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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20 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Bangladesh, tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees staged demonstrations to demand repatriation back to Myanmar, where they fled a brutal military crackdown five years ago, meanwhile in France, after the Grenoble town council approved the wearing of full body-covering bathing suits, there was an immediate backlash from a number of politicians including Macron’s interior minister, who “called the Grenoble ruling a provocation — and  filed an injunction to block it in court,” and in Canada, a new initiative aims to make Muslim women feel safe while out and about in the city of Edmonton, which has seen several attacks on Black, Muslim women. Our recommended read of the day is by Christopher Richardson for The Hill on how the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that upheld former President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, “set a dangerous precedent that may well impact Muslims – U.S. citizens and non-citizens – for years to come.” This and more below:

United States

20 Jun 2022

Four years after Trump’s ‘Muslim ban,’ its legacy lives on | Recommended Read

Four years ago this month, on June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld Trump v. Hawaii. The court ruled, despite evidence to the contrary, that President Trump’s travel ban was neutral and that it was a matter of national security. For most, the election of Joe Biden and his repeal of the “Muslim ban” renders much of Trump v. Hawaii moot. But with four years of hindsight, the Supreme Court’s refusal to acknowledge that the policy was animated by Trump’s animus still lives with us. Trump v. Hawaii not only upheld the “Muslim ban,” but it set a dangerous precedent that may well impact Muslims – U.S. citizens and non-citizens – for years to come long after Donald Trump or Joe Biden are gone. Trump’s Proclamation No. 9645 was not written in a vacuum. Its purpose could not have been made clearer than by President Trump himself. He had promised a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims” from entering the country, proclaimed that “Islam hates us” advocated for closing mosques, wanted to create a Muslim database and even favorably compared his “Muslim ban” to Japanese internment in the 1940s. Yet Trump’s government argued that those comments were unrelated to the ban, which, it insisted, was based on national security. Despite hundreds of Republican and Democratic national security officials debunking the national security argument, the Roberts court ignored the religious animus of the law and instead focused on the letter of the law. “The text [of the ban] says nothing about religion” and therefore the courts had to accept the president’s rationale of “national security” being the reason behind the policy. This despite that Trump outlined how he would “assemble a commission together” to help draft a ban that would focus on national security to make his illegal “Muslim ban” legal. Not only did the ruling give a president maximum power and scope when “national security” is concerned but regrettably gives license to the next Trump – a future Trump or maybe even this Trump in 2024 – to take the original “Muslim ban” on five countries and expand it to 15, 20, 30 or even all Muslim-majority countries. In Trump v. Hawaii, the court held that Korematsu v. United States, the case that upheld the government’s right to place Japanese Americans in internment, was not analogous to the current situation. Yet Korematsu became an example for generations of a court turning a blind eye to prejudice; Trump v. Hawaii will have a similar legacy. Beyond its infamous place in the history books, Trump v. Hawaii will give rise to newer, more creative ways to demonize Muslims and other Americans so long as the discrimination is not in the text of the law. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

Council on America-Islamic Relations calls for federal hate crime charges against alleged arson suspect

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on America-Islamic Relations has called for federal hate crime charges to be made for the alleged arson attempt that happened at the East Grand Forks Islamic Center on Sunday, June 5. During a news conference Thursday at the Islamic Center, CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein called for an FBI probe of the incident and for federal hate crime charges to be brought against the suspect in the case, Suzette Gay Thompson, 57, of Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Thompson has been charged with two counts of first-degree arson. Hussein said the incident has impacted those not only in East Grand Forks, but also communities across Minnesota. He called for the Department of Justice to "properly" charge Thompson with a federal hate crime. "Minnesota Muslims are facing unprecedented attack against our centers," Hussein said. "We are now the highest per-capita in the country of attacks against Muslims and we rank among the highest, fourth in the country, of all attacks against Muslims in America." Hussein said the reason is linked to anti-Muslim movements, along with a rise in white supremacists and white nationalists who he says have targeted communities throughout Minnesota. read the complete article


