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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24 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, investigators discovered that the anti-Muslim manifesto of far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway, was listed for sale by Britain’s biggest book chain, Waterstones, meanwhile the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has suspended the status of Sweden’s special envoy over a string of Quran burnings in Stockholm, and in India, a wife searches for answers regarding the whereabouts of her Muslim truck driver husband, who was stopped by cow vigilantes in June 2021. Our recommended read of the day is by Madeleine Wedesweiler for SBS News on Nouhaila Benzina who is making history as the first woman to wear a hijab at the Women’s World Cup, noting that while FIFA lifted the ban on its head coverings in 2014, some countries such as France still discriminate against hijabi football players. This and more below:


Nouhaila is set to make football history wearing a hijab. But bans remain for some athletes | Recommended Read

Nouhaila Benzina is part of the Moroccan squad that has qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time, making them the only Arab team to achieve this feat. The hijab was banned by the sport's governing body in 2007 due to concerns over player safety. It was eventually overturned in 2014, but a head covering has not been worn at the World Cup before. Several sports have moved to lift bans on head covering in recent years, including basketball and volleyball. But in France, the top administrative court upheld a decision to ban the hijab in football, in contrast with FIFA's policies. Les Hijabeuses, a women’s footballing collective, had brought the case arguing it was Islamophobic and preventing women from participating in sport. They argued that Christian players are permitted to make the sign of the cross during play. But the French Football Federation maintains that permitting hijabs on or near the pitch goes against a 1905 law on secularism. A ban on hijabs under international basketball guidelines was overturned in 2017 after a hard-fought campaign by athletes, including Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who had to leave the sport in the years the hijab was banned, saying she chose her faith over her career. But basketballer and activist Salimata Sylla earlier this year said she was banned by the French basketball governing body for wearing a hijab during games in her French league. With the country's capital hosting the 2024 Olympics, some fear local basketball and football bans on hijabs could have an impact on other athletes. read the complete article

A far-right European Union could be around the corner

Spanish voters go to the polls Sunday in a snap election that could well see the far right return to power for the first time since the era of Franco’s dictatorship, which fell almost a half century ago. Opinion polls show the right-wing establishment People’s Party (PP) ahead of Spain’s center-left Socialists, who have been in power in coalition governments for the past eight years. But if given a mandate to form the next government, the PP will likely need support from ultranationalist Vox, a party to which some PP politicians vowed never to find common cause. Vox is a faction that’s a little more than a decade old. It emerged from the far-right fringes, steeped in an ethos of Catholic traditionalism, animosity to Catalonian and Basque separatism, antipathy to migration, suspicion of climate science, and ideological fury at pro-feminist and pro-LGBTQ+ laws and protections in Spanish society. Now, Vox’s particular brew of 21st-century culture warring and 20th-century illiberalism has earned it a solid base of some 10 to 15 percent of the Spanish vote. The developments in Spain mark only the latest, albeit perhaps most striking, chapter in a larger European story. Steadily, far-right parties once considered beyond the pale have entered into the continent’s mainstream and in many places wield genuine power. read the complete article

Iraq: Anger erupts over reported Quran burning in Copenhagen

Protesters attempted to break into Baghdad's Green Zone on Saturday over reports of the Quran burning in the Danish capital, Copenhagen. The latest unrest comes after the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was stormed by angry protesters earlier this week. It was reported on Friday that an ultranationalist group burned a copy of the Quran, Islam's holy book, near the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen. Danish police confirmed that "a very small demonstration" with fewer than 10 people took place across the street from the embassy. "I can also confirm there was a book burnt. We do not know which book it was. Apparently, they tried to burn the Iraqi flag and after that, somebody stepped on it," Copenhagen police spokesperson Trine Fisker said. Separately, the Danish Foreign Ministry said it condemns the burning of the Quran. "Burning of holy texts and other religious symbols is a shameful act that disrespects the religion of others," it said in a statement. The latest protests against the incident in Denmark follow several events involving Quran desecration in Sweden. On Thursday, an Iraqi refugee stomped on a copy of the Quran in Stockholm, with the event prompting a diplomatic crisis between Sweden and several Islamic nations. read the complete article

