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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13 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the New York Times obtained previously classified images from the National Archives of the first prisoners who were brought from Afghanistan to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Maurizio Bragagni, who has given £650,000 to the Conservative party, claimed Sharia was the “de facto law” in some English towns and cities, and described London as “worse than any African metropolis,” and in India, there was a wave of violence over the weekend as police targeted individuals protesting against BJP politicians who made Islamophobic remarks, with authorities demolishing the home of Javed Mohammad, a leader of the Welfare Party of India and father of activist Afreen Fatima. Our recommended read of the day is by Somdeep Sen for Al Jazeera on how “Islamophobia in Modi’s India is the norm, and not a fringe occurrence,” as it has “always been a central feature of the ideology of Hindu nationalist factions in India.” This and more below:


13 Jun 2022

Analysis: Islamophobia is the norm in Modi’s India | Recommended Read

India is currently facing an international backlash over Islamophobic comments against the Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha, made by two prominent members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Both members – the party’s Delhi media head Naveen Jindal and national spokesperson Nupur Sharma – were expelled by the BJP leadership. In response to this diplomatic row, the Indian embassy in Doha released a statement insisting that the comments were made by “fringe elements” and “do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India”. The BJP also released a statement “strongly denounc[ing] insult of any religious personalities of any religion”. But Islamophobia in Modi’s India is the norm, and not a fringe occurrence. Islamophobia has always been a central feature of the ideology of Hindu nationalist factions in India. Established in 1925, the Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has led the charge of making India a Hindu land. The founder and first chief of the RSS Keshav Baliram Hedgewar proclaimed that “Hindu culture” is the “life-breath” of the country. Therefore, he added, that if India “is to be protected, we should first nourish the Hindu culture”. Here, the opposition to this vision especially among India’s Muslims was considered by RSS leaders to reflect “Muslim arrogance and insolence”. And, in 1929, Hegdeward’s successor Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar – who was also sympathetic to Nazi Germany – wrote that Muslim culture was incompatible with Indian culture because “Islam originated in a dry and sandy region”. This Islamophobia was readily espoused and propagated in electoral politics by the RSS’s political wing the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (1951-1977) and the Janata Party (1977-1980) – both predecessors of the BJP. As the historian the late Mushirul Hasan wrote, their campaigns were “fuelled by the stereotype of an aggressive Islam on the rampage” and the cause of building a “Hindu nation”. Equally, they condemned the idea of secularism and considered it to be no more than a way of appeasing the country’s religious minority – especially, Muslim – population. In fact, an RSS and Jana Sangh functionary also proposed the “Indianisation” of the Muslim population as a way of “purg[ing] them of disloyal tendencies”. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the World Hindu Council has also been a prominent force in propagating Hindu nationalism at home and abroad. Established in 1964, the organisation’s objective is to “organise-consolidate the Hindu society”. According to their official website, the VHP’s efforts are primarily focused on issues such as Gau Raksha (cattle protection), “religious conversion of Hindus by the Christian church, Islamic terrorism, Bangladeshi Muslim infiltration” and temple construction. Notably, in 1992, a mob of VHP activists – along with members of the RSS and the BJP – broke the barricade surrounding the Babri Masjid and demolished the 16th-century mosque. read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Muslims in India stage protests over Prophet comments

Muslims in India have taken to the streets to protest against anti-Islamic comments made by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Two protesters died of gunshot injuries sustained during clashes with police in the eastern Indian city of Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state. Ten people were being treated for various injuries at the hospital. Senior police official Surendra Kumar Jha said at least 14 police officials were injured in the incident in Ranchi and other areas. In northern Uttar Pradesh state police said they had arrested 230 alleged rioters after unrest spread across several towns after Friday prayers. In the eastern state of West Bengal, authorities enforced an emergency law prohibiting public gatherings in the industrial district of Howrah until June 16. At least 70 people were arrested on charges of rioting and disturbing public order, with internet services suspended for more than 48 hours after the latest communal violence. Earlier this month, the BJP suspended its spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and expelled another leader, Naveen Kumar Jindal, for their controversial comments about the Prophet’s private life that also triggered a diplomatic backlash from Muslim countries. read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Ranchi: Two Muslim Youth Beaten up by ‘Jai Shri Ram’ Sloganeering Mob

