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.

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13 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Germany, a professor from Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University used racist slurs and insults against a Muslim student wearing a headscarf, meanwhile in Sweden, Stockholm law enforcement authorities have been rebuked by a Swedish appeals court for denying two anti-Muslim organizations a permit to protest with an intent to burn a copy of the Qur’an, and in Italy, a new bill proposed by a right-wing coalition party led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni intends to limit Muslim prayer services only to buildings designated as a mosque. Our recommended read of the day is by Steffani Garcia for Middle East Eye on the active attempts to conceal Islamic history in Spain, with the common misconception being that Arab “came and left,” when in “reality, the legacy of Islam, and Moriscos themselves, never actually left.” This and more below:


The fate of the Moriscos: The last remnants of Islam in Spain after the Reconquista | Recommended Read

It’s an unfortunate reality for Spain and the Islamic World that the late dictator Francisco Franco’s adage that “the Arabs came, then they left” is taken as fact. The statement serves as a lexical axe on the impact of Islam in Spain and its presence in the Iberian peninsula, which spanned over 800 years. Not only does this actively conceal the lives of Muslims during the epoch of Al Andalus, it does not account for their lives after the conquest of Granada, the last Muslim Emirate, in 1492. The closing stages of the Reconquista, or the Christian reconquest of Islamic Spain, coincided with the Inquisition, an institution within the Roman Catholic Church that was sanctioned by the Spanish crown and aimed to root out heresies threatening the Christian faith in Iberia. Preceding the fall of Granada, the Treaty of Granada of 1491, signed by Ferdinand II and Isabella I and Muhammad XII of Granada, ostensibly guaranteed freedom of religion and forbade any attempt to forcibly convert Muslims, in return for submission to the Spanish crown. However, the agreement was never enforced. For Muslims and Jews, newly subject to Christian rulers, this ultimately meant a campaign of forcible conversion to Catholicism, with Jews who refused to convert being forced into exile in 1492. Muslims were subject to numerous purges, culminating in the final expulsion in 1609, under King Philip III, of even those who had nominally converted to Catholicism. So what happened to the Muslims who silently witnessed the tragedy of the Inquisition? What were their lives like after they were forcibly converted? read the complete article

United States

'We don't need secret evidence': California Muslims argue FBI spying case should move forward

After more than a decade of shuttling through the US court system, three Muslim men who fell victim to the FBI's covert surveillance programme are back in court arguing that their case against the government should continue to move forward. During a hearing on Thursday at the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Peter Bibring, the lawyer representing the Muslim men, argued that the court should hear the case despite the government's arguments the case should be dismissed based on the state secrets privilege. "We've taken the position that we don't need any discovery into the secret evidence," said Bibring, saying that they could present their arguments with non-privileged evidence. Judge Marsha Berzon, one of the three judges listening to the arguments, voiced scepticism of the government's defence around state secrets being a reason for altogether throwing out the case. "The underlying problem here is that there is an inherent conflict of interest by the government. They're both the defender and protector of the interests and having no eyes on that is very troublesome," Berzon said during the hearing that was streamed on YouTube. "The notion that things are going to leak out that haven't leaked out in the last 20 years is not very believable." In response to the government's arguments, Judge Berzon said it is rare for cases to be dismissed at this stage of litigation. read the complete article


Canadian Muslim charity wins 'milestone' settlement after being falsely accused of funding terrorism

