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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02 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, a Muslim family has filed a discrimination complaint against McDonald’s, stating that workers at the fast-food chain in Massachusetts intentionally put bacon on a fish sandwich, meanwhile in Canada, the Coalition of Muslim Women will be hosting a vigil on Monday, June 6th to mark the first year since the attack that killed members of the Afzal family and orphaned a nine-year-old boy in London, and lastly, Uyghurs abroad and rights activist state that U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet failed her most important test with her visit to China, as she “had the opportunity to confront this Orwellian police state,” but instead only “repeated talking points from China itself.” Our recommended read of the day is by Quratulain Rehbar for Al Jazeera on ‘Hindutva pop,’ a genre of Hindu nationalist music that has gained popularity since PM Modi came to power in India, as “supporters of the Hindu far-right love and share the music for their messages of hate, abuse and even threats of genocide targeted at the Muslim minority.” This and more below:


02 Jun 2022

‘Hindutva pop’: The singers producing anti-Muslim music in India | Recommended Read

“Insaan nahi ho saalo, ho tum kasaayi; Bahut ho chuka Hindu-Muslim bhai bhai” – You are not human, you are butchers; it’s enough of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. These are the lyrics of a ‘bhajan’ (devotional song) that singer Prem Krishnavanshi posted on YouTube three years ago and has been viewed thousands of times since. Triggered by contemporary hate politics, Krishnavanshi’s song is a part of a new mass culture in India where anti-Muslim songs are played in rallies by Hindu supremacist groups, mainly in what is called the country’s “Hindi belt” northern states. Dozens of such music videos can be found on YouTube and other social media platforms, with the supporters of the Hindu far-right loving and sharing them for their messages of hate, abuse and even threats of genocide targeted at the Muslim minority. The turning point came in 2014 when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. The arrival of a new government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw an unprecedented polarisation of Indian society, with hate attacks on India’s minorities, mainly Muslims, becoming a near-daily affair since. In such a scenario, cultural products such as music, poetry and cinema also became the tools by which this politics of hatred is sustained. In the past few months, India witnessed religious violence in several states during Hindu festivals when right-wing groups held marches in mainly Muslim neighbourhoods and played loud music laced with Islamophobic lyrics outside mosques. Krishnavanshi sings in Hindi and Bhojpuri languages. His fan base is mainly in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with nearly 205 million residents, governed by the BJP’s saffron-robed Hindu monk, Yogi Adityanath, who is known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies. In many of his songs, Krishnavanshi suggests Muslims are “anti-nationals who should go to Pakistan”. One of his songs says: “Muslims will eventually force Hindus to pray namaz if they don’t wake up soon”. read the complete article

02 Jun 2022

FIR Against Mohammed Zubair for Calling Militant Hindutva Leaders 'Hatemongers'

Alt News‘ co-founder Mohammed Zubair has been named in a first information report (FIR) registered at a police station in Uttar Pradesh’s Khairabad after he called Yati Narasinghanand, Mahant Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop “hatemongers” in a tweet. Based on the complaint of one Bhagwan Sharan, who identifies himself as the district head of Rashtriya Hindu Sher Sena, the police booked Zubair under Section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of Information Technology Act. On May 27, Zubair, in a series of tweets, slammed prime time debates on Indian news television channels, which he said, “have become a platform to encourage hate mongers to speak ill about other religions” in connection with the ongoing controversy into the Gyanvapi mosque. Referring to the particular tweet, the complainant said his religious sentiments were hurt by Zubair’s tweet, which referred to his “Honourable Mahant Bajarang Muni as hatemonger”. He further went on to say that Zubair was inciting Muslims to “murder” Hindu leaders. read the complete article


02 Jun 2022

Racism of ‘Jerusalem Day’ march is Israeli mainstream: Analysts

For Palestinian residents, Sunday’s far-right “Jerusalem Day” flag march was a day of provocation and violence against them. About 70,000 Israelis marched through the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, waving Israeli flags, and emphasising that they, in their eyes, were the true rulers of Jerusalem. The march, marking the 1967 occupation and subsequent annexation of East Jerusalem, is held annually, but this year it attracted one of the largest crowds on record. Palestinians, young and old, were attacked, while Israeli forces watched on. In the narrow alleys of the Old City, Palestinians were forced to listen as ultranationalist Jews chanted anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic chants, such as “Death to Arabs” and “Muhammed is dead”. Other chants, accompanied by boisterous dancing and the sound of drums, included “a Jew is a soul, an Arab is a son of a whore” and “Shuafat is on fire” – referring to the 2015 burning alive of 15-year-old Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir by Israeli settlers in Jerusalem. “May your village burn” – a reference to the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestinians in 1948 by Zionist paramilitaries – was also a common chant. Sunday’s march saw journalists reporting on the march being attacked, with some ultranationalists revelling in the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by an Israeli sniper while covering an army raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin earlier this month. read the complete article

