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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14 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, the country held its first ever Muslim Women’s Festival in Sydney earlier this month, bringing together Muslim trailblazers, leaders, celebrities, artists, professionals, activists and quiet achievers, meanwhile the United Nations’ human rights chief has “announced her decision to step down, citing ‘personal reasons,’ amid weeks of speculation following her recent China trip that drew fierce criticism from activists and western politicians,” and in India, in an attempt circumvent government repression, Muslim stand-up comedians are “punching themselves down (metaphorically) in an attempt to address growing prejudice and break stereotypes.” Our recommended read of the day is by Upmanyu Trivedi for Bloomberg on a new report by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, which finds that “influencers backing India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party have used YouTube videos to spread conspiracy theories and hateful content targeting Muslims and women.” This and more below:


14 Jun 2022

YouTube Videos Are Targeting Muslims, Women in India, Study Says | Recommended Read

Influencers backing India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party have used YouTube videos to spread conspiracy theories and hateful content targeting Muslims and women in the biggest market for the platform by user base, according to a report by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. The NYU Stern Center report highlighted the case of India to press Alphabet Inc.’s Google-owned video platform to look at its recommendations to boost content moderation and disclose information on how algorithms recommend and remove content. India has more than 450 million YouTube users, nearly double the size of the platform’s US base. The videos have helped fuel a conspiracy theory that Muslims spread Covid as a form of “jihad’, or holy war, according to the report titled “A Platform ‘Weaponized’: How YouTube Spreads Harmful Content – And What Can Be Done About It.” The report also cited examples of rivalries between street rival vendors turning violent after a YouTube video campaign that singled out Muslims as well as anti-Muslim rhetoric often blending with at online attacks on women. “A spate of misogynistic rants by nationalistic Indian YouTube influencers have made such invective popular on the platform,” the report said. “The diatribes, many of which include physical threats, are often delivered as selfie videos.” read the complete article

14 Jun 2022

Muslim comedians standing up against Islamophobia—one self-deprecating joke at a time

Is speaking your mind really worth it in India? Think about it. How do you publicly put your opinion forward without having an FIR slapped against you, getting arrested or the authorities bulldosing your house? Muslim stand-up artistes have taken a completely different route to tackle this hurdle: Self-deprecation. They are punching themselves down (metaphorically) in an attempt to address growing prejudice and break stereotypes. Their tragedy, narrated funnily in their own words, only makes the audience sympathise with them. Munawar Faruqui is one of the best examples to take this point home. He was arrested in Indore for a joke he was yet to crack in his act. Soon after, videos of his self-deprecating jokes, especially about his Muslim identity, became so popular that he ended up winning a reality show that was highly political in its concept. The show called Lock Upp pitched Left-wing contestants against Right-wing contestants trapped as prisoners in a jail whose jailer was the Right-wing ecosystem’s queen, Kangana Ranaut, herself. In fact, Ranaut was seen praising Munwar throughout the show for being authentic and competitive. The point is, Munawar managed to win the hearts of a huge section of the audience through self-deprecation, people he otherwise would have probably offended. Most Muslim comedians are using the same template: highlighting prejudices against their community through self-deprecation. Urooj Ashfaq, Rehman Khan, Mohammed Anas, Haseeb Khan, Abbas Momin, Mohammed Husain and many others like them are diving head first into the hate and lies, addressing the daily Islamophobia Muslims face. But they do it by making fun of themselves offering a slice of their life — anecdotal but extremely relatable situations of bigotry that they have faced. read the complete article

14 Jun 2022

India activist Afreen Fatima says her house bulldozed ‘illegally’

A young Muslim activist whose house was bulldozed by the authorities in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh says it was an “act of vendetta” by the government for the protests over comments made against Prophet Muhammad by officials of the country’s right-wing governing party. Surrounded by a large posse of police in riot gear, authorities in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj city on Sunday brought in earthmovers to demolish Afreen Fatima’s house as dozens of media people recorded the demolition. Within hours, the two-storey building was reduced to rubble and its belongings – furniture, books and photographs – thrown on an empty plot next to the house. Among them was a poster that said: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” The demolition came after days of protests by India’s Muslims against the anti-Islam remarks by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier this month, triggering a diplomatic backlash against New Delhi. The protests in Prayagraj – earlier known as Allahabad – on Friday following the Muslim congregational prayers turned violent at some places, with police firing tear gas and baton-charging as demonstrators marched and allegedly tried to burn a police vehicle. A BJP spokesperson said Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a saffron-robed hardline Hindu monk, ordered officials to demolish any “illegal” establishments and homes of people accused of involvement in the protests. At least two other houses belonging to Muslims were also demolished in Uttar Pradesh over the weekend. Javed, who is a politician belonging to a Muslim party, was charged with rioting and the police soon declared him the “mastermind” of the protests in Prayagraj – a tag flashed immediately on TV screens across the country. Parveen and Somaiya were detained by the police and released on Sunday morning. “My mother and my sister were illegally detained for more than 30 hours,” Fatima told Al Jazeera TV. read the complete article

