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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31 Jan 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, Vogue France is hit with criticism following its post praising Julia Fox for wearing a headscarf, which many social media users pointed out was “tone deaf” and “a slap in the face of every Muslim woman” who faces discrimination from the authorities and society for wearing the hijab, meanwhile in India, the ruling BJP is reigniting religious disputes in Uttar Pradesh ahead of next month’s election, and in Canada, the government announced its intention to appoint a special representative on combatting Islamophobia as part of the country’s anti-racism strategy, five years after a deadly mosque shooting in Quebec. Our recommended read of the day is by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours for Al Jazeera on the five year anniversary of the deadly Quebec mosque attack and the long-lasting impact it has had on the Canadian Muslim community, who say more needs to be done to tackle Islamophobia and systemic racism. This and more below:


31 Jan 2022

48 bullets in two minutes: Five years on, Quebec mosque attack still haunts Muslim community | Recommended Read

Alexandre Bissonnette's deadly rampage inside Quebec City's largest mosque lasted less than two minutes. But by the time he finished firing dozens of rounds into the house of worship, six men were dead, five others were seriously injured, and the city's tight-knit Muslim community found itself at the forefront of a national debate around hate-fuelled violence. Outside the mosque, three black stone plinths stand in a memorial to those killed. Each is adorned with two names: Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti; Khaled Belkacemi and Abdelkrim Hassane; and Ibrahima Barry and Mamadou Tanou Barry. A quote, in French and Arabic, by Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran is etched on another black stone: "One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night." For Khadija Thabti, whose husband Aboubaker was among those fatally shot, January has become the toughest month of the year. "When we get to that date [January 29], it's very difficult for us as a family," the 44-year-old mother of two children, aged eight and 16, tells Al Jazeera in a phone interview. "Even today ... when I speak about it, I cry." He and other members of Quebec City's Muslim community are unequivocal: their mosque was targeted because of Islamophobia. That makes fighting such hatred crucial to preventing similar tragedies, says Chambaz. "We need to think about the future of this city (and) try to build a new revival for the Muslim community here, which would like to live in peace and harmony ... far from systemic racism, Islamophobia and discrimination." read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

'We're here to stay': Quebecers who fought to get Muslim cemeteries built say they're a sign of progress

Standing in front of the gates of the Quebec City Muslim Cemetery, Boufeldja Benabdallah reflects on the more than two decades he spent trying to establish a local burial ground for his community. "It was 22 years of fighting, research and meetings," he said. "People were burying their loved ones at the Muslim cemetery in Montreal." Benabdallah, who is the cemetery director and co-founder of the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, said it was extremely difficult to find land that was available, affordable and properly zoned. Reda Bouchelaghem of the Association Culturelle Islamique de l'Estrie (ACIE) in Quebec's Eastern Townships said his group faced similar challenges. Both men say it took a tragedy that shocked the country for their cemeteries to see the light of day. A few months after the attack, Benabdallah found a potential cemetery site in Saint-Apollinaire, a town of 6,000 about 45 kilometres south of Quebec City. The mayor of Saint-Apollinaire approved an Islamic cemetery, but a group of residents protested the project. They pushed the issue to a municipal referendum, where it was voted down. Benabdallah instead got the ear of Quebec City's then-mayor Régis Labeaume, who said he was determined to work with the city's Muslim community in an effort to heal and move forward after the 2017 attack. In the days after the shooting rampage at the mosque, Labeaume promised to find a suitable site for a Muslim cemetery. "We are working with them to see what they need. We will help them," he said at the time. It was Labeaume who later found a parcel of land on Frank-Carrel Street in the same Sainte-Foy neighbourhood as the Quebec City mosque. "He knew the difficulties we were having, and all of a sudden, he found a site that belonged to the city and was already zoned for a cemetery," said Benabdallah. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

Quebecers 'hope for a better future' on 5th anniversary of deadly mosque attack

Five years have passed since a deadly mosque attack in Quebec City claimed the lives of six people, but survivors and community leaders say they are still living with the impact of the tragedy and the problems of Islamophobia that led to it. Aymen Derbali, one of the survivors, spoke at a solemn ceremony organized Saturday outside the mosque. He was paralyzed from the chest down when a shooter opened fire in the city's Islamic Cultural Centre in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood on Jan. 29, 2017, killing six and injuring 19. "This terrorist attack was the result of Islamophobia … it still exists today," said Derbali. Derbali says everyone has a responsibility to denounce hatred and Islamophobia to ensure that similar events never happen. "We hope for a better future for our children," he said. Hakim Chambaz, another survivor, says he's still learning to cope with the horrors he saw that night. "The scenes of terror that we witnessed will always accompany us in our daily lives," he said, pausing mid-sentence for several seconds to compose himself. In a series of events held mainly online this week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Muslim community called for more government action to fight Islamophobia, including changing parts of Quebec's controversial secularism law, known as Bill 21, and toughening Canada's gun control laws. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