20 Jun 2022

‘It’s hell’: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh rally to ‘go home’

Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh staged demonstrations to demand repatriation back to Myanmar, where they fled a brutal military crackdown five years ago. Simultaneous marches and rallies were allowed to be held on Sunday, a day before World Refugee Day, despite a ban on rallies since a 100,000-strong protest in August 2019. The “Bari Cholo” (Let’s Go Home) campaign involved 23 Rohingya camps, 21 in Ukhiam and two in Teknaf Upazila, a government official told Bangladesh’s newspaper The Daily Star. Almost a million Rohingya are confined to bamboo and tarpaulin shacks in 34 squalid camps in the southeastern part of the country, with no work, poor sanitation and little access to education. “We don’t want to stay in the camps. Being refugees is not easy. It’s hell. Enough is enough. Let’s go home,” Rohingya community leader Sayed Ullah said in a speech at one rally. Police said thousands of refugees, including young children, joined the marches, standing on roads and alleys with placards that read “Enough is Enough! Let’s Go Home”. A widow who lives in a Rohingya camp in Ukhia, who identified herself as Rabeya, said her community was grateful to Bangladesh for its hospitality. “But we want to go back to our homeland. We want to return to our birthplace as soon as possible,” she said. Previous repatriation attempts have failed with Rohingya refusing to go home until Myanmar gives the largely Muslim minority guarantees of rights and security. Investigators from a United Nations fact-finding mission into the killings and forced mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar concluded in 2018 that a criminal investigation and prosecution was warranted of top Myanmar generals for crimes against humanity and genocide. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

5 Years On, The World Is Failing the Rohingya

As Ukraine dominates global attention and funding, it almost feels like the rest of us are competing for crumbs. In Cox’s Bazar, where I work in the Rohingya response, refugees tell us they feel forgotten by the world, and they are not wrong. Five years since fleeing the threat of genocide, almost 1 million people remain completely aid-dependent, neither legally recognized as citizens of Myanmar, the country that drove them out, nor legally considered as refugees by Bangladesh, the country that currently hosts them. Many refugees around the world live in cities or in temporary homes with solid walls. The Rohingya do not. The “largest refugee camp in the world” is located in Teknaf and Ukhiya, where shelters made of bamboo and tarpaulin often stand on steep hill faces, crowded together so densely that any semblance of privacy is impossible. Each of the last five years of the Rohingya exodus has been an exercise in rebuilding and loss. In the dry months, fires frequently sweep through the camps, tearing through flammable bamboo and destroying everything in the flames’ path. In the summers, rains batter the tarpaulins, flooding shelters and causing life-threatening landslides. Here, between the fire and the flood, lives have stagnated. There are no jobs, everyone is in debt, and no one can see a way out. The loss is communal, the hopelessness pervasive. As a last resort, some refugees are taking to the sea. But here too, in one country after another, the Rohingya are being turned back, incarcerated, or forcibly repatriated – all in clear violation of international law. Despite global compacts and grand commitments to protect humans forced to flee, wherever the Rohingya turn to for safety, the doors seem to slam shut. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

The Uyghurs: Europe’s complicity and entanglement with China

A devastating picture has emerged from the recently leaked Xinjiang Police Files — one that should finally lead to a European debate about our own complicity in China’s human rights violations. The European Union’s already learning some painful lessons through the war in Ukraine, which should now be applied to the greater systemic challenge on the axis of authoritarian expansionism — China. Economic entanglement with Russia and China has severely damaged the bloc’s strategic position, and crucially, it has resulted in a reluctance to stand up for and defend our values. In any future EU debate on Russia, the horrors of Bucha and Mariupol will be foremost on our mind. Similarly, human rights violations in China and, most urgently, the existential plight of the Uyghurs should inform the debate about our relationship with the country and our economic dependence on it. The decades-long process of pursuing economic entanglement with China was always presented as a win-win situation: We would benefit economically, while at the same time bringing change to China, as our influence would lead to political liberalization there. But in reality, European leaders like former German Chancellor Angela Merkel structurally downplayed any concerns regarding the violation of human rights and values by Beijing for the sake of short-term profit, and the resulting economic interdependence now severely limits our room for maneuver as an increasingly assertive China expands its global influence. Just one example of how the interweaving of our economies and supply chains has made us complicit in Chinese human rights abuses is that an estimated one in five cotton products worldwide now contains “Xinjiang cotton” — produced through forced labor and named after the region. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

