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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15 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, a Superior judge in Quebec has denied the request of a Muslim advocacy group to challenge the regions ban on prayer rooms in public schools, meanwhile in the UK, lawyers on behalf of the government have moved to block a Guantanamo Bay detainee from suing the state over claims that the country’s security services were complicit in the torture he faced at the hands of the CIA, and in Bosnia & Herzegovina, police authorities in the town of Surmanci are investigating several disturbing attacks carried out towards the town’s Muslim residents, as well as several places of worship. Our recommended read of the day is by Apoorvanand for Al Jazeera on the terrible train crash near Balasore station in the state of  Odisha, and how anti-Muslim social media influencers have used the incident as a means to stoke fear and hatred towards Indian Muslims. This and more below:


India’s deadly train crash: Forget the truth, blame it on Muslims | Recommended Read

It happens only in India that even a train accident is used as an opportunity to demonise Muslims. Just after the recent terrible train crash near Balasore station in the eastern state of Odisha, in which more than 280 people died, posts started circulating on different social media platforms and WhatsApp groups, blaming Muslims for the accident. Could it be a coincidence that it was a Friday when three trains collided with each other in Odisha? As if the Friday angle was not sufficient, a lie was invented that the station master was Muslim. To make it look more sinister, the photo of a religious shrine near the railway track where the accident had taken place was spread on social media claiming that it was a mosque, suggesting that there must be some link between the mosque and the accident. It was immediately exposed as a lie. It was a Hindu temple and not a mosque. But imagine if it had actually been a mosque – the baseless conspiracy theory would have received fresh wings. Sadly, fact-checking only cements doubts created by fake news in minds that are already prejudiced against Muslims and are being told day and night that Muslims are conspiring against the nation. These are minds trained to think that there is a need to keep an eye on Muslims and to subjugate them using laws and, if necessary, violence. read the complete article

‘Don’t Think We Can Go Back’: Muslims Fleeing Purola

“Humko nahi lagta ab hum kabhi waha wapas ja payenge (We don’t think we can go back there again),” says Mohammed Zahid, a shopkeeper in Uttarakhand’s Purola. Zahid is the district president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) minority cell in Uttarkashi. The lives of approximately 200 Muslims in Purola changed overnight on 26 May. They became the target of anti-Muslim hate after the alleged ‘abduction’ of a minor Hindu girl by two men — a Hindu and a Muslim — on May 26, which prompted accusations of ‘love jihad,’ a conspiracy theory pushed by the Hindu right-wing in which Muslim men seduce Hindu women and convert them to Islam. “If a BJP leader is not safe, who is,” Zahid told TCN. Zahid, who has been associated with the BJP for the past 7-8 years, was elected as the president of the BJP’s district minority cell this year, having previously served as a Sanyojak (convener) for three years and as Mahamantri (general secretary) for another three years within the party. Zahid had thought that his party would support and protect him, but he was disappointed when that did not happen. Following the 26 May incident, various Hindu right-wing groups, along with the local Vyapar Mandal (trader’s guild) and certain residents, organized a protest rally on 27 May which was attended by several hundred people. The protesters resorted to vandalism. Several hoardings and flex boards of shops owned by Muslims were torn down. These gatherings were specifically directed against Muslims, exacerbating tensions and creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. read the complete article

A year in jail for Indian activist held over Prophet remarks row

A Muslim activist has completed a year in jail without trial after being accused of “masterminding” protests against derogatory remarks made by members of India’s ruling party about the Prophet Muhammad. Javed Mohammad has been jailed since June 11 last year. He has been granted bail in six of the eight cases against him and remains behind bars in Uttar Pradesh state’s Deoria district, about 260km (160 miles) northeast of his hometown of Prayagraj, where his home was demolished by authorities following the nationwide protests. Two days before the 57-year-old activist finished a year in jail, his 83-year-old father, Mohammad Azhar, died. Authorities denied him permission to attend the burial. Mohammad’s daughter Afreen Fatima, 25, is angry that her father did not get a parole to attend the funeral. “Hatred has grown so big that people have become inhuman. A man is behind bars for one year even though the entire city can testify his innocence. His father passed away, but he is not allowed to attend the funeral rites,” she told Al Jazeera. Describing her father’s incarceration as “unjust” and “wrongful”, Fatima, who was a students union leader at Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh Muslim University, said the criminal justice system in India is flawed because it keeps detainees in jail for months and even years without trial. read the complete article


Refugees are living longer in exile than ever before, with complex consequences for them and their host communities

The number of people forced from their homes, primarily because of conflict or climate change, is on the rise, topping 100 million people in 2022 – more than double the number of displaced people in 2012. About a third of those 100 million people are refugees. Refugees live in a legal limbo that can increasingly stretch for decades. And the number of people remaining refugees for five years or longer more than doubled over the past decade, topping 16 million in 2022. These are people who do not have a clear path to residency in any country but are unable to return to their homes because they are unsafe. Typically, because of domestic political pressure and other issues, the countries hosting refugees do not want to offer them permanent residency. I have spent years interviewing Rohingya people – members of an ethnic minority who have lived in Myanmar for centuries but without actual citizenship – in refugee camps in Bangladesh. These talks show the real-life effects of people remaining refugees for years. My research shows that host countries’ interests in protecting the rights and services of their own citizens keeps refugees from being fully integrated into society or obtaining citizenship. In the absence of legal protection outside their home countries, refugees’ livelihoods and well-being often remain in jeopardy, an effect that can span generations. read the complete article