Two Muslim youth allege that they were severely assaulted by a Hindutva mob shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ on Friday evening in Ranchi. Both have sustained head injuries. At 8 pm on June 11, Zeeshan (24) and Faizan (21) decided to get pizza from the nearby Domino’s near the Sujata Chowk in Ranchi. The two had not attended the protest that had taken place earlier in the evening, where two people were killed and 18 people injured after a violent police crackdown. The protest was taken out against the statements of a BJP spokesperson against Prophet Muhammad. While they were waiting for their takeaway order, a Hindutva mob happened to see them there. Zeeshan says, “There were at least 30 people, maybe more, and they were carrying weapons. As they saw us they surrounded us and began to ask us our names, and then they started to hit us. They hit my brother many times until his head cracked. When they saw the blood, they ran. I was also bleeding heavily, so we also ran out… we were taken to Sadar Hospital afterwards.” They allege that despite having attempted to file an FIR, they have not received a receipt for it. “The Bajrang Dal has called for a protest in the same area as the police station we have to go to give a statement today, so we have not been able to go yet,” he says. read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Indian officials step up arrests, demolish houses to stop unrest over anti-Islam remarks

Authorities in India's Uttar Pradesh state have demolished the homes of several people accused of involvement in riots last week triggered by derogatory remarks made by ruling party figures about Islam's Prophet Mohammad, officials said on Sunday. In Indian Kashmir, police arrested a youth for posting a video threatening to behead the ruling party's former spokeswoman who had made some of the remarks, officials said. The video, circulated on YouTube, has been withdrawn by authorities. Muslims have taken to the streets across India in recent weeks to protest against the anti-Islamic comments by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Clashes have broken out between Muslims and Hindus and in some cases between protesters and police in several areas. Police in Uttar Pradesh arrested more than 300 people in connection with the unrest. Over the weekend the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, Yogi Adityanath, ordered officials to demolish any illegal establishments and homes of people accused of involvement in riots there last week, the BJP's state spokesperson said. The house of an alleged mastermind of the riots, whose daughter is a female Muslim rights activist, was demolished amid a heavy police presence on Sunday. Properties of two more people accused of throwing stones after Friday prayers were also demolished in the state. Mrityunjay Kumar, Adityanath's media adviser, tweeted a photo of a bulldozer demolishing a building and said "Unruly elements remember, every Friday is followed by a Saturday." read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Prayagraj: Activist Afreen Fatima's House Razed to the Ground

Authorities completely demolished the home of Javed Mohammad, a leader of the Welfare Party of India and father of activist Afreen Fatima, in the evening of Sunday, June 12. Amid heavy police deployment, two JCB bulldozers reached Mohammad’s residence in the afternoon. The bulldozers, after taking down the front and the back gates, took out personal belongings from inside the house and dumped them onto an empty plot next to Fatima’s residence. Representing Mohammad Javed, advocate KK Roy and a team of lawyers have filed a writ petition. Roy explained, “The demolition has taken place on dubious grounds. “The house is not in the name of Javed Mohammad, it is in the name of his wife Parveen Fatima. However, the notice served to the family has been served in the name of Javed. Another key point being that the notice served to the family is dated. No previous notice was given to them. Therefore, we have challenged this and have also written to the CJI demanding a compensation for the family and reconstruction of their home.” Javed Mohammad, a prominent face in the anti-CAA protests, was named as a key conspirator by the Uttar Pradesh police alongside 10 others, and was taken into custody from his Kareli based residence on Friday. Later that day, his wife and daughter were also detained, family members say, but the were subsequently released. Speaking to The Wire previously, Afreen Fatima said that two days prior to the violence a case was filed against her father under Section 107 (abetment) of the Indian Penal Code. She said, “Essentially, it meant that if anything was to happen in the city, my father would be held responsible for abetting it.” read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

