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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04 Jan 2021

Today in Islamophobia: Austria calls for European register of Muslim imams. Two men are accused of planning an attack on mosque in Poland. In Bangladesh, Sesame Street introduces new Rohingya muppets for children in refugee camps. Our recommended read of the day is by  Roger Cohen on French laïcité, and its shortcomings in protecting the rights of minorities. This, and more, below:


04 Jan 2021

An Embattled Public Servant in a Fractured France

This model, known as laïcité, often inadequately translated as secularism, is embraced by a majority of French people. They or their forebears became French in this way. No politician here would utter the words “In God we trust.” The Roman Catholic Church was removed more than a century ago from French public life. The country’s lay model supplants any deity. But, in a country with an uneasy relationship to Islam, laïcité is also contested as the shield behind which France discriminates against its large Muslim population and avoids confronting its prejudices. As a result, the job of Nicolas Cadène, a mildly disheveled official with a mop of brown hair and multiple law degrees, has become a focus of controversy. Mr. Cadène, 39, runs the Laïcité Observatory as its “general rapporteur,” a weighty title for a young man — and one unimaginable outside France. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day


04 Jan 2021

India’s BJP-led Assam state bans all Islamic schools, as minister says children should grow up to be ‘professionals, not imams’

Assam’s education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, a BJP leader who introduced the bill, said: “We have introduced a Bill whereby all madrasas will be converted into institutes of general education and no madrasa will be established by the government in future. We are happy to introduce this Bill to bring truly secular curriculum in education system. “We need more doctors, police officers, bureaucrats, and teachers from the minority Muslim community rather than imams for mosques,” said Mr Sarma earlier. The minister is seen as a rising star in the BJP. read the complete article

04 Jan 2021

All you need is not ‘love jihad’, but liberty, say India’s embattled interfaith couples

Love and marriage outside religious and caste groups have long attracted censure in India, where arranged marriages within social units are the norm. Over the past few years however, the discourse on interfaith marriages has turned dangerously hostile, with hardline Hindu groups launching a campaign against “love jihad” – an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Muslim men are luring Hindu brides in a bid to convert them to Islam and ultimately gain demographic domination. Venkatraman – the daughter of a Hindu Brahmin father and Zoroastrian mother and married to a Christian – had been monitoring the situation with disquiet. In her conversations with Samar Harlankar and Priya Ramani – a well known Indian journalist duo – the trio toyed with the idea of setting up a website. read the complete article

04 Jan 2021

UP woman hid Muslim boyfriend’s name to marry him. Now he’s in jail for ‘deceit, conversion’

Priya Verma (29), a teacher and a civil service aspirant from Kannauj’s Gursahaiganj, is angry but helpless. It was just last month that she got married to Taufiq (32), her boyfriend of two years and a fellow civil service aspirant, with Hindu rituals, in the presence of her parents. But now they are apart — Taufiq is in jail under the Uttar Pradesh anti-conversion law, and she is at home, trying to resist her parents’ attempts to get her married again. read the complete article

04 Jan 2021

Bareilly: Police Say 3 Muslim Men Wrongly Framed in 'Forcible Conversion' Case

In an admission that will give credence to fears that the new ‘love jihad’ law in Uttar Pradesh is being misused to target the Muslim community, police in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh have said on Sunday that three Muslim men who are accused of forcibly converting a 24-year-old woman were incorrectly framed. The case against the three Muslim men was registered on January 1. read the complete article

04 Jan 2021

In the battle over India’s history, Hindu nationalists square off against a respected historian

Romila Thapar is the preeminent historian of ancient India, an octogenarian feted the world over for her scholarship excavating answers to questions at the heart of the country's past. She holds honorary doctorates from top universities including Oxford, is the recipient of the Kluge Prize — akin to the Nobel in social sciences — and has lectured at colleges across the world. At the age of 89, Thapar is the subject of attacks by supporters of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, who view her as an opponent to be discredited. At stake is India’s sense of self. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pursuing an agenda that emphasizes Hindu primacy in India — a vast, multireligious democracy founded on secular ideals. History is a key part of that vision. For Hindu nationalists, India’s past consists of a glorious Hindu civilization followed by centuries of Muslim rule that Modi has described as a thousand years of “slavery.” Thapar considers such assertions both simplistic and incorrect. Based on extensive research of Sanskrit and Prakrit texts and drawing upon archaeological data, she presents a more complex picture of Indian history. Her research and writings undermines the ruling party’s efforts to project a unified Hindu tradition stretching back thousands of years and to paint Muslim rulers of India as nothing more than invaders or tyrants. read the complete article