Ms Marvel is the Muslim representation I’ve been waiting for

Being a woman of colour from a Pakistani Muslim background, depictions of people like me were few and far between, and when we were represented it was often through a stereotypical and one-dimensional lens. From the oppressed housewife or daughter to the violent terrorist, these portrayals were frustrating and didn’t reflect me or the women I knew. That is why I, and many others, are so excited to watch and finally feel seen in the new Disney Plus show Ms Marvel. The series follows the story of 17-year-old Kamala Khan, a Muslim-Pakistani girl and superhero fan from Jersey City, US, who suddenly finds herself dealing with her own superpowers. Alongside her new superhuman skills, we see Khan navigate her cultural and religious background, friendships, crushes and other struggles of being a teenage girl. The series is well under way after much anticipation from Marvel fans, south Asians and Muslims who, like me, have been searching for an accurate representation of themselves within the media. In the series so far, we’ve seen explorations and references to Pakistani food, Eid celebrations, Islamic prayer, the partition of India and Pakistan, and the hijab, among other odes to culture and faith in between the superhuman elements – and it has been a joy to see. Overwhelmingly, depictions of Muslims within the media have been absent or negative. A report by the University of Southern California found that Muslims made up just 1.6 per cent of characters in top films, despite making up almost a quarter of the world’s population, and 90 per cent of those characters were linked to violence. In regards to women, the ratio of male to female Muslim characters across the 200 films analysed in the study was 175 to 1. This shows exactly how ignored we are in the mainstream, and why Ms Marvel is such a breath of fresh air. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

Why I expected more from the UN human-rights chief

Michelle Bachelet, the outgoing United Nations (UN) human-rights chief, should have known better. Given her background, I had high hopes for Bachelet’s visit last month to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region—the first by a UN human-rights chief to the country in seventeen years. There, she had the opportunity to challenge Beijing’s oppression of ethnic Uyghurs like my brother Ekpar Asat. As a lawyer, I was not naive about the brokenness of the UN system; still, I saw her as the hero we’d all hoped for, speaking truth to a powerful China and drawing attention to its crimes. Instead, Bachelet played along with China’s carefully sanitized charade. Her trip was meant to be a fact-finding mission to build upon the existing evidence of the widespread mistreatment of Uyghurs. It also coincided with the massive leak of documents and photos revealing what Uyghurs endure in China’s brutal camps and the systemic nature of the terror. But Bachelet didn’t seem interested in any deep probing, reportedly telling diplomats ahead of her trip not to get their hopes up. In recent months, China has removed all visible signs of its atrocities from the regional capital of Urumqi, including its Orwellian checkpoints, surveillance cameras, and barbed wire. During Bachelet’s visit, local residents like my own family were restricted from going out. While there, she effectively echoed the government line by referring to Beijing’s collective punishment against Uyghurs as “counterterrorism responses.” In doing so, I believe she dehumanized the peace-loving Uyghur people. I am also concerned that China would view her stance as a tacit endorsement to further repress the Uyghur people. Probably eager to exploit her visit, state media reported that Bachelet “congratulated China on its important achievements in economic and social development and in promoting the protection of human rights.” Bachelet did, indeed, praise China’s poverty alleviation effort, which has provided some citizens better economic opportunities. But the Uyghurs are not among them—and in fact, Beijing uses “poverty alleviation” as a slogan to exploit Uyghurs by transferring them to forced-labor factories. Her statement simply revealed what seems to be a lack of understanding of how China would seize on such commentary to paint an entirely different picture. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

