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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25 Jul 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, police are cracking down on Rohingya refugees who have fled genocide in Myanmar, as authorities arrested 74 Rohingya refugees on Monday for living “illegally” in Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile in Denmark, two protesters have set fire to a copy of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in front of the Iraqi embassy in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, and in the United Kingdom, a new report finds that “political turbulence” plaguing the U.K. Conservative Party over the last two years has slowed its internal efforts to tackle Islamophobia. Our recommended read of the day is by Andrea Mazzarino for The Nation on how the US-led War on Terror led to the displacement and mass migration of at least 38 people who fled for their lives as violence consumed their countries. This and more below:


What the War on Terror Has to Do With the Rise in Mass Migration | Recommended Read

Why do people care so much about rich men who paid $250,000 apiece to make what any skilled observer would have told them was a treacherous journey, but not hundreds of migrants determined to better their families’ lives, even if they had to risk life itself to reach European shores? Part of the answer, I suspect, lies in the very different reasons those two groups of travelers set out on their journeys and the kinds of things we value in a world long shaped by Western military power. In our militarized culture, we seize on the cosmetic parts like the nature of submarines because they’re easier to talk about than the kind of suffering our military has actually caused across a remarkably wide stretch of the planet in this century. Most of us will take fancy toys like subs over exhausted servicemembers, bloodied civilians, and frightened, malnourished migrants all too often fleeing the damage of our war on terror. We live in an era marked by mass migration, which has increased over the past five decades. In fact, more people are now living in a country other than where they were born than at any other time in the last half-century. Among the major reasons people leave their homes as migrants are certainly the search for education and job opportunities, but never forget those fleeing from armed conflict and political persecution. In my mind’s eye, however, a very specific shadow loomed over so many of their individual stories: America’s forever wars, the series of military operations that began with our 2001 invasion of Afghanistan (which ended up involving us in air strikes and other military activities in neighboring Pakistan as well) and the similarly disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003. It would, in the end, metastasize into fighting, training foreign militaries, and intelligence operations in some 85 countries, including each of the countries the Adriana’s passengers hailed from. All in all, the Costs of War Project estimates that the war on terror has led to the displacement of at least 38 million people, many of whom fled for their lives as fighting consumed their worlds. read the complete article

Baby dies after teargas fired at Rohingya trying to escape Indian detention centre

A five-month-old girl has died after Indian forces fired teargas at Rohingya refugees trying to escape a detention centre where they have been held for more than two years. Videos – sent to Rohingya activists by detainees at Hiranagar jail, now operating as a holding centre – appear to show women and men amid clouds of teargas. About 270 Rohingya detainees at the centre, in the Indian-administered territory of Jammu & Kashmir, have been on hunger strike since April over their detention. The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, which campaigns for members of Myanmar’s Muslim minority living in India, said the girl failed to receive treatment after inhaling the gas last week. The group’s director, Sabber Kyaw Min, said Rohingya were facing increased hostility in India, where they are being subjected to hate speech and harassment by the authorities ahead of elections next year. He said another 200 Rohingya refugees were detained in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Monday. read the complete article

The Systemic Reinforcement of Islamophobia: Five Recent Book Releases

From the War on Terror to the far-right conspiracies, Islamophobia manifests in various forms. In today’s world, systemic Islamophobia continues to cast a long and dark shadow over the lives of Muslims across continents. Rooted in historical and contemporary contexts, this pervasive form of discrimination and prejudice has significant implications for individuals, communities, and societies at large. Systemic Islamophobia operates within power structures, institutions, and cultural biases, perpetuating inequality, marginalization, and the violation of human rights. Implicitly and explicitly, Islamophobia is reinforced by various layers of society, including governments around the world. While its manifestations may differ from one region to another, systemic Islamophobia shares commonalities across countries and societies. It operates as a product of historical legacies, geopolitical dynamics, cultural narratives, and power imbalances. It thrives in contexts where Muslims are viewed as the “Other,” perpetuating stereotypes, prejudices, and negative portrayals that undermine their rights, dignity, and societal inclusion. The impact of systemic Islamophobia is far-reaching. Muslim individuals and communities face challenges in various domains of life, as the titles included in this Bundle will show. They experience heightened surveillance, racial profiling, and discriminatory legislation, hindering the realization of fundamental human rights and the pursuit of justice and equality. Furthermore, the interconnetedness of discrimination makes the issue even more pressing for all. read the complete article

