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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27 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, the senate voted in favour of banning the wearing of hijabs in sports competitions, which if implemented could make the country a no-go zone for Muslim women athletes, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Muslim women MPs discuss their experiences of Islamophobia and racism in government, and in India the proliferation of misinformation on social media is causing tension amongst families, especially for members of the diaspora, who say they’re eager to discuss issues such as Islamophobia, casteism, and homophobia, but know they may face intense backlash. Our recommended read of the day is by Hafsa Lodi for the Independent on the double standards in France as Kanye West is praised for wearing a face mask at Paris Fashion Week, while “women who wish to wear niqabs in France face fines and ‘citizenship education’ classes.” This and more below:


27 Jan 2022

Kanye’s Paris Fashion Week mask violates France’s niqab ban. So where exactly is his fine? | Recommended Read

To Schiaparelli’s couture presentation on Monday, Kanye wore a black mask that covered his entire face, save for two small slits for his eyes. “He added some drama with a black face mask,” reads a Harper’s Bazaar story, with the nonchalance more fit for describing colorful shoelaces than for a mask that conjures up images of bank robbers. Publications have repeatedly deem Kanye’s masked aesthetic “daring” and “head-turning,” and even referred to the black mask as “Paris Fashion Week’s Must-See Accessory” when he wore one to Balenciaga’s Paris show last July. But what most have failed to notice is the fact that Paris Fashion Week’s supposedly must-see accessory is actually legally forbidden under its Law of 2010-1192. France’s “Act prohibiting concealment of the face in public space” has been in effect since 2011, outlawing the donning of niqabs, balaclavas and masks in public spaces. Those who break this law can be fined up to 150 euros. In 2020, France controversially confirmed that it would continue to uphold this ban, even while making face masks mandatory due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s quite unreasonable, not to mention unfair, to force your citizens to wear a face mask while at the same time forbidding female Muslims from wearing niqabs, or face veils, which essentially cover the same area of skin as medical face masks do. This inconsistency inevitably brought to light the country’s Islamophobic motivations for implementing the law in the first place, made more evident with the introduction of recent rulings: its Separatism Bill, passed last July, outlaws hijabs on minors, and just last week, the French Senate voted in favor of banning hijabs in sports competitions. Time and again, Muslim women are made painfully aware of the double standards that dictate societal trends and political policies. Covering up is deemed elegant and demure when “modesty” becomes a buzzword that influences the mainstream Western fashion industry, but is connoted with oppression and patriarchy when seen on Muslim women of color. Women who wish to wear niqabs in France face fines and “citizenship education” classes, yet Kanye is free to walk around on public streets and at prestigious fashion shows with his face fully covered. He is photographed by paparazzi and his images go viral, inspiring humorous memes on social media, all while in a country where his head-turning accessory is supposed to be forbidden. But his fame, it seems, saves him from such scrutiny; he is allowed to don his full-coverage face mask because of his privilege and celebrity status — and also perhaps, because he is male. read the complete article

27 Jan 2022

International alliance of western MPs calls for China blacklists over Uyghur ‘atrocities’

A group of 35 legislators, representing over 10 countries and blocs including the EU, UK, India and Australia, have called on their governments to draw up a blacklist of entities involved in “perpetrating atrocities in the Uyghur region” of China. The parliamentarians demanded a blacklist similar to the US Commerce Department’s Entity List, which identifies bodies complicit in human rights violations and abuses of ethnic Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China. The politicians said in a statement that their intention was to block investors from funding the firms that are involved in abuses of the ethnic minority. The coordinated move by representatives from several European Union nations and others like Canada and the UK is being led by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) - an international cross-party network of some 200 legislators focused on relations with China. “We cannot ignore the role that big banks play in financing the abuses taking place in Xinjiang. If they are knowingly investing in firms perpetrating forced labour and other human rights abuses, then it is right that they should be held to account,” said Reinhard Bütikofer, a German Green MEP and co-chair of IPAC. read the complete article

