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

Sign up for the Today in Islamophobia Newsletter
17 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., a train conductor in Connecticut defended two Muslim passengers from verbal abuse by a fellow train rider, with the incident going viral on TikTok, meanwhile in France, the Director of the Muslim social justice group CAGE, Muhammad Rabbani, was detained in Paris and sent back to London for “spreading Islamophobic persecution conspiracy theories,” this coming a month after Rabbani was publicly critical of France’s anti-Muslim policies, and Marion Lisse, the EU’s coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred, states that the European Union has “concrete new plans” for combating Islamophobia throughout its member states. Our recommended read of the day is by Parth M.N for Wired on how Hindu nationalist groups, “which appear to have links to local government and law enforcement, are turning Instagram and WhatsApp into hostile spaces for Muslims, who face harassment and arrest for seemingly innocuous posts.” This and more below:


Instagram Posts About a 17th-Century King Are Getting People Arrested | Recommended Read

Shafiq Bagwan was hanging out with a few friends in his village of Hasnabad, which is in the Maharashtra state in western India, when he opened Instagram on his phone and saw that his younger brother Taufiq had posted an update. When he clicked on it, his heart fell. Taufiq, who is 18, had posted a picture of a 17th-century Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, with a description of him as “the father of Hindu nationalists.” “I immediately called him up and ordered him to delete the story,” Bagwan says. “I got scared for him, and I hoped that nobody had seen it.” It was too late. The next day, June 20, Taufiq was arrested and charged with“deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings.” Taufiq had been caught up in an online crusade, initiated by Hindu nationalists in Maharashtra, who have taken it upon themselves to police social media for anything, no matter how tenuous, they can spin as offensive to Hindus. These groups, which appear to have links to local government and law enforcement, are turning Instagram and WhatsApp into hostile spaces for Muslims, who face harassment and arrest for seemingly innocuous posts. It’s another demonstration of how the Indian internet is coming to mirror the Hindu nationalist slant of politics under the government of Narendra Modi. “What has happened offline has happened online,” says Osama Manzar, founder of the Digital Empowerment Foundation, an NGO. “The attitude remains the same. Social media is just another tool to subjugate.” read the complete article


EU has concrete plans to combat anti-Muslim hatred: Official

The European Union has concrete plans to combat Islamophobia, Marion Lisse, the new EU coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred, said Thursday, Anadolu Agency reports. Lisse, who was appointed to the position on 2 February, held a press conference in Brussels and answered questions from journalists. She highlighted that the Muslim community in Europe is the largest religious minority, with diverse numbers, percentages and origins among member countries of the Union. "However, the key point is that the Muslim community in the EU is an integral part of our society," said Lisse. "We proposed the preparation of a document by mapping the phenomenon of hatred against Muslims." Asked about concrete plans to combat Islamophobia, referring to the Quran burning incidents in Sweden, she said that "firstly, we will mainstream policies to combat anti-Muslim hatred in various sectors such as education, security, migration and many employment areas." "We will maintain dialogue with various institutions, civil society, actors, citizens and international organisations. We will implement evidence-based policies and raise awareness among citizens and institutions about the phenomenon of Islamophobia," she added. read the complete article

Refugees need more than food and housing

It is critical we recognise this growing population has not only physical needs, such as food and housing, but also intangible ones surrounding truth, justice, and memorialisation, particularly when their displacement is the result of fundamental human rights violations. The nearly one million Rohingya refugees who, since August 2017, have fled persecution in Rakhine State, Myanmar and relocated to Bangladesh, offer a prime example of the complex needs facing displaced victims of government-sanctioned atrocities. For decades, Myanmar’s Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority with their own language and culture, were subjected to mass killing, enforced disappearances, rape, torture, and other violations committed against them by Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, resulting in the largest forced human migration in recent history. In Bangladesh, the majority of these refugees are women and children, with more than 40 percent below the age of 12, all of whom require and are deserving of psychosocial support and at least some form of resolution. In an ideal world, this would entail Rohingya refugees participating in justice processes, including the formation of a truth-seeking mechanism, such as a truth commission, during which they are given the opportunity to bear testament to their experiences, point to questions of accountability, and encourage action when it comes to holding their perpetrators accountable. In reality, such formal measures are unlikely to happen any time soon, if ever. This does not, however, negate the demand for continued focus on the crimes committed in Myanmar against Bangladesh’s Rohingya population and the suffering they have endured. read the complete article