'It would be significant step forward': London Muslim Community hopes to see 'Our London Family Act' bill passed

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was joined by Muslim leaders in London, Ont. Saturday morning asking for support to pass the ‘Our London Family Act’ bill. Flanked by local NDP MPPs as well as the London Muslim Mosque's (LMM) Imam Aarij Anwer, and Rizwan Mohammed of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), Horwath described her provincial bill which would help combat Islamophobia. "It would be a significant step forward, it would represent real progress," says Anwer, the director of religious affairs at LMM. The gathering came on the fifth anniversary of the Quebec City mosque attack that killed six men and injured 19 others. Alexandre Bissonnette has since pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. "In the last four years, the Muslim community in Canada has seen 11 lives taken from us," says Anwer. "Six in Quebec City, one in Etobicoke and four in London." Horwath wants action taken immediately, saying, "No woman should have to fear walking on the street wearing her hijab for fear of being attacked or having it ripped off of her head." "Nobody should come to prayer services and have to look over their shoulder and worry who might be coming in the door as they worship, Horwath added. “That shouldn't be happening in Ontario and it shouldn't be happening in Canada." read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

Quebec mosque attack ‘hero’ recalls life-changing moments

Aymen Derbali says he would make the same fateful decision today that he made five years ago. The father of three had just finished praying at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on January 29, 2017, when he heard loud bangs outside. Moments later, the once-peaceful mosque turned into a scene of terror, with dozens of worshippers desperately seeking cover as a gunman began firing into the prayer room. In less than two minutes, six men would be dead, five others – including Derbali – would be seriously injured, and Muslim communities across Canada would be left deeply shaken. But as the scene unfolded that night, Derbali – who found himself between the shooter and the crowd – had only a split second to make a decision. “When I saw the panic behind me … I said to myself, ‘I have to stop him. He can’t be allowed to move forward.'” So Derbali waited for a brief pause in the assault and then ran towards the gunman. He was shot seven times, including a bullet that hit his spinal cord and rendered him paralysed from the chest down. “What brings me the most comfort is that I tried to do something, I tried to save people. I was shot, but he could have used those bullets to kill other people,” the now-45-year-old tells Al Jazeera in an interview at his home in advance of the five-year anniversary of the attack. “I was shot seven times, it’s not easy – but that’s seven fewer bullets for the others.” read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

Canada to appoint special representative to tackle Islamophobia

Canada has announced its intention to appoint a special representative on combatting Islamophobia as part of the country's anti-racism strategy, five years after a deadly mosque shooting in Quebec. “This year, on the eve of the five-year anniversary of this act of terror (mosque attack in Quebec City), the Government of Canada stands with and supports Muslim communities across Canada and reaffirms its commitment to take action to denounce and tackle Islamophobia and hate-fueled violence,” the government said in a statement on Saturday. Underlining that Islamophobia is a reality for Muslims across Canada and around the world, it noted that building a more inclusive country and combatting discrimination is a must. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

Canadian Muslims share experiences of Islamophobia in new report

Around a dozen Canadian Muslims are speaking out about experiences of Islamophobia in a new report from the charity Islamic Relief Canada. The report's release coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Quebec mosque shooting and the National Day of Action Against Islamophobia on Jan. 29. Reyhana Patel, head of communications and government relations at Islamic Relief Canada, said Canadians often only hear about violent or extreme attacks against Muslims. She said this report is intended to shed light on everyday incidents of discrimination and microaggressions Muslims experience, and to show the long-term effects of hate. One of those who shared their stories is Saleha Islam, 23, of Abbotsford, British Columbia. Islam said when she was in high school, she wore a hijab for the first time, a headscarf that covers the hair, ears and neck. A few boys in class asked her about the hijab, then proceeded to grab it off her head. She said she felt afraid but decided to confront them. "I was like, 'Do you know what you've done? This is really important to me. This is my this is how I identify as a Muslim woman. And so you should really not do that against anyone, ever,'" she said. According to the report, many of those who've shared their experiences felt those experiences were to be expected, living as a minority in Canada. The report also found that more women tended to be the targets of Islamophobia. The organization points to legislation in Quebec, such as Bill 62 — a law that includes a ban on wearing the niqab, a veil that leaves a gap for the eyes or the burqa, a veil that fully covers the head and body, while doing certain activities — and Bill 21, which bans some civil servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols while at work. read the complete article