Abu Dhabi Secrets: Journalist speaks out on being harassed after smear campaign

A France-based journalist says she has been "exposed to violence" as a result of being targeted by a smear campaign by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that branded her a Muslim Brotherhood sympathiser, leaving her mental health at risk. Earlier this month, investigations by a French outlet revealed that the UAE was involved in a smear campaign that targeted more than 1,000 people and hundreds of organisations in Europe. Mediapart obtained documents that showed that the UAE hired Alp Services, a Geneva-based private intelligence firm, to obtain information on people from 18 European countries between 2017 and 2020. What followed was a smear campaign that accused those named of having links to or affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been branded as a terrorist organisation by the UAE. Among those targeted was Rokhaya Diallo, a prominent journalist who has campaigned on issues around women's rights, Islamophobia and anti-Black racism in France. "I was shocked. I felt like this was very unfair," Diallo told Middle East Eye. "I feel like the people who were targeted are the same ones who would be targeted by far-right groups," she said, adding that the list of people who had their information sent to the UAE government "didn't make sense". Diallo fears that being targeted by the UAE and being spied on will have more severe consequences for her work. read the complete article

Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspends Sweden’s special envoy over desecration of Quran

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has suspended the status of Sweden’s special envoy over a string of Quran burnings in Stockholm that sparked anger and mass protests in a number of Muslim countries. The organization comprised of 57 Muslim-majority nations said Sunday that the suspension was due to the “ granting by the Swedish authorities of licenses that enabled the repeated abuse of the sanctity of the Holy Quran and Islamic symbols.” The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s decision came after the bloc’s executive committee held a July 2 meeting following an earlier Quran-burning incident. The committee asked the secretary-general to consider suspending the status of the special envoy from “any country in which copies of the Holy Qur’an or other Islamic values and symbols are desecrated with the consent of the authorities concerned,” according to Sunday’s statement. The organization said it had sent a letter to Sweden’s foreign minister conveying the decision. read the complete article

United States

Muslim woman says she was forced to remove hijab when UK police took her to Lexington jail

A Muslim woman has alleged she was forced to take off her hijab after being arrested by a University of Kentucky police officer and taken to the Fayette County Detention Center. Now a national civil rights organization is calling for an investigation. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a news release Friday that the woman said she was stopped Monday night for driving without headlights on and was arrested “because of an issue related to a late registration from a couple years ago.” But she told the organization no one told her she was being arrested, and she doesn’t remember being read her rights. The woman was not named in CAIR’s news release. The organization said she told them she was “asked several times what her religion is” during the incident and was “handcuffed and held for hours and forced to take her hijab off for the booking photo.” CAIR says the woman told them that while handcuffed and “in a public hall where everyone could see me,” she was asked to remove her headscarf. She said she refused and asked to be taken to a private area. read the complete article

Trump ‘Muslim ban’ continues to delay family reunification two years after it ended

A backlog of family reunification cases has been growing since former President Donald Trump banned immigration from Muslim-majority countries, leaving refugees in Minnesota and elsewhere in limbo about their attempts to sponsor their family’s immigration to the United States. Additional vetting requirements baked into Trump’s 2017 ban continue to delay the processing of refugee cases even though the policy ended when President Joe Biden took office in 2021, according to the International Refugee Assistance Project in New York. The bureaucratic delays snowballed when embassies across the world closed due to COVID-19 and world conflicts. There were approximately 20,000 refugee family reunification applications pending initial approval as of March, according to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. More than 25,000 cases had already passed that juncture and were awaiting interviews and additional processing at U.S. embassies abroad. read the complete article

Canceled Documentary Details DeSantis’ Time at Gitmo, Including Allegedly Overseeing Forced Feedings