Still unsafe for Rohingya to return to Myanmar: US envoy

A top US rights envoy in Bangladesh said Thursday that conditions remain unsafe for the return of ethnic Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, with Washington pledging further aid for the crisis. Bangladesh is home to around a million members of the stateless minority, most of whom fled a 2017 military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar that is now subject to a genocide probe at the International Criminal Court. “We support efforts to create the conditions for eventual, safe, dignified, informed and voluntary return of Rohingya — conditions that do not currently exist,” the US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya told reporters in Dhaka. Zeya, speaking after talks with Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, commended Dhaka for “reaffirming their commitment against forced return” of Rohingya people. Bangladesh and Myanmar have discussed efforts to begin repatriating Rohingya refugees to their homeland, where they have been subject to decades of persecution and are denied citizenship. read the complete article

Cage director banned from France as ‘threat to public order’

The director of the campaign group Cage was detained in Paris for almost 24 hours last week and then sent back to London after the French government accused him of spreading conspiracy theories about “Islamophobic persecution”. In 2020, Cage, which campaigns on behalf of communities affected by the “war on terror”, overturned a French travel ban for its director, Muhammad Rabbani. But on arrival in Paris last Tuesday for meetings with French journalists and civil society leaders, Rabbani was told that the interior ministry had imposed a new travel ban preventing him from entering the country. He was questioned and then sent back on a flight to London. His treatment came days after widespread rioting in France in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Nahel Merzouk, a French teenager of Moroccan and Algerian descent. The ban was imposed a month after Rabbani criticised the French government for “terrorising” its Muslim community in what he said was a “racist government agenda”. During a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Poland in September 2022, Rabbani also accused France of joining China and India in launching “religious persecution” against Muslims. read the complete article

United States

Muslim Women Thank Conductor Who Told The Bigoted Train Passenger Harassing Them, 'Look At Me, Never Board My Train Again'

A Connecticut train conductor is being applauded online for the way he handled a bigoted train passenger who harassed two Muslim women in hijabs sitting near her. When several other passengers reported the woman, the conductor sprang into action to put her in her place, and it has people calling for others to make a commitment to call out bigotry and hate crimes when they bear witness to them. The two Muslim women began filming the bigoted train passenger across from them when she began making Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic comments. The comments the Muslim women reported hearing are truly shocking, and though most of them occurred before they began filming, the vitriol the woman spewed at them on camera was not only vile, but at times downright bizarre, seeming to stem from many of the right-wing's favorite conspiracy theories. "As she took her seat, she looked at us and started shouting how Obama’s to blame for letting foreign exchange students into this country," the woman wrote. She went on to comment on immigrants "overstaying their visas" and "blamed law enforcement for not checking up on the status of 'these illegal people,'" The TikToker wrote in her caption that "several passengers defended us" and told the woman to stop making comments, with some even getting off the train to inform staff. None of it worked, though, until the conductor decided to deal with the situation. "Get off the train," he firmly told her. She then refused and claimed she hadn't said a word to her seatmates, and the conductor was having none of it. "Every person in this car said that you were talking to them that way. You need to get off of the train." read the complete article

Trump Promises to Bring Back ‘Much Stronger’ Travel Ban

DONALD TRUMP PROMISED to make America xenophobic again by bringing back his travel ban, a move that Rolling Stone reported he was considering in May. “When I return to office, the travel ban is coming back even bigger and much stronger than before,” Trump said Saturday during a speech to the far-right Turning Point Action conference led by Charlie Kirk. “The U.S. will not be condemned for the same fate as countries like France.” Trump while in office implemented a policy banning citizens from majority Muslim nations — including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — from entering the U.S. He also indefinitely suspended the Syrian refugee program and temporarily suspended programs for all other refugees. The Supreme Court upheld the ban, and President Joe Biden ended it on his first day in office. “We are taking in people who are very dangerous people. We are allowing them to come in by the millions and millions and millions,” Trump told the far-right gathering, adding that he will follow “the Eisenhower model” and “use all necessary state, local, federal, and military resources to carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” He said he would reinstate Title 42, which denied asylum to migrants and returned them across the border, in order “to end to child trafficking crisis.” He also promised to deter illegal immigration by signing “a day one executive order ending automatic citizenship for the children of illegal aliens, which brings all of their family members with them.” read the complete article