14 Jun 2022

How Hindu nationalism is threatening India's foreign relations

For the last two weeks, India has been engulfed in a diplomatic crisis following remarks made by two senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) officials about the Prophet Muhammad. As outrage and protests spread within India, condemnation also started pouring in from across the Islamic world. As a result, at least 20 Muslim-majority states have summoned their Indian ambassadors to provide an explanation. The crisis began when Nupur Sharma, the national spokesperson for the BJP, made offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in a televised debate. Another BJP spokesperson, Naveen Jindal, then took to Twitter to endorse her comments and add derogatory remarks. Since Arab states rarely comment on India’s domestic issues, New Delhi may not have expected such a backlash. “The Muslim world has traditionally stayed relatively quiet about anti-Muslim issues in India because it values its trade relations with India. Clearly insulting the Prophet Muhammad was a red line,” Michael Kugelman, South Asia senior associate at The Wilson Center in Washington, told The New Arab. Indulging in a spat with the oil-rich Gulf Arab states is a luxury New Delhi cannot afford as its trade, energy imports, and remittances, are at risk. Millions of Indians live and work in the Gulf states and jeopardising their livelihoods is not feasible. Having trade worth $90 billion in 2020-21 with Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, New Delhi had to swiftly take action amid calls from within these countries to boycott Indian goods. “Hindutva ideology is primarily an anti-Muslim and anti-Christian ideology. It took some time for the international community to realise this,” Ashok Swain, Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at the Uppsala University in Sweden, told The New Arab. “However, India’s large market and its strategic position continued to help the Hindutva regime escape strong censure from the West or Islamic nations. But India’s deteriorating economy and increasing anti-minority politics fails to provide cover for the regime anymore,” he added. With the Sharma incident, a red line was crossed. read the complete article

14 Jun 2022

Violent BJP rhetoric and bulldozing of homes show Indian Muslim dilemma

“We heard the bulldozer before we saw it,” said Imamuddin Alam, 48. “I was worried about my grocery shop which is nearby. There was nothing but rubble left. This is the new pattern now. Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leaders provoke us, arrest us when we react and then bulldoze our homes.” The latest protests were a continuation of a fortnight of sporadic demonstrations by Muslims that began when the BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma made derogatory comments about the prophet during a raucous television debate. The unrest left two dead in Ranchi, hundreds injured and several hundred under arrest. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, ordered officials to demolish the allegedly illegal buildings of Muslims accused of involvement in the protests. His media adviser, Mrityunjay Kumar, tweeted a photograph of a digger and said: “Unruly elements remember, every Friday is followed by a Saturday.” Over the past two years there has been a rise in violent rhetoric about Muslims by BJP officials and extremist Hindu groups, covering subjects including how they worship, what they eat, the hijab, and the status of mosques. Modi, the prime minister, and the top BJP leadership have remained silent about the provocations, while opposition parties, wary of antagonising the Hindu majority, have also chosen not to intervene. Muslim community leaders are searching for the right reaction. “We need to express our hurt when we are wantonly attacked. But it has to be democratic and peaceful so that we do not provoke retaliation or damage our image. Violence will weaken our case,” said Dr Taslim Rahmani, the president of the Muslim Political Council of India. A balanced response is proving difficult. People such as Rahmani know that the Hindu far right is itching to take Muslims on, waiting for them to take a wrong step. read the complete article

14 Jun 2022

BJP's anti-Prophet remarks reveal the true face of Indian anti-Muslim hate

On May 26, during a television debate about a recent controversy surrounding the Gyanvapi Mosque in India’s Uttar Pradesh, Nupur Sharma, a spokesperson of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) questioned the validity of Islamic beliefs, and in doing so demeaned the honour of Islam's Prophet. In the same debate, Sharma had also mocked and denigrated the Prophet’s journey to the skies (Al-Israa wal-Mi'raj). When the discussion heated up, Sharma ended up offending Muslims across the world. On June 5, 2022, the Hindu Supremacist BJP suspended its spokesperson Nupur Sharma, after receiving international backlash from various Islamic nations and protests across the country. Along with Sharma, another party member, Naveen Jindal, has also been suspended. Even after widespread anger and Muslims spilling out onto the streets in protest, Sharma remained rebellious and bragged about being bolstered by BJP leader and Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, who had called her to express his support. Anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders also tweeted in support of Sharma saying: “Don’t listen to the hypocrites. Islamic nations have no freedom, they persecute minorities and they should be criticised.” Condemning the remarks, Dr Shama Mohamed, national spokesperson of the Indian National Congress, the largest opposition party in the country, said, “Now just see, the BJP will cease to have Muslim members of parliament. It already is without any Muslim members of legislative assemblies in any of the states or union territories in the country. So definitely, there is an agenda to make Muslims second-class citizens”. Regarding Sharma’s comments, Mohamed said that what really stood out for her was when the BJP labelled Sharma as ‘a fringe element’ when until before these comments she was a national spokesperson. read the complete article

