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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16 Jul 2021

Today in Islamophobia: The U.S. Senate has passed a bill to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region, in response to the increasing evidence of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese government, while the E.U.’s top court has ruled that employers may forbid the wearing of visible symbols of religious or political beliefs, and in the UK, colleges and universities are lapsing in their responsibility to protect students from ethnic and/or religious hate speech and violence. Our recommended read of the day is by


15 Jul 2021

Switzerland’s Very Own Burka Ban : Europe’s ‘Neutral’ Core Spikes Controversy Once Again

On March 7th, Switzerland passed a referendum banning face coverings in public with a margin of 51.2% (in favour) to 48.8% (against). This vote sparked a resurgence of the domestic and international debate on the so-called ‘the burka ban.’ While this ban does not explicitly target Muslim women, it outlaws the public usage of burkas and niqabs for the few women in Switzerland who wear them in the custom of the Islamic tradition. The group responsible for the proposal and support of ‘the burka ban’ is the right-wing Swiss People’s Party or SVP. With slogans such as “stop extremism! Yes to the veil ban”, their polarizing campaign aimed at villainizing face-covering veils and instilling fear in voters. The conservative party has been at the core of Islamophobic sentiment in Switzerland, leading the successful referendum in 2009, which called for a ban on building minarets. Like their previous campaign, the posters by the SVP made direct and unapologetic links between the wearing of the burka or the niqab with radical Islam. Switzerland is not the first European country to introduce such a ban. Growing Islamophobia across the region has meant that Switzerland now follows in France’s footsteps—Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration banned wearing a full-face veil in public in 2011. Similarly, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria share partial bans on public face coverings. However, unlike several countries listed above, such as France and Bulgaria, Switzerland does not have a substantial Muslim community. It has not experienced any major terrorist attacks linked to extremist Islamist groups. Indeed, according to a study by the University of Lucerne, the Muslim population constitutes only about 5% of Switzerland’s total population, amounting to about 420,000 individuals. More importantly, only around 30 women are believed to wear the niqab or burka. So why has this become such a prevalent controversial issue? Some proponents of the ban, such as Jean-Luc Addor from the SVP, have categorized the ban as a precautionary action taken against the rise of extreme Islamists, stressing that “when a problem exists, we deal with it before it gets out of control.” He would argue that in doing so, Switzerland is simply implementing a ban that will only affect a minority of its citizens and bring security to its population in a time of uncertainty. Others, such as Mustafa Memeti—and Albanian imam in Switzerland’s capital—have extended this argument and emphasized its positive role in potentially emancipating repressed Muslim women in Switzerland. However, this sentiment has not been shared with the majority of the Muslim community in Switzerland and worldwide, who see this ban as yet another restriction on their religious freedoms. read the complete article

Our recommended read of the day


15 Jul 2021

Uyghurs: US Senate passes bill to ban Xinjiang imports

The US Senate has passed a bill to ban imports from China's Xinjiang region, in response to alleged abuses of the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority group. The legislation would create an assumption that goods manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labour, unless proven otherwise. The Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act must pass the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law. The US has already banned imports of Xinjiang cotton and tomatoes. The Chinese state has been widely accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang against the Ugyhurs and other Muslim minority groups. Experts estimate at least a million people in the region have been detained in camps or imprisoned as part of a crackdown that began in 2017. Many thousands more who are not detained are subject to extensive surveillance and state control. read the complete article

15 Jul 2021

Top EU court rules hijab can be banned at work

The European Union’s top court has ruled that employers may forbid the wearing of visible symbols of religious or political belief, such as headscarves. But the Luxembourg-based tribunal said in its ruling on Thursday that courts in the bloc’s 27 member states should weigh up whether the ban corresponded to a “genuine need” on the part of the employer. They must also consider the rights and interests of the employee, including by taking into account national legislation on freedom of religion, it said. The case was brought to court by two women in Germany who were suspended from their jobs after they started wearing hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion. Both Muslim women – a special need carer at a childcare centre in Hamburg run by a charitable association, and a cashier at the Mueller pharmacy chain – had not been wearing headscarves when they started in their jobs, but decided to do so years later after coming back from parental leave. They were told by their respective employer that this was not allowed, and were at different points either suspended, told to come to work without it or put on a different job, court documents show. read the complete article

