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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20 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Myanmar, Human Rights Watch reports that the country’s military junta blocked life-saving humanitarian aid in Rakhine state after Cyclone Mocha, putting hundreds of thousands of Rohingya at risk, meanwhile in Canada, the National Council of Canadian Muslims is calling for an inquiry into the attack of a black Muslim woman to see whether it was targeted or motivated by hate, and lastly, in India the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has stayed a closure order for a Mosque in the town of Erandol after members of a local Hindu group threatened unrest claiming that the mosque was once a Hindu temple. Our recommended read of the day is by Aine Fox for The Independent on a new report by Tell Mama that found cases of anti-Muslim hate in the UK have more than doubled in a decade. This and more below:

United Kingdom

Cases of anti-Muslim hate ‘have more than doubled’ in a decade | Recommended Read

Instances of anti-Muslim hate have more than doubled in a decade, according to a monitoring group which said it has produced one of the most detailed studies of such attacks in the UK. Tell Mama, which monitors and works to tackle anti-Muslim sentiment and abuse, said verified cases of anti-Muslim hate had increased annually from 584 in 2012 to 1,212 cases in 2021. It said that while this might be partly down to Tell Mama becoming a more recognisable organisation to make reports to and to more people feeling they can report such hate and bigotry, “it may also indicate that greater numbers of cases of anti-Muslim hate are taking place”. Online hate climbed to a high in 2020, the organisation said, suggesting “the pandemic accelerated” such abuse on the internet. In the same year there was a “significant rise in neighbour-related disputes that turned anti-Muslim in nature”, with the organisation recording more than a quarter of all street-based (offline) cases as falling into this category. Tell Mama said the activities of the far right, anti-Muslim attacks globally, political discourse, the Brexit referendum result, the activities of so-called Islamic State and terrorism and extremism, grooming scandals and targeted anti-Muslim campaigns “have all led to spike points in anti-Muslim hate”. read the complete article


It was a cloudy day in Dudley, a small town in the West Midlands, on May 9, 2015. Around 150 Britain First supporters were protesting plans to build a new mosque, which would replace the smaller mosques being closed down. They swarmed the streets, brandishing Union Jack flags and a banner which read “No More Mosques!” Standing in the middle of all of this was Rizwan Ali, a Birmingham-born Muslim photographer. Among the sea of white faces, Ali – as a tall brown man – was easy to spot. Not least because he was standing, Nikon D700 in hand, on the steps of Dudley Council House while Britain First’s then-deputy leader Jayda Fransen delivered an anti-Muslim speech a few metres away. She was interrupted by Paul Golding ordering his “henchmen” to remove Ali; a video posted by IAmBirmingham shows him being dragged over a handrail and frog-marched away to chants of “pedo” from the baying crowd. Ali speaks casually about this, and the frequency with which protestors hurled slurs at him during the eight years he spent documenting far-right activity in the UK in the 2010s. “I’d run to the front of the march, avoiding the coppers, to start taking photos,” he tells Huck from a cafe in Birmingham. “Then when [the protestors] saw me, oh, the amount of swearing. They'd be calling me a paedophile, rapist lover, suicide bomber. They’d say ‘we're going to kill you, you’re taking our daughters away from us, trying to marry underage girls.’” Ali, a 41-year-old civil servant, was undeterred. He fought his way to the frontline of almost every demo held by Britain First, the English Defence League and the Democratic Lads Alliance between 2013 and 2020, at the height of sensationalism around the so-called “war on terror” and Asian grooming gangs. The results provide an intimate insight into the experience of a Muslim man standing firm in the face of racists. read the complete article


CAGE director 'banned from France' over accusations of being a 'radical Islamist'

