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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13 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Hindu far-right leader Samiksha Singh delivered an anti-Muslim hate speech giving explicit calls for violence against Indian Muslims, meanwhile, the UN Human Rights council has approved a landmark resolution on condemning religious hate speech after several recent Qur’an burnings across Europe, with several Western countries (i.e. United States and France) in opposition, and in France, the country’s highest administrative court has upheld the French Football Federation’s hijab ban, which Canadian writer Sheema Khan notes goes against “FIFA’s attempts to foster a more inclusive and diverse football landscape.” Our recommended read of the day is by Basema Al-Alami for The Conversation on the startling history of entrapment and over-policing against Canadian Muslims at the hands of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and a recent academic study that has shed a light on these practices across the country. This and more below:


Canadian law enforcement agencies continue to target Muslims | Recommended Read

On Canada Day in 2013, John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested by the RCMP after allegedly attempting to bomb the British Columbia legislature. The arrests were widely celebrated as a victory in the global war on terror. However, three years later, Canadians discovered that the arrests were not the success story the RCMP portrayed them to be. In July 2016, Justice Catherine Bruce of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the RCMP manufactured the case against them and entrapped Nuttall and Korody. The case represents the only terrorism trial in North America where entrapment was successfully invoked by the defence to overturn terrorism convictions, leading to a stay of proceedings and ultimately the couple’s acquittal. However, behind this groundbreaking case lies a darker truth — the deeply concerning tactics deployed by the RCMP. In a tale that reads like a Hollywood thriller, the RCMP found themselves entangled in a web of intrigue when they received a tip from CSIS in February 2013 that Nuttall had been purchasing potassium nitrate and making some violent pro-Islamic remarks. In response, the RCMP launched an elaborate surveillance operation it called Project Souvenir. Despite Nuttall’s long criminal history spanning 20 years, he only seemed to attract the attention of RCMP after his conversion to Islam. It became evident in the trial that the police lacked substantial evidence to support any suspicions about the couple. There was no corroboration for the CSIS alert that initiated the investigation in the first place, but police proceeded with it anyway. It seemed instead the police were profiling the couple based on their religion, and falsely associating devout religious beliefs with political violence and terrorism. A recent study by criminology and sociology academics Baljit Nagra and Paula Maurutto sheds further light on CSIS’s mass surveillance of Muslims in Canada. The study documents how CSIS fosters a culture of informants and reveals how racial narratives surrounding perceived “radicalized extremist” Muslims have provided legitimacy for sweeping surveillance at the hands of intelligence services under the guise of the war on terror. read the complete article


UN rights council approves resolution on religious hatred after Qur’an burning

A deeply divided UN human rights council has approved a controversial resolution that urges countries to “address, prevent and prosecute acts and advocacy of religious hatred”, after incidents of Qur’an-burning in Sweden. The resolution was strongly opposed by the US, EU and other western countries, which argued that it conflicted with laws on free speech. On Wednesday, the resolution was passed, with 28 countries voting in favour, 12 voting against and seven abstaining. Last month, an Iraqi-born protester caused outrage across the Muslim world after tearing pages from the Qur’an, wiping his shoes with some of them and burning others outside a mosque in Stockholm during the Eid al-Adha holiday. Addressing the UN council last week, Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said such acts were an “incitement to religious hatred, discrimination and violence”, and occurred under “government sanction and with a sense of impunity”. Ministers from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia echoed that view. While strongly condemning the burnings, however, western countries defended free speech. The German envoy called them a “dreadful provocation” but said free speech also meant “hearing opinions that may seem almost unbearable”. The French envoy said human rights were about protecting people, not religions and symbols. read the complete article

Arms, not democratic values, on parade as Macron hosts India’s Modi on Bastille Day

