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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15 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a pattern is emerging of “official harassment of Muslims accused of crimes, followed by the demolition of their homes before the justice process can take its course,” meanwhile in France, a court is set to hear an appeal this week to reverse a decision of the municipal authorities in Grenoble to effectively allow Muslim women to wear the burkini, and in the United States, a new report outlines how Hindu nationalism is funded in the country — and with how much money. Our recommended read of the day is by Mara Hvistendahl for The Intercept on how vinyl flooring made with Uyghur forced labor in China is ending up at major flooring companies, small contractors, and Home Depot in the United States. This and more below:


15 Jun 2022

TOXIC TILES: How Vinyl Flooring Made With Uyghur Forced Labor Ends Up at Big Box Stores | Recommended Read

The story of vinyl flooring begins 6,600 miles away in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, where it is intertwined with the persecution of the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs. The same month that Merth wrote her 2020 blog post, in a village in southern Xinjiang, 30-year-old Abdurahman Matturdi was herded onto a bus emblazoned with the words “Zhongtai Chemical.” That’s short for Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Company, a Chinese government-owned petrochemical firm that is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a type of plastic that is a critical ingredient in vinyl flooring. The World Health Organization had just declared Covid-19 a pandemic, and factories across China were shutting down to protect workers and prevent the coronavirus’s spread, but Zhongtai’s PVC plants were humming. Matturdi, whose story is detailed in a post on the company’s WeChat account, left behind his wife, newborn baby, and ailing mother. Hours later, he arrived in the regional capital of Ürümqi, where people in his group were assigned dormitory beds and given military fatigues to wear. Instead of watching his baby learn to walk or caring for his mother, he would spend his days laboring in Zhongtai’s facilities, exposed to both toxic chemicals and a frightening new virus. Merth and Matturdi are connected by a troubling supply chain. At one end is Zhongtai, a mammoth state-owned enterprise with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party that is among the top users of forced labor in Xinjiang. By its own account, Zhongtai has brought in more than 5,500 Uyghurs like Matturdi to work at its factories under a government program that human rights advocates say amounts to a grave injustice. To make the plastic resins that go into the flooring under Americans’ feet, Zhongtai belches greenhouse gases and mercury into the air. Its executives uproot lives, tear families apart, and expose workers to coal dust and vinyl chloride monomer, which has been linked to liver tumors. At the other end of the chain are many major flooring companies, small contractors, and Home Depot. “The Home Depot prohibits the use of forced or prison labor in its supply chain,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “This is an issue we take very seriously, and we will work to review the information in the report and to take any additional steps necessary to ensure that the product we sell is free from forced labor and fully compliant with all applicable regulations.” read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Anti-Muslim hatred ignored by EU, activists say

The EU has a problem with anti-Muslim hatred and its institutions are doing little to help, some 41 civil society groups have said. The EU and France opposed creating an International Day to Combat Islamophobia at the UN in March in a sign of the times, the activists said in their joint statement on Tuesday (14 June). The French EU presidency has, over the past six months, failed "to seriously address the widespread structural and institutional discriminations against Muslim minorities in Europe" in its EU policies, they said. Recent EU communiques on the issue gave "the impression that Islamophobia whether it be structural or not, doesn't even exist", they said. And the EU Commission has failed to appoint a new coordinator on anti-Muslim hatred since July last year in what appeared to be a pattern of behaviour, they added. But at the same time, "anti-Muslim violence, hate speech, discrimination and marginalisation" were "swiftly proliferating in Europe where Muslims (or those perceived as such) are now being identified as a primary target by political parties and violent far-right movements alike," they warned. The diverse signatories from 13 EU countries, the UK, and Turkey, included the European Network against Racism in Belgium, SOS Racisme from Denmark, and the Northern Ireland Council for Racial Equality. read the complete article