The director of campaign group CAGE was detained in Paris for almost 24 hours and deported to the UK after the French government accused him of spreading conspiracy theories related to Islamophobia, according to reports. Muhammad Rabbani was arrested and questioned by police upon arrival at Charles de Gaul airport in Paris last week, where he was due to speak to French journalists and civil society organisations as part of a three-day trip. Rabbani was transferred for further questioning at a migrant detention centre, before returning to the airport for more questioning. He was eventually sent back to London. In 2020, the advocacy group successfully overturned a travel ban issued by France on Rabbani, but during his recent detention he was told that interior ministry had issued a restriction preventing him from entering the country. In a document dated October 2022, the French government laid out its reasons for imposing the travel ban. "Given the particularly high terrorist threat, his presence on national territory would constitute a serious threat to public order and the internal security of France," the statement said, according to The Guardian. The travel ban accused Rabbani of being part of a "radical Islamist movement" and "spreading slanderous words" about "supposed 'Islamophobic persecution' and mass surveillance by western governments, including France". read the complete article

Protesters storm Swedish embassy in Baghdad over Quran burning

Protesters angered by the burning of copies of the Quran in Sweden stormed the Swedish embassy in central Baghdad, scaling the walls of the compound and setting it on fire. Protesters have vowed to continue protesting “if any more burnings of the Quran happen”, Al Jazeera’s Abdelwahed added. The demonstrators are prepared to “take matters in their own hands” if the “Iraqi government does not dismiss the Swedish diplomatic mission immediately”, he said. Thursday’s demonstration was called by supporters of Sadr to protest the second planned burning of a Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday. “We are mobilised today to denounce the burning of the Quran, which is all about love and faith,” protester Hassan Ahmed told the French news agency AFP at the embassy. Swedish media reported that Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee in Sweden, had organised the planned burning on Thursday. Salwan also burned pages of a copy of the Quran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque on June 28 during Eid al-Adha, a holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world. read the complete article

France’s Bastille Day: Macron puts arms deals before human rights by honouring Modi

France’s Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July, has once again served as a key platform autocrats. For this year’s ceremony, Macron invited none other than the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, a move that has raised eyebrows. The latter’s role in the mass killing of Muslims in the Gujarat in 2002, current orchestration of a Hindu supremacist agenda, nationwide persecution of Muslims, a deeply divisive citizenship law, crackdown on journalists, on civil society, political opponents and turning India into a “Hindu-fascist enterprise”, were all clearly not a cause for concern when he was invited to the most iconic celebration of the French Republic. However, all things being equal, Emmanuel Macron cannot claim to necessarily stand in opposition to what Modi represents – he certainly didn’t vocalise any criticisms during the Indian PM’s trip. In fact, each in their own way has shown disdain for particular democratic values, has put forward illiberal policies that target minorities, and adopted a growingly repressive agenda against political opponents. read the complete article

United States

Muslim legislator attacked outside Eid-al Adha prayer in Connecticut says incident should be looked into as a hate crime

A Muslim legislator in Connecticut is calling for a hate crime investigation after she was brutally attacked outside an Eid-al Adha prayer service last month. She said that she felt her body go numb as the attacker held her in a chokehold and that she feels law enforcement minimized the incident. Rep. Maryam Khan, 34, who became the first Muslim elected to Connecticut’s House of Representatives last year, said she was taking photos outside an annual Eid-al Adha prayer service at Hartford’s XL Center when a man approached her. The man, whom police identified as Andrey Desmond, 30, allegedly made sexual advances toward Khan and her two daughters, who are 15 and 10. She said he slapped her, put her in a chokehold and slammed her against the ground. Khan said she yelled for help, but police said officers stationed at the event had already ended their shifts. After she made several attempts to free herself, civilian men intervened, and she was able to get to safety. “You do need to investigate to see: Has this person had a bias towards Muslims?” she said. “The fact that there was none of that was very problematic to me.” read the complete article


Myanmar: Junta Continues Atrocities Against the Rohingya

Last month, when Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar, about 600,000 ethnic Rohingya were left trapped and exposed in its path. Hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands of buildings damaged. This devastation and loss of life was both foreseeable and avoidable. In the weeks after Cyclone Mocha hit, Myanmar’s military junta blocked lifesaving humanitarian aid in Rakhine State putting thousands of lives at immediate risk. Rohingya tell us they are facing massive levels of unaddressed needs, including waterborne illnesses, hunger and malnutrition, and sheltering in tents made of debris. For decades, Myanmar authorities have deprived the Rohingya of their rights and freedoms, and eroded their capacity to survive. These systematic abuses amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid, persecution, and deprivation of liberty.  The junta’s deliberate obstruction of aid is emblematic of the military’s longstanding “four cuts” strategy, designed to maintain control of an area by isolating and terrorizing the population. These restrictions also underscore that conditions for the safe, sustainable, and dignified return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh do not currently exist. Calling for repatriation now would mean sending refugees back to the control of a ruthless and repressive junta, setting the stage for the next devastating exodus.  read the complete article