31 Jan 2022


In a now-edited post to its Instagram, the publication shared a photograph of Fox arriving at a Paris Men’s Fashion Week show dressed in a leather Balenciaga trench coat, accessorised with a black headscarf and sunglasses. “Yes to the headscarf! Swipe left for your recap of Julia Fox and Kanye West style journey at the haute couture shows in Paris this week,” the previous caption read. It has since been edited to remove all reference to Fox’s headscarf. The post sparked backlash from Instagram users, who criticised the magazine for perpetuating a “double standard” and “praising [Fox] for wearing a headscarf in a country that actively oppresses Muslim women from doing so”. Muslim women’s right to wear the hijab has been a point of contention in France since 1989 when three students were suspended from a school in Creil for refusing to remove their headscarves. Since then, at least 100 girls have been suspended or expelled from schools for wearing a hijab in class. In nearly half of these cases, the exclusions were annulled by the French courts. The country later imposed a ban on face coverings, such as the niqab and the burqa, in 2011. The burqa is a full face veil while the niqab covers everything but the eyes. Earlier this month, the French Senate voted in favour of banning the wearing of “religious symbols” – which would include the hijab – in sports competitions. Elsewhere in sports, the French Football Federation, the governing body of football in the country, already prohibits women from wearing the hijab during official club matches and international games. Given the restrictions imposed on Muslim women in the country, social media users have labelled Vogue France’s post as “frustratingly tone deaf”. “Yes to the headscarf? This is really quite insensitive to the hijab ban in France and glamorising non-Muslim women for wearing something that Muslim women are constantly policed about,” one Instagram user commented. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

France's Grenoble street art festival loses subsidies over hijab mural

A street-art festival in the French mountain town of Grenoble has had its subsidies suspended by the regional authority because of a mural of a woman wearing the Islamic hijab, according to French outlet Le Dauphine. Authorities in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region of France claimed that the mural of the women in a hijab was "provocative" and "unacceptable". They claimed that showing the image fuelled violence and hatred, and only benefited "extremists". In the artwork, titled ‘Bad Religion?’, a women can be seen wearing a blue stripped hijab, evocative of the uniforms that Jews in Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear, and a yellow start of David, with the word 'Muslim' written on it, once more stirring memories of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The artist responsible for the street art is an anonymous figure, who goes by the name 'Goin'. The festival’s director, Jerome Catz, said the artist wanted the mural to draw attention to the reality that some people face discrimination because of their religious beliefs. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

Why do French politicians have a problem with Muslims?

France recently banned religious symbols in sports. Many agree that the target is Muslim sportswomen who compete with headscarves. The headscarf has already been banned in public schools since 2004, while the niqab and burqa are outlawed across the country. A recent report also says that French media give a lot more airtime to the far-right. And with the presidential elections just around the corner, many candidates are using language that worries Muslims. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

French Vogue dubbed 'hypocritical' for Instagram post praising Julia Fox's headscarf

Social media users have chastised Vogue France for what they described as its hypocrisy after the magazine published an image of a model wearing a headscarf and praised its appearance, despite France's restrictions on the hijab/headscarf. In a since-edited Instagram post in which they removed the caption, the publication shared a photo of actress Julia Fox wearing a black scarf tied around her head, with the words: "Yes to the headscarf!" Critics accused the magazine of "pure hypocrisy", given the extensive campaign by many French politicians against the wearing of the hijab, saying it exemplified the double standards faced by Muslim women who face "daily aggression and repetitive pressure" for wearing the same headscarf that the French magazine "applauded on a non-Muslim white woman". The post comes just days after the French senate voted to prohibit hijabs from being worn during sporting events, following an amendment proposed by the right-wing political party Les Republicains claiming "headscarves undermine French values and jeopardise athlete safety". While French Vogue has yet to issue a statement over the controversy, the editing of the Instagram caption as pressure mounted prompted some to lament the magazine's inability to hold itself accountable. read the complete article

United Kingdom

31 Jan 2022

“We’ll always have to work 10 times harder”: are Muslim women being held back in the workplace?