United States

14 Jun 2022

FBI Concocts Fake Muslim Plots While Failing to Foil Real White Supremacist Ones

Ten days after a white supremacist murdered 10 unsuspecting Black shoppers in a racist premeditated attack that the FBI may have known about in advance, the FBI issued a self-congratulatory press release for “foiling” a separate plot that they themselves invented. Predictably, within hours of the agency issuing the press release, major media outlets parroted the FBI’s talking points without a scintilla of skepticism. On closer examination, this “plot” appears to be yet another nauseating rendition of the FBI’s “How to Make a Terrorist” manual. In its press release, the FBI states that Indianapolis, Indiana, resident Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab “exchanged money with others in an attempt to illegally bring foreign nationals to the United States.” Notably absent from the statement is that these “others” are two confidential sources, (referred to as “CS1” and “CS2” throughout the criminal complaint) both of whom have been paid by the FBI for their role in this investigation and at least one of whom is also receiving immigration benefits. Shihab’s case has eerie similarities to the many documented cases in which the FBI’s army of 15,000 informants played the seminal role in the creation of a supposed “terrorist plot.” The FBI often utilizes confidential informants, snaking them into Muslim places of worship where they target the most intellectually, emotionally and financially vulnerable in these marginalized communities. The vast majority of these informants are forced to exchange their cooperation for some tangible benefit, including clemency, immigration status, remuneration or some combination of the same. In most of these cases, the targets of these stings have no independent ability (and in some cases no motive) to engage in any act of political violence. Rather, it is the FBI’s own informants who goad them along, providing them with the plan, the method and the means. In the alleged scheme to illegally smuggle foreign nationals into the borders of the U.S., Shihab acted as a middleman, facilitating a transaction between the two informants. Put differently, the government is on both sides of the transaction, with one informant providing the smuggling service and the other informant seeking that same service. Shihab’s crime is merely to connect the two in exchange for a hefty $27,000 commission. read the complete article

14 Jun 2022

Commander of Afghan Insurgency Pleads Guilty at Guantánamo Bay

An Iraqi prisoner who commanded insurgents during the U.S. war in Afghanistan pleaded guilty on Monday to war crimes charges related to lethal attacks on allied soldiers in 2003 and 2004, in a deal that could hand him off to the custody of another country by 2024. Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, now in his 60s, spent much of the daylong hearing responding, “Yes, your honor,” to the questions of the military judge, Lt. Col. Mark F. Rosenow, about a secret account of his activities in Afghanistan as a co-conspirator with Osama bin Laden and other top Qaeda leaders between 1996 and 2003. The account included more than 100 items. He could be sentenced to 10 years in prison, much of it to be served in the custody of another country, under a plea agreement that has yet to be made public. He pleaded guilty to the traditional war crimes of attacking protected property — a U.S. military medevac helicopter that insurgents who answered to him failed to shoot down in Afghanistan in 2003 — and of treachery and conspiracy connected to insurgent bombings that killed at least three allied troops, one each from Canada, Britain and Germany.But the plea deal still represented a drastic scaling back of the government’s charges against him. None of the crimes to which he pleaded guilty made him directly or indirectly responsible for some of the most serious allegations made by military prosecutors when they charged him in 2014. Gone from his case were allegations that he was part of the sweeping Qaeda conspiracy to rid the Arabian Peninsula of non-Muslims. Nor was there any claim of responsibility or knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks, which prompted the creation of the Guantánamo prison and the war court. Mr. Hadi, who says his real name is Nashwan al-Tamir, was captured in Turkey in 2006 and brought to Guantánamo Bay the next year. Efforts to bring him to trial have been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic and by his health. He has a degenerative spinal disease that has left him paralyzed at times. read the complete article

United Kingdom

14 Jun 2022

Patriotism, optimism and striding ahead: the often overlooked story of Muslim Britain