Group demands attack of Black Muslim woman be probed as hate crime

Aasiyah Khan of the National Council of Canadian Muslims is questioning why the alleged assailant received an aggravated assault charge rather than a charge of attempted murder. Leading Muslim organizations based in the Canadian provincial capital of Winnipeg are demanding that the city’s police investigate an attack on a young Black Muslim woman as a hate crime. On the evening of June 8, a man repeatedly stabbed an unidentified 18-year-old woman working inside an Olive Garden. She was taken to the hospital in unstable condition, CBC News reported. Police allege that Robert Alan Ingram, 27, randomly attacked the victim without cause. He is accused of aggravated assault, possessing a weapon and violating a probation order. However, Khan said organizations in the Islamic community dispute that the incident was random and demand a further inquiry to see whether it was targeted or motivated by hate. Khan read a statement from the Somali victim, who recalled that nobody else in the restaurant was a member of a visible minority or wearing a hijab. The perpetrator, she maintained, was gazing at her. read the complete article


‘A mosque for centuries’: Muslims in a Maharashtra town push back against ‘temple’ claims

On July 14, the Jumma Masjid in Erandol, a town in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, stayed shut for the Friday prayers. “This is the first time in my life that Friday prayers were not held at the mosque,” said Wasim Asghar Khan, a 32-year-old resident of the town. Three days ago, the Jalgaon district collector Aman Mittal had issued an order restraining the entry of worshippers in the mosque. The restrictions came almost two months after a local Hindu group, the Pandavwada Sangharsh Samiti, approached the collector, claiming that the mosque resembles a temple, that it had been under the control of “Jain and Hindu communities since time immemorial” and that the “encroachment by Muslims” on the structure must be removed. If their demands were not met, they threatened to start an agitation. The mosque is widely believed to date back to the reign of Alauddin Khilji, the 13th-century ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. The mosque trustees claim that they have documents to prove that the place of worship existed in 1861. “The mosque is a Waqf property managed by a local trust and prayers have been held there without interruption for centuries,” said Karim Salar, an activist and educationist in Jalgaon. On Tuesday, responding to a petition from the mosque’s trust, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court stayed the collector’s order prohibiting prayers at the mosque for two weeks till August 1. It also ordered the collector to hand over the keys of the mosque to the trust. read the complete article

The UCC Debate And The Dilemma Of Indian Muslim Women

Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, debates on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) have resurfaced. Muslim women have emerged as significant stakeholders in this debate as gender equality and national integration are flagged as one of the prime motives of the Uniform Civil Code. However, it is important to emphasise here that there are several other stakeholders in this discourse, as opposed to the popular representation of UCC as a ‘minority issue’, which inadvertently translates to a ‘Muslim issue’, often erasing the resistance coming from tribal communities, other minorities and certain Hindu sects as well. The question of Indian Muslim women is important in the larger political climate of the nation. The UCC emerged as a decisive debate after it was deployed as a political tool by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the wake of the Ayodhya conflict, the dramatic growth of the BJP and its tirade against the Congress government’s alleged tactic of ‘Muslim appeasement.’ Muslim women have been featured as major pawns in this majority/minority politics, with their oppression being traced back to Islamic law along with the continued emphasis on a gender-just civil code. However, as Zoya Hasan remarks in Religion, Feminist Politics and Muslim Women’s Rights in India, the UCC was rarely articulated in the public consciousness as a feminist issue, despite gender equality being one of its anchors. Instead, it became a debate about uniformity versus minority rights, secularism versus religious laws and modernisation versus tradition. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Jul 2023 Edition


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