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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12 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In a speech made at the UN Human Rights Council, a top Qatari official calls out the double standard approach towards Islamophobia in Europe, meanwhile in Srebrenica, tens of thousands of people from Bosnia and abroad gathered on Tuesday for the annual ritual of commemorating the 1995 Bosnian Genocide, and lastly, a ruling by a French court last month to allow the French Football Federation (FFF) to ban religious attire or symbols from the sport is “not about keeping sports equal. It is about denying access to those who aren’t deemed ‘French’ enough,” argues sports journalist, Shireen Ahmed. Our recommended read of the day is by Murtaza Hussain for The Intercept on how the GOP is reaching out to Conservative Muslim voters while at the same time thecurrent Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump, is “tripling down on the most directly anti-Muslim government policy in U.S. history: the Muslim ban.” This and more below:

United States


The culture war raging throughout American politics has, of late, created an unexpected alliance between the Republican Party and some conservative Muslim Americans. Once derided as terrorist fifth columnists, a growing number of Muslims have joined the GOP base in protests opposing sex and gender education programs in public schools, with many even featured sympathetically on outlets like Fox News. The shift represents a stark contrast with the hostile relations between Republicans and Muslims over the past two decades, as well as the integration of many younger Muslim Americans into progressive politics. The GOP’s outreach, reported on recently by Semafor and other outlets, also comes at a moment when the current Republican presidential frontrunner is tripling down on the most directly anti-Muslim government policy in U.S. history: the so-called Muslim ban. In his speech in Iowa last weekend, Trump made very clear that the target of his policy would be Muslims, conflating Islam with terrorism and extremism. “Under the Trump administration, we imposed extreme vetting and put on a powerful travel ban to keep radical Islamic terrorists and jihadists out of our country,” Trump told the audience to applause. Trump’s statements highlight an awkward contradiction. On one hand, some Muslim Americans, bound by a shared commitment to conservative social values, are enjoying a period of warm relations with the Republican Party and conservative activists who share their opposition to LGBTQ+ education in schools. At the same time, the wildly popular leading Republican presidential candidate — and the center of gravity in the party — is publicly vowing to revive a policy aimed at curtailing the presence of Muslims in the U.S. entirely. read the complete article


Muslim nations demand action after ‘Islamophobic’ Quran burning

Muslim nations including Iran and Pakistan say the desecration of the holy Quran amounts to an incitement of violence and have called for accountability after a series of stunts in Sweden caused a backlash around the world. A motion filed at the United Nations human rights body on Tuesday, in response to the latest incident last month, calls on countries to review their laws and plug gaps that may “impede the prevention and prosecution of acts and advocacy of religious hatred”. The debate has highlighted rifts in the UN Human Rights Council between the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Western members concerned about the motion’s implications for free speech as well as challenges posed to long-held practices in rights protection. read the complete article

Canada probes Nike, Dynasty Gold over alleged use of Uyghur forced labour

Canada's ethics watchdog has launched investigations into allegations that Nike Canada and a gold mining company benefitted from Uyghur forced labour in their China operations. The watchdog's probes stem from complaints filed by a coalition of human rights groups. Nike says they no longer have ties to the companies accused of using Uyghur forced labour. Dynasty Gold says these allegations arose after they left the region. A United Nations report in 2022 found China had committed "serious human rights violations" against Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim minority population living in the region of Xinjiang, that "may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity". Beijing denies the accusations. This is the first such investigation announced by the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (Core) since it launched its complaint mechanism in 2021. The agency alleges that Nike Canada Corp has supply relationships with several Chinese companies that an Australian think tank identified as using or benefitting from Uyghur forced labour. read the complete article

Qatar calls out ‘puzzling’ double standard approach to protecting other minorities in Europe despite rise in Islamophobia

A top Qatari official has called out the double standard approach towards Islamophobia in Europe, following a string of controversial incidents involving the burning of copies of the Quran. In a speech at the UN Human Rights Council’s urgent debate on public acts of incitement to religious hatred, Qatar’s outspoken Minister of State for International Cooperation Lolwah Al Khater pointed towards the “puzzling” lack of accountability regarding religion-based hate speech, especially against Muslims, despite legislations in favour of other minorities being easily approved. “We remain puzzled by the opposition that some countries expressed to stopping religion-based hate speech especially against Muslims, while they themselves introduce new legislations and statements every day defending new self-defined minorities,” maintained Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation Lolwah Al Khater. “By the same token STOP ISLAMOPHOBIA.” The stances of certain European governments in allowing and enabling the repetition of such incidents based on legal arguments surrounding freedom of speech and individual rights has prompted many to point out the double standard approach to state condemnation of religious hate crimes. read the complete article