15 Jun 2022

‘We are homeless now’: Bulldozers raze rights of India’s Muslims

Indian authorities are in international damage control mode after controversial comments about the Prophet Mohammed by a senior ruling party official sparked a diplomatic spat. But inside the country, the home of a prominent Muslim family was demolished by the state in a display of majoritarian might against India’s largest minority community. “It was all shattered within two hours. It was the only home we had. I watched it all live, the media was showing it live, they were helping the administration make the allegations. We are homeless now. Everything my Dad worked for was shattered in two hours. It was so painful, I don’t have words to explain,” said Umam, his voice breaking with the strain during a phone interview with FRANCE 24 a day after the demolition. Umam, 30, hails from a prominent Muslim family in Prayagraj, a teeming city formerly known as Allahabad. His father, Javed Mohammad, is a businessman, activist and member of the Welfare Party of India, a Muslim opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, a state ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). His sister, Afreen Fatima, made national headlines as a student leader in 2019, when protests against the Modi government’s controversial citizenship amendment law erupted across campuses in the capital, New Delhi. Fatima, now 24, has since graduated and is currently an activist and India-based research assistant at the Polis Project, a New York-based research and journalism organisation. In a cruel sequence of events emblematic of the discrimination plaguing India’s religious minorities, Islamophobic comments made by officials of a right-wing Hindu nationalist party led to the arrest of a Muslim politician and social worker, followed by the demolition of his home. The destruction was wrought by a bulldozer, an emerging symbol of the crushing might of a state shattering the rights of Muslims in a Hindu-majority nation. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Amnesty says India should stop ‘vicious’ Muslim protest crackdown

A top human rights group says India must immediately end a “vicious” crackdown on Muslims who took to the streets to protest against the ruling party official’s remarks about Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha. Authorities were “selectively and viciously cracking down on Muslims who dare to speak up … against the discrimination faced by them,” Amnesty International’s Aakar Patel said in a statement on Tuesday. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Rising Islamophobia in India: How Modi's BJP is spreading anti-Muslim sentiment

In India, derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed made two officials from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have sparked a mixture of deadly protests and diplomatic spats. Countries like Oman, Qatar, Malaysia and Indonesia have lodged complaints with India's ambassadors. We take a closer look and get analysis from Subir Sinha, a lecturer in development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Karnataka hijab row: Over a dozen Muslim girls in Mangaluru continue to miss classes over headscarf ban

Three months after the Karnataka High Court banned hijab in school and colleges, at least 19 Muslim girl students in Mangaluru continue to miss their classes due to the headscarf ban. These 19 girl students of Haleyangadi Government First Grade College have been facing education as they have not attended their classes due to hijab ban. On March 15 this year, Karnataka High Court upheld the hijab ban in school and colleges saying wearing of head covering by Muslim women was not an essential religious practice in Islam. Earlier, Muslim girl students from University College of Mangalore and Uppinangady Government First Grade College skipped classes owing to hijab ban, according to a report in Indian Express. Haleyangadi college has not allowed Muslim girl students to attend classes wearing hijab. A girl student named Asma argues that the High Court hijab order does not cover degree colleges and only applies to Pre-University colleges. "It has been nearly three months since I attended classes and I have also paid the fees for the next semester. Since I have discontinued my studies, I am planning to join computer classes to keep myself engaged. However, I still have hopes that my college will allow me to attend classes wearing a hijab," the report quoted Asma as saying. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

The U.S. must oppose India’s rising Islamophobia

India’s relations with majority-Muslim countries have been strained this month after two officials in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made demeaning comments about the prophet Muhammad. Stores in countries such as Kuwait pulled Indian products off their shelves, and protesters continue to call for boycotts of Indian-made goods; more than a dozen governments in majority-Muslim countries and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the comments. Good. Religious intolerance under Mr. Modi has gone unchallenged long enough. India, founded as a secular nation despite its 79 percent Hindu majority and 15 percent Muslim minority, has slid toward Hindu nationalism under BJP rule. Bulldozers have razed houses in majority-Muslim neighborhoods under dubious pretenses, with local officials even boasting of the demolitions. The BJP-run state government of Karnataka banned hijabs in schools, a motion the state court upheld in March. Hate crimes against Indian Muslims and other religious minorities number in the hundreds each year, as local and state BJP officials engage in hate speech themselves. Amid all this, Mr. Modi and the national BJP have been quiet — until now. Given this history, it seems unlikely the BJP’s nice-sounding statements reflect a sudden concern for religious tolerance. Indeed, two people were killed and dozens more injured as police charged a crowd of protesters last Friday. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Opinion: 'Islamophobic' remarks put pressure on India's Modi