RON DESANTIS HAS bragged about his time as a Navy lawyer at Guantanamo Bay, but in a canceled Vice documentary originally scheduled to air on Showtime, former detainees allege that he oversaw incidents they describe as “torture” and “mistreatment.” “Officer DeSantis was one of the officers who oversaw the force-feeding and torture we were subjected to in 2006,” an unidentified former prisoner said according to a transcript of the documentary, “The Guantanamo Candidate,” obtained by The Daily Beast. Another former detainee said in the documentary that DeSantis was “one of the officers who mistreated us” and called DeSantis “a bad person” and “a very bad officer.” The documentary has stirred up controversy recently after news broke that Showtime’s parent company Paramount canceled its May 28 scheduled air date, possibly for political reasons. According to a Semafor report, Paramount lobbyist DeDe Lea expressed concerns about the documentary. The decision to cancel came just one day after DeSantis officially announced his presidential campaign, per The Daily Beast. Mansoor Adayfi is another former detainee appearing in the doc. In an Al-Jazeera oped published in April, Adayfi described a time in 2006 when he was force-fed, and he saw DeSantis watching it happen. “As I tried to break free, I noticed DeSantis’s handsome face among the crowd at the other side of the chain link. He was watching me struggle. He was smiling and laughing with other officers as I screamed in pain,” Adayfi wrote. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Terrorist Anders Breivik’s manifesto was listed for sale on Waterstones website

The notorious manifesto of far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity, was listed for sale by Britain’s biggest book chain, Waterstones. Investigators found Breivik’s manifesto on the website last Wednesday before it was removed after the bookseller was informed. Breivik killed eight people with a car bomb in Oslo before heading to a youth camp on the island of Utøya, where he killed 69 people, mostly teenagers, in a gun attack in July 2011. The right-wing extremist launched his 1,500 page anti-Muslim manifesto hours before committing his attacks. The document charts Breivik’s attempts to mentally prepare and acquire the weaponry and explosives needed for his bomb and gun attacks with some sections plagiarised from writings by America’s Unabomber. Investigators at Tech Against Terrorism, a UN-backed online counter-terrorism organisation, found the manifesto for sale on the Waterstones site, which also owns Foyles and Hatchards. The manifesto, called “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence” was promoted in three parts, priced at £30-£48. read the complete article

Young footballer hopes hijab campaign will inspire others

A 16-year-old girl who led a campaign for Muslim girls to be allowed to wear sport hijabs during PE lessons says she hopes it will have a nationwide impact. Umme Kalsoom said it was prompted after she felt "vulnerable" when expected to take off her hijab while playing sport at her school in Burnley, Lancashire. "I did it to bring comfort to myself and the other girls" she said. The school has since changed its policy, which it said was due to health and safety concerns. A number of sports are now enabling more Muslims to wear the covering after the attire was previously banned by many organisations. Umme Kalsoom said: "(The hijab) makes me feel like myself. "Taking it off to do something I love didn't enable me to feel my full self and I lacked confidence without it." The 16-year-old said other Muslim girls have since sought advice and that she hoped her campaign would "break down the barriers for girls to play football everywhere they exist". read the complete article


Muslim ambushed by cow vigilantes in India missing for two years

Rafiq Tamboli would have been 33 years old now. Or maybe he still is. His wife doesn’t know if he is dead or alive. Nobody has seen him for at least two years. A resident of Qureshi Nagar in Mumbai’s Kurla locality, Rafiq worked as a driver transporting meat for a couple of traders in the animal industry. On June 4, 2021, he received an assignment to pick up meat from the city of Daund in Pune district of Maharashtra – about 250km (155 miles) from Mumbai, the state capital. At about 10:30pm that night, Rafiq’s truck was intercepted and stopped by cow vigilantes on the highway near the village of Ravangaon in Daund. He has not been seen since then – neither alive nor dead. What happened after that is anybody’s guess. When Rafiq did not return that night, Reshma frantically started calling him. The phone was switched off. When he did not return even three days later, she went to the local police station in Mumbai’s Chunabhatti locality to file a complaint. Since 2014 when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cases of mob lynching under the pretext of protecting cows, considered holy by some Hindus, have been rising in India. Critics believe the cow vigilantes, who are organised, often armed and once found on the fringes of society, have become mainstream after they started enjoying the BJP’s political patronage. A New Delhi-based centre which has collated data on atrocities against India’s minorities, mainly Muslims, since 2014 has a category for cow-related violence. The Documentation Of The Oppressed (DOTO) database, which has been updated until August last year, found 206 such instances involving more than 850 people – an overwhelming majority of them Muslims. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Jul 2023 Edition


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