04 Jan 2021

Opinion | It's Foolish to Throw Stones at Pakistan When Modi's India is Now a Communal Glass House

The simple point is that if India can speak about the danger to freedom of religion in Pakistan, why can’t other nations raise questions about the treatment of minorities, especially Muslims, in India? Successive Indian governments, but particularly the present one, go berserk when questioned on that count. Of course, there is a difference between the pre-Modi era and the present one when it comes to gratuitous comments by Pakistan on developments affecting the Muslims in India. In the past, India argued that the Indian constitution provides adequate safeguards for minorities to seek redress. Thus, Islamabad’s observations were dismissed as unnecessary interference in India’s internal affairs and a breach of Indian sovereignty. But that argument has been wearing thin since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election in 2019. The amended citizenship law officially created religion-based discrimination, with Muslims entering India without valid papers or who overstay unable to regularise their stay, unlike the followers of other South Asian religions. read the complete article


04 Jan 2021

Two men accused of planning an attack on mosque in Poland

Two men are under investigation for allegedly planning an attack involving explosives and chemicals to “prevent the Islamisation of Poland” and to “exterminate” Muslims. The attack was to be carried out, apparently, on "a specific religious object of the Islamic community," believed to be a mosque, Stanislaw Zaryn, the press officer for the minister coordinator of special services, told PAP. Both suspects have been charged by the National Prosecutor's Office in Szczecin, north-western Poland. Their arrest and detention followed an investigation by the Internal Security Agency, Poland’s domestic intelligence service. read the complete article

United States

04 Jan 2021

Latino Muslim group works to bridge communities in Chicago. ‘We need as a city to remember what it is to be human.’

“They say, ‘Here come the Muslims’ every time we show up on Friday night to pass out food to the homeless,” said Raul Gonzalez, director of outreach for the Ojala Foundation, an organization of Latino Muslims. “We let them know God has not forgotten about them.” The foundation describes itself as a bridge between the Latino and Muslim communities, and its community work as a way of helping the needy while spreading the faith of Islam. Every Friday night, people from the foundation pass out meals in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood on the Southwest Side. The group also sponsors cleanups, provides classes on Islam and holds potlucks to promote fellowship. “Many Hispanics that convert to Islam are lost because there are few places to teach them and guide them on how they should act as Muslims,” Gonzalez said. “At Ojala, we offer classes to Muslims and we have fellowship, plus we do our part in helping others, restoring them to a better place.” More and more Hispanics have been converting to Islam over the last decade, according to the Pew Research Center. The number of Muslims living in the United States increased from 2.5 million to 3.5 million from 2007 to 2017. About a quarter-million of them are Latinos. read the complete article


04 Jan 2021

Sesame Street introduces new Rohingya Muppets for children in refugee camps [Video]

Sesame Workshop is introducing two new characters to help provide emotional support and educational programming for 700,000 Rohingya children living inside refugee camps in Bangladesh. read the complete article


04 Jan 2021

Austria calls for European register of Muslim imams

Now Austria is calling for the European Union to adopt the registration of imams, the worship leaders of Mosques in Muslim communities. In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt published Saturday, Austria's Minister for European Affairs Karoline Edtstadler said Imam registration was key for "the fight against political Islam." "Most imams move through many EU countries, so the security authorities need to know who is preaching what in which mosque at any given time," Edtstadler, a member of Kurz's conservative Austrian People's Party, told the newspaper. She also believes EU funds should be "so strictly controlled in the future that they do not go to organizations and associations that advocate Islamist and anti-Semitic positions." A ban on foreign financing for mosques, which is already in place in Austria, is also conceivable, she said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 04 Jan 2021 Edition


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