27 Jan 2022

Misinformation on Social Media in India Is Causing Tension Among Families

Among the signs in the crowd: “Facebook is accomplice to the killings of Muslims in India” and “Facebook, your complicity in enabling Hindutva results in physical violence against Muslims, Dalits, Farmers, Activists.” The protests, which were held nationwide, were organized to call out content-moderation policies on Facebook and WhatsApp, which Meta owns. Leaked documents obtained by the Associated Press found that Facebook “was selective in curbing hate speech, misinformation, and inflammatory posts” in India, allowing anti-Muslim rhetoric supported by the party of hard-line Hindu-nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi to proliferate. The U.S. protests were held by a coalition of organizations, including the Indian American Muslim Council. Facebook has come under fire in the past few years for allowing misinformation to spread on its platform in India, where deadly anti-Muslim violence has coincided with a sharp rise in inflammatory content on the platform. One test researcher found that if they followed all the Facebook recommendations for a user in Kerala, India, within weeks their feed was filled with gory images and nationalistic messages, according to documents obtained by the New York Times and other news organizations. This phenomenon has been painful for members of the diaspora, who say they’re eager to discuss issues such as Islamophobia, casteism, and homophobia, but know they may face intense backlash — including from their own relatives — for doing so. Apps such as WhatsApp have shrunk the distance between South Asia and the United States so that relatives living abroad are just a DM or text away. While various COVID-19 lockdowns have kept many families apart physically, messaging apps have helped bridge those divides. Yet WhatsApp and social media have also helped “normalize” Islamophobia both in India and the U.S., Hana says. “Small, little jokes about it — it makes it normalized, and makes it okay for this stuff to go around.” Young organizers say combating Islamophobia and misinformation online requires having tough conversations with relatives, attending in-person protests, and spreading awareness of these problems on their own social media. read the complete article

United Kingdom

27 Jan 2022

‘All my life people have told me to lose my Muslimness’ – politicians on their battle with Islamophobia

What is it like to be a Muslim politician today? Rosena Allin-Khan: During a Commons debate about Islamophobia in November last year I spoke out about how, when I was a child and in the park with my little brother, I was attacked by a racist gang with dogs; how at medical school a senior consultant advised me to tell my family to stop being terrorists; and about being half-Polish and half-Pakistani, and seeing my white, blond mum spat at in the street. Throughout my life people have told me to lose my Muslimness, that I should give my children anglicised names, that I could become Rosie Allin and have an easier life. But I’m proud of my heritage, and my family of many religions. I’ve been told by people in politics that I shouldn’t have stood to be deputy leader because no Muslim had ever made it on to a leadership ballot paper – that the country just wasn’t ready to vote for a Muslim. I’m glad I didn’t listen. Hina Bokhari: I was shocked that I was the first Muslim woman elected in Merton council – and one of the London assembly’s first Muslim women. Are Muslim women less likely to be elected? Or less likely to put themselves forward? When I talk to Muslim women, there’s a fear of being abused. People have said in the past I should change my name. But I would never do that. When Michael Fabricant said that Nus Ghani wasn’t obviously Muslim, I tweeted: “Yeah – coz all us Muslims look the same!” I think what he meant was that she was the kind of Muslim that didn’t make him feel uncomfortable. Naz Shah: When I was on the home affairs select committee, research was conducted into the amount of abuse MPs received. Diane Abbott was the most abused MP. But they had a category for abuse called “toxic abuse”. Abbott got 8%, I got 15%. I never found out what made certain abuse “toxic” but I remember being shocked. My political colleagues have tried to support me, but if they retweet me, it opens the floodgates to them, too. So they stop retweeting. People have said that in certain places, it’s best to tone down any Muslimness. Years ago, I wanted to set something up around Muslims in the Labour party, and was told: “The party is already seen to be too Muslim.” It was meant in a supportive way. But you can’t escape Islamophobia. Look at the health secretary, Sajid Javid: he says he has no religion, but he still didn’t get an invite to the top table when Donald Trump came to the UK, even though he was chancellor. Nor did the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. So your self-identification doesn’t matter. read the complete article