With Muslims making up just over 14% of India's 1.3 billion population, Modi will have to juggle the internal outrage as well as external protests from the Islamic world. Arguably the importance of the business ties between India and the Gulf is driving the government's reaction. Indian exports to the GCC nations in 2020-21 stood at $44 billion. These six countries account for nearly 65% of India's annual remittances of more than $80 billion with some 9 million Indians living in the region. India imports around 40% of its oil from the Gulf. Energy supplies have become even more crucial as a result of the war in Ukraine. Earlier this year, India signed a comprehensive trade deal with UAE. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has invested political capital in the region for strategic and economic gains and has now been forced to control the diplomatic damage. But it needs to listen to the voices of Muslim citizens within the country. The spate of assemblies by emboldened Hindu nationalist groups; the increasing cases of hate speech, the physical abuse and mob lynching targeting minorities, often enabled by a tacit silence or a dog whistle from the state, will keep the diplomatic pot boiling. Sections of society today, including many journalists in newsrooms, cheer the act of collective punishment through bulldozers. The selective razing of houses of those accused of rioting and violence without any legal trial should prey on the conscience of the world's largest democracy. Many of the autocratic countries lecturing India hardly uphold human rights or freedom of speech. But democracies must strive for higher values. Vitriolic discussions on many pro-government television news channels, often compared to Radio Rwanda fanning communal hatred against minorities, must stop. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Protests by Indian Muslims continue, as lawyers condemn state response

Thousands of Muslims marched in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata on Tuesday in a second week of protests, while six prominent former judges said a state government had acted illegally by demolishing the house of a Muslim activist. Muslims have taken to the streets across India to protest against anti-Islamic comments made by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Clashes have broken out between Muslims and Hindus and between protesters and police in several areas, with at least 400 people arrested. In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a BJP hardliner, ordered the weekend demolition of any illegal buildings of people accused of involvement in riots last week, including the home of activist Mohammad Javed. The former judges and lawyers urged the Supreme Court to take action to "arrest the deteriorating law and order situation" in Uttar Pradesh. "The coordinated manner in which the police and development authorities have acted lead to the clear conclusion that demolitions are a form of collective extra-judicial punishment, attributable to a state policy which is illegal," they wrote. Local officials said the demolition was justified as parts of the house had been illegally constructed and that Javed had not appeared for hearings on the issue in May. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Islamic leaders in India call for peace and cancellation of protests

Leaders of prominent Islamic groups and mosques in India have appealed to fellow Muslims to suspend plans for protests against derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed made by two members of the ruling Hindu-nationalist party. The message to avoid big gatherings was circulated after demonstrations took a violent turn last week, leading to the death of two Muslim teenagers and the wounding of more than 30 people, including police. Malik Aslam, a senior member of Muslim organisation Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, called for peace and unity among Islam in India to combat the disparaging remarks. "It is the duty of every Muslim to stand together when anyone belittles Islam but at the same time it is critical to maintain peace," he said. Early this month, two senior members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made remarks that offended Muslims. read the complete article

