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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07 Jul 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United Kingdom, a study found that only 1% of national park visitors come from minority ethnic backgrounds, as individuals from these communities say they “feel excluded and hyper-visible in what they see as an ‘exclusively English environment,'” meanwhile in France, as the trial over the 2015 Paris terror attacks comes to an end, François Burgat writes that the “Court’s systematic neglect of the geopolitical backdrop against which the 2015 attacks were committed raises serious doubts,” and in the United States, Bette Midler has been criticized fort sharing a an Islamophobic photoshopped image of members of the Supreme Court wearing beards, turbans and a burka. Our recommended read of the day is by Rhea Mogul and Swati Gupta for CNN on the resignation of the last remaining Muslim lawmaker in India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has now left the “party without a single representative from the minority community among its 395 members of parliament.” This and more below:


07 Jul 2022

Last Muslim lawmaker leaves India's ruling party | Recommended Read

The last remaining Muslim lawmaker in India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has resigned, leaving the party without a single representative from the minority community among its 395 members of parliament. Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi resigned on Wednesday, one day before his term was expected to come to an end. The Indian parliament has nearly 800 lawmakers in total. "My work in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) is over, but my political and social work will never be over," Naqvi told local news channel NDTV Thursday, without providing details over why he will not be seeking reelection. Naqvi's resignation comes at a volatile time for India's Hindu and Muslim communities. Religious tensions have been flaring in recent weeks, following comments by the now suspended BJP spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, about the Prophet Mohammed widely condemned as Islamophobic. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP swept to power in 2014 promising economic reform and development, but critics feared his rise could signal an ideological shift away from the nation's secular political underpinnings to those of a Hindu-nationalist state. The BJP has its roots in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu group that counts Modi among its members, and adheres to Hindutva ideology which seeks to define Indian culture in accordance with Hindu values. Since then, the ruling party has been repeatedly accused by rights groups, activists and opposition parties of stirring anti-Muslim sentiment. read the complete article

07 Jul 2022

Congress's History Proves That Soft Hindutva Doesn't Work

Hindu nationalism is on the rise in India; its discipline matched by the swagger that comes with impunity. Its victories have been regional and national, reverberating through the citizenry. The Citizenship Amendment Act and the building of a temple where a mosque once stood in Ayodhya were new thresholds. But since then, and in between, numerous other symptoms betray the spread of this political ideology across the country. The recent ban on hijabs in government colleges in Karnataka, or the bulldozer politics of BJP-ruled states, are only some of the latest episodes in a political movement that eats away at India’s secularism. How to halt the Hindutva juggernaut is the dilemma facing opposition parties. While an electoral giant, the BJP revels in its power spree; its political rivals often either cower in a defensive crouch or succumb to the tug of religious nationalism themselves. This was apparent most recently during the bulldozing of mostly Muslim-owned properties in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri neighbourhood by a BJP-controlled municipal corporation. The Congress was conspicuous in its absence, and the Aam Aadmi Party referred to the victims as “Bangladeshis” and “Rohingyas”, code for illegal Muslim immigrants. The appeal of this strategy, sometimes called “soft Hinduvta”, is apparent. By making their own overtures to religious themes, these opposition parties seek to prevent being labelled anti-Hindu or being associated in the public mind with minority communities. Courting religious sensibilities, or even soft Hindutva, according to this seemingly realist rationale, is the best path available to counter the BJP. But is it? The costs of a fraying social fabric and a vitiated politics aside, is it even likely to succeed electorally in the long term? Modern Indian history suggests otherwise. read the complete article