27 Jan 2022

As a Muslim MP I’ve long warned of damaging Islamophobia – a full audit into the Tory party must be launched

The role almost inevitably invites abuse. It’s even worse if you’re a woman, a person of colour or Muslim. I happen to be all three. I’ve experienced negativity online – yesterday someone on Twitter demanded to know how I could sit in a secular parliament where men and women make laws when I was follower of Sharia. Offline, my office has received hate mail – the worst being a suspicious package, the legacy of which means all my post is super-screened offsite before reaching me. All my Christmas cards, for example, had corners missing because they’d been snipped off and shaken to check for possible anthrax/noxious substances. Parliament continually adapts. Additional female loos were necessitated by the “Blair’s Babes” landslide. Being more Muslim-friendly is evidenced in the fact that my office includes a multifaith prayer room. But then again, of the many thousands of folk who work in Parliament, you are most likely to encounter brown faces in its multiple canteens; they diminish the further up the foodchain you go. I’ve repeatedly been told “that’s for MPs only” or challenged by security for being in MP-only-areas. For me, the Nusrat Ghani allegations were shocking but unsurprising. It is extremely troubling if doors are deliberately closed to Muslims at the top. To be denied promotion for “Muslimness” would be downright illegal given Labour’s 2010 Equalities Act outlawed religious discrimination. read the complete article

27 Jan 2022

Letters to Muslim MPs face anthrax checks as Islamophobic attacks increase

A number of Muslim MPs who have been targeted by white extremist groups have their post subjected to additional security checks to prevent deadly substances such as anthrax making it into their House of Commons offices, i can reveal. Following threats received from extremists, some Muslim MPs are now having their post check by Parliamentary security before it is delivered. Labour’s Rupa Huq was one MP to have received a package “doused in a mystery liquid” from racists. A member of her office staff was admitted to hospital for checks after handling the parcel. “All my post is now screened offsite and the envelopes shaken for anthrax,” said Dr Huq. read the complete article


27 Jan 2022

Hijab ban could make French sport a no-go zone for Muslim women

Just five days before Safi’s win in Melbourne, where she played wearing a headscarf, the French senate voted in favour of banning the wearing of hijabs in sports competitions. The amendment, proposed by the right-wing political party Les Republicains, argued that headscarves undermine French values and put the safety of athletes at risk. Approved by a 160-143 vote in the French Senate, the rule – if implemented – will be catastrophic to the participation of Muslim women in sport in France, and women worldwide. For elite athletes, like Safi, France could instantly become a no-go zone. Khadijah Mellah, who became the first hijab-wearing jockey to win the Magnolia Cup in 2019, hopes to return to racing in 2022 and dreams of one day competing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Now, she may have to rethink. “It’s straight-up Islamophobic,” Mellah told the Telegraph. “It causes me as an athlete to think twice about whether I want to train or compete in France. It limits my options which is frustrating. Essentially, it’s dictatorship over women’s bodies and what they can and cannot wear and it’s wrong. I’m lucky I live in the UK and it doesn’t affect me massively but honestly, a lot of talent will be wasted because of this decision.” France’s war on the hijab is not new, of course. The French Football Federation already bans women from wearing the hijab in matches. Headscarves are prohibited in schools and government buildings. It will not only impact individuals like Mellah, or the aspiring tennis players hoping to reach the French Open. For a nation that is set to host the 2024 Olympics, the audacity of seeking to exclude a group of women in this way is shocking. How can Paris open its doors to the best of the world’s sporting talent yet actively reject women for what they choose to wear? read the complete article