One of Canada's largest faith-based charities has won a settlement over a set of publications that falsely claimed it was a "front" to fund terror groups abroad. Islamic Relief Canada reached the out-of-court settlement earlier this month in a lawsuit against Thomas Quiggin — a former military officer turned self-described researcher who last year emerged as one of the more recognizable names in the truck convoy protests — and six others who it argued made "false, malicious and defamatory" statements aimed at harming the charity. Along with Quiggin, the $2.5-million lawsuit from December 2018 took aim at Benjamin Dichter, who later emerged as a convoy spokesperson; writer Tahir Aslam Gora and an online television channel of which Gora is CEO; writer Raheel Raza and her husband Syed Sohail Raza; as well as a Yarmouth-based man named Joseph Hazelton who interviewed Quiggin about the charity in a YouTube video that garnered over 10,000 views. "This case illustrates the kind of misinformation that legitimate aid organizations too often face in carrying out their vital humanitarian missions," said Usama Khan, Islamic Relief Canada's CEO. "The settlement reached by Islamic Relief Canada is a milestone in this fight," said Khan. "By holding those who spread misinformation accountable for their actions, we can send a clear message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated." read the complete article


German professor hurls racist insults at Muslim student

A Muslim student Gulsen Kurt has been racially insulted by a university professor in Germany because she was wearing a headscarf, her lawyer said. "Article 4 of the German Constitution protects religious freedom, and a student can attend lessons by wearing a headscarf. The attitude of this professor is absolutely unacceptable," her lawyer Fatih Zingal said on Monday. The professor used racist slurs and even compared the Muslim woman’s headscarf with the swastika symbol of neo-Nazis, Zingal said. The incident occurred during an economics class at the campus of the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg university in northwestern Germany. Twenty-three-year-old Kurt, who was shocked by the lecturer’s use of racist slurs, said most of the students reacted and left the class in protest. "The professor said that he will not allow a student with a headscarf to attend the class, just as he would not allow a neo-Nazi wearing a swastika. He shouted at me, saying ‘you are an Islamofascist’, and that he will report me to the directorate," she said. Kurt said the directorate had apologised over the racist slurs in class and underlined that the behaviour of the lecturer is not approved by the university administration. read the complete article


Italy’s right-wing party prepares draft law to ban Muslim prayer spaces outside of mosques

A right-wing coalition party in the Italian government led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has prepared a draft law intended to ban Muslim prayer spaces outside of mosques, according to local media. The bill proposed by the Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, which is currently being debated in parliament's environment committee, aims to prohibit the use of garages and industrial warehouses as mosques, the daily 24 Ore reported on Saturday. Cultural and religious organizations that have not signed an agreement with the Italian state will not be allowed to use a property as a place of worship, the daily said, adding that the country's Muslim community has not signed any such agreement with the state. The bill, according to the daily, was opposed by lawmakers from opposition parties in the parliament's environment committee, who said if it were passed, it would restrict freedom of religion. Sami Salem, the imam or prayer leader at the Magliana Mosque in Rome, told the daily that “It is a bill that clearly discriminates against Muslims and does not respect the Italian Constitution that protects all citizens living in Italy.” read the complete article


Swedish Court Upholds Rejection of Quran Burning Ban

A Swedish appeals court on Monday said police had no legal grounds to block two gatherings where protesters had planned to burn the Quran earlier this year. A burning of Islam's holy book outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm in January sparked anger in the Muslim world, leading to weeks of protests and calls for a boycott of Swedish goods, and further stalled Sweden's NATO membership bid. Following that incident, police refused to authorize two other requests, one by a private individual and one by an organization, to hold Quran burnings outside the Turkish and Iraqi Embassies in Stockholm in February. Police argued the January protest had made Sweden "a higher priority target for attacks." Following appeals from both protest organizers, the Stockholm Administrative Court overturned the decisions, saying the cited security concerns were not enough to limit the right to demonstrate. But Stockholm police in turn appealed the rulings to the appeals court, which on Monday sided with the lower administrative court. In both rulings — on the two separate applications — the appeals court said "the order and security problems" referenced by the police did not have "a sufficiently clear connection to the planned event or its immediate vicinity." read the complete article


