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.

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14 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a report entitled ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’ by Oxfam India said that lower employment for urban Muslims attributes 68.3% to discrimination in 2019-20, meanwhile, in the United States, a Muslim woman in Connecticut was the victim of an Islamophobic encounter when a fellow passenger on a train targeted her and her mother in an anti-Muslim tirade, with the incident going viral on TikTok, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, family members of slain Bosnian Muslims and the wider community commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Bosnian Genocide, at a time when the community is again facing increasing hostility. Our recommended read of the day is by Adeeb Ayton for Byline Times who notes that the UK government’s ‘independent’ review into the social unrest between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester follows a “broader pattern of supposedly ‘independent’ enquiries, only to be led by individuals who seem to share the government’s positions on the given social issue being dealt with.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

‘The “Independent” Reviews on Race and Ethnic Minorities that Simply Mirror the Conservatives’ Divisive Party Line’ | Recommended Read

At the end of May, Communities Secretary Michael Gove commissioned an ‘independent’ review into the social unrest between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester late last summer. The chair appointed to the review, who should be impartial to government policy to ensure a truly ‘independent’ investigation, was Lord Ian Austin. The Muslim Council of Britain raised concerns over this appointment, “given his divisive record and the serious allegations of Islamophobia against him”. It is difficult to believe that he will conduct an objective investigation. But Lord Austin’s appointment appears to be part of a broader pattern whereby the Government establishes supposedly ‘independent’ enquiries, only to be led by individuals who seem to share its positions on the given social issue being dealt with. Often, it appears that these individuals not only have dubious biases, but those very biases seem to reflect Conservative Party policy – arguably undermining any claim to impartiality. Since the Conservatives came into office in 2010, a number of such independent reviews have been carried out, with the findings often met with controversy. One after the another, these reviews have heaped a great deal of the blame for social alienation upon the victims of structural discrimination, often relying upon Orientalist tropes about the cultural ‘backwardness’ and refusal to ‘assimilate’ of minority communities. Thus, it is highly likely that the Austin Review into Leicester’s civil unrest will echo the positions of Conservative politicians – some of whom stand accused of entering into an “unspoken electoral alliance” with right-wing Hindu nationalist groups, known for their hostility toward Muslims. Indeed, such scepticism is arguably justified when we have a deeper look at some of the content of the aforementioned reviews. read the complete article


India’s Modi sparks political storm with pitch for civil code

Nine months before a general election, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have dusted off a potentially divisive plan to enact a common set of personal laws for all, irrespective of religion. Currently, India's Hindus, Muslims, Christians and large tribal populations follow their own personal laws and customs, alongside an optional secular code, for marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance. The Law Commission, a government-appointed advisory body, has sought public opinion by Friday on creating a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The BJP says the common code is necessary to ensure gender justice, equality through uniform application of personal laws, and to foster national unity and integration. India's Muslims, the country's largest minority with about 200 million of the 1.4 billion population, are mostly sharply opposed to the plan. Although no draft of the UCC has been presented, BJP leaders have said it primarily has to do with reforming Muslim personal laws as other personal laws have progressed over the decades. Many Muslims say they see it as interference with centuries-old Islamic practices and another weapon for a majoritarian political party that they accuse of being anti-Muslim. read the complete article