15 Jun 2022

Hindu Nationalist Groups Exploiting YouTube to Target Muslims, Women: Report

Social media has intensified religious intolerance in India, says a report by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights which highlights the “targeting of Muslims” by backers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and other right-leaning Hindu nationalist groups as the “most troubling abuse of YouTube” in the country. The report, titled ‘A Platform “Weaponized”: How YouTube Spreads Harmful Content – And What Can Be Done About It’, outlines YouTube’s role in spreading political disinformation, public health myths, and incitement of violence. Though it largely focuses on developments in the US – such as misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and conspiracy theories of election fraud mooted by Donald Trump – the report also has smaller sections on India, Brazil and Myanmar. It says “organised misogynists in South Korea, far-right ideologues in Brazil, anti-Muslim Hindu nationalists, and supporters of Myanmar’s oppressive military regime have all exploited YouTube’s extraordinary reach to spread pernicious messages and rally likeminded users”. In the India section, the report flags conspiracy theories that were spread at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that Muslims purposefully spread the virus as a form of ‘jihad’, the targeting of Muslim vendors and the presence of several channels that thrive on Islamophobic content that demeans Muslims and incites violence against them. read the complete article


15 Jun 2022

Why is the French city of Grenoble debating a burkini ban?

A French court is set to hear an appeal this week to reverse a decision of the municipal authorities in Grenoble to effectively allow Muslim women to wear the burkini, the one-piece swimsuit that includes head covering, in public swimming pools. Grenoble’s city council narrowly approved the measure, which allows swimmers to “dress how they want”, at a meeting last May. It applies to the burkini, but it also allows men to wear long shorts and women to swim topless. Championed by Grenoble’s mayor Eric Piolle, one of France’s most well-known Green politicians, the move re-ignited a country-wide debate about religious dress as it was met with a campaign of fierce opposition. The French Interior Ministry has contested the council’s decision, and asked a local court to reinstate the ban on the basis that it violates French laws on secularism and the “neutrality of public service”. The burkini ban became a major topic of debate ahead of France’s parliamentary elections, whose first round took place last weekend. read the complete article

United States

15 Jun 2022

A mysterious new report tells you who funds Hindu nationalism in US, and with how much money

A mysterious author, a public money trail, and not much noise: A dramatic new report outlines how Hindu nationalism is funded in the US — and with how much money. The report names around 24 organisations with net assets worth at least $97.7 million, according to the most recent data. These organisations include charitable groups, think tanks, political advocacy groups, and entities that work on higher education — all affiliated in some way with Hindu groups in India. Drawing upon publicly available resources, the report details the financial ties of groups in the US that are spending millions to influence American education and further the interests of the Indian government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Over almost 20 years — 2001 to 2019 — seven of these charitable groups spent at least $158.9 million, sending some of it to groups in India. Around half of this money, nearly $85.4 million, was spent between 2014 and 2019. While Hindu groups in the US have flagged the unreliability of the report, anti-Hindutva activists have said that it is based on publicly available data but not getting enough public attention. read the complete article


15 Jun 2022

Myanmar: The Rohingya’s Decade of Detention

The Myanmar authorities have detained over 135,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims arbitrarily and indefinitely in Rakhine State for a decade, Human Rights Watch said in a web feature released today. Drawing on interviews with Rohingya and humanitarian workers from 2012 to the present, Human Rights Watch documents how the authorities have capitalized on the ethnic cleansing campaign launched in June 2012 to segregate and confine a population they had long sought to remove from daily life in the predominantly Buddhist country. Through individual accounts, images, and video, “‘Nothing Called Freedom’: A Decade of Detention for Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State” illustrates the Myanmar authorities’ crimes against humanity of apartheid, persecution, and imprisonment that have deprived Rohingya of their liberty and threatened their lives and livelihoods. Following the June 2012 violence, township and border guard officials began forcing Rohingya to move to camps that were soon sealed off with barbed wire fencing and military checkpoints. Severe constraints on movement, livelihoods, and access to humanitarian aid and health care have only worsened over the past decade, compounded by inhuman living conditions. Accounts from the camps and humanitarian agency documents reveal a growing tally of preventable deaths. The 2012 violence and resulting displacement coincided with Myanmar’s nascent transition to democratic civilian rule. Increased oppression in both policy and practice inflamed anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the country, which laid the groundwork for the more brutal and organized military atrocities of 2016 and 2017. Foreign governments, rather than seeking to hold accountable those responsible for the violence and ensuing apartheid state, began lifting sanctions and positioning themselves for the country’s political and economic opening-up. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Jun 2022 Edition


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