United States

07 Jul 2022

As Biden shrinks Guantanamo’s population, GOP balks at closure

The news didn’t generate a lot of headlines, but the Biden administration announced two weeks ago that it had transferred another prisoner from the Guantanamo Bay prison, shrinking the total number of detainees at the facility to 36. It was against this backdrop that The Hill reported on renewed Democratic efforts to shutter the prison, which face long odds. “I’m sure it’s not going to happen,” Sen. James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Hill. Rep. Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, used nearly identical phrasing while making the same prediction. Rep. Kay Granger, top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, added, “These detainees are the worst of the worst, and we need assurance that they will never be moved to the United States.” To the extent that reality has meaning, Granger’s argument badly misses the point: Detainees weren’t sent to Guantanamo because they’re the “worst of the worst”; they were sent there because the Bush/Cheney administration wanted to hold the suspects without trial outside of the American judicial system. What’s especially discouraging is how little the policy debate has advanced over the last decade. Updating our earlier coverage, the prison’s population peaked in 2003 with 680 prisoners. The Bush/Cheney administration began moving detainees out in its second term, and by the time Barack Obama took office, the population was down to 242 prisoners. In 2009 and 2010, Congress made it effectively impossible for the Democrat to close the facility altogether, but Obama successfully lowered the prison population from 242 to 41. The point of the progress, obviously, was to reduce the overall population, but it was also intended to appeal to Republicans’ sense of fiscal sanity: The smaller the number of detainees, the harder it becomes to justify the massive expense of keeping open a detention facility that houses so few people. Even if congressional Republicans are inclined to ignore every other consideration, the hope has long been that GOP lawmakers would at least care about wasteful spending: It costs American taxpayers about $13 million per prisoner, per year. read the complete article

07 Jul 2022

Bette Midler criticised for ‘racist’ tweet with photoshopped image of the Supreme Court in

Bette Midler has been criticised fort sharing a photoshopped image of members of the Supreme Court wearing beards, turbans and a burka. The tweet, made in apparent reference to the court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v Wade, was branded racist and Islamophobic by social media users. The Republican-controlled Supreme Court ruled last month in favour of a Mississippi law that outlaws abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, while also overturning key precedents established by the 1973 decision in Roe v Wade. The post has been widely interpreted as likening the recent abortion ruling to Islamic or Sharia law. However, Islam does not forbid abortions, and, while abortion laws vary signifcantly across different majority-Muslim nations, abortion is not banned outright in any of them. Followers and Twitter users condemned the comparison, with many pointing out that the Supreme Court decision was decided by white American Christians. read the complete article

United Kingdom

07 Jul 2022

Three Victorian Muslims Who Changed The Narrative of British History

At a time when the British identity was tied exclusively with Christianity, converting to any other religion was viewed as an extremely controversial and peculiar act. The Victorian era – which dates from 1837 to 1901 – witnessed exponential growth in areas such as inventions, expansion of railways, and poetry. But despite this, there was one thing that remained a constant; religion. The story of these three individuals challenges the biased narrative that we come across today. Indeed British history is replete with examples of conversions to Islam as well as many Muslims who served the country. As the list of such individuals is rather lengthy, below we’ve selected three of the most legendary Victorian converts who decided to embrace Islam at a time when such endeavours were met with scepticism. Unlike the problematic world they were living in at the time, these three individuals chose Islam due to its simplicity and peaceful nature. read the complete article

07 Jul 2022

‘We didn’t feel it was for us’: the UK’s minority ethnic walking groups tearing down barriers

Despite the benefits, however, the British countryside remains distinctly white: a study by the Campaign to Protect Rural England found that only 1% of national park visitors come from minority ethnic backgrounds. Another study by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs suggested why: that despite people from minority ethnic backgrounds valuing the natural environment, they feel excluded and hyper-visible in what they see as an “exclusively English environment”. But things are changing. Often motivated by lockdown, there has been an increase in the number of walking groups set up by and for ethnic minorities in the past few years. Muslim Hikers, however, has almost 5,000 Facebook followers. The group 100 Black Men, founded to entice middle-aged black men into the Yorkshire countryside, proved so popular that it recently renamed itself Walk 4 Health because so many women wanted to join up. Patel, who wears a niqab or hijab, recently quit her job and moved to the Lake District to train as a mountain leader. “I had never come across another woman who wore a niqab or hijab to go hiking,” she said. “It made me realise that a lot of women aren’t going outdoors because they don’t feel confident, or they don’t think it’s for them because they don’t see anyone else who looks like them doing it.” read the complete article


