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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16 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, attacks against Muslims have increased since the Bharatiya Janata Party took power, as many have been left homeless after the authorities bulldozed their houses for protesting against hate speech in the country, meanwhile in Europe, dozens of “civil society groups have called out the European Union and its institutions for their alleged failure to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination among its member states,” and lastly, five Muslim women talk about what the new Ms. Marvel show means to them as many are “not used to seeing nuanced portrayals of themselves on screen.” Our recommended read of the day is by Waquar Hasan for The New Arab on how myths are being given precedence over historical facts in Modi’s India, as Hindu nationalists campaign to convert historical mosques and monuments into temples. This and more below:


16 Jun 2022

'When myths are given precedence over historical facts': Hindu nationalists campaign to convert Muslim monuments and mosques into temples in India | Recommended Read

Hindu nationalists backed by Narendra Modi-led federal government have been launching campaigns one after another to target the Muslim minority in India. Now, they are running campaigns to convert historical mosques and monuments including the Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar built by Muslim rulers in the medieval era in India into temples. Leaders belonging to Hindu nationalist groups are filing petitions in the courts, making public statements and holding protests demanding to declare these monuments and mosques as temples. They claim that these monuments and mosques were built by medieval Muslim rulers after demolishing temples and now, they should be given the right to pray at these places. “These are the days when myths are being given precedence over historical facts," explains Sayed Ali Nadeem Rezavi about the claims being by the Hindu nationalists about the mosques and monuments. "One can engage with those who are interested in finding the truth, not those who are bent upon distorting the past,” Sayed, who is a faculty at the history department of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in India, told The New Arab. Criticising the behaviour of Hindu nationalists towards historical facts, Sayed pointed to the fallacy of the argument with regard to the claims to correct the historical wrongs. Besides historical monuments, there are mosques too which are being claimed by Hindu nationalists. The ongoing campaign against the Gyanvapi mosque, located in Hindus’ holy city Varanasi, is now at the centre of public discussion after a court in the city sealed off a portion of the mosque in May after claims of the presence of Hindu relics (Shivling) in the Islamic religious place. read the complete article

16 Jun 2022

Thousands protest ruling BJP's 'bulldozer justice' against Indian Muslims

Protests have been erupting in many Indian cities to condemn the demolition of homes and businesses belonging to Muslims, in what critics call a growing pattern of "bulldozer justice" aimed at punishing campaigners from the minority group by PM Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "The demolitions are a gross violation of constitutional norms and ethics," Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a specialist on Hindu nationalist politics and biographer of Modi, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. On Sunday, authorities in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh rode on a bulldozer to raze the home of Javed Ahmad, who they said was connected to Muslim religious protests that turned violent last Friday. Police arrested Ahmad on Saturday. Bulldozers also crushed the properties of protesters in two other cities in Uttar Pradesh last week. In April, authorities in New Delhi used bulldozers to destroy Muslim-owned shops days after communal violence in which dozens were arrested. Similar incidents have been reported in other states. On Tuesday, 12 prominent people, including former Supreme Court and High Court judges and lawyers, sent a letter to India's chief justice urging him to hold a hearing on the demolitions, calling them illegal and "a form of collective extrajudicial punishment." They accused the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk-turned-governing party politician, of suppressing dissent by using violence against protesters. read the complete article

16 Jun 2022

Muslim girls walk tight rope between education and religion as Mangalore University now cites high court order to ban hijab

Ashraf, a fruit seller in Uppinangady in the Mangaluru region of Karnataka, is a worried father. His daughter is currently pursuing a bachelor of arts (BA) degree in the Government First Grade College, Uppinangady and she is caught in the quagmire of the hijab controversy. Following a week of suspension, his daughter has now returned to the class after tendering an apology letter to the principal for insisting on attending classes wearing her customary hijab. Nearly 13 other students, out of the 24 girls who were suspended last week for attending classes wearing the hijab, have returned to campus. “I am really afraid to send my daughter to school due to the communal issues that have suddenly gripped the educational institutions,” says Ashraf, who has five daughters. Using the cover of a March 15, 2022, order of the Karnataka High Court — which ruled that the wearing of the hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and that the freedom of religion is subject to reasonable restrictions — the Mangalore University syndicate decided on May 14 that hijabs which were being worn to the degree classes by Muslim girls should be banned in colleges affiliated to it where uniforms have been prescribed by the college development council. The syndicate’s decision came after students from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the right-wing students union associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka, protested against the use of hijab in classes by Muslim girls and warned that they would wear saffron shawls if the Muslim girls were allowed to wear it. read the complete article

16 Jun 2022

Is India’s BJP to blame for reports of rising Islamophobia?