Arms, not democratic values, on parade as Macron hosts India’s Modi on Bastille Day (International) French President Emmanuel Macron rolls out the red carpet for Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Indian leader picked as guest of honour at this year’s July 14 Bastille Day military parade. But critics warn that by overlooking rights violations and democratic backsliding under Modi’s reign, France is sending the wrong message. Last month, US President Joe Biden hosted Modi on a state visit – only the third state visit of the Biden presidency – in what a US-based commentator called “Operation seduce Narendra Modi”. The visit included an address to a joint session of Congress, a state dinner and the inking of major defence deals. Barely three weeks later, France follows suit with President Emmanuel Macron picking Modi as the guest of honour at this year’s July 14 Bastille Day military parade. But while the France-India partnership has grown strong with arms, Modi’s Bastille Day privilege has sparked questions in France, particularly on his Hindu nationalist administration’s human rights track record.In an op-ed in the French daily Libération, politicians from the Green Party as well as officials from the left-wing Nupes alliance, slammed Macron’s guest-of-honour choice. While recognising the importance of geostrategic ties and bilateral relations, the column noted that it would take someone “either totally ignorant of the subcontinent's current internal political context, or utterly cynical to make Mr. Modi the guest of honour of the French Republic on its most symbolic day of the year”. The column noted that the BJP, a party “claiming to be the most virulent Hindu nationalist, clearly on the extreme right of the Indian political spectrum” was the political wing of the “RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) an ultranationalist paramilitary group founded in 1925 on the model of the Nazi party in Germany. Mahatma Gandhi's 1948 assassin, Nathuram Godse, came from the ranks of the RSS,” the French politicians noted. read the complete article

Abu Dhabi Secrets: The people affected by the widespread 'smear campaign'

More than a thousand people and hundreds of organisations were targeted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a smear campaign that suggested that various authors, politicians, trustees and others were associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. A new investigation has revealed that people from 18 different European countries were spied on by Alp Services, a Swiss company hired by the Emirati government as part of the large-scale effort. The smear campaign included targeting people in press campaigns, forums published about them, resurfacing their old social media posts, creating fake profiles, and modifying their Wikipedia pages. The report, which is based on 78,000 confidential documents obtained by the French online newspaper Mediapart, shows some of the far-reaching impact the smear campaign has had on individuals. read the complete article


Inclusion in sports? Not for hijabi football players in France

France’s highest administrative court (Le Conseil d’Etat) has ruled that the French Football Federation (FFF) can continue to prevent anyone playing, coaching or officiating on a French football pitch from wearing religious symbols – even if such a ban limits freedom of expression and conviction. The Conseil added that the FFF’s ban is appropriate in order to “prevent clashes or confrontations”. The ruling went contrary to the recommendation of its own public rapporteur, which called for the annulment of the FFF’s rule that prohibits “the wearing of any sign or dress ostensibly manifesting a religious affiliation”. According to the rapporteur, neither “proselytism” nor “provocation” occur by simply wearing the hijab, and there is no “requirement of neutrality” for football players since they are not public servants. The rapporteur also pointed out that football matches already include religious symbols, giving the example of players crossing themselves before entering the pitch. A collective of hijabi players called “Les Hijabeuses”, has launched legal action against the federation’s ban. The federation’s hardline stance on “religious neutrality” on the pitch extends to banning a brief game pause to allow players an opportunity to break their fast during Ramadan. Yet football federations in Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have no such problem. The Conseil’s ruling contradicts official FIFA policy, which lifted its hijab ban in 2012. The FFF’s policy has had a painful impact on many aspiring French Muslim female soccer players, who have faced a choice between the sport they love and their faith. read the complete article


THE FATAL POLICE SHOOTING of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk during a traffic stop in Paris, France, sparked days of protests across the country. This week on Intercepted, host Murtaza Hussain is joined by Yasser Louati, a French political analyst and human rights advocate to discuss how Merzouk’s death struck at the fault lines underlying social discontent building in the country and the increasing power of the police. read the complete article

France Protests Over Nahel Merzouk Police Killing Stem From History of Racism and Colonialism

Days after 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk was fatally shot during a traffic stop, explorations into the event’s significance still have not told the whole story. Many of the articles that I’ve seen focus on the policing angle — Why do the people we hire to keep us safe frequently murder us? — but they miss the race angle entirely. Nahel’s death was not an isolated tragedy in an otherwise peaceful and colorblind society. Nahel was visibly North African — his parents are from Morocco and Algeria — in France, a country with an incredibly brutal colonial history in North Africa. In the words of Mounia, Nahel’s mother, the policeman “saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life.” Not coincidentally, many of those arrested in the wave of protests that followed fit a similar description. The average age of the protestors was 17 and some of those arrested were as young as 12. While I wish I could tell you how many of them were North African, it is illegal in France to collect statistics based on race, ethnicity, or religion. Despite France’s success in codifying racial blindness, the discriminatory nature of French policing has been well-documented. This is especially true in the “banlieues,” the historically neglected suburbs where France’s most marginalized live, including millions from North Africa and other former French colonies. France’s police crackdowns on protesters, including those following the George Floyd protests of 2020, have been called “draconian” by Amnesty International. read the complete article