There is a powerful narrative about British Muslims that is often overlooked: one of belonging and optimism. It’s easy to understand why. At many levels of society, we see barriers of Islamophobia preventing Muslims from participating as equal citizens. Consider the workplace: a new Hyphen-Savanta ComRes poll shows that a staggeringly high 69% of UK Muslims have experienced some form of Islamophobia in the workplace. And if you’re a black Muslim, the figure is 76%. Just having a Muslim name makes it less likely that you get a job, find a flat or even get insurance. Or consider the education system: a Department for Education study that showed 18% of the pupils polled in England have seen other children being bullied for being Muslim. This was reiterated in responses to findings by Childline, where young Muslims had specifically reported being called “terrorists” and “bombers” by classmates. Or consider politics: whether it’s the rampant and institutional Islamophobia in the Conservative party or the (smaller albeit extremely serious) challenges in the Labour party, where more than one in four Muslim members of the party had directly experienced Islamophobia. Even those who succeed despite Islamophobic political campaigns end up facing Islamophobia in office, including Sadiq Khan, who needs 24/7 protection due to the “colour of his skin and the god he worships”. Let’s not even go into the media, where only 0.4% of British journalists are Muslim, and almost two-thirds of articles that mention Muslims or Islam paint them in a negative light. But it’s not just employment, education, politics and the media – the structural challenges are even deeper. Half of British Muslims face poverty, far more Muslims live in deprived housing conditions than the UK population average (35% v 13%) and Muslims are hugely over-represented in the criminal justice system: 15% of all prison inmates in England and Wales are Muslims, despite being less than 5% of the total population. Maybe these barriers are unsurprising given the racist views held by many when it comes to Muslims. Britons are reportedly almost three times more likely to hold prejudiced views of Islam than they are of other religions, and conspiracy theories such as believing Muslim immigration was part of a wider plot to make Muslims the majority in Britain infect a sizeable minority of the country. Of those canvassed for one poll, 22% would be concerned if a Muslim family moved in next to them. However, that is only part of the story. The new Hyphen-Savanta Comres poll, corroborated by other research, also supports a more nuanced narrative: one that does not erase the institutional racism and barriers to equality facing Muslims, but instead acknowledges how despite the discrimination and these structural challenges, British Muslims are overcoming the odds, defying the stereotypes peddled by the far-right and their allies and instead respond with a sense of belonging and optimism. read the complete article


14 Jun 2022

Australia’s first Muslim women’s festival: By Muslim women, for Muslim women

Australia’s first ever Muslim Women’s Festival was held in Sydney earlier this month, bringing together Muslim trailblazers, leaders, celebrities, artists, professionals, activists and quiet achievers for a day of panels, workshops and interactive art installations. “By Muslim women, for Muslim women” there was a palpable collective cathartic mood to the festival. Muslim women are so often spoken about and for; homogenised by assumptions, judgments and vocabularies that flatten the rich complexity of their diverse lives. What made this festival so refreshing was it held space for a spectrum of ways of experiencing and embracing one’s Muslim identity. Panels traversed the messy, complicated multiplicity of identity challenges and power dynamics at play in Muslim women’s lives. Despite the most recent statistics by Islamophobia Register Australia, which reveal that over 85% of Islamophobic abuse is perpetrated against veiled Muslim women, this was not a festival based on a narrative of victimhood or crisis over Islamophobia’s ‘Muslim hijabi victim.’ Too often Islamophobia is reduced to interpersonal incidents of abuse, intimidation and harassment usually in public spaces—a park, public transport, the local shops. The ‘target’ is so often reduced to a cookie-cutter figure of a veiled Muslim woman. read the complete article


14 Jun 2022

UN human rights chief to forgo second term amid China trip criticism

The United Nations’ human rights chief has announced her decision to step down, citing “personal reasons”, amid weeks of speculation following her recent China trip that drew fierce criticism from activists and western politicians. Writing on Twitter, Michelle Bachelet, who assumed the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights in 2018, said: “It is time to go back to Chile and be with family.” Bachelet’s announcement came as pressure mounted following her recent statement on the human rights situation in China, where she conducted a six-day tour in a “closed loop” system due to Covid restrictions. But it is not immediately clear whether her decision not to seek a renewed term has to do with her handling of the trip. Since Bachelet’s trip to China last month – in particular to the Uyghur minority region of Xinjiang, where rights organisations and some western governments have alleged China committed “genocide” – Bachelet and her office have received a barrage of criticism. Activists and a number of western governments, from Britain to the EU, have urged the former Chilean president and torture survivor to publish a long-awaited report on China’s treatment of its Uyghur population in Xinjiang. Responding to the calls, Bachelet said on Monday in a separate speech that her office was updating its official assessment of the situation in Xinjiang, and it would be shared with the Chinese government for factual comments before publication. She did not say when the report would be released for the public to scrutinise. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jun 2022 Edition


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