Attacks against Muslims have allegedly increased since the Bharatiya Janata Party took power. Left homeless for protesting against hate speech in India. That is what dozens of people whose houses have been demolished say has happened to them. Most are Muslims. But the demolitions took place as emotions were running high across India. In the past week, people rallied in several cities, protesting against offensive comments that two members of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made about the Prophet Muhammad. Anti-Muslim violence has been growing since 2014 – the year Narendra Modi became prime minister. What does growing religious intolerance mean for the future of India? read the complete article


16 Jun 2022

Stateless restlessness: The Uyghur women longing for a homeland

An aimless wanderer; a stateless nomad with no place to call home. Exiled Uyghurs define themselves in many ways, but as Zuhre chronicles the daily reality of her people, the relentless and profound malaise clinging to them all, it is not just about geography. It is about belonging and the loss of a homeland. Wherever they settle they will always be guests in someone else's country. Theirs is a gaping sore that neither therapy nor time will heal. They are destined to be restless drifters forever, far from home. Thirty-one of Zuhre’s relatives have disappeared. The Uyghur exile who fled to Turkey five years ago builds a picture of their rumoured fate from random gossip and the occasional TikTok video that escapes the censors. The news comes from the grapevine in circuitous ways that evade China's all-pervasive surveillance machinery, which is why the sudden avalanche of photographs, police records, government speeches and other identifiable, irrefutable evidence from hacked police files in their homeland is at one shocking but also reassuring. A sense of relief and vindication that the Chinese government's "Lies of the Century", now has thousands of faces and names, has brought some measure of comfort to Zuhre, despite the fact that even after searching through the entire collection twice she is still no nearer to discovering where her own family is. "But I am still so happy that these files have been released," she said. "Now no one in the world can deny this is happening to my people." Münevver Özgür, part of the 50,000 Uyghur diaspora in Istanbul, and director of the Nuzugum Foundation for destitute women and orphans busies herself with the pastoral care of her considerable flock to keep her own pain at bay. Their material needs are great but their psychological trauma is a priority for her. Many of the women have left their husbands and children back in China, only able to travel with those who had passports. Small children grow up asking when they will be able to see their fathers again, and the older ones keep their sorrow pent up for fear of upsetting their mothers. read the complete article

16 Jun 2022

UN human rights chief could not speak to detained Uyghurs or families during Xinjiang visit

Michelle Bachelet has said wasn’t able to speak to any detained Uyghurs or their families during her controversial visit to Xinjiang, and was accompanied by government officials while in the region. The UN human rights chief, who this week announced she would not be seeking another term, told a session of the 50th Human Rights Council in Geneva that there were limitations on her visit to the region in China, where authorities have been accused of committing crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. Bachelet and a team from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spent six days in Guangdong and Xinjiang for a visit that activists and some western governments described as a propaganda coup for the Chinese government. In a statement on Wednesday, Bachelet said she was able to meet members of civil society organisations without government supervision, but in Xinjiang was “accompanied by government officials throughout the visit”. “I visited Kashgar prison plus a former so-called VETC [vocational education and training centre], where I spoke to the authorities. I was not able to speak to any Uyghurs currently detained or their families during the visit. However, in anticipation of this, I did meet with some former detainees who are now outside the country and with families who have lost contact with loved ones ahead of my visit.” read the complete article

16 Jun 2022

Nakia’s Speech From Ms. Marvel Episode 2 Is Something We’ve Never Seen On TV

After a mishap where she nearly reveals that she has powers, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) laments to her BFF Nakia Bahadir (Yasmeen Fletcher), “Everything’s just changing really fast, Nax. I feel like I can’t keep up." On the surface — at least to Nakia, who has no idea her Pakistani American friend from Jersey City is a literal superhero — she’s talking about growing up and finding her place as a young adult, a time when you’re rife with emotions, stress, and hormones. To Kamala, and to us who know the truth, she’s talking about dealing with and harnessing the responsibilities that come with finding out you can walk on air and protect yourself with a shield. It’s a relatable moment even for someone who doesn’t have superhuman powers — the idea of struggling to fit in. But then Nakia, who wears a hijab in both the comics and the series, takes the moment further, relating Kamala’s search for a place in the world to her own struggle to find purpose, as someone who’s growing up between two cultures and has chosen to wear a hijab. The experience, as Nakia explains, has been far from a walk in the park. “Easy? It’s definitely not easy,” she tells Kamala. “My whole life I’ve either been too white for some people or too ethnic for others, and it’s been this very uncomfortable, sucky in-between. When I first put [my hijab] on, I was hoping to shut some people up, but I kind of realized I don’t need to prove anything to anybody. When I put this on, I feel like me — like I have a purpose.” It’s a subtle moment, shared between two friends hugging among the graffiti and stale smell of a girl’s school bathroom, but it — like Kamala — is über powerful, addressing a reality and experience not talked about enough on screen in western culture, the struggle to grow up in the in between. The conversation equates Nakia's hijab and identity with Kamala's superpowers, reframing a religious head covering often vilified in western cultures in a positive and powerful light (as many of those who actually wear one have always seen). And more importantly, purposefully so. Historically, young South Asian and Middle Eastern women — if they’ve been depicted on screen at all — have had to grapple with pretty limiting and sometimes straight up offensive representations. Often, the trope is the same: a young brown girl is depicted as meek, nerdy, voiceless, and essentially powerless, usually against the wills and desires of her family. It doesn't really matter where geographically or culturally she's from. The throughline is that she's brown as the wide spectrum of individual cultures are, of course, all conflated. We saw it from an early age and to a pretty big extreme with Disney princess Jasmine, who's kidnapped and locked away by Jafar. read the complete article