14 Jul 2021

The Whitewashing of the Afghan War

A few days ago, American troops withdrew from Bagram air base north of Kabul, in a hush-hush operation. Local Afghan allies were not informed. The Americans reportedly left hundreds of energy drinks, ready-to-eat meals, and literally tons of garbage, causing outrage among Afghans on social media. As America’s “longest war” comes to an end, many international news outlets reported about Bagram without mentioning the base’s dark past. It’s part of a revisionist history that overlooks the massive torture apparatus, civilian casualties, and violent corruption caused by the United States’ two decades in Afghanistan. Since the Bush administration, Bagram served as the nexus and central hub in America’s war in Afghanistan. In the early 2000s, it morphed into a small Americanized town. After conducting brutal operations in Afghan villages, troops enjoyed KFC and Burger King. Prisoners, many of whom were innocent or held indefinitely without charge, were tortured and murdered mere doors away from the fast-food outposts. The Bagram complex included several notorious prisons, so-called “black sites,” brutal settings that typify the American-led war. It was in places like this that young Afghan men were brutally murdered by American interrogators. Dilawar Yaqoubi, a 22-year-old cab driver from southeastern Khost province, was abducted and beaten to death in December 2002. Overall, ongoing Afghanistan coverage appears to be a déjà vu of the simplistic coverage of the early 2000s. Many Western journalists find themselves rushing to the country to quickly produce as much content as possible. Lacking knowledge of local languages, woefully ignorant of regional custom and culture, and inept at grasping the geopolitics of the country and the area it lies within, these journalists often lazily breathe new life into old, racist, and Orientalist tropes. These tropes should not, after 20 years of a war in which the U.S.-led coalition abjectly failed, dominate coverage of the country. What started as a counterterrorism operation led to wholesale cooperation with and empowerment of rapacious warlords, corrupt politicians, and drug barons. Many of them still dominate Afghan politics. read the complete article

United Kingdom

16 Jul 2021

It’s time we hold colleges accountable: Islamophobia at Downing

When I entered my first year at Cambridge, Downing College failed its duty of care to me as an undergraduate student by tolerating and upholding Islamophobia. Just weeks into Michaelmas, my worst fear as a hijab-wearing Muslim female became true when another first-year Downing student started an onslaught of religiously offensive comments such as “Can I see your hair?” and “You know I can just take it off right?”  Naturally, these comments made me extremely uncomfortable, but I never imagined they would escalate into something physical. I never thought that someone would actually put their hands on me and attempt to rip off my hijab. Being only four weeks into my first term, I had nobody to turn to and slowly, out of fear of further incidents, began to subconsciously isolate myself in a desperate attempt to protect myself. I was made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe in the place I was living. The place that was supposed to welcome me and constitute my new ‘home’, instead leaving me as alienated and alone as ever.  Following this, there were many other incidents that occurred throughout my first year. Cumulatively, these incidents had a severe effect upon my wellbeing, so I decided to report the incidents to my college. Initially, the Dean told me that the behaviour I had experienced was absolutely unacceptable and informed me that although the perpetrator had denied the more minor incidents, he had admitted to the larger explicit acts of Islamophobia such as trying to take off my hijab. He stated that he was disturbed by his mindset and would take action against him. However, once Easter term started, college took no action. As a result, I asked the college why no action had been taken. I was told by senior members of the College that my experiences were not acts of Islamophobia, but simply a “misunderstanding” on my behalf. Not only was this a refusal from Downing college to acknowledge these incidents as Islamophobic, but it also shows complete disregard for the welfare of their Muslim students. read the complete article

16 Jul 2021

Project in Bristol helps Muslim women take up swimming

Wafa Suliman is working with Open Minds Active to teach more Muslim women to swim and break down barriers that can prevent them taking part. She said when she came to Bristol there were not many places for Muslim women with a hijab to swim. The project culminated in a surfing session at The Wave in the city. Women taking part in the project said it can often be difficult for them to know where to swim, with many saying they would never have dreamt of going swimming, let alone outdoors in lakes or rivers. Barriers which have stopped them taking part in the sport include finding facilities that are culturally appropriate, with changing rooms and shower facilities often open plan and pools open to public viewing. The need to wear a hijab and clothing that covers the whole body, as well as a lack of female-only sessions, were also challenges to participation, Swim England said. Ms Suliman said: "I have been swimming in my country all my life, but when I came to Bristol I didn't know where to go. "There aren't many places for Muslim women with a hijab to go and it was difficult." She has been working with Open Minds Active for the past three months on the project. read the complete article