France's ban on hijab in women's football is an act of state racism

As Muslims around the world were enjoying the festivities of the Eid al-Adha holiday, France's top administrative court ruled last month that the French Football Federation (FFF) could continue to ban hijab-wearing players from the pitch. The decision effectively strips hijab-wearing women from all opportunities to participate in the beautiful game - playing, coaching, officiating and participating at any level of football in France. The issue behind all of this is rooted in laïcité, the French concept of secularism and the reason the FFF wants to keep religious symbols away from football. The FFF maintains that permitting hijabs on or near the pitch goes against a 1905 law on secularism. But Les Hijabeuses, a collective of young women in France challenging the FFF's discriminatory policy, have argued that several non-Muslim players sign crosses before going out on the pitch and have tattoos of Christian figures and symbols that are in plain sight. The rule is, therefore, not being evenly applied. It is primarily being enforced on Brown and Black women who are Muslim and wear headscarves, though it also prohibits kippahs and turbans from the pitch, thereby excluding Jewish and Sikh male players as well. The issue of banning hijab from sports is not new. I have written about the banning of hijab in basketball, boxing, swimming and a multitude of other sports as well. There is a simple pattern: it is a way in which controlling the bodies of Muslim women continues. Denying women the choice to dress safely and as they please is misogynistic. The fight for hijab on the pitch is not only about the beautiful game, or access for racialised youth. It is about existence. It is about swimming in a burkini or walking and not getting murdered by the police because you are young, Black and Muslim. France's rigidity on this issue is not about keeping sports equal; it is about denying access to those who aren't deemed "French" enough. Black and Brown, African, Arab or South Asian Muslim women and girls are not hiding and they will not shy away from their faith and right to cover. read the complete article

Beyond ‘Bad Apples’: Tracing the colonial roots of French police

The brutal murder of Nahel Merzouk, a Muslim teenager of Algerian and Moroccan descent, by a police officer, has sparked a series of violent uprisings across France. The grave injustice - occurring on the eve of Eid al Adha - and its dehumanising coverage fueled profound anger in the Muslim community. Taking the streets and attacking State institutions - town halls, prefectures, schools, police stations - had a clear political meaning. The rioters opposed systemic Islamophobia and racism established by the State to “discipline” them. The incident exposed the dark underbelly of the French State. The body politics - supported by an Islamophobic culture - tried its best to protect the police’s reputation. The pro-state actors and social media influencers projected the police brutality against young Muslims as events of marginal significance – as some “bad apples” amongst an otherwise healthy institution - rather than a systemic issue firmly grounded in the Republic’s history. To unpack the fallacy of this narrative, Merzouk’s murder and perpetual police brutality need to be examined in both social and historical contexts. read the complete article

United Kingdom

'I'm the first Muslim paramedic at my ambulance service and I've been called a terrorist'

The first Muslim to work with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) faced such awful racist abuse that he walked away from the job for two years after being called a "terrorist" and being attacked. Araf Saddiq was proud to have been the first person from South Asia, and the first Muslim to serve with his country's ambulance service - even if he didn't initially realise he was. Despite his efforts to help his local community and Scotland as a paramedic, he suffered racist abuse over the years. This culminated in being called a “terrorist b******” by one person he was taking to hospital who then attacked him. The vicious attack in 2010 forced him to take an extended career break to get over the trauma. Speaking to the Daily Record, he said: “I haven’t had many incidents of racism but it has happened. It happens in different ways – people won’t look at you or talk to you even if you are the attending clinician, you are asking the questions but they won’t look at you. “This guy had such a hatred for my colour, even though I was caring and looking after him, that he attacked me and if he had a knife he would have used it. I had a young family and those kinds of things go through your head and because of that I took a two-year career break. “That shows how much it affected me. I have never understood hatred like that or how people can hate you because of what colour you are.” read the complete article

Bosnia & Herzegovina

In Srebrenica, thousands gather to remember the 1995 massacre and bury the newly identified dead

Tens of thousands of people from around Bosnia and abroad gathered in Srebrenica Tuesday for the annual ritual of commemorating the 1995 massacre and to give a dignified burial to the victims unearthed from mass graves and only recently identified through DNA analysis. Twenty-eight years after they were murdered in Europe’s only acknowledged genocide since the Holocaust, 27 men and three teenage boys were laid to rest Tuesday at a vast and ever-expanding memorial cemetery just outside Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia, joining more than 6,600 massacre victims already reburied there. Relatives of the victims can bury only partial remains of their loved ones as they are typically found scattered over several different mass graves, sometimes miles (kilometers) apart. Such was the case of Mirsada Merdzic, who buried her father on Tuesday. On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serbs overran a U.N.-protected safe area in Srebrenica. They separated at least 8,000 Muslim Bosniak men and boys from their wives, mothers and sisters and slaughtered them. Those who tried to escape were chased through the woods and over the mountains around the ill-fated town. The perpetrators then plowed their victims’ bodies into hastily made mass graves, which they later dug up with bulldozers, scattering the remains among other burial sites to hide the evidence of their war crimes. read the complete article


Toronto launches campaign to bring attention to rising Islamophobia

In an effort to bring awareness to rising Islamophobia in Canada, the city of Toronto has kicked off a new phase of its annual "Toronto For All" campaign to combat anti-Muslim sentiment and prejudice. Launched on Monday, the focus of this year's "Toronto For All" public education initiative is to spark conversations among Toronto's residents and foster a city that rejects discrimination and racism. Now in its 13th iteration, past campaigns have focused on various aspects of civic resiliency. The campaign provides resources for people to educate themselves about Islam and its website links to factsheets, tools for educators, and books to read for children and adults. There is also information to support people dealing with Islamophobia, as well as opportunities for people wanting to be a part of Muslim organisations. “Islamophobia continues to be one of the reported hate crimes in our city. And yet, there is a perception that it is no longer a problem,” a spokesperson for the city of Toronto told Middle East Eye. “While there was a campaign in 2016 on Islamophobia when Canada and Toronto were welcoming large numbers of Syrian refugees, the issue of Islamophobia continues to be very prevalent today.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 12 Jul 2023 Edition


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