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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21 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., reporting reveals that Showtime cancelled the airing of a Vice documentary on current Florida governor and GOP Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis and his time at Guantanamo Bay, meanwhile in Italy, a politician from the country’s nationalistic League party has called into question the wearing of modest bathing suits at Italian beaches saying the garments are “dubious” in terms of “decorum and hygiene”, and lastly, in a statement made at a meeting of the OIC, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres publicly condemns a series of Qur’an burnings that have taken place in Europe. Our recommended read of the day is by Zainab Iqbal for The Middle East Eye on the recent progress made and the challenges that linger still towards protecting and preventing Muslim women from being forced to remove religious attire during arrest bookings and police activity. This and more below:

United States

'The hijab is mine': Muslim women take back their rights from US law enforcement | Recommended Read

Alaa Massri was just 18 years old when she was arrested. It was the summer of 2020. Hundreds of thousands of people across the United States were protesting against the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Massri helped organise some of the protests in Miami, Florida. She proudly wore her hijab - as she had for the past 12 years - grabbed a megaphone, marched, and demanded justice. But what set Massri's arrest apart from the others was that she was asked to remove her hijab for the booking photo. Massri explained to officers that the head covering was a religious obligation and that she would not take it off. But no one listened. Instead, an officer yanked the hijab off her head and the photo was taken. "I felt so blatantly disrespected." “[The hijab] is my protection. This is something I cherish, and to have it just ripped and yanked off with no regard or respect? It felt like all my power was gone.” Massri’s story is just one of many. There are no federal laws to protect a woman's right to continue wearing a hijab when arrested, and no laws to prevent officers from removing it or asking for it to be removed. Every state in the US has its own policy in dealing with religious coverings during arrests. After Massri’s arrest, over 330,000 people signed a petition denouncing her treatment by the county corrections department. In a statement to The Miami Herald in response to the criticism of its handling of the case, the department said it could “accommodate inmates who wear head coverings for religious reasons” and noted that it was reviewing the matter “to ensure compliance with our policies”. read the complete article

Showtime feared ‘political consequences’ of airing documentary on DeSantis record at Guantanamo, report says

Before Showtime pulled the piece, a political lobbyist for the premium cable network reportedly warned about the “political consequences” of airing a Vice investigative documentary about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his service at Guantanamo Bay. The Paramount-owned cable network buried the episode following concerns from the company’s Washington lobbyist, according to Semafor. The network’s decision to shelve the episode, first reported by The Hollywood Reporter in May, arrived as the candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination came under wider scrutiny for his time at the US military base. A description from Showtime’s website indicated that the episode contained allegations from “former detainees that he was present at force-feedings that were condemned as torture” by the United Nations, and addressed the “role of Navy JAGs in the investigation of the detainee deaths.” Four days before the episode was scheduled to air on 28 May, Vice received an unusual note from Showtime’s post-production staff to tell Vice that “the broader network group teams are taking a deeper internal look at this Sunday’s episode, which will delay its premiere,” according to Semafor. An investigation by The Independent detailed several claims from detainees, including allegations from two prisoners who were held at the notorious installation claiming that Mr DeSantis witnessed the forced feeding of hunger-striking prisoners. read the complete article


UN chief expresses solidarity with Muslim community over Quran burning

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed solidarity with the worldwide Muslim community Thursday in his meeting the Ambassadorial Group of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The meeting came after Salwan Momika burned a copy of the Muslim holy book under police protection in front of the Stockholm Mosque in Sweden last month, which was widely condemned in Muslim countries. Guterres condemned acts of intolerance, violence and Islamophobia, which exacerbate tensions and contribute to discrimination and radicalization, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. He also expressed the determination of the UN to fully implement the Human Rights Council Resolution on “countering religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” read the complete article

Outcry over Quran burning in Sweden: A timeline

Iraq has expelled Sweden’s ambassador shortly after protesters had stormed its embassy in Baghdad and set parts of the building on fire. The demonstrators were angry over what was supposed to be the second burning of a Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm. While protesters in Sweden kicked and partially damaged a book they said was the Quran, they did not burn it as they had threatened to do. According to Swedish media reports, the incident was planned by Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee in Sweden who also burned pages of a Quran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque on June 28 during the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival. The incident last month also prompted widespread anger in Iraq and drove supporters of al-Sadr, who positions himself as a populist and whose supporters have previously overrun the Iraqi parliament, to storm Sweden’s embassy in Baghdad. It promoted several other protests in Muslim-majority countries as governments in Iraq, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco decried the incident. read the complete article

