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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14 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Muslims in the town of Purola in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand are being harassed and threatened by Hindu groups who have demanded they “abandon their livelihoods and the homes they have lived in for generations,” meanwhile in Canada, lawyers for a civil liberties group and a Muslim advocacy organization told a court that Quebec’s ban on prayer rooms is harmful to Muslims students and should be suspended, and in the United States, Muslim Americans are advocating for federal recognition of a Muslim American Heritage Month that would celebrate the community. Our recommended read of the day is by Servet Günerigök for Andalou Agency on a new report by CAIR that finds that the “overwhelming majority of entries on an FBI watchlist, or more than 98%, are Muslim names.” This and more below:

United States

Report reveals 98% of names on FBI watchlist are Muslim | Recommended Read

A report by a Muslim group in the US has revealed that the overwhelming majority of entries on an FBI watchlist, or more than 98%, are Muslim names. The report, titled "Twenty Years Too Many, A Call to Stop the FBI’s Secret Watchlist," details the FBI’s use of the Terrorism Screening Database, which it said is targeting Muslims. It was released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Monday. After being provided with a 2019 version of the FBI's list by a Swiss hacker who discovered it online following its accidental posting by a regional air carrier, CAIR conducted a comprehensive analysis of over 1.5 million entries. "More than 350,000 entries alone include some transliteration of Mohamed or Ali or Mahmoud and the top 50 most frequently occurring names are all Muslim names," said the report. "Of the watchlist entries we’ve reviewed, we estimate that more than 1.47 million of those entries regard Muslims—over 98 percent of the total," it added. The report noted that for 20 years, the FBI’s secret list has brought hardship and fear to the Muslim community. read the complete article

Activists rally Congress to create a Muslim American Heritage Month to celebrate diversity

Muslims have a long history in the United States that dates back to the time of slavery, with adherents of Islam believed to have served in every war since the Revolutionary War. And while the religion is often associated with the nation’s Arab Americans, the reality is far more diverse – with Black Americans and Asian Americans comprising large segments of the community. These are some reasons behind a campaign from Muslim Americans this week in Washington, D.C., to advocate for federal recognition of a Muslim American Heritage Month that would celebrate the community – one that has experienced sustained levels of bias since 9/11. “Being such a diverse community, we’re not always aware of each other’s accomplishments as Americans, so it’s a way for our children to have a sense of belonging and pride,” said Robert McCaw, government affairs director for the Council for American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. “Especially in the face of the adversity that the community has faced in the last two decades.” The group reported receiving more than 6,000 reports of anti-Muslim incidents in 2020 alone, most of them involving discrimination. Anti-Muslim incidents comprised about 10% of the nearly 1,600 hate crimes involving faith in 2021, according to the FBI’s 2021 Hate Crime Statistics Supplemental Report, released in December 2022 and the most recent data available. read the complete article

The GOP’s new Muslim outreach

Twelve years ago, House Republicans questioned whether the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was a “terrorist organization.” Last week, CAIR was on site at the board meeting, lobbying for a policy that would let Muslim students skip the LGBTQ reading, to fix what Maryland CAIR director Zainab Chaudry called the “growing sense of hurt and betrayal experienced by our communities.” In his first campaign for president, Donald Trump appealed to LGBTQ voters by pledging to protect them from a “hateful foreign ideology” that he falsely linked to ordinary Muslim Americans. Seven years later, Republicans are wooing Muslim voters by promising to protect them from LGBTQ rights advocates whose demands conflict with their faith. The anti-Muslim politics that Trump tapped into for years — offering cash to stop a “Ground Zero Mosque,” spreading inflammatory lies about Arab neighborhoods, proposing a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. that turned into a travel ban that mostly affected Muslims — don’t have as much traction with GOP candidates anymore. What replaced it? Trump told a Republican crowd in a recent speech that “transgender” is a guaranteed applause line even though “five years ago you didn’t know what the hell it was.” Nobody’s explicitly disavowed the old Republican politics, but presidential candidates don’t warn about “Islamofascism” in Des Moines; they don’t talk about banning sharia law in Charleston; and Trump himself has only talked off-camera about restoring the “Muslim ban.” Support for deepening ties with Gulf states like Saudi Arabia increasingly codes as MAGA thanks in part to Trump’s friendly diplomatic and business relationships. Wa'el Alzayat, the CEO of the Muslim political action group Emgage, said that the GOP outreach to that community would bump up against the rest of the party’s agenda. “Some people will always be swayed by this, but Republicans have a lot of baggage to deal with,” said Alzayat. “The first thing the Republican speaker of the House did this year was strip Ilhan Omar of her committee assignments. Trump still wants to reinstate the Muslim ban. Yes, they’ve pivoted from some talking points, but there’s a fundamental problem with Republicans and American Muslims.” read the complete article