16 Jun 2022

Five Muslim women on why they love Ms. Marvel and their hopes for the Disney+ show

For Muslim women not used to seeing nuanced portrayals of themselves on screen, the show will be added to the very short list of programmes that offer varied and accurate Muslim representation. Here, five women talk about what the Ms. Marvel comics and upcoming show mean to them, and what they hope seeing it on-screen will do for representation. The siblings love seeing a Muslim superhero in the Marvel world, especially one for whom her faith infuses who she is without being all she is, and agree that Kamala Khan speaks to their experiences. “I absolutely love Kamala as I feel like she is one of the most accurate representations of my Muslim experience,” says Sofia, who longed for a character like Ms. Marvel when she was a teenager herself. “She doesn’t wear a hijab, but still practices. She questions her faith, which is something I did as a teenager, but she still has such a strong belief. She is also a certified nerd which I’ve always related to. I love the fact that they allowed her to have a personality outside of her religion as I think oftentimes Muslim characters are only identifiable by their religious characteristics.” “The few Muslim representations we have are very similar stories of women feeling oppressed and taking their hijabs off for a white boy while turning their back on a religion but we deserve to see the positive side as well. It's started slowly (shout out to We Are Lady Parts!) and we are getting Muslim representation written by Muslims for Muslims that just happen to be a superhero.” read the complete article

16 Jun 2022

Islamophobia 'ignored' by the European Union, rights groups say

Dozens of civil society groups have called out the European Union and its institutions for their alleged failure to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination among its member states. In a joint statement on Tuesday, 41 groups said that the EU had a "problem" with Islamophobia and expressed their concern over the institution's meagre efforts to combat discrimination and hatred that Muslims in Europe routinely face. The organisations said that the EU and France opposed creating an International Day to combat Islamophobia at The United Nations earlier this year, making it an indicator of its failure to tackle the persisting issue. Meanwhile France, over the past six months, has yet to seriously address the widespread structural and institutional discriminations against Muslim minorities in Europe in its EU policies," they added. The EU Commission has also failed to appoint a new coordinator on Islamophobia since July last year, in what appears to be a "pattern of behaviour," they further added. The statement also pointed out that French policies have put in more effort into combatting other forms of prejudice, such as antisemitism, giving the impression of "hierarchy" between different forms of racism, following concerns about the downgrading of Muslim worries in its policies, which France has denied. read the complete article


16 Jun 2022

Myanmar relies on apartheid, imprisonment to survive: HRW

The rights group says that 135,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims have been detained arbitrarily and indefinitely in the Rakhine State camps for ten years. Authorities in Myanmar have capitalised on the ethnic cleansing campaign that started in 2012 to remove Rohingya and Kaman Muslims from daily life in the past decade, Human Rights Watch has said. A report released by the rights group on Wednesday said over 135,000 Muslims were arbitrarily arrested in Rakhine State in the past decade, with authorities committing crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. “The Myanmar junta’s unyielding oppression of the Rohingya people is the foreseeable result of the military facing no consequences for its decade of ethnic cleansing and system of apartheid,” said Shayna Bauchner, Asia researcher at HRW. In 2012, the state launched a violent crackdown campaign that forced Rohingya Muslims to camps that practically served as open-air detention centres with inhuman living conditions. Kamal Ahmad, then a 15-year-old, was one of the Rohingya whose life has changed after the violent segregation policy of the state. Growing up in Myanmar, Kamal Ahmad was always aware that his community, Rohingya Muslims, was treated differently. But in June 2012, life dramatically changed for him and other Muslims. He was insulted with slurs at school by ethnic Rakhine classmates for years, but then extremist Buddhist monks started a campaign calling Rohingya “terrorists”. They need to be wiped out, or they will take over, said the magazines and pamphlets distributed by the racist, hate-filled monks. A UN official who worked in Rakhine State described it as an organised policy. “What they did in 2012 was to overwhelm the Rohingya population,” he said. “Corner them, fence them, confine the ‘enemy.’” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 16 Jun 2022 Edition


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