Four Prisoners Test Positive as Covid-19 Re-emerges at Guantánamo Bay

Four high-value prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have tested positive for the coronavirus, including one man who was moved to the base hospital for closer observation, according to people familiar with operations at the U.S. base in Cuba. Members of the military medical staff detected the re-emergence of the virus on Tuesday night at the Camp 5 prison, which holds 14 men who were detained in C.I.A. prisons between 2002 and 2008. By Friday, the “small number of detainees” who had tested positive were “experiencing minor symptoms and are improving,” said Lt. Col. Dustin W. Cammack, an Army spokesman. On Friday, Dr. Andrew J. McDermott, the chief medical officer at the base hospital, confirmed “a slight increase” in Covid-19 cases at the base of about 6,000 residents. He described them as “overall low numbers” that did not merit more screening or masking. read the complete article

Closing Guantanamo Bay Prison Won’t Erase the Crimes Committed Against Muslims

In a speech the first week of June, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) asserted the need to close Guantanamo Bay prison, citing the extraordinary costs of keeping the prison open and the lack of justice for 9/11 families as a result of the long drawn out military commissions. Conspicuously absent from these statements, however, were any clear calls for justice for the men who remain detained. This has been a consistent theme in official and/or mainstream narratives around Guantanamo—neglecting to call for justice for the men detained, as if this is an unreasonable demand that would diminish the legitimacy of the overall call to close the facility. Guantanamo was not created as a place for justice—especially not for the Muslim men detained behind its bars. Just as soon as these men were captured, they were labeled as suspected terrorists—thus precluding any ability for them to be seen as innocent until proven guilty. From the long years spent behind bars awaiting charges and convictions that never came, to torture, and even murder, the U.S. government has, at every conceivable step of the way, sought to entrench the perception of their inherent guilt. This perception has been shaped by the deployment of strategic narratives that have been carefully constructed and maintained to paint the men as irredeemable terrorists. Even for the men who are currently in plea deal negotiations, or the few who have been charged and convicted, the establishment of a faux legal system was designed to masquerade the process as justice. As Guantanamo Bay prison moves towards its 22nd year in operation, we should continue to call for the prison’s closure. However, we should also robustly challenge how the Islamophobic discourse surrounding Guantanamo has perpetuated a narrative of unequivocal guilt, even after the men have been transferred. The U.S. cannot absolve itself from responsibility just because it's managed to so thoroughly criminalize the men that their existence has been rendered inconvenient and disposable. read the complete article


Sweden protester abandons plan to burn Torah and Bible

A man who was expected to burn the Torah and the Bible outside the Israeli embassy has abandoned the plan and held a demonstration against desecrating holy books. Ahmad Alloush, 32, pulled a lighter from his string bag and threw it to the ground in Swedish capital on Saturday, saying he had never intended to burn holy books. He then brought out a Quran and criticised previous incidents where copies of the Islamic holy book were burned in Sweden. “If you want to criticise Islam, that is OK”, he said. But burning the Quran is “not freedom of expression”, he continued, switching from Swedish to English; it is “an action”. Swedish courts have previously permitted the burnings as they constitutionally protected the right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration. “This is a response to those who burned the Quran – freedom of speech has its limits”, Alloush said. He could never burn a holy book, he repeatedly said in both Arabic and Swedish; he just wanted to demonstrate against the burning of the Quran. read the complete article


France riots: In the banlieues, race and class intersect

Despite the frightening toll of police interventions in less than a week, France continues to deny the problem and refuses to open the debate on police and racism. As soon as the facts became known, the statements "Nahel was killed because of the multiple offences he committed [driving without a licence, refusal to comply]", or even "Nahel was killed because of his origins" have placed the focus almost exclusively on the victim, rendering the actions of the police officer invisible. If the aim of these statements is to denounce racism, they actually attribute the tragedy to who the victim is, rather than to what his killer does and believes. In other words, Nahel did not die for what he is (his origins), but for what the policeman believed and did (a potentially racially-motivated killing). He appears to have died because a police officer felt more invested in his power to take lives than to value all segments of the population. It is neither a matter of opposing Islamophobia and the "social question" nor of making Islamophobia a diversion. It is rather a question of showing that the social problems which accumulate in certain territories (poverty, unemployment, access to housing and care, racism, urban relegation, education, transportation, etc) had for a time disappeared from the media's radar. The young rioters bring us back to reality and show us that, since the 2005 riots, these problems have only worsened under the blows of neoliberal policies, the disengagement of the state (except in repressive matters), and general impoverishment. In essence, nothing has been resolved since 2005. The rise of identity discourse is also not unrelated to this situation. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Jul 2023 Edition


Enter keywords


Sort Results