GCC, Central Asian states condemn Islamophobia, announce further summits

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Central Asian states issued a joint statement Wednesday following the 18th GCC consultative meeting held in the Saudi city of Jeddah, expressing concern over "the growing rhetoric of racism and Islamophobia" against Muslim minorities. The 20-point statement also reaffirmed collective support for last month's adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 2686, which condemns religious hatred and extremism. The stance against Islamophobia comes weeks after an Iraqi man sparked international outrage last month by burning a copy of the Quran outside the main mosque in Stockholm, Sweden's capital. The act prompted condemnation from governments of Muslim-majority countries and protest from Muslims worldwide. This week's summit between the two regions was the first of its kind involving the presidents of all five Central Asian states, as well as high ranking representatives and leaders of the GCC. It was used to implement further diplomatic initiatives aimed at strengthening economic cooperation between the two regions. read the complete article

Why does Sweden allow Quran burnings? Like much of West, it has no blasphemy laws

A recent string of public desecrations of the Quran by a handful of anti-Islam activists in Sweden has sparked an angry reaction in Muslim countries and raised questions – including in Sweden – about why such acts are allowed. There is no law in Sweden specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of the Quran or other religious texts. Like many Western countries, Sweden doesn’t have any blasphemy laws. The freedom of speech is protected under the Swedish constitution. Police need to cite specific grounds to deny a permit for a demonstration or public gathering, such as risks to public safety. Stockholm police did just that in February when they denied two applications for Quran-burning protests, citing assessments from the Swedish Security Service that such acts could increase the risk of terror attacks against Sweden. But a court later overturned those decisions, saying police need to cite more concrete threats to ban a public gathering. Sweden’s hate speech law prohibits incitement against groups of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Some say burning the Quran constitutes incitement against Muslims and should therefore be considered as hate speech. Others say such acts are targeting the religion of Islam rather than practitioners of the faith, and that criticism of religion must be covered by freedom of speech, even when some consider it offensive. read the complete article

United Kingdom

'Punched and told to leave Britain': Islamophobia reaches record high

Almost 90% of mosques across the UK have experienced acts of hate crime in the last year. An exclusive survey by ITV News and anti Muslim monitoring group Tell MAMA of 117 mosques found that the majority were subjected to abuse including threatening letters, acts of violence, and in one case, having faeces smeared across their walls. At the Heaton Muslim Community Trust in Stockport, a pig’s head was thrown onto the roof last December, leaving those who use the centre “terrified.” The impact on those who have been victims of Islamophobia can be devastating. In 2017 Zaynab Hussein was left for dead after she was run over by a man in a random attack as she walked back home after dropping her children to school in Leicester. As she lay on the floor the man turned his vehicle around and drove over her again, and witnesses claimed that he was laughing at the time. She was left with life changing injuries, including severe fractures to her pelvis and spine, a broken leg and arm, and was in hospital for three months. “Now I’m always in fear, I’m living in paranoia," she said. "My name is still Zaynab, but I’ve changed completely through that experience. The way I view the world is new to me. "Within seconds my whole life changed and I’ve lost who I was and the happiness of who I was and I can’t get that back.” Instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes have more than doubled in the last decade according to Tell MAMA. In 2012 there were 584 cases reported to the group, whereas in 2022 there were 2,651 incidents - though all cases are yet to be verified. read the complete article


‘Burkini’ row erupts in Italy after mayor criticises Muslim beachgoers

On Wednesday, one politician from the nationalist League party in northern Italy sparked controversy by suggesting that Muslim beachgoers were instead covering themselves up too much. “The behaviour of Muslim foreigners who habitually enter the water with their clothes on is unacceptable,” the mayor of Monfalcone in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Anna Maria Cisint, wrote in an open letter to the local Muslim community on Wednesday. Bathing while covered up was causing “bewilderment” among other visitors at the nearby Marina Julia beach, she claimed, before suggesting that doing so was “dubious” in terms of “decorum and hygiene”. The mayor appeared to be referring to bathers wearing the burkini, an all-in-one swimsuit worn by some Muslim women – or women who simply prefer to cover up on the beach. Cisint added that “forms of ‘Islamisation’ of our territory cannot be accepted”. Responding to the letter, Yassine Lafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy, said: “Women in Italy can dress however they want but this does not apply to Muslims, according to the mayor.” “If it were a group of blonde and blue-eyed Finns arriving in wetsuits at the beach of Monfalcone, would this represent a problem for decorum? I think not. “I can promise there will be a legal battle over any provision issued, because it would be unconstitutional,” Lafram said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 21 Jul 2023 Edition


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