27 Jan 2022

France targets groups, websites with expanded powers under anti-terror law

The French government said this week it was closing down an activist-run media outlet and a Muslim website deemed at odds with "national values", the latest in a series of steps that rights groups and lawyers say infringe on democratic freedoms. Following a violent protest against the extreme right in Nantes, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he would shut down "Nantes Révoltée", a local media platform, which had relayed information about the protest. Days earlier, he had announced plans to close the website "La Voie Droite", which publishes Islamic religious content. The government has been making increasing use of powers to shut down organisations or groups. In the last two years, there have been 12 such shutdowns, an uptick from seven between 2016 and 2019, according to French public records. Of the organisations shut by decree since January 2020, seven are Muslim-related, including associations to run mosques, a humanitarian organisation and anti-Islamophobia groups, the records show. Three far-right groups have been closed. read the complete article

27 Jan 2022

French channel slammed for 'insulting and dishonest' report on Muslims

Working in cahoots with the state, French journalists are accused of indulging in anti-Muslim propaganda in the run-up to the country's presidential elections. According to critics, French journalists, in coordination with the country's intelligence services, have produced a documentary targeting Muslims in the country. Aired on Sunday evening, M6, a local French channel broadcast a report on its program "Forbidden Zone" titled: "Faced with the danger of radical Islam, the responses of the State". One of the Muslims featured in the film, a young woman, Lilia Bouziane, said she was the victim of manipulation. Bouziane said that she was ambushed by the show, which she believed would be about the views of young people towards secularism. Instead, the law student in Lyon said the show had used selected quotes that aimed to affirm the state's narrative against Muslims. In an impassioned video on social media, Bouziane says, "women have been silent for too long. Today, Lilia Bouziane, a Muslim and French woman, will not be silent, and I will not let this kind of thing go. I have been betrayed and manipulated by journalists of Forbidden Zone." One former French minister seeing Bouziane on TV following the airing of the show said, "She does not want to take off her hijab and wants to become a lawyer. It's simple, let her go and live in a Muslim state…!" Flagrant Islamophobic speech in France has become the norm in recent years, often couched in the language of secularism. One critic of the former minister ridiculed the comment saying, "there is no incompatibility between being a professional lawyer and wearing the veil." The report on "Forbidden Zone" sought to frame Muslim shops and organisations set up by Muslims to facilitate their religious practice and the transmission of it to their children as something dangerous and a form of radical Islam. read the complete article

United States

27 Jan 2022

Are We Any Closer to Shutting Down Guantánamo?

More than 20 years after its opening, that American offshore symbol of mistreatment and injustice the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is still open. In fact, as 2021 ended, New York Times reporter Carol Rosenberg, who has covered that notorious prison complex since its first day, reported on the Pentagon’s plans to build a brand-new prefab courthouse at that naval base. It’s intended to serve as a second, even more secret facility for holding the four remaining trials of war-on-terror detainees and is scheduled to be ready “sometime in 2023.” Close Guantánamo? Not soon, it seems. The cost of that new construction is a mere $4 million, a relatively minor sum compared to the $6 billion dollars and counting that detention and trial operations had claimed by 2019, according to the estimate of one whistleblower. Consider it a record of sorts that, in 20 years, only two trials have ever been completed there, both in 2008. Both led to convictions, one of which was later overturned, one of which is still on appeal. This paltry record is another sign of the forever reality of Guantánamo, where neither small nips and tucks nor major alterations have proved anything more than cosmetic dressing for a situation that has proven intractable over three presidencies and the beginning of a fourth. Commonly, the closing of Guantánamo is envisioned as involving a series of practical steps which I, like so many others, have been suggesting for years now. The most recent proposal comes from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, which has outlined a 13-step process aimed at shutting down that facility for good. This entails resolving the remaining cases in the military commissions (10 still facing trial, two already convicted), while emptying the prison of its remaining 27 prisoners held in indefinite detention without charge. read the complete article


27 Jan 2022

Reclaiming public space: Being a Black Muslim woman in Edmonton

After a string of attacks against Black Muslim women in Edmonton, photographer Faisa Omer gathered six Somali-Canadian women and girls to reflect on the fear and joy of existing in public space. Their stories are part of the latest edition of CBC’s #BlackonthePrairies, which explores how the region's places, from landscapes to classrooms, are inextricably linked with the experiences of Black people in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Jan 2022 Edition


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