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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05 Jul 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, “Democrats are reviving their efforts to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, but the push faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans are already writing it off as doomed,” meanwhile in India, religious tensions are growing, as the brutal killings of two men in India who expressed support for comments insulting the prophet Muhammad have been met with an Islamophobic backlash from Hindu nationalists, and lastly, a new virtual exhibition explores the identity of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar living in the world’s largest refugee camp, through the lens of Rohingya photographers. Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Ella Cockbain for The New Arab on the origins, beneficiaries, and harms of the “Muslim grooming gangs” stereotype, which has been popularized by mainstream media.  This and more below:

United Kingdom

05 Jul 2022

Media manufacturing of the 'Muslim grooming gangs' crisis | Recommended Read

Over the past decade, the UK’s “grooming gangs” have become a key focus for the international alt-right and far-right, whereby racialised and sensationalised concerns about child sexual exploitation tie in neatly with a broader anti-immigration, anti-Islam agenda. Disturbing examples of direct action linked to this issue include terrorist attacks at mosques in London’s Finsbury Park and New Zealand’s Christchurch, the racially-aggravated murder of an elderly Muslim man in Rotherham, extensive marches and abuse targeting Muslim communities in England’s North and Midlands, and far-right interventions that jeopardised major abuse trials. There have also been attempts – some successful, others not – to recruit people who have been abused, and their families, to further anti-Islam agendas. Yet, the racialisation of child sexual exploitation is no fringe phenomenon. Mainstream journalists, commentators, politicians from both left and right, and a dubious ‘counter-extremism’ think-tank, have all played a key role in spreading and entrenching the “Muslim grooming gangs” stereotype, as my colleague Waqas Tufail and I have documented. The term “grooming gangs” was racially coded from the start and continues to evoke associations with non-whiteness and the Islamic faith. Its blunter equivalent, “Muslim rape gangs”, has proliferated too, throwing up over a million results on Google alone. Racial stereotyping around “grooming gangs” is now well-established within a broader tradition that includes the demonisation of black men as rapists and muggers and Muslims as terrorists and sexual deviants. read the complete article

05 Jul 2022

Islamophobia: Muslims describe abuse suffered at work

A London-based charity that helps Muslims facing Islamophobia says people are being bullied and harassed at work because of their religion. Islamophobic Response Unit says clients have had prayers mats stolen, drinks spiked with alcohol and been verbally and physically assaulted. Faiza Mukith, who works for the charity, said one man's colleagues had "physically pulled on his beard". They also referred to him as "Jafar" - the main antagonist in Aladdin. Ms Mukith said a woman had bacon placed in her lunchbox by colleagues when she came to break her fast while working during Ramadan. She said another woman had a heart attack due to being badly harassed at work. "Her medical professionals were able to correlate the experiences she was having at work to impact her health in that way," Ms Mukith said. read the complete article

05 Jul 2022

Mosques’ safety ‘shattered by one night of hatred’ as Muslims ‘on edge’ over rising Islamophobic attacks

British Muslims have shared their fears over rising Islamophobic attacks on mosques in the UK, warning that the safe refuges of places of worship can be ”shattered by a single act of hatred”. Almost half of mosques or Islamic institutions in the UK have been targeted by religiously-motivated attacks in the last three years. A report by MEND and Muslim Census revealed the rising rates of Islamophobic hate crimes against places of worship, with 35 per cent of mosques attacked at least once a year. Community leaders are calling for the government and police to provide better support and funding to help in safeguarding Muslim minority groups from increasing attacks. According to the Home Office, anti-Muslims attacks made up almost half of religiously-motivated hate crimes between 2020 and 2021, and this has stayed largely consistent in recent years. The chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, Mr Mohammed Kozbar, said the government, police and local organisations must do more to protect Muslims at risk after his community was one of many targeted in recent years. On the report, Mr Kozbar, said: “This is very worrying for the Muslim community and its mosques as it shows things are going from bad to worse. We are seeing more Islamophobic attacks happen to mosques, institutions and individuals so it should be taken really seriously by not only the Muslim community, but the government and police.” read the complete article


05 Jul 2022

India is on a dangerous path to another Rwanda

There are now genuine concerns that India is following a similar trajectory to Rwanda in the early 1990s, when a singular event - the shooting down of an airplane carrying Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana - sparked a genocide against ethnic Tutsis. The minority community had been subjected to years of racist propaganda, specifically tropes that characterised them as anti-national foreign invaders. The echoes of Rwanda ring eerily and loudly in India today. There are any number of bad reasons why historians could look back on the killing in Udaipur as a similarly pivotal moment, given the Modi government has spent the past eight years otherising Muslims as anti-national foreign invaders who belong in Pakistan. This trope helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi attain power in 2014 and then consolidate power five years later. Nothing unites and mobilises the country’s Hindu majority quite like an imagined or perceived threat from Pakistan, which is why the Modi regime is desperately trying to tie the murder to its Muslim-majority neighbour, no matter how extraneous or ridiculous the notion is. In a tweet, Home Minister Amit Shah promised: “The involvement of any organisation and international links will be thoroughly investigated.” read the complete article