Islamophobia In The Indian Workplace: A Tale Of 3 Muslim Women

In January 2022, S, a 23-year-old Muslim woman from Burdwan, West Bengal, moved to Delhi to work in a content writing service, eager to make a go of her new life as an independent woman living and working in the nation’s capital. “Starting, it was casual sexism, such as questions like if I was into men and compliments about how appealing I looked in a particular dress. This slowly grew into sexism and Islamophobia,” S told Article 14, referring to the CEO, a man in his mid-forties. “The CEO occasionally commented on how Muslims are intolerant and how he hoped I was different,” she said. Three months after joining, S said she was told “not to wear her religion on her sleeve”. Article 16 of the Indian Constitution ensures equality of opportunity in public employment. The law mandates that no prospective employee can be discriminated against due to gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. But there is no similar legal provision for employees in the private sector. The ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’ by Oxfam India in New Delhi said lower employment for urban Muslims attributes 68.3% to discrimination in 2019-20. The report shows that discrimination accounted for only 59% of the total employment gap in 2004-05, which has increased significantly by nine percentage points. “Non-Muslims are earning 49% more than Muslims in regular employment. Self-employed non-Muslims earn Rs 15,878 on average while self-employed Muslims earn Rs 11,421 despite the overrepresentation of Muslims in urban self-employment,” the report said. In 2015, an Economic Times Intelligence Group stated that among the BSE 500 companies, only 2.67% of executives were Muslims. Research by LedBy Foundation, a leadership incubator for Indian Muslim women developed at Harvard University, found a hiring bias against Muslim women for entry-level positions. The report said that for every call back a Muslim woman gets, a Hindu woman gets two. read the complete article

Bosnia and Herzegovina

28 years after genocide, Bosniak Muslims mourn their dead but celebrate a return of Islamic life to Srebrenica

Nearly three decades later, Srebrenica’s dead are still coming home. Earlier this month, the remains of 27 men and three teenage boys were delivered to the remote valley that played host to Europe’s second genocide of the 20th century. The Srebrenica massacre, carried out in an area the United Nations had declared a safe zone for refugees, has since been deemed an act of genocide by successive courts within the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, or ICTY. The dead of Srebrenica are not the only ones returning. Though the area was depopulated of Muslims by the genocide, many survivors and their children have come back. Today, Srebrenica’s population is about half Muslim and half Orthodox Serb. The 23 mosques of Srebrenica destroyed in the war have all been rebuilt thanks to donations from around the world. The return of Bosniak Muslims to Srebrenica has not been without conflict, though. This year’s commemoration comes at a time when tensions between Bosnia’s three constituent ethnic groups — Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs — are running higher than they’ve been in decades. read the complete article

Europe’s Islamophobia Could Be Dodik’s Undoing

On July 7, Milorad Dodik ushered in a new phase of his secessionist agenda in Bosnia. The hard-line Serb leader signed into law two pieces of legislation adopted by the National Assembly of Republika Srpska—one of the two administrative units of postwar Bosnia, along with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The legislation prohibits the implementation of Bosnia’s Constitutional Court rulings on the territory of Republika Srpska and effectively outlaws the enforcement of decisions handed down by the Office of the High Representative (OHR). It is this result, and not Dodik’s separatism itself, that has Europe worried. That’s because if Republika Srpska were to secede, what would remain would be a Muslim-majority republic in Bosnia. No Bosniak leader, politician, or political party favors the establishment of such a republic. There is no popular support for this option. Yet this would be the inevitable outcome of Republika Srpska’s secession. The European Union thus has to brace itself for this scenario if it fails to respond adequately to the secession currently underway. In late 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron told the Economist that Bosnia is a “time-bomb that’s ticking right next to Croatia, and which faces the problem of returning jihadists.” This statement was widely condemned in Bosnia at the time and was seen as undercutting the country’s already dim prospects for EU membership. Two years later, in late 2021, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, tweeted that “the challenge with Bosnia is how to integrate a country with 2 million Muslims.” These attempts from the 1990s to today to portray the victims of genocide in Europe as a security threat on the continent represent a calculated effort at historical revisionism. Furthermore, this securitization of Bosniaks and the attempts to paint the largely secular and overwhelmingly pro-Western European nation as a problem has led many, especially the younger generation of intellectuals, to increasingly question whether the European Union and its leaders were ever sincere about Bosnia’s membership in the club. read the complete article

United States

Exclusive: CT woman recounts alleged racist experience from viral TikTok video

A woman is pushing back against hate and is sincerely grateful for the train conductor who intervened. A viral post on social media shows a passenger making disturbing comments towards a Muslim resident and her mother on a CTRail train to Hartford last week as well as a conductor standing up for the two. According to the woman, who spoke exclusively to NBC Connecticut, the passenger made some crude remarks about foreign exchange students at first before trying to engage them further. “I remember her saying I have a big mouth and I’m not going to be quiet. She started talking about white supremacy and sexualization of children,” she said. The woman believes she and her mother were targeted as they were wearing hijabs and were worried about their safety. That’s when she pulled out her phone and began recording. “I didn’t know what to do. What she was going to do next. I didn’t know if she had any weapons on her,” she said. read the complete article