02 Jun 2022

The U.N. human rights chief has failed us, our families — and the world

U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet faced her most important test last week — and she failed miserably. Her visit to China in May — as the world waited for her to release a long-overdue U.N. report on human rights abuses in the Uyghur homeland — summarily undercut more than five years of efforts by Uyghur activists and our allies to tell the world what is happening to our people. For years, Uyghurs have worked tirelessly to cut through China’s propaganda machine and shine a light on its ongoing genocide against our people. Countries around the world have acknowledged this genocide, and an independent panel of legal experts concluded last December in a people’s tribunal that China’s actions amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity. In her visit, Bachelet had the opportunity to confront this Orwellian police state. Instead, she repeated talking points from China itself, offering soft words that do not match the thousands of testimonies of survivors and families in the diaspora. She invoked Beijing’s false rhetoric characterizing this persecution as “counterterrorism and deradicalization” and did not insist on visiting a single camp in which Uyghurs — an estimated 2 million — are being held. The trip raised alarm bells among human rights advocates and Uyghur activists from the outset. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ team did not receive unfettered access. Beijing arranged for travel in a “closed loop” with no foreign press in attendance, claiming this was to prevent the spread of covid-19. Under such circumstances, the U.N. and Bachelet should never have agreed to the visit. There could be no neutral and balanced visit without free and independent access to the people affected. Bachelet did not meet or speak to the family members of the victims, and only offered meek suggestions for change. It was a trip entirely curated by China to amplify their state media propaganda. read the complete article

02 Jun 2022

West demands publication of UN’s long-awaited Xinjiang report

Pressure to release a long-awaited Xinjiang report is mounting on the UN’s rights head, as her recent six-day visit to China left activists, western governments and commentators unsatisfied. The report, which Michelle Bachelet said was being finalised late last year, is believed to contain evidence of China’s alleged human rights abuses of its Uyghur ethnic minority group in Xinjiang. In a press conference on Saturday, Bachelet promised to “follow up” on instances of China’s human rights abuse, calling for the authorities in Beijing to review their counter-terrorism policies in the Uyghur minority region. She also appealed for information about missing Uyghurs. But her diplomatic dance with one of the UN system’s most significant stakeholders drew the ire of western governments. The US said China had “restricted” and “manipulated” Bachelet’s visit, while the UK’s Foreign Office vowed to increase international pressure on China to “immediately cease its appalling human rights violations in Xinjiang, and release those unjustly detained”. Activists accused Bachelet – who herself is a survivor of torture in her native Chile – of “diminishing” the credibility of her office and called her visit “a betrayal”. read the complete article

02 Jun 2022

U.S. is ready to implement ban on Xinjiang goods on June 21

U.S. authorities are ready to implement a ban on imports from China's Xinjiang region when a law requiring it becomes enforceable later in June, a U.S. Customs official said on Wednesday, adding that a "very high" level of evidence would be required for an exemption. U.S. President Joe Biden in December signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) in an effort to safeguard the U.S. market from products potentially tainted by human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where the U.S. government says China is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims. The law includes a "rebuttable presumption" that all goods from Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities established detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups, are made with forced labor, and bars their import unless it can be proven otherwise. China denies abuses in Xinjiang, a major cotton producer that also supplies much of the world's materials for solar panels, and says the law "slanders" the country's human rights situation. read the complete article

United States

02 Jun 2022

Are abortion bans like Sharia? Not even close, say Muslims

When news broke that the Supreme Court was poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, critics on social media, at rallies and on talk shows called Republicans the "American Taliban" and griped that they wanted to bring Sharia, or Islamic law, to the U.S. “It is a bit amazing. After all these years of the right screaming about the threat of Sharia law, it turns out they were just jealous,” "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah said in one such barb on May 4. The comparisons are not only offensive but also inaccurate, say Muslims. Under most interpretations of Islamic law, abortion is permitted within the first 120 days. Today, some American states have tougher abortion laws than Afghanistan, which allows the procedure if the mother's life is at risk or if the child will be born with severe disabilities. Sharia comparisons have followed a spate of new anti-abortion laws and the Supreme Court leak. The jabs about Sharia are a form of Islamophobia by the political left, say Muslim activists and academics. “Liberals are seeking to protect women’s right to privacy and autonomy over her body,” said Sahar Aziz, Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School. “They are perversely doing so by maligning Islam as misogynistic by comparing the opposition to Sharia.” read the complete article

02 Jun 2022

Disqualified for running in a hijab, Noor Alexandria Abukaram turned pain into action

Noor Alexandria Abukaram was disqualified for wearing her hijab at a track meet in 2019. The Ohio High School Athletic Association required a waiver to wear clothing for religious practices ahead of the race. Unfortunately, her former cross-country coach hadn't obtained a waiver. Initially, the incident left the then 16-year-old Abukaram feeling humiliated until she began sharing her story with others. Since then, the 18-year-old has used her platform to raise awareness about discrimination in sports through her Let Noor Run campaign and helped successfully lead the charge to legislative changes that protect freedom of religious expression for athletes in Ohio. In her own words, Abukaram describes how she's empowered herself as a hijabi runner and worked toward making sports more inclusive. read the complete article