05 Jul 2022

Tensions Reaching ‘Fever Pitch’ as Anti-Prophet Murders Trigger ‘Revenge’ Calls

Religious tensions in the world’s biggest democracy are growing, as the brutal killings of two men in India who expressed support for comments insulting the prophet Muhammad have been met with an Islamophobic backlash from Hindu nationalists. Over the past week, police made arrests in two Indian cities in connection to the killings of a Hindu tailor who was hacked to death on June 29, and a Hindu chemist who was stabbed in the neck on June 21. The accused attackers in both the cases are Muslim, and police confirmed that both victims were targeted for supporting recent anti-Prophet comments made by a former member of the BJP, India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party. Nupur Sharma was suspended by the BJP after she insulted the Prophet and the Qur'an during a news debate on May 29. Her comments triggered a loud chorus of condemnation from Muslim countries, while protests erupted across India. Sharma registered a police complaint about receiving death and rape threats in the weeks following her comments, while Hindus who expressed support for the BJP politician on social media reported facing death threats. On July 1, a Supreme Court judge blamed the violence on Sharma’s “loose tongue,” saying she had “set the country on fire.” While the brutality of the killings has shaken the country, unfolding now is an intensification of Islamophobia in several cities where Hindu nationalists are demanding revenge. Thousands hit the streets over the weekend in Udaipur, where the tailor was murdered, as well as Jaipur and Chandigarh, demanding death sentences for the accused. In many parts, protests were led by Hindu nationalist groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a group affiliated with the BJP and known for their Islamophobic attacks and speeches. In Gurugram, a satellite city of India’s capital New Delhi, police cracked down on those brandishing inflammatory slogans at a VHP event intended to incite further tensions. Among the slogans raised in the gathering of nearly 100 people on June 29 were: “[Slur for Muslims] have two places: Pakistan and graveyard,” and “When Muslims are killed, they will take the name [of our Hindu deity] Ram.” read the complete article

05 Jul 2022

Muslim man arrested for wrapping meat in newspaper with images of Hindu deities

A Muslim eatery owner was arrested in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by selling meat items wrapped in a newspaper with pictures of Hindu deities printed on them. Talib Hussain was arrested in Sambhal following a complaint on Sunday by far-right Hindu group Hindu Jagran Manch district president Kailash Gupta. According to the police complaint, Mr Hussain allegedly tried to attack police officers with a knife at the time of the arrest. A worker at the eatery stated that his employer had bought newspapers from a scrap shop and was using them to pack food for customers, a standard practice in all small eateries. "We did not realise that the newspapers had pictures of Hindu gods. We didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings," the worker told the Times of India. Local police said Mr Hussain used newspapers to pack food which had pictures of deities published by a Hindi language daily earlier during the Hindu festival of Navratra. He has been booked under three sections of the Indian Penal Act for "promoting enmity between different groups", "deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings" and "attempt to murder". His arrest comes amid reports of a clampdown on minorities in the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled state, which authorised the demolition of several Muslim homes last month for being allegedly involved in riots that were triggered by derogatory remarks made against prophet Muhammad. read the complete article

United States

05 Jul 2022

Republicans scoff as Dems try to close Gitmo again

Democrats are reviving their efforts to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, but the push faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans are already writing it off as doomed. In the past month, House Democrats have advanced legislation seeking to close the facility in Cuba as part of a larger annual defense spending bill leaders are expected to bring to a vote in the full chamber, where the party holds narrow control, in the coming weeks. But in the Senate, where Democrats will need GOP support to pass the defense funding bill, the move faces a wall of opposition from Republicans. “I’m sure it’s not going to happen,” Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Hill, adding “no rational person’s going to support that. It’s an absolutely vital institution.” Democrats behind the push, however, say they see it as one worth the fight, despite the staunch opposition from Republicans, as well as some Democrats. “I’m gonna work hard in conference committee,” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Defense, said on the matter. “It’s not a good use of taxpayers’ money, and if we need more money for defense, it should go to things that are going to make a difference in our national security.” McCollum’s comments echo criticisms that have long been leveled against a facility that has reportedly cost taxpayers hundreds of millions since its opening two decades ago and has been the source of troubling accounts of torture and accusations of judicial violations. read the complete article

05 Jul 2022

Here’s Why Arab Americans Like Me Are Supporting Efforts to Defund the Police

As an Arab American who has witnessed the chilling effect of surveillance on my community, three factors have inspired me to stand with the movement to defund the police. First — as organizations like Chicago’s Arab American Action Network and San Francisco’s Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), the Abolishing the War on Terror movement, the Arabs for Black Lives Collective, and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights exemplify — Arab Americans have a responsibility to stand with Black (including Black Arab), migrant and Indigenous social movements challenging oppressive policing systems. Middle-class Arab immigrant communities should especially be engaged in these matters, as some of us have benefited from anti-Blackness, the theft of Native land, and the exploitation of working-class migrants — perhaps not as directly as white people, but by virtue of living on stolen Indigenous land, or because our families have gained economic privileges related to anti-Black systemic racism. Second, the racist structures targeting Arab and Muslim migrant communities — including airport profiling and government surveillance — are part of the U.S.’s increasingly broad systems of policing and incarceration. Therefore, we should be in coalition with communities striving to end systems of policing. U.S. policing systems are broad and work through many forms of containment and punishment, such as racist neighborhood policing, as well as surveillance like police use of gang databases and terrorist databases. Both rely on racial profiling, which civil rights groups assert is unconstitutional because the practice infringes on privacy rights. Furthermore, the “war on terror” normalizes the militarization of the police while the military and police are increasingly pushed to share strategies, technologies and trainings to intensify repression of social justice movements and poor communities. read the complete article