Israel-India alliance: A recipe for global expansion of Islamophobia

The India-Israel relationship highlights the thin line between principles and interests. India has historically been a political ally against Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine. Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and other forefathers of the Indian independence struggle challenged the Israeli occupation. Since 2017, just three years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, India has been a strategic partner and co-producer of Israeli weapons, with the two countries conducting joint military drills and hosting police and army exchange visits. Since Modi entered office in 2014, around 42 percent of all arms exports from Israel have gone to India. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), weapons deliveries to India from Israel increased by 175 percent between 2015 and 2019. The two countries have also expanded their cooperation in cyber-security in recent years. On the economic front, between 1992 and 2021, bilateral trade soared to $6.35bn in 2021 from just $200m in 1992. Under the BJP government, the strengthening of relations between India and Israel has moved beyond economic interests to ideological synergy. The common thread uniting them is far-right nationalism, which calls for the exclusion, if not expulsion, of all others who do not adhere to the exclusivist identity they’ve assigned to the state. In this context, the figure of the Muslim has become a target of violence in India, while for the Israeli state, Palestinians are an impediment to colonial expansion; for the Hindu nationalists of the BJP, Muslims represent the corruption of a purist Hindu nation. This is a Palestinisation of the Indian Muslims. The adoption of Israeli tactics has been explicitly promoted by Indian diplomat Sandeep Chakravorty, who in 2019 asserted that Hindus should adopt the Israel model in Indian-occupied Kashmir. It is thus not surprising that in Kashmir, the Indian army uses civilians as human shields, just as Israel does in the occupied Palestinian territories. This illegal practice is internationally condemned. When India in 2019 passed an amendment to the Citizenship Act, offering amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from neighbouring states, a pro-Israel advocacy group called StandWithUs offered its support to the BJP. Israel’s then-consul general for South India, Dana Kursh, also defended the move by saying that “India as a sovereign nation has the right” to enact the amendment. read the complete article


20 Jun 2022

Anti-Muslim verdicts: Indian courts 'succumb to Hindutva influence'

Indian judiciary, with its anti-Muslims verdicts, has become an instrument in the hands of the Narendra Modi government that continues to oppress minorities and deny them justice, observers said on Sunday. They said that decisions on religious matters have proved that the institution is openly siding with the Hindutva ideology and has failed the Muslim community. This June, they observed, India's Supreme Court appeared as the “biggest tormentor of the minorities” after it refused to stop the government from razing houses of Muslims. The top court said, “We cannot stop demolitions,” in response to a petition by a Muslim group in Uttar Pradesh that had highlighted said that the state was punishing members of the 200-million-strong Muslim minority for participating in protests. Experts further observed that Muslims in India were not facing such a situation for the first time as the history was replete with incidents of state-sponsored persecution, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Delhi and Gujarat. In another recent judgment to appease the ideology, the country's top court held, “a mosque was not essential to Muslim mode of worship”. According to analysts, Indian courts have now become “just another extension of Hindutva” and the ruling on mosques gives credence to demolishing all mosques and mausoleums, particularly about 5,000 mosques built by the Muslim conquerors. Likewise, in the case of barring Muslim girl students to wear hijab, the high court in Karnataka in March stated that the headscarf was “not essential” to Islam. In its oppressive decision, the three-judge bench held that allowing Muslim women to wear the Islamic veil in classrooms would hinder their emancipation and go against the constitutional spirit of “positive secularism”. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