After Hijab Row, It’s Skull Cap And Saffron Shawls In Karnataka

The Hijab row had rocked the state of Karnataka a few months back and on the heels of it is brewing a new din — the skull cap versus saffron shawls. The skull cap-saffron shall controversy has erupted at the state-owned Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) where a section of Hindu employees, objecting to the Muslim drivers, conductors, and other staff wearing skull caps, are now attending duty donning saffron shawls. Hindu employees have objected to the wearing of skull caps by their Muslim colleagues, saying that it was in violation of the uniform rules set by the BMTC. read the complete article


13 Jun 2022

Uyghurs Say the United Nations Is Failing Them

Mehray Mezensof’s life came crashing down in April, when a message from a contact in China’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang confirmed her worst nightmare. The 28-year-old had been waiting for news about her husband, Mirzat Taher, who was appealing against what she believed was his trumped-up terror conviction. Taher, 31, was hauled off by Chinese authorities in 2020, a fate that befell many Uyghurs—an ethnic group who are predominantly Muslims—in their neighborhood in Xinjiang’s capital city of Urumqi since 2017. Sitting at her current home in Australia, where he was supposed to join her, Mezensof trembled as she translated the text in the message word by word. It was a prison admission document that sealed his fate in black and white: Her husband, whom she described as easygoing and who ran a kebab shop, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on terrorism and separatism charges. “I just couldn't get those words out of my head. I felt like I lost a part of myself,” Mezensof told VICE World News. Like many Uyghurs abroad who are searching for their family members back home, Mezensof had placed her hopes in Michelle Bachelet when the United Nations human rights chief in March announced her long-awaited visit to Xinjiang. “We had hoped that she would be the hero we are all seeking,” said Rayhan Asat, a Uyghur human rights lawyer based in the United States, whose brother has also been held by Chinese authorities since 2016. To their utter disappointment, instead of seeking accountability, the UN High Commissioner appeared to endorse China’s policies in a cautious statement at the end of her mission last month, which critics say did more harm than good to the Uyghurs’ cause. As the top envoy dragged her feet on a UN report on Xinjiang, her silence has drawn new scrutiny to China’s growing influence in the UN, which experts fear is undermining the credibility of the international body itself. Bachelet, whose itinerary in China was tightly controlled by Beijing, did not have unhindered access for an independent review. The former president of Chile, Bachelet has defended her contentious trip as an opportunity to establish dialogues with Chinese officials. But critics, including the Biden administration, argued that by agreeing to China’s terms, Bachelet has allowed herself to be manipulated. read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Ms. Marvel Offers a Groundbreaking Celebration of Pakistani and Muslim Culture

In this way, Ms. Marvel, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, seamlessly integrates audiences into Kamala’s world—specifically, the world of an immigrant, Muslim, Pakistani American family living in Jersey City. In an industry that has rarely portrayed Muslim characters outside of harmful stereotypes, it’s significant to see a character like Kamala. A 2021 study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California found that across 200 films from the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, less than 2% of speaking characters were Muslim. While Kamala is not the first Muslim superhero to appear in the MCU—Sooraya Qadir, a member of the X-men, wears a niqab and was born in Afghanistan—she is the most fully developed. Ms. Marvel offers an opportunity for Muslim girls and women to relate to a superhero, says Al-Baab Khan, a project specialist who worked on the Annenberg study. “Feeling connected to a superhero who is experiencing similar dynamics may make viewers feel less alone and isolated,” she says. “This then allows Muslim girls and women to feel empowered in who they are, and, maybe for the first time, understood.” The excitement felt by Muslim communities ahead of Ms. Marvel’s release is similar to the enthusiasm around Black Panther and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings—and how those films resonated deeply with Black and Asian viewers. Religion makes its way into the narrative, too. Kamala and her friend Nakia are shown doing wudu, a ritual cleansing before prayer, and in a brief exchange at their mosque, they discuss how the men’s sections are so much better cared for than the women’s sections are. The show also nods to a common experience—the difficulty of finding one’s shoes outside after each service—when Nakia complains that she can’t find her Versace shoes. The show’s matter-of-fact portrayal of different Muslims shows there are many ways to practice Islam and treats each with equal validity. “Kamala doesn’t cover her hair, but Nakia does and she chose to—but she also cares about fashion,” says Sana Amanat, an executive producer on the series and an original creator of the comic book character. “I do believe Islam to be a pluralistic faith. There are many kinds of people. We in our own community have to be more accepting of that.” Kamala “may or may not pray five times a day,” Amanat says, “but she does go to the mosque. She’s part of our community and she’s proud of it.” read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Life after Guantanamo: 'We are still in jail'