07 Jul 2022

How China uses search engines to spread propaganda

Users come to search engines seeking honest answers to their queries. On a wide range of issues—from personal health, to finance, to news—search engines are often the first stop for those looking to get information online. But as authoritarian states like China increasingly use online platforms to disseminate narratives aimed at weakening their democratic competitors, these search engines represent a crucial battleground in their information war with rivals. For Beijing, search engines represent a key—and underappreciated vector—to spread propaganda to audiences around the world. On a range of topics of geopolitical importance, Beijing has exploited search engine results to disseminate state-backed media that amplify the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda. As we demonstrate in our recent report, published by the Brookings Institution in collaboration with the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, users turning to search engines for information on Xinjiang, the site of the CCP’s egregious human rights abuses of the region’s Uyghur minority, or the origins of the coronavirus pandemic are surprisingly likely to encounter articles on these topics published by Chinese state-media outlets. By prominently surfacing this type of content, search engines may play a key role in Beijing’s effort to shape external perceptions, which makes it crucial that platforms—along with authoritative outlets that syndicate state-backed content without clear labeling—do more to address their role in spreading these narratives. read the complete article


07 Jul 2022

Paris attacks trial: Was justice truly served?

"It is not religion that is at the origin of the attacks; it is war. It is not jihadism that precedes war; it is war that precedes jihadism,” lawyer Isa Gultaslar, representing defendant Sofiane Ayari, argued during his closing remarks before a Paris court. After an excruciating months-long trial, will the guilty verdicts bring closure to the survivors of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks? Did the French justice system identify and condemn the parties most responsible for the suffering of the victims and their loved ones? Gultaslar bravely argued the case from a strictly legal perspective, underscoring the blatant contradictions of the historic trial: why did the court deliberate on the attacks from the legal perspective of “peacetime acts of terror”, given France’s hawkish policies in the context of the war in Syria? The attacks indiscriminately targeted innocent civilians, that much is clear. But the innocence of the leaders of nations targeted by such attacks is much harder to defend. Are westerners to some extent responsible for the rise of the mindless and indiscriminate violence we call “jihadism”? Is “terrorist” violence targeting Europe and the US strictly a matter of religion, or must another political aspect to the phenomenon be considered? In other words, are western civilians being targeted for “who they are”, or simply for what they do? Consequently, did the Paris court actually condemn, as promised, those responsible for the Paris attacks - or did it merely identify and sentence a tiny fraction of the guilty parties? read the complete article


07 Jul 2022

Will the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Make a Difference?

By striking at the heart of slavery in northwest China, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) has set Washington on a collision course with Beijing. At the same time, the act is fraught with loopholes and ambiguities, and a failure to address these could render it meaningless. The legislation, which came into force in the United States on June 21, presumes that all goods from Xinjiang have been tainted by forced labor unless proven innocent. It requires importers to confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that their supply chains are clean. One million businesses globally buying and selling everyday products could be impacted by the new law, and the list of key industries implicated runs into thousands. Companies across the board have been propelled into a minefield of fine print as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched its robust mission to “end the abhorrent practice of forced labor around the globe,” with particular reference to Xinjiang and its cotton, clothing, tomato, and polysilicon industries. Weeding out the culprits and their dubious supply chains, while at the same time facilitating lawful trade, promises to be a Herculean task. But the new measures mean nothing without the cooperation of the democratic world. If Canada, Europe, and other countries involved in procurement refuse to pull their weight, goods will simply be redirected and the new law will have little impact on the ground. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Jul 2022 Edition


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