India threatens new gendered war on Muslim community

As India’s incumbent prime minister, Narendra Modi, prepares to run for a third term next year, the Muslim female body has yet again been turned into a focus of the country’s communal politics. Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), along with affiliated radical Hindu groups, has revitalised attempts to advance legislation that would further regulate the lives of Muslim women. This includes the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a controversial proposal that would bring personal laws governing various religious groups under a unified common law. On 14 June, the 22nd Law Commission of India issued a notice seeking comments and opinions from the public and religious organisations on the UCC within 30 days. The implementation of the UCC, along with the revocation of Article 370 in the disputed Kashmir region and the construction of the Ayodhya Ram Temple, have been core demands of radical Hindu nationalists. The UCC issue was also part of Modi’s poll manifesto in the 2019 national elections and the recent vote in southern Karnataka state. Adopting a UCC in India’s religiously pluralistic society would effectively set in motion the abolishment of Islamic personal laws governing Muslim family matters, while recodifying the customary laws and rituals of India’s various tribal communities. Critics contend that it would undermine India’s social and religious fabric and serve as a tool for the creation of a unified Hindu nation. This belief is shaped by the Hindutva narrative that one way to deal with the “disruptive” presence of Muslims in India is to assimilate them into a “universal” Hindu social order. Muslims have also expressed concerns that the UCC could be used to disrupt their way of life, forcing them to conform to Hindu norms embedded in national law. read the complete article

Anti – Muslim Hate Speech at Delhi’s Famous Stadium

Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium witnessed hard-line Hindu nationalists indulge in virulent displays of hate speech at the Anarashriya Hindu Parishad on 9th July 2023 . Hindu far-right leader Samiksha Singh delivered an anti-Muslim hate speech giving explicit calls for violence against India’s Muslims at the Virat Hindu Sammelan organised by Antarashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) in Delhi. The crowd roared as she spouted hate against Muslims, calling Muslims ‘jihadi’ in a derogatory manner. ‘Every Jihadi will lose when a Kattar (hardline) Hindi will kill. The biggest problem of Hindus is their humanity, and compassion and mercy.’ ‘Should someone hit us on one cheek, then both his arms will be broken.’ This barely veiled call for violence against Muslims seems to be a deliberate attempt to incite people. She also further on went to allege that ‘they’, generally understood from her speech as meaning Muslims, have sinister goals to reconfigure India’s secular democracy -‘”They” just have one goal which is ghazwa e Hind. We should also have one goal which is to establish akhand Hindu bharat’. A jubilant crowd roared in return to Togadia’s ”We Hindus must not let the population of Muslims ever increase.’ read the complete article

United Kingdom

Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Have No Place in Britain

Islamophobia in the United Kingdom is once again on the rise. With statistics showing that anti-Muslim hate rose by 42%, the British government has been urged by many to take a firm stance and indicate, unabashedly, that the United Kingdom won’t tolerate Islamophobia. Instead, and perhaps unwittingly, it has been doing exactly the opposite. Last September, Leicester saw a large group of Hindu men taking to the streets, using weapons, and committing arson against Muslim targets in the city. In response, 3 weeks ago, the UK government appointed Ian Austin, the notoriously Islamophobic former Labour MP for Dudley North, to chair an independent inquiry into the matter. Austin has a sordid history of Islamophobic remarks including one instance where a UK court forced an apology for calling UK-based Friends of Al-Aqsa “Holocaust deniers.” Aside from these instances, Austin has been a close collaborator with Islamophobic “grassroots” organizations in the UK, including the Israeli government-funded Pinsker Centre. Pinsker, ostensibly started by a group of former students interested in advocating for Israel on college campuses, was started by similarly Israeli government-funded former Stand With Us campus director Jonathan Hunter and Elliot Miller, formerly with the Henry Jackson Society. read the complete article


Bangladesh: Spiraling Violence Against Rohingya Refugees

Bangladesh authorities are failing to adequately protect Rohingya refugees from surging violence by armed groups and criminal gangs, with layers of barriers to police, legal, and medical assistance. Authorities have been forcing Rohingya leaders to serve as informants, putting them at grave risk of being abducted or killed, without access to protection. The government should create a rights-respecting security policy in consultation with refugees and the United Nations. Donor governments should press Bangladesh to remove barriers to justice. Refugees describe an environment of escalating brutality and fear, with growing concerns of being targeted by criminal gangs and claimed affiliates of Islamist armed groups. “Every night we hear gunshots,” a Rohingya refugee told Human Rights Watch. “When the shooting starts, we hug each other tightly and wait, fearing it is our turn next.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Jul 2023 Edition


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