Mansoor Adayfi knew next to nothing about Serbia when a delegation from its government came to visit him in 2016, in his 14th year in the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The only thing Adayfi did know was that Serbian forces had massacred Bosnian Muslims in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. All of the prisoners set for release from Guantanamo that year knew this part of the history, Adayfi said, and no-one wanted to go to Serbia. By that point, Adayfi had been in Guantanamo all his adult life - picked up in Afghanistan aged 19 and held without charge until he was 32. After the meeting, Adayfi told the US officials at Guantanamo that he did not want to go. But they were frank about the extent of his influence on the process, he said. "A state department envoy came to see me after the delegation meeting and she said, 'Mansoor, you have no choice. You are going to Serbia.'" His 14 years in the notorious prison are recounted in Don't Forget Us Here, a memoir published late last year. It chronicles torture, psychological abuse, and the death of his brother and sister while he was incarcerated. He taught himself English from scratch in the camp, as well as some computer science and business theory. But the story ends shortly after his release, as he lands in Belgrade in the dark one night in July 2016 and is taken by the secret service to a small apartment in the city centre, where he later found surveillance cameras, he said. Adayfi stayed awake that first night, wondering what lay ahead of him. "I was exhausted but I couldn't sleep, hungry but I couldn't eat," he said, sitting in his current Belgrade apartment late one night in February. "There was loneliness in Guantanamo, but this was a new kind," he said. What came next is what Adayfi calls "Guantanamo 2.0" - an isolated and restricted existence in Serbia, which he is not allowed to leave and where he says he is followed by police who warn off anyone he tries to befriend. Half a dozen former Guantanamo detainees across different countries - all released without charge - described similar experiences: lives in limbo; limited by a lack of documents, police interference, and travel restrictions that confine them to a country or even a single city, making it hard to find work, visit family or form relationships. "Welcome to our life," Adayfi said. "This is life after Guantanamo." read the complete article

United Kingdom

13 Jun 2022

UK government dismisses anti-Islamophobia adviser after condemning 'derogatory' film

The UK government on Saturday dismissed a Muslim imam who served as an official adviser after he supported protests against a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad that has caused a backlash. A major UK cinema chain cancelled all screenings of the film Lady of Heaven on Tuesday after British Muslims led a number of peaceful protests against it being shown. The protests, attended by Sunni and Shia Muslims, centred on the claim that the film inaccurately depicts early Muslim history, negatively portrays three of Islam's most important figures and stokes sectarian hatred. Qari Asim, an independent government adviser on Islamophobia and deputy chairman of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, had joined the condemnation of the film and supported the call for protest. "All agree that the movie is derogatory, and uses sectarian and racist narratives," the Leeds-based imam said on a Facebook post on Monday. "Freedom of speech is important and all citizens should be able to exercise their freedoms within the law. This movie could potentially fuel hatred, sectarianism and extremism, which none wants to see in our country, and we must all avoid that." Asim was terminated from his government appointment "with immediate effect," the Department of Levelling Up said in a letter to the imam published on Saturday. "Your recent support for a campaign to limit free expression - a campaign which has itself encouraged communal tensions - means it is no longer appropriate for you to continue your work with Government in roles designed to promote community harmony," the letter said. read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Tory donor Maurizio Bragagni's 'foreign Muslim' comments condemned

Maurizio Bragagni, who has given £650,000 to the party, said Sharia law was the "de facto law" in some English towns and cities, in an online article. And he described London as "worse than any African metropolis". A Tory spokesman said the party "in no way whatsoever condones these unacceptable comments". But Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: "It's not enough for the Conservatives to condemn these disgraceful remarks. "They need to explain why they're holding onto so much money from someone who disparages this country in such an appalling way." In an 850-word article for Italian news site Saturno Notizie, published last month, he criticises the Labour Party for having an "anti Judeo-Christian identity, which allows Islamic groups to feel at home, where they can find free space for their true political ideology". He adds: "A subsidy state which supports large families, which gives houses to migrants who are themselves the majority, in short destroys western capitalism and individual freedom. "The line between the Christian English majority rural areas and the foreign Muslim-run urban areas is becoming more marked. There are places in which Sharia law is de facto law. The English integration system has run aground. read the complete article