This Moroccan Footballer Just Made History At

Nouhaila Benzina made history on Monday when she stepped onto the Women’s World Cup pitch to warm up with her football team – while wearing a hijab. The Moroccan squad ended up facing a pretty brutal defeat at the hands of the two-time World Cup champions Germany, losing 6-0, when playing in Melbourne, Australia. But, the team had a victory in another sense, because their player Benzina is the first player to ever wear the Muslim head covering at such a senior level of football. Although she was benched for Morocco’s Group H match against Germany, supporters are hoping her impact will still be felt around the world. The co-founder of the Muslim Women in Sports Network, Assmaah Helal, said: “Girls will look at Benzina (and think), ‘That could be me.’ “Also the policymakers, the decision-makers, the administrators will say, ‘We need to do more in our country to create these accepting and open and inclusive spaces for women and girls to participate in the game.’” read the complete article

United Kingdom

UK chaos slowed Tory efforts to tackle Islamophobia, report warns

The “political turbulence” plaguing the U.K. Conservative Party over the last two years has slowed its internal efforts to tackle Islamophobia, a new report has found. Former equalities and human rights commissioner Swaran Singh was asked in 2019 to carry out an in-depth review of the way the governing party handles allegations of anti-Muslim abuse after a string of complaints. His report, along with a host of recommendations for change, finally landed in 2021 — and Monday’s follow-up aims to track progress against those recommendations. The report lauds some success, but also finds “weaknesses” in the Conservative Party’s implementation of Singh’s asks. And it says Britain’s tumultuous political scene is in part to blame. The report finds that the Conservatives still have “no formal measures in place to handle complaints relating to discriminatory behavior involving the most senior members of the Party,” with existing measures merely “ad hoc” and no evidence of a “documented formal procedure” to hold its top figures to account “beyond the standard process that applies to all complaints.” It says this situation should be reviewed in the next six months — with the party ordered to set out whether complaints against senior Conservative members should be assessed by an independent body. read the complete article


Two protesters burn Quran outside Iraqi embassy in Denmark

Two protesters have set fire to a copy of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in front of the Iraqi embassy in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. The duo from a group that calls itself Danish Patriots stomped on the Quran on Monday and set it alight in a tin foil tray next to the Iraqi flag lying on the ground. Shortly after the incident, Iraq’s foreign ministry called on the authorities of countries in the European Union to “quickly reconsider so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate”, according to the Iraqi state news agency INA. The far-right, ultra-nationalist Danish Patriots held a similar demonstration last week and live-streamed the events on Facebook. After last week’s incident, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen condemned it as an act of “stupidity” by a few individuals, telling national broadcaster DR: “It is a disgraceful act to insult the religion of others.” “This applies to the burning of Qurans and other religious symbols. It has no other purpose than to provoke and create division,” he said. He noted, however, that burning religious books was not a crime in Denmark. read the complete article


Groups seek permission to appeal Quebec court ruling maintaining school prayer ban