As violence surges in Rohingya camps, victims have no path to justice

Bangladesh's Rohingya refugee camps have become rife with gangs and violence, but advocates say the people living there have nowhere to turn for justice or protection. A new report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) details murders, kidnappings, extortion, sexual assault, and forced marriage inside the sprawling camps. The victims and their families say Bangladeshi authorities working in the camps have, at best, ignored their pleas for help, and at worst, put them in further danger. "The situation in the camps right now is one where the Rohingya tell us that every night they hear gunshots and they wonder if this is their turn to die," Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW's deputy Asia director, told As It Happens host Nil Köksal. HRW says it documented 26 cases of violence against Rohingya through interviews with 45 refugees between January and April 2023, as well as supporting evidence including police and medical reports. Only three incidents led to arrests, and in one case, family members say the suspect was freed after paying police a bribe. "Victims report facing layers of barriers to police, legal, and medical assistance, with the authorities failing to provide protection, improve security, or prosecute those responsible," reads the report, which CBC has not been able to independently verify. read the complete article


GOLDSTEIN: Trudeau says Muslim parents who object to gender identity education misled by 'far right'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Muslim parents who object to their children being taught about gender identity issues in schools are being fed “misinformation and disinformation” by “the American right-wing” and the “far right.” “I’ve heard this concern many, many times and I know that it is a very real issue,” Trudeau tells a concerned Muslim parent in Calgary, in an eight-minute exchange recorded on video and posted online Wednesday night. “First of all, there is an awful lot of misinformation and disinformation out there. People on social media, particularly fuelled by the American right-wing, are spreading a lot of untruths about what’s actually in the provincial curriculums. “Now if you look at the various curriculums, you’ll see that there is not what is being said out there about aggressive teaching or conversion of kids to being LGBT. That is something that is being weaponized by people who are not doing it because of their interest in supporting the Muslim community. “These are people on the far right who have consistently stood against Muslim rights and the Muslim community, but they are weaponizing the issue of LGBT, which is something that, yes, Islam has strong opinions on, the same way that the religious right in Canada, the Christian right, has strong opinions against as well.” read the complete article


Kuwait to distribute 100,000 copies of Quran in Sweden after Muslim holy book desecrated at one-man protest

Kuwait announced this week that it will print thousands of copies of the Quran in Swedish to be distributed in the Nordic country, calling it an effort to educate the Swedish people on Islamic "values of coexistence." The plan was announced after the desecration of a Quran during a one-man anti-Islam protest that Swedish police authorized in Stockholm last month. The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning the burning of the Quran as an act of religious hatred. A total of 28 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while 12 voted against it and seven abstained. read the complete article

The Illusion of a U.S.-India Partnership

President Biden claims that the “defense of democracy” is the central tenet of his administration. That’s commendable, but what happened in Washington was the exact opposite. The man Americans openly fawned over has systematically undermined India’s democracy. India is not a dictatorship, but neither is it still a democracy. Mr. Modi heads a majoritarian, Hindu-supremacist, electoral autocracy that is tightening its grip on one of the most diverse countries in the world. This makes election season, which is just around the corner, our most dangerous time. It’s murder season, lynching season, dog whistle season. The partner that the U.S. government is cultivating and empowering is one of the most dangerous people in the world — dangerous not as a person but as someone turning the world’s most populous country into a tinderbox. Ms. Siddiqui may not have anticipated what she walked into. The same cannot be said of the State Department and the White House. They would have known plenty about the man for whom they were rolling out the red carpet. They would have known about the role Mr. Modi is accused of having played in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in the state of Gujarat, in which more than 1,000 Muslims were killed. They would have known about the sickening regularity with which Muslims are being publicly lynched, about the member of Mr. Modi’s cabinet who met some lynchers with garlands and about the precipitous process of Muslim segregation and ghettoization. It’s time we retired that stupid adage about speaking truth to power. Power knows the truth far better than we do. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jul 2023 Edition


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