16 Jul 2021

Gendered Islamophobia: A Question Of Dehumanisation Of Muslim Women

On 4th and 5th July, Muslim women in India found themselves at the receiving end of yet another form of violence levelled at them by Hindu right-wingers. A large number of photos of Muslim women were taken from the Internet and sold as the “deal of the day” on an app called Sulli Deals, platformed on GitHub, an Internet hosting software provider. “Sulla” and “Sulli” are anti-Muslim slurs used by the Hindu extremists. The photos, reportedly sourced from their social media accounts, consist of women from various walks of life (pilots, journalists etc.). In addition to underlining how digital spaces have become increasingly unsafe for women, this incident was yet another reminder that despite the standing Indian Muslim women are gaining in a society with all odds stacked against them, they continue to be examined by the majoritarian Hindu male gaze, a symptom of the rot that Hindutva has inflicted for decades on Indian societies. Such diminished outcry is in the grand tradition of mainstream Indian public life repeatedly ignoring violence against Muslim, Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi women. At this point, one is reminded of how Muslim women’s bodies have, time and again, been the sites of communal crimes and battles, such as the rapes during the Gujarat riots of 2002, the Kunan Poshpora incident of 1991, the Muzzaffarnagar riots of 2013, to name a few. What has followed in almost all of these cases is a complete denial when not delay of justice for the victims. It would be far fetched to say that hatred towards Muslim women is solely an Indian phenomenon. Such objectification is common around the world, Boris Johnson’s comments in 2018 on burqa-clad Muslim women being letterboxes and bank robbers, is one glaring example. Another blatant example are the many bans on burkinis imposed in France. It is important for us to recognise what these are: hatred directed at Muslim women with the intention to unclothe them, objectify them or tag them as anti-social threats with wide ranging intentions: blocking immigration and justifying wars against predominantly Muslim countries through the generation of a “terrorist” discourse in Europe and the US, imposition of a white, or in India’s case, an imagined Hindu virility, or the criminalisation and thus, otherisation, of Muslim men by tagging them as the sole oppressors of Muslim women, case in point, the triple talaq judgement. read the complete article


15 Jul 2021

'SHAKEN BUT UNBROKEN': Man charged in alleged hate crime against Muslim mom, daughter in Hamilton

A 40-year-old man is accused of almost running down a Muslim mother and daughter in Hamilton, then chasing after the pair, hurling racial slurs and threatening to kill them. Hamilton Police say the alleged hate crime — which comes five weeks after a pickup truck driver ran down a Muslim family in London, Ont., killing four people and seriously injuring a fifth — unfolded as the mother and daughter walked through a plaza parking lot in the Ancaster Meadowlands around 9:30 p.m. on Monday. The National Council of Canadian Muslims posted a message on Twitter saying they are “deeply saddened to hear of yet another terrifying, seemingly Islamaphobia-motivated attack on two Muslim women wearing hijab.” The NCCM also released a statement from the family of the mother and daughter. “We are shaken but unbroken after the attack on our family,” the statement reads. “Let us be clear: This individual attempted to terrorize our family. “In light of the London attack, this is incredibly terrifying for our family,” the family says, before urging the government to “commit to taking stronger action.” read the complete article

15 Jul 2021

Cambridge, Ont., mosque vandalized in 'act of hate'

A mosque in Cambridge, Ont., has been vandalized in what officials are calling an act of hate. Baitul Kareem Mosque had extensive damages and stolen property, according to a statement by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada on Thursday. The statement calls it an "act of hate, with damages exceeding tens of thousands of dollars." "We are deeply troubled to learn of this attack on the Baitul Kareem Mosque," said Lal Khan Malik, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada said in a release. "Our mosques have always served as symbols of peace in the community, and it is hurtful for us to see our mosque attacked and vandalized in this fashion." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Jul 2021 Edition


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