05 Jul 2022

Finding the American Dream in Canada

I wasn’t always willing to mark my family publicly as Muslim. In fact, we were three years in to becoming Canadian when I first realized that I could put up lights for our celebrations without any of the trepidation I’d felt in my hometown in Pennsylvania. There is a huge contrast between being Muslim in Canada and being Muslim in America today and it has a lot to do with Canada’s decision to tell the truth about its history, while America buries its own. We left America in 2017, eight months into Donald Trump’s term in office. That was not a coincidence. There was something malignant about the leap from ordinary, private Islamophobia to a state sponsored anti-Muslim agenda that made leaving feel urgent, for me and for my husband, but especially for our children. We worried for their physical safety, but also for the sense of themselves they were developing at four and six years old. Recent studies and surveys by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) tell us our concerns were justified. ISPU has been a boon to American Muslims, who had previously lacked good data about themselves, helping us see more clearly how we’re faring. In 2020, half of all Muslim parents reported having a school aged child who experienced bullying related to their religious identity in the previous year. In almost a third of those cases, the perpetrator was a teacher or school official. In 2021, Muslims reported experiencing institutional discrimination at levels much higher than other religious groups, for example 25% of Muslims vs. 5% among those of other religious affiliations reported religious discrimination while receiving health care. At the airport, those figures are 44% for Muslims contrasted with 5% of the general public, applying for jobs, it’s 33% for Muslims and 8% for the general public. It’s increasingly clear that the appropriate comparison for the rate at which American Muslims are experiencing discrimination is not with other religious groups, but other racialized groups. It is also increasingly clear that anti-Muslim attitudes in America are durable, as attitudes towards other racialized groups have also been. The Canadian government’s acknowledgement of itself as a colonial project that must be actively undone is a dramatic contrast to political discourse in America today. Americans rarely acknowledge the essential thefts of land and labor from Native and Black people that have made America possible. Certainly, America’s government has never articulated an intention to decolonize. Americans are taught that their country has already had its revolution, freeing its people from colonial domination. read the complete article

05 Jul 2022

In Kashmir, 'conscious music' tests India’s limits on speech

Sarfaraz Javaid thumps his chest rhythmically in the music video, swaying to the guitar and letting his throaty voice ring out through the forest: “What kind of soot has shrouded the sky? It has turned my world dark. ... Why has the home been entrusted to strangers?” “Khuaftan Baange” — Kashmiri for “the call to night’s prayer” — plays out like a groaning dirge for Muslim-majority Kashmir, the starkly beautiful Himalayan territory that’s home to decades of territorial conflict, gun-toting soldiers and harsh crackdowns on the populace. It is mournful in tone but lavish in lyrical symbolism inspired by Sufism, an Islamic mystic tradition. Its form is that of a Marsiya, a poetic rendition that is a lament for Muslim martyrs. “I just express myself and scream, but when harmony is added, it becomes a song,” Javaid, a poet like his father and grandfather, said in an interview. Javaid is among a movement of artists in disputed Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both since 1947, who are forming a new musical tradition that blends progressive Sufi rock with hip-hop in an assertive expression of political aspirations. They call it “conscious music.” Drawing on elements of Islam and spiritual poetry, it is often laced with religious metaphors to circumvent measures restricting some free speech in Indian-controlled Kashmir that have led many poets and singers to swallow their words. It also seeks to bridge tensions between Muslim tradition and modernism in a region that in many ways still clings to a conservative past. read the complete article


05 Jul 2022

Young Rohingya photographers capture life in world’s largest refugee camp

A new virtual exhibition explores the identity of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar living in the world’s largest refugee camp, through the lens of Rohingya photographers. About 900,000 Rohingya refugees live in the Cox’s Bazar area of southeast Bangladesh after fleeing neighboring Myanmar, where they have long been persecuted by the government. More than half of them are under 18, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Their future remains uncertain years after the largest exodus in 2017, when Myanmar security forces were accused of driving Rohingya out of the country with a large-scale campaign of killings, mass rape and arson. The military denies the allegations, which the U.S. government declared a genocide earlier this year. The virtual exhibition, which launched in June on World Refugee Day, gives young Rohingya an opportunity to express themselves around themes such as memory, loss, love and hope, organizers say. “With this exhibition, we want the world to see the Rohingya refugee community through our own eyes,” Sahat Zia Hero, founder of Rohingyatographer magazine and one of the curators of the exhibition, said in a news release. “We want people to see us as human beings, just like everyone else and to share our hopes and dreams, our sadness and our grief with others, to make connections.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Jul 2022 Edition


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