02 Jun 2022

Muslim call to prayer arrive to Minneapolis soundscape

The chant in Arabic blasted from rooftop loudspeakers, drowning out both the growl of traffic from nearby interstates and the chatter and clinking glasses on the patio of the dive bar that shares a wall with Minneapolis’ oldest Somali mosque. This spring Minneapolis became the first large city in the United States to allow the Islamic call to prayer, or adhan, to be broadcast publicly by its two dozen mosques. As more of them get ready to join Dar Al-Hijrah in doing so, the transforming soundscape is testament to the large and increasingly visible Muslim community, which is greeting the change with both celebration and caution, lest it cause backlash. “It’s a sign that we are here,” said Yusuf Abdulle, who directs the Islamic Association of North America, a network of three dozen mostly East African mosques. Half of them are in Minnesota, home to rapidly growing numbers of refugees from war-torn Somalia since the late 1990s. Just like some Americans opposed church bells in the 19th century, the call to prayer has led to disputes over the years, from Duke University to Culver City, California. In Hamtramck, a small city surrounded by Detroit, councilors exempted religious sounds from the noise ordinance at a mosque’s request. Coming in the aftermath of 9/11, the amendment got embroiled in national controversy, but a referendum to revoke it failed. In the predominantly Somali neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside, tucked between downtown and two college campuses, Dar Al-Hijrah mosque’s adhan has met no backlash. read the complete article

02 Jun 2022

McDonald's staff 'deliberately' served US Muslim family bacon

Workers at a McDonald’s restaurant in Massachusetts intentionally put bacon on a fish sandwich that a Muslim woman had ordered for one of her children, a civil rights organisation said on Wednesday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a discrimination complaint on the woman's behalf with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. “It is commonly known that Islam forbids Muslims from eating pork," the complaint says. “McDonald’s employees wilfully added bacon to the complainant’s food in an effort to offend, humiliate, and cause distress to complainant and her young children.” The experience prompted one the children to ask his mother if “they hate us.” “McDonald’s made my children and me feel unwanted and worthless by intentionally stuffing a fish sandwich full of bacon for no other reason than to punish us for our faith and religious convictions,” the woman, Ghadir Alahmar, said in a statement. “This really hurt us. My children now wonder if they are welcome in their own country. They ask me, ‘Do they hate us?’ How is a mother supposed to answer that question?” Alahmar, who wears a hijab and an abaya, entered the store on June 29 of last year with her twin 7-year-old sons, the complaint says. She ordered a plain fish sandwich, and had one of her children repeat the order to a worker in case they did not understand her accent. They received their order, which included fries and cookies, and left the restaurant to walk to a nearby school playground where they planned to eat. One of her sons noticed the bacon. The sandwich not only had bacon on it, but appeared to have extra bacon, the complaint says. read the complete article


02 Jun 2022

Woman denied entry to restaurant in France for wearing hijab

A woman wearing a hijab (headscarf) was not allowed inside a restaurant in France for a Mother's Day dinner because of her attire. The restaurant's female owner said, "she is wearing an outfit from the Dark Ages," referring to the headscarf According to media reports, the incident took place on Sunday when a resident of France's Hendaye city, wanted to take his mother to a restaurant for a Mother's Day dinner, which he had made a reservation a week in advance. In the footage, when the mother and son arrive at the restaurant door, the woman who owns the business said she will not let the two customers into the restaurant because her mother is wearing a "headscarf from the Dark Ages." The restaurant owner, who is believed to be a Christian because she was wearing a religious symbol – a cross around her neck – claimed that "the headscarf is a tool to subdue women" to her Muslim client, whom she then refused to let in. The customer, who stated that he was shocked by the words directed at him, went to the police station and filed a complaint on the grounds that they were discriminated against. read the complete article


02 Jun 2022

‘These deaths can’t be in vain’: Coalition of Muslim Women to host vigil, present Waterloo Region hate crime data

To mark the first year since the attack that killed members of the Afzal family and orphaned a nine-year-old boy in London, Ont., the Coalition of Muslim Women will be hosting a vigil on Monday, June 6 at the Family Centre Gymnasium along Hanson Avenue in Kitchener. The event, meant to renew the community’s collective commitment to fight against Islamophobia and hate, will also feature a CMW report on data that illustrates what hate looks like in Waterloo Region. “The data will come primarily from the Hate or Discrimination Reporting and Support Service,” said Sarah Shafiq, the coalition’s director of programs and services. The report will also include statistics and insights from the Waterloo Regional Police Service and inputs from racialized community groups that shared their experiences with hate crimes, hate incidents, and discrimination. “Understanding where hate is occurring, who is being targeted, what type of harm is being done is important to devise strategies to counter this type of harm,” Shafiq explained in an interview with the Cambridge Times. “The community never really forgot the Afzal family,” Shafiq shared. The coalition hopes to help channel the community’s hurt and anger into productive ways to address racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia in Waterloo Region. “These deaths can’t be in vain,” she said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 Jun 2022 Edition


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