Experts warn against UAE’s use of ‘extremism’ term in UN draft resolution

The UAE’s push at the United Nations to pass a draft security council resolution on "tolerance and international peace and security" is raising eyebrows and warnings, among critics of the Emirates' human rights record. The UAE assumed presidency of the 15-member Security Council in June for the second time, as part of its two-year tenure at the helm of the body. The draft resolution is intended to build on a ministerial-level briefing at the Security Council which the UAE opened Wednesday on “human fraternity”. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and 40 other organisations said in a joint statement that the UAE was launching a “sustained assault” on human rights, while it used the criminal justice system as a “tool” to eliminate the human rights movement. The early draft of the resolution calls on UN member states to “Recognize(s) that hate speech, racism and all manifestations of extremism can contribute to driving the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict, and undermine initiatives to address root causes of conflict and prevent and resolve conflict.” Some experts say the language could be used to muzzle dissent. Specifically, the UAE’s use of the word “extremism” departs from what Jordan Street, a senior policy and advocacy advisor at Saferworld, says is a “long-running precedent” at the UN to include the qualifier "violent" before extremism. “Almost every human rights expert will tell you that because the term ‘extremism’ is so open to interpretation, it can be used (and abused) any way a State wishes,” he said in a tweet. "This is tantamount to the UNSC giving a stamp of approval to target anyone ‘extreme.'” read the complete article

UK moves to block Guantanamo Bay prisoner suing over CIA torture claims

The UK government is trying to stop a Guantanamo Bay prisoner suing over claims its security services were complicit in his torture at CIA “black sites”. Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, a Saudi-born Palestinian and suspected senior Osama bin Laden lieutenant, better known as Abu Zubaydah, alleges the British security services passed questions to the Americans during interrogations in which he was waterboarded 83 times at the sites in six countries. Abu Zubaydah was the first high-profile Al Qaeda suspect to be captured after the September 11 attacks and has been held since then without trial. His lawyers are suing for false imprisonment, negligence and misfeasance in public office. They highlight a US Senate report that said he suffered “serious injuries and permanent physical disability” as a result of torture so severe even CIA officers were left “profoundly distressed”. But the government is arguing UK law is not applicable in the case and that any claim should be brought in the countries where the alleged torture took place. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Peaceophobia: How a theatre show in a Glasgow car park is tackling bigotry

A THEATRE performance is aiming to use car culture and friendship to challenge negative stereotypes about young Muslim men when it opens in Glasgow this week. The city has the largest Muslim population in Scotland and so, organisers said, it was "incredibly important" for them to bring the show to the city. Peaceophobia is part of the Tramway venue's Beyond Walls programme - but will be performed in a car park in Glasgow's Merchant City. The brainchild of young women from Bradford-based theatre company Common Wealth’s Speakers Corner Collective, the performance challenges the political, social and cultural narratives surrounding young Muslim men. Peaceophobia draws up on the men’s experiences of systemic racism, as well as their love of modified car culture, friendships, and faith. Mariyah Kayat, Speakers Corner Director, said: “Peaceophobia explores what it means to be a young Muslim man living in today's day and age. "We explore themes around car culture, Islamophobia and Islam." read the complete article

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Mosque, Muslims' houses face Islamophobic attacks in Bosnia

A mosque and houses of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina's Surmanci town have been subjected to numerous Islamophobic attacks recently. City of Capljina's Islamic Council chief Imam Adem Suta said there have been many attacks in Surmanci in recent days, targeting Muslims. “First of all, the windows of the mosque were broken, then the windows and a door of the mosque were hit with an air gun,” said Suta, adding that attackers also targeted houses of Muslims. Police are investigating the attack and looking for the perpetrators, said Suta. According to Suta, the ugliest attack was when a dead lizard was thrown into the area where a funeral prayer was taking place. read the complete article


Quebec judge nixes request from Muslim group to suspend ban on school prayer rooms

A Quebec Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied a request by a Muslim advocacy group and a civil liberties organization to suspend the province’s ban on prayer rooms in public schools. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims had argued that the ban was causing irreparable harm to Muslim students and needed to be suspended immediately. Muslim students couldn’t wait while the wider legal challenge made its way through the courts, they said. Justice Lukasz Granosik agreed that the ban violates religious freedom and could cause irreparable harm to Muslim students. But he said the groups hadn’t demonstrated the need for urgency because they only filed their request for a stay in June when the ban went into effect May 3. The judge said there are “serious questions” about the constitutionality of the ban, but he added that those would be settled during a full trial. He said the constitutional violations were not sufficiently clear for him to suspend the rule so early in the legal challenge. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 15 Jun 2023 Edition


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