‘The Kerala Story’ is ‘sickening’ and should not be screened in Canada

Going in, I had a sense of how graphically violent the film was (a Muslim man raping his pregnant Hindu wife; a group of burka-clad women being chained together and taken to a tent to be gang-raped) but what I was less prepared for was the emotionally manipulative dialogue — the repeated scenes of Muslims disparaging Hindu’s for their beliefs and customs. It’s jarring to see this in Bollywood, which sometimes has been a powerful antidote to sectarian tensions. It was clear that the lines had been scripted carefully, with the aim of generating a certain emotional audience response, whether it was genuine to the story being told or not. As an Indian Muslim, it felt sickening to watch the Daesh recruiter character — Asifa — psychologically deceive her friends into embracing Islam after they fall in love with two Muslim men recruited by Daesh to prey on vulnerable Hindu college students in the southern India state of Kerala. Her casual denigration of Hinduism and Christianity sharply contrasts with the Qur’an’s explicit condemnation to “not abuse those who worship besides God” (6:109), not to mention its repeated and fervent calls for the use of intellect, reason and rationality. But there was no chance anyone who came out of that film would know that. In fact, it would be difficult to not come out of that film feeling anything but hatred for Muslims. The political controversy within India about “The Kerala Story” perhaps explains why it has both sold out in Toronto theatres, while also prompting thousands of Canadians to sign a letter to Cineplex asking for it to be withdrawn, on the basis that it perpetuates anti-Muslim tropes, not unlike how anti-Semitic films are banned in Canada. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Yorkshire sign Muslim Athlete Charter to 'demonstrate commitment to equity, diversity & inclusion'

Yorkshire County Cricket Club has signed the Muslim Athlete Charter to "demonstrate its commitment to equity, and diversity and inclusion for all". The pledge recognises "the needs of Muslim cricketers, fans and staff" and is part of their focus "on delivering equity and diversity at all levels". The club is seeking to move on from the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal. Yorkshire admitted four amended charges stemming from Rafiq's claims and will be given their sanctions in late June. Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Vaughan said signing the charter is "an important and positive step". read the complete article


China's campaign to redesign 'Arabic-style mosques' threatens Muslim identity

A recent attempt by authorities in China to remove "Arabic-style" dome and redesign the minarets in the southwest of the country. Controversy surrounding the Najiaying Mosque was met with confrontation in Nagu - a small town in the mountains of southwestern China - following plans to revamp the Islamic designs. The incident highlights the Chinese Communist Party's campaign to exert control over religion through the targeting of lesser-known groups like the Hui ethnic minority, a report by The New York Times said on Thursday. While the Hui have historically assimilated well with the majority Han population, the party has closed, demolished, or redesigned mosques in Hui enclaves, considering Arabic architectural features as "unwanted" foreign influence. The mosques in Nagu and the nearby town of Shadian hold cultural significance and are among the last major ones with traditional Arabic-style architecture in China. The government's plans to remove the domes and reshape the minarets in a more "Chinese" style sparked resistance from the locals in Nagu. They see the proposed changes as an infringement on their freedom and an attempt to erase their cultural identity. read the complete article


Alleged misuse of French anti-extremism fund stirs controversy

France is being rocked by allegations that funds earmarked to fight “extremism” in the country may instead have targeted groups fighting anti-Muslim prejudice and even been used to target a news agency from a majority-Muslim country. The €2.5 million ($2.7 million) Marianne Fund was announced in April 2021, following the gruesome murder of a Paris history teacher, as a measure to stem rising “separatism” in the country, according to the French government. The fund’s creation was spearheaded by Marlene Schiappa, currently minister delegate in charge of citizenship, and management of the fund was given to the Inter Ministerial Committee for the Prevention of Crime and Radicalisation (CIPDR). In March, French broadcaster France 2 reported that certain charities had illicitly benefited from the public funding, and Le Monde daily said on June 3 that the fund had also been used to target the Turkish-based Anadolu Agency and its correspondent in France. The allegations have been the subject of an investigation by prosecutors. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 13 Jun 2023 Edition


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