Why Muslims are fleeing a small town in India’s Uttarakhand state

Muslims in a north Indian town have been asked by Hindu groups to abandon their livelihoods and the homes they have lived in for generations. About a dozen families have fled Purola, a small town in northern India’s Uttarkashi district in Uttarakhand state, after notices were pasted on homes and businesses asking them to vacate the town. The threats, issued mainly by two far-right Hindu groups – the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal – follow an alleged attempt by two men to kidnap a 14-year-old Hindu girl on May 26. Both the VHP and Bajrang Dal are in turn affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the far-right ideological mentor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which aims to create an ethnic Hindu state out of a constitutionally secular India. Together, these groups constitute what is commonly referred to as the “Sangh Parivar” (parivar means family in Hindi). The two accused in the kidnapping case were immediately nabbed by residents and handed over to the police. They have been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and other laws. One of the accused in the kidnapping bid was a 24-year-old Muslim man, leading to allegations by Hindu groups that the kidnapping attempt was a case of “love jihad” – an unproven conspiracy theory that accuses Muslim men of luring Hindu women into romantic relationships in order to convert them to Islam by marriage. The BJP government itself has denied that such a conspiracy exists in its reports presented in parliament. But residents of Purola say the May 26 incident was used by the Hindu groups to intensify their years-old movement that seeks to free the Himalayan state, known for its many Hindu pilgrimage sites and temple towns, of the Muslim community. It was in Uttarakhand’s temple town of Haridwar that a controversial Hindu event calling for the genocide of Indian Muslims was held in December 2021. read the complete article

Why a map in India’s new Parliament is making its neighbors nervous

A new mural on display in India’s new $110 million Parliament has become an unlikely target of ire among its South Asian neighbors, with Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh seeking an explanation from New Delhi. The mural depicts a map of an ancient Indian civilization encompassing what is today Pakistan in the north and Bangladesh and Nepal in the east. But to some politicians from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it appears to represent a vision of the future – of “Akhand Bharat,” an “Undivided India” that would merge the modern-day country with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. To India’s neighbors, “Akhand Bharat” is an incendiary, neo-imperialist concept – one that has long been associated with the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an ideological organization that heavily influences the BJP, and which believes in “Hindutva,” the idea that India should become the “Home of the Hindus.” The mural was not the only thing turning heads when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the parliament on May 28. Similarly controversial was the ceremony itself, steeped in Hindu religious symbolism, which critics felt jarred with the supposedly secular nature of Indian government affairs. It also took place on the birthday of the late Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the man widely considered to have developed the Hindutva ideology and one of the first proponents of Akhand Bharat. A leader of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha group, Savarkar is revered by Modi and the BJP, who credit him with leading India to its freedom from British colonial rule. read the complete article


14 Jun 2023

Civil liberties, Muslim groups ask Quebec court to suspend ban on school prayer rooms

Quebec’s ban on prayer rooms in public schools is harmful to Muslim students and should be suspended immediately, lawyers for a civil liberties group and a Muslim advocacy organization told a Montreal court Tuesday. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims argued before the Quebec Superior Court for a stay of the province’s decree while their legal challenge against the ban makes its way through the courts. Stephen Brown, the CEO of the Muslim organization, told reporters before the hearing that since the ban was introduced in April, students have been threatened with disciplinary measures for praying at school. He said his organization has heard from a student who was allegedly mocked by a teacher for trying to find a place to pray. “We’re here today so that no child has to find a place to hide to pray at school,” Brown said. “No child should have to hide who they are because they’re afraid of being watched, threatened or mocked by school administrators and teachers for having done nothing more than being who they are.” read the complete article


Denmark bans far-right Paludan from attending political festival

Danish authorities banned controversial far-right politician Rasmus Paludan, infamously known for his Quran-burning demonstrations, from attending a political festival on the island of Bornholm. The local police authorities on Tuesday imposed the ban on the presence of Rasmus Paludan around the Folkemodet festival area in and around the Allinge village from June 14 in the morning until midday on June 18 on the grounds that his presence would represent both a risk to himself and to other participants. Paludan torched copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, near a mosque and outside the premises of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen earlier this year. The act attracted condemnation from all around the world. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jun 2023 Edition


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