No FIR in 10 Days, Family of Ranchi Teenager Shot Dead in Protest to Move HC

Ten days since a minor boy and a young man lost their lives during police crackdown on a protest in Jharkhand’s Ranchi against anti-Islam comments by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, the family of the boy have alleged that police are yet to register an FIR on their complaint. The family of the 15-year-old boy have alleged that police are shielding those who killed the boy by refusing to file an FIR against their complaint following his death. The family also claimed that a counter complaint has been filed against them by one Bhairon Singh who had allegedly fired shots during the protests on June 10. “The government is trying to safeguard its police, its administration and itself,” said the deceased teenager’s uncle Shahid Ayoobi. Shahid said that the application the family had filed with police has “not moved.” The family will file a petition in the Ranchi high court today, June 20, he added. read the complete article

20 Jun 2022

Hijab row: Petitions filed by students in limbo in Supreme Court

Appeals filed in the Supreme Court challenging Karnataka High Court’s conclusion that wearing hijab is not an essential practice in Islam has been in limbo for several months. The petitions, filed mostly by affected girl students, raised the question whether the State could interfere if a student wore a hijab to college without causing any harm to others and under the firm belief that it was a part of her religious observance and practice. The students also brought to the fore the issue whether a woman’s dignity and the right to access to education should suffer because her dress code could not be accommodated by the authorities of an educational institution. The Supreme Court in the S. R. Bommai case of 1994 had observed that “religious freedom is the hallmark of pluralism and inclusiveness”. The Constituent Assembly debates note how the establishment of a secular State was an act of faith, the onus on the majority community to show that they could behave towards others in a generous, fair and just way. The case was repeatedly mentioned in court during March and April for urgent hearing. The court had assured that they would be listed. However, the appeals remain to be heard. This, despite the fact that in February, the Supreme Court had assured the students protection of their constitutional rights and intervention at an “appropriate time”. read the complete article

United Kingdom

20 Jun 2022

‘Islamophobia worse’ five years after deadly van attack at London mosque

The chair of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London has warned that Islamophobia has intensified since the 2017 terror attack in the area, as dozens gathered to remember the man who was killed five years ago. Makram Ali, 51, was killed on 19 June 2017 when Darren Osborne drove a rented van into worshippers gathered outside the nearby Muslim Welfare House soon after evening Ramadan prayers. Twelve others were injured. The mosque’s chairman, Mohammed Kozbar, said Muslims still do not feel safe in the UK. “The problem we are facing is that since this attack took place not much has changed in tackling Islamophobia,” he said. Kozbar said he remembered Theresa May, who was prime minister at the time, promising to take action “to tackle this disease which causes Islamophobia”. However, five years on, he said, “we don’t have a definition of Islamophobia”. He said the situation for Muslims in the UK has deteriorated further, pointing to “the institutionalisation of Islamophobia” by the government and some parts of the media. “We as Muslims are still feeling the effects of this attack and we won’t feel safe until Islamophobia is taken seriously by the authorities and the police,” he said. read the complete article


20 Jun 2022

The Muslim woman fighting Islamophobia in Spain's African enclave

On the main street of Ceuta, the autonomous Spanish enclave of 85,000 people in North Africa bordering Morocco, Fatima Hamed Hossain greets everyone who crosses her path with a smile and a hello in Spanish and Darija, the Moroccan-Arabic dialect. Charismatic, self-made and from humble beginnings, Hossain's outspokenness against a rising far right has turned her into a national symbol for the fight against hate speech. Having first entered the Ceuta political scene in 2007 as part of the Caballas Coalition, a left-wing regionalist organisation, Hossain later left to form her own party, the Movement for Dignity and Citizenship in Ceuta (MDyC). Among the many occasions when Hossain has stood up to the far right, one of the most memorable came during a plenary session in the summer of 2020 in response to the far-right Vox party and its hardline stance against Islam in a city that is 43 percent Muslim. "You can't measure how Spanish I am by my surname or how I dress," she said in her speech. "You cannot say that Muslims, Jews or Hindus do not belong to this society." In the 2015 regional elections, Hossain's MDyC won three seats in a parliament of 25, and she became the first and only Muslim woman to lead an elected political party in Spain. The eruