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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30 Jan 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Turkey, the Danish ambassador to Turkey is summoned after a far-right politician burns the Qur’an near a Copenhagen mosque, meanwhile in the U.S., World Hijab Day, celebrated on February 1st, encourages people to spend a day donning hijabs in an effort to normalize them and upend assumptions, according to the holiday’s founder Nazma Khan, and in India, students over the weekend have clashed with police over the ban of a documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s involvement in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat. Our recommended read of the day is by Jesse Feith for The Montreal Gazette on the Quebec mosque shooting that happened six years ago and the scars, both physical and psychological, that have lingered within the Canadian Muslim community to this day. This and more below:


28 Jan 2023

Quebec mosque shooting left invisible scars, young Muslims say | Recommended Read

Ghita Lahbabi was a 15-year-old high school student on Jan. 29, 2017, when news of the Quebec City mosque shooting spread through her community. Attending an Arab-Muslim school in Montreal, she remembers the tension that reigned as police visited in the next days to reassure everyone it was an isolated event. A gunman fuelled by hatred toward Muslims had entered the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and coldly killed six people and wounded 19 others. In all, he left 17 children fatherless. Students as young as 11 had to grapple with the horror of what happened. Many feared the school, or others like it, could be targeted next. “It was really a big shock, because I didn’t think there could be such hatred, or Islamophobia, in Canada,” said Lahbabi, now a law student at Université Laval. “It was the first time I was ever really scared,” she added. “I remember thinking, maybe I’ll be next. Or that it could happen to my father, mother or a friend.” Beyond the victims and their families, it left a generation of young Muslims grappling with their sense of security, identity and belonging — a struggle that continues six years later. read the complete article

28 Jan 2023

Edmonton's Muslim communities call for more inclusive spaces for Black Muslims

A team of Muslim community members in Edmonton are working to address racism in faith spaces. The Anti-Racism Muslim Collaborative (AMC) conducted community engagement to better understand anti-Black racism to resolve the issue. Hanan Attitalla, education coordinator with the advocacy group John Humphrey for Peace and Human Rights, facilitated the project and said anti-Black racism "is rampant in most spaces in our city." "It's validating to know that these concerns are shared across our sisterhoods, your brotherhoods, that we all share these experiences ... it's not me being overly sensitive," Attitalla said. "But it's not something that's just in Muslim spaces, it's everywhere." AMC released a report based on the community engagement sessions noting areas of improvement to make Muslim spaces more inclusive, safe and welcoming for Black Muslims. Some issues the report identified include the lack of spaces for Black people in Muslim communities, inclusivity for non-Arabic speaking Muslims and representation in Muslim leadership. Black Muslims, most notably women, have been targets of hate-based violence and racist attacks in recent years. Police-reported hate crimes against Muslim people in Canada rose from 84 incidents in 2020, to 144 incidents in 2021, Statistics Canada data shows. read the complete article

27 Jan 2023

Trudeau appoints first representative for fighting Islamophobia

Canada has appointed its first special representative for combating Islamophobia, to tackle racism, discrimination and religious intolerance faced by the Muslim community, which has experienced targeted attacks. “Diversity truly is one of Canada’s greatest strengths, but for many Muslims, Islamophobia is all too familiar,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement, as he announced the appointment on Thursday. “We need to change that.” Amira Elghawaby, a journalist, human rights advocate and member of the Canada Race Relations Foundation, was named to the position and will provide advisory support to government initiatives. “Muslims are sometimes caught between being perceived as a threat or as representing a problem to solve,” Elghawaby told reporters. She said she hoped this moment would spur a national conversation about the value of Canada’s diversity. In 2021, the country was jolted by what the police called a “targeted” hate crime when a man was accused of using a car to mow down five members of a family in Ontario because of their Muslim faith, killing four and injuring a 9-year-old-boy. Authorities described it an “act of mass murder” rooted in “unspeakable hatred.” It reopened the wounds of a 2017 tragedy when a gunman opened fire on worshipers at a mosque in Quebec, killing six and injuring 19. More Muslims were killed in hate-motivated attacks in Canada than in any other Group of Seven country between 2016 and 2021, according to a report by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), which was cited by a Senate fact-finding mission on Islamophobia last year. read the complete article

29 Jan 2023

6 years later, ceremony held inside Quebec City mosque to honour victims of 2017 attack

Six years after the deadly mosque attack in Quebec City, an emotional ceremony took place marking the anniversary of the shooting — held for the first time in the same room where many of the victims were killed. Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti were killed shortly after evening prayers when a gunman opened fire just before 8 p.m. in the Islamic Cultural Centre in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood. The attack that left 17 children fatherless and a community forever scarred were commemorated as organizers also point to the importance of continuing to reflect on Islamophobia — particularly as hate and far-right extremism continues across Canada. Mosque co-founder Boufeldja Benabdallah told those gathered that the widows of the six men insisted their fallen husbands must never be forgotten. Speaking at a news conference at the mosque on Thursday, a spokesperson for the group organizing event said it will be the first time the community gathers inside the mosque on the anniversary. This year, it falls on a Sunday, the same day the attack occurred six years ago. read the complete article


29 Jan 2023

Türkiye warns citizens of 'Islamophobic', 'racist' attacks in EU, US

Türkiye has issued a strong travel advisory, warning its citizens against "possible Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist attacks" in the Europe and United States. In two separate travel advisories on Saturday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry recommended its citizens in the United States and European countries to "act calmly in the face of possible xenophobic and racist harassment and attacks" and to "stay away from areas where demonstrations may intensify." There has been a surge in propaganda demonstrations against Türkiye by groups affiliated with terrorist organisations, the ministry statement said. "These developments, which reflect the dangerous dimensions of religious intolerance and hatred in Europe, clearly reveal the alarming level reached by racist and discriminatory movements in Europe," it added. This followed recent Quran-burning incidents in Europe. read the complete article

27 Jan 2023

Quran burned in front of Denmark mosque, Turkish embassy

An anti-Islam activist has burned copies of the Muslim holy book near a Copenhagen mosque and outside the Turkish embassy in Denmark. Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, had already infuriated the Turkish government by staging a Quran-burning protest in Sweden on January 21. On Friday, he replicated the stunt in front of a mosque, as well as the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen, and promised to continue every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO. Sweden and neighbouring Finland are seeking to join the military alliance amid the war in Ukraine, in a historic departure from their non-aligned policies. However, their accession would require approval from all NATO members, and Turkey has indicated it will block Sweden’s bid – in part due to Paludan’s initial stunt. read the complete article

27 Jan 2023

Protests against Quran burning held across the Middle East

Protests were held Friday in several predominantly Muslim countries to denounce the recent desecration of Islam’s holy book by far-right activists in Sweden and the Netherlands. The protests in countries including Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon ended with people dispersing peacefully. In Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, police officers stopped some demonstrators trying to march toward the Swedish Embassy. Similar rallies were also held in the southern city of Karachi and in the northwest. Earlier this month, Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist from Denmark, received permission from police to stage a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm where he burned the Quran. Days later, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Quran near the Dutch Parliament and stomped on them. On Friday, Paludan, who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that he would replicate the protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO. read the complete article

United States

29 Jan 2023

Omar says some Republicans don’t want a Muslim in Congress: ‘These people are OK with Islamophobia’

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Sunday said some Republicans are “OK with Islamophobia” in response to questions about efforts by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to block her from continuing to sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “You remember Donald Trump coming into my state and saying, ‘Muslims, Somali refugees are infiltrating our country.’ You remember [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene [R-Ga.] coming to Congress after [Rep.] Rashida [Tlaib (D-Mich.)] and I got sworn in and saying, ‘Muslims are infiltrating Congress.’ You remember [Rep. Lauren] Boebert [R-Colo.] saying that I was a terrorist. What did McCarthy do? He said, ‘She apologized, and we don’t have to worry about her Islamophobia. That never happened,'” Omar said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And so these people are OK with Islamophobia. They’re OK with trafficking in their own ways in antisemitism. They are not OK with having a Muslim have a voice on that committee,” Omar said. McCarthy targeted Omar, the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, for removal from Foreign Affairs. He also booted Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee. read the complete article

28 Jan 2023

For American Muslim women, hijabs affirm their right to choose

As the only hijabi student at her Bronx, N.Y., school in the ’90s, Nazma Khan faced so much Islamophobia that she contemplated dropping out. Her classmates called the Bangladeshi immigrant names such as “ninja,” “Batman” and “Mother Teresa.” She was shoved, kicked and spat on by students, who often waited outside her classroom to try to pull off her headscarf. After 9/11, as a recent college graduate living in New York City as a visibly Muslim woman, Khan said the hijabophobia only worsened, and she was chased down city streets and called a terrorist. Still, Khan said she loved wearing her hijab, an “outward expression of my inner faith,” and wanted to help women and girls like her who were being mistreated. “I kept on thinking about it, and I was like, ‘What if I asked women from all walks of life to wear the hijab for one day?’” she said. “Maybe they will see that I am not hiding a bomb underneath my scarf or that this scarf does not have a life of its own to oppress me.” After three years ruminating on the idea, Khan founded World Hijab Day in 2013. The February holiday encourages people to spend a day donning hijabs in an effort to normalize them and upend false assumptions about the head covering. Since its start, not every Muslim has applauded the annual event, but it has quickly gained popularity, spreading to more than 150 countries. For Muslim women, wearing a hijab is an act of worship as well as a way to practice modesty, a principle expected in the behavior and dress of all Muslims. Although the visibility of the head coverings has made women targets of Islamophobia, Muslim women who wear the hijab in the United States say the decision to wear the cloth covering is a liberating one. By sharing their diverse hijabi journeys, they say they are proof that Muslim women are not a monolith. read the complete article


28 Jan 2023

'After Modi film, now will you believe India’s Muslims?'

India’s government is going to great lengths to stop people watching a new documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots. Zahir Janmohamed believes those events were only the beginning of the strategic cruelty towards Muslims, which he says continues today. read the complete article

27 Jan 2023

Why Indian students are protesting the banning of a BBC documentary

Students in India have clashed with police over the government banning of a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his involvement in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat. The documentary, “India: The Modi Question,” found the leader to be “directly responsible” for enabling the violence that led to the death of 2,000 Muslims. India’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the documentary as “propaganda” and reportedly invoked emergency powers to have it taken down online. Hundreds of students at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi had gathered to watch a screening of the documentary organized by student president and activist Aishe Ghosh. The university had threatened disciplinary action if the screening went ahead, claiming that it would disturb the peace on campus. Before it could air, the power was cut, forcing the students to watch the documentary on their phones and laptops. “It was obviously the administration that cut off the power,” Ghosh told Reuters. “We are encouraging campuses across the country to hold screenings as an act of resistance against this censorship.” The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) said it plans to show the documentary in every state in India. read the complete article


27 Jan 2023

Rightwing Spanish leaders under fire over anti-Islam comments after attack on churches

Conservative and far-right Spanish political leaders have been accused of seeking to smear and stigmatise Muslims and migrants after a suspected Islamist terrorist attack on two churches in the southern city of Algeciras in which one man was killed and four other people were injured. On Wednesday evening, a man with a machete entered the Andalucían city’s San Isidro church and seriously wounded a priest there before going to the nearby Nuestra Señora de La Palma church and killing its sacristan, Diego Valencia. Three other people were injured in the violence. A 25-year-old Moroccan man had been arrested over the attacks and remains in custody. Although the atrocity met with swift condemnation and revulsion from Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups, the reactions of the leaders of the conservative People’s party (PP) and the far-right Vox party have been denounced by members of the country’s Socialist-led coalition government and by migrant and anti-racism NGOs. The controversy comes as Spain prepares for a year of municipal, regional and general elections. Speaking on Thursday, the PP’s leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, said Christians had long since ceased killing in the name of their faith. “There are people who kill in the name of God, or in the name of a religion,” he said. “However, it’s been many centuries since we’ve seen a Catholic or a Christian killing in the name of their religion or their beliefs. But there are other peoples who have citizens who do that.” Feijóo later attempted to clarify his remarks, insisting that no religion should be stigmatised. “It’s obvious that what’s happened had nothing to do with religions; you can’t criminalise any religion,” he said. “Fanaticism is one thing and religion’s something else. That’s what I think. But, having said that, I think we can all agree that there isn’t generally a problem with Catholic terrorism in the world. However, there is a problem with Islamic fundamentalism in some parts of the world and also in some Islamic countries.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Jan 2023 Edition


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