to know us more," says Salam El-Mousawi, spokesperson of Muslim Awareness Week, on the launch of events to counter Islamophobia and help Quebecers understand them and their culture. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Jan 2023 Edition


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