13 Jun 2022

Mosque security funding: Crumbs that don't stop Islamophobia

As Muslims in the UK continue to face Islamophobia, the government’s response is to offer £24.5m in funding to securitise mosques. Where even to begin with how woefully inadequate this approach is in addressing the cause of Islamophobia and tackling the issue at its root? While we know that Islamophobia exists, it may surprise some to know the extent to which it has pervaded society. In the UK, a survey recently revealed that an alarming 70% of Muslims have experienced Islamophobia in the workplace. We face Islamophobia when we go to work, when we’re out in public, when we leave our mosques, in universities, schools and hospitals, and in the form of racial profiling from police. But Islamophobia goes beyond discrimination, hate crime or any expression of animosity towards Muslims. These are only manifestations of a phenomenon that has its tentacles deeply embedded in the psyche of people not just in the UK or even the West, but in many parts of the world. So by offering security funding to mosques, the government is attempting to address only one facet of an exponentially larger issue. What’s worse, and what makes this gesture even more hypocritical, is the role the state has actively played, and continues to pay, in entrenching Islamophobia within British society. read the complete article

United States

13 Jun 2022

The Secret Pentagon Photos of the First Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay

For 20 years, the United States military has tightly controlled what the world can see of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay. No images of prisoners struggling with guards. No hunger strikers being tackled, put into restraints and force-fed. Few faces of U.S. forces escorting captives in shackles. And in time, no photographs of detainees or their guards at all. In 2011, WikiLeaks released classified pictures of some prisoners from leaked intelligence dossiers, and lawyers provided some portraits of their clients taken by the International Committee of the Red Cross. But few other explicit images of the prisoners have become public since they began arriving at Guantánamo just months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Until now. Using the Freedom of Information Act, The New York Times has obtained from the National Archives less antiseptic photographs of the first prisoners who were brought from Afghanistan to the wartime prison in Cuba. Released this year, these pictures were taken by military photographers to show senior leaders, chief among them Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, an intimate view of the offshore detention and interrogation operation in its early stages. read the complete article


13 Jun 2022

These Muslim women share how they've faced Islamophobia in Waterloo region

Loubani, who is Muslim and living in Cambridge, Ont., says that she feels fear in Waterloo region due to Islamophobia. Iman M'Hiri of Kitchener has felt fear, too. For her, it began after the deadly vehicle attack against the Afzaal family in London, Ont., a year ago in what the police described as a crime motivated by hate. M'Hiri, who wears a hijab, has had her guard up since the attack. "What's the most heartbreaking is that to this day, many of my friends, myself included, when we're walking outside in public areas, I have to double check around me," M'Hiri said. "Sometimes my husband will stand between myself and the road as a precaution." She added, "Sometimes I will put my hood up if it's evening because I don't want to be identified just because of the fact that there is that fear, what if this happens again?" To coincide with the anniversary of the Afzaal family attack, the Coalition of Muslim Women of K-W (CMW) released a draft report looking at discrimination and hate in the region. The report doesn't just look at Islamophobia, but also racism and xenophobia. It draws on data from a reporting site launched by the group in March 2021 for witnesses and victims. From April 2021 to mid-May of this year, the website saw 104 reports. Incidents of hate and discrimination were also reported by email, text messages, phone and via Whatsapp and the majority of the reports were made in Arabic, the coalition said. More than half — 81 of the reported cases — were in-person versus online. As well, 54 per cent of them happened in Kitchener and 26 per cent were in Waterloo; however, Sarah Shafiq, the director of programs and services with the coalition said that it doesn't necessarily mean there were more incidents in Kitchener than Waterloo. She said there was more community building and outreach in Kitchener, which assists in reporting. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Jun 2022 Edition


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