A Muslim organization and a civil liberties group asked for permission on Monday to appeal a Quebec Superior Court ruling that denied their request to suspend the province's ban on visible prayer in public schools. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) failed in June to have the province's ban suspended until their court challenge to the decree could be heard in full. Laura Berger, a lawyer with the CCLA, said they sought permission to appeal because the full case won't be heard before late August, when students return to school from the summer break. "Students are going to be impacted in a serious way," she said. "That will happen before we're able to get a full decision. So we're hoping to suspend the decree and the decision to apply it to students before that happens." Olga Redko, a lawyer representing the two groups, told a Quebec Court of Appeal judge in Montreal Monday that the decision by the lower court didn't properly consider the harm to Muslim students and the urgency of the situation. Stephen Brown, CEO of the NCCM, said the province's ban on overt prayer in school infringes on fundamental religious freedoms and turns religious students into second-class citizens. read the complete article

United States

Reparations Owed to the Survivors of the Global War on Terror

The Global War on Terror continues the U.S. legacy of war-making. As used in this article, the Global War on Terror describes the ongoing aggression, dehumanization of Muslim communities, expansion of carceral powers, and additional tactics of state repression deployed by the U.S. and other governments in the two decades following the September 11 attacks. Rendition, torture, and unlawful and indefinite imprisonment of individuals at the Guantánamo Bay prison, increased surveillance at home and abroad, and other human rights abuses have been and continue to be committed by the U.S. in the name of fighting “terror” – an ever-elusive target. The military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 are only two of several military operations that the U.S. initiated or engaged in over the last two decades. In 2007, the U.S. established African Command (“AFRICOM”) to expand military presence and “western colonial control over the region, its people, and their resources” under the guise of fighting “terror.” Each subsequent administration has expanded the reach of the Global War on Terror such that the U.S. maintains counter-terrorism operations in 85 countries today. Over the last two decades, the U.S. has spent more than $8 trillion on the Global War on Terror, which includes $5.8 trillion spent or requested by the military as well as future medical expenses and disability payments to veterans. The costs of war in Iraq and Syria alone amount to $1.79 trillion between 2003 and 2023. Overall, the Global War on Terror has caused lasting harm to individuals, communities, natural resources, infrastructure, and the economies of targeted countries. This article focuses on the United States but claims for reparations should also be brought against other governments that facilitated and fostered violence and continue to do so. Holding countries accountable for the harms caused would help to overturn decades of impunity for white supremacist violence. read the complete article


France’s ban on CAGE director exposing state-sponsored Islamophobia

Muhammad Rabbani, the Managing Director of CAGE, a London-based independent advocacy organisation, was banned from entering France on July 11. His impactful presentation exposing France’s deliberate targeting of Muslims at the last year’s summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is widely believed to be the main reason behind the ban. The French government continues to employ judicial measures to silence international advocates shedding light on entrenched systemic discrimination against Muslims, with Rabbanni’s ban being the latest case. As Mobashra Tazamal, the Associate Director of the Bridge Initiative, which is a research project on Islamophobia at Georgetown University points out, Rabbani's ban is part of the worrying trend — a reluctance to confront systemic discrimination against its Muslim population. “The recent ban on CAGE's Director demonstrates the increasing attempts of governments to silence politically-active Muslims who call attention to rising Islamophobia in the country. CAGE has done extensive and important work documenting how the French government has waged a campaign of discrimination and harassment against its Muslims citizens, clearly showing how the state's harmful policies violate the basic civil and human rights of Muslims.” read the complete article


Indian police arrest 74 Rohingya refugees in north

Indian police said they arrested 74 Rohingya refugees on Monday for living "illegally" in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh - a move activists condemned as an arbitrary crackdown on people fleeing violence. The members of the Muslim Rohingya community were detained in six town and cities in the state and 10 of the refugees were juveniles, police said, without giving ages. The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative campaign group said the detained people had been living in the area for about 10 years after fleeing persecution in Myanmar. Many had been doing manual labour including rubbish collection, Initiative director Sabber Kyaw Min said. "They have been only demanding refuge," he added. "The community is requesting ... an end to detentions." Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to countries including Bangladesh, which borders India. Myanmar's military denies committing crimes against humanity. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 25 Jul 2023 Edition


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