As a Muslim woman, recruitment consultant Sonia avoids places where alcohol is sold, including bars, pubs and clubs. Unfortunately, these are the types of places where her colleagues prefer to socialise.  “I enjoy my job and have a great rapport with my colleagues,” Sonia tells Stylist. “But I find it hard to network and socialise with them outside of work because there is a heavy drinking culture in this industry.” Unfortunately, this is a predicament faced by many Muslim women in the workplace who, because of their faith, struggle to fit in, or worse, are unable to progress in their careers. “Whilst Nusrat Ghani’s experiences were shocking, they were sadly unsurprising to many British Muslims,” says Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. “Practising one’s faith shouldn’t hinder career progress, but there’s ample evidence  that widespread structural and systemic Islamophobia, whereby a person’s ‘Muslimness’ – their Muslim sounding name or that they wear a headscarf, for example – drastically reduces their prospects of landing a job or career progression.”   Civil servant Afsana Ahmed ended a telephone job interview confident she’d done enough to win her interviewer over, but a follow-up meeting proved otherwise. “We built a great rapport over the phone, but as soon as I arrived at the face-to-face interview they seemed surprised and it became very awkward,” she tells Stylist. “I don’t think they were expecting a hijab-wearing Muslim woman to walk through the door.”   Social media manager Safeera Sarjoo explains how the bias against her at work was more subtle. “Whether it’s conscious or unconscious bias, I’ve definitely been overlooked when it comes to progression into roles I have significant experience for,” she explains.  “It’s hurtful, but the sad reality is that discrimination isn’t a physical thing; it’s a lived experience which is so often denied by the perpetrators and swept under the rug,” says Sarjoo. “Muslim women will always have to work 10 times harder, but it makes you more resilient.” read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

‘No-go’ Muslim areas aren’t real – but Islamophobia is

It’s another day and another reminder that Islamophobia is rife in this country. A University of Birmingham survey published earlier this week revealed that not only are Muslims the third least-liked group in the UK, after the Gypsy and Irish Traveller communities, but also that more than one in four – and nearly half of Conservative and Leave voters – hold conspiratorial views about Sharia “no-go areas”. Now, I was hardly surprised that Muslims like myself make up one of the least popular communities in the UK – the only surprise being that we didn’t take the number-one spot. But this idea that “Sharia no-go areas” exist in this country is a narrative that needs to come to a swift end. It’s not the first time the idea of these insidious no-go zones for non-Muslims in the UK has been a part of public discussion. Just last year, the Daily Mail published an online article claiming that “parts of Blackburn are ‘no-go areas’ for white men, while ultra-orthodox parents in Bradford make children live under Taliban-like rules”. The Daily Mail ran another similar story in 2014, where the chief inspector of constabulary said that “parts of the UK are becoming no-go areas for police because minority communities are operating their own justice systems”. Statements like these are what fuels negative views about Islam and Muslims. I know there are also plenty of other factors, but to see such stories continuously perpetuated and to see the effects of it on our society’s thinking is worrying. Keeping quiet on issues of Islamophobia and not taking any real stand shows me and the rest of the British Muslim population that our elected leaders do not take threats to our religion seriously. Otherwise, why not debunk these factual errors that keep popping up year on year? There is nowhere in the UK that operates under Sharia law. read the complete article

United States

31 Jan 2022

Five years after Trump’s Muslim ban, families are still suffering

It’s been five years since former President Donald Trump implemented his Islamophobic “Muslim Ban.” A new HuffPost investigation found hundreds of cases of Trump’s ban altering the lives of Muslims with irreversible consequences. The racist legislation which targeted citizens from seven countries has left deep scars that will last far longer than the time he spent in office. MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin spoke with Rowaida Abdelaziz, National Reporter for HuffPost covering Islamophobia and Immigration, about what can be done to right these wrongs. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

Twenty Years of Horror at Guantánamo Bay

Twenty years have passed since the first detainees arrived at Guantánamo Bay. The US detention center is located on a naval base in eastern Cuba. The Cuban government continually calls for its closure and considers it to be located in occupied territory. The prison was built in ninety-six hours after the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001, and has held 780 prisoners. They were of forty-nine different nationalities, mostly Afghans, Saudis, Yemenis, and Pakistanis, and ranged in age from thirteen to eighty-nine when detained. Guantánamo is an impregnable place where torture and impunity were — and presumably still are — the order of the day. Guantánamo is a demonstration of the worst of a state, the worst of what human beings are capable of inflicting on their fellow human beings. In these two decades, only twelve of the detainees have been prosecuted; of these, only two were convicted by a military commission. Today, thirty-nine people are still in prison, twenty-seven of them without charge. The twenty-seven who have not been charged in all this time remain there, in the belief that they are war detainees in the conflict with al-Qaeda, with no end in sight to their situation. read the complete article

31 Jan 2022

‘I didn’t know who I was any more’: how CIA torture pushed me to the edge of death

Abu Zubaydah has been held by the US without charge for the past 20 years. His own words and images depict the relentless, round-the-clock, prolonged and illegal abuse he has suffered Abu Zubaydah Sat 29 Jan 2022 09.30 GMT Abu Zubaydah, the Guantánamo prisoner who has been held by the US without charge for the past 20 years, kept notes of the torture to which he was subjected by the CIA between his arrest in 2002 and his transfer to Guantánamo four years later. In personal discussions with his attorneys, and in his own writings and drawings from inside Guantánamo, the detainee recalled in harrowing detail the torture techniques applied to him at secret CIA black sites in Thailand, Poland and other countries. In one month alone, August 2002, he was put through the barbaric water torture known as waterboarding 83 times. In his account he referred to the method, a form of controlled drowning, as the “water bed”. The notes were first published in How America Tortures by the Center for Policy and Research at Seton Hall Law School where one of Zubaydah’s lawyers Mark Denbeaux is professor emeritus. Here is an edited version of that account of the torture Zubaydah endured, in his own words and drawings. read the complete article


31 Jan 2022

Ahead of key polls, India's ruling party revives Hindu-Muslim dispute

In the streets around a revered religious site in the Indian city of Mathura where a temple and mosque stand side-by-side, the handful of Muslim restaurants that remain are mostly empty or shuttered. A ban on meat last year by the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, a Hindu monk who issued the order on religious grounds, has decimated their trade. Now the saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath, up for re-election in key state polls next month, has turned his attention to the temple itself, suggesting he will champion the Hindu cause in a long-running dispute with Muslims over who owns the site. The issue has become a central part of the ruling party's campaign to extend its grip on power in Uttar Pradesh, home to 200 million people and the bellwether of national politics. Hindus and Muslims have argued for decades over who should control the site, echoing other disputes in India that have, on occasions, flared into deadly riots between the two communities. While communal violence in India is sporadic, clashes erupted across the country in early 2020 over a citizenship law that Muslims said was discriminatory. Dozens of people died. Now mention of the Mathura dispute during campaign rallies and on social media has the city's Muslims worried, according to interviews with more than 20 residents. "An old case which has been settled ... is being revived because we have a new, triumphalist Hinduism," said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of several books on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hindu nationalist movement. "There is a greater emphasis on playing the temple card." Opinion polls suggest that the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to which Adityanath belongs, will win the vote in Uttar Pradesh, despite broad discontent over the economy and the government's handling of the pandemic. The chief minister, seen by some analysts as a potential successor to Modi, has cast the ballot as "80% versus 20%", figures he did not fully explain. The percentages closely match the Hindu and Muslim share of the population across the state. read the complete article


31 Jan 2022

Ahead of the Beijing Olympics, can anyone help me reach my family?

The Beijing Winter Olympics start this week. Through years of training and hard work, you have earned the right to represent your country in the world’s most prestigious sporting competition. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart! I hope you will return home with medals around your necks. While you may be amazed at the smooth and efficient communications that high-tech Chinese Internet and telephone communications provide, it is easy to forget that the same high-tech tools can also be used to disconnect millions of people from their loved ones. I am a Uyghur living in the United States, and I have not been able to contact my family since March 2017. Whenever I attempt to call anyone back home in Xinjiang, all I get is a busy line, no matter how many times a day or what time of day I call. No one replies to my emails, either. I am not alone. Every Uyghur I know living outside of China has been experiencing the same problems. Many Uyghur kids who were sent to the United States to attend schools here have been totally cut off from their parents and families after the internment camps were instituted in 2017. Some found out their parents were locked up in camps or in prison from news stories years later. So, as people flock to or tune into China for the Olympics, can anyone help me contact my family in Xinjiang? I am desperate to know what is happening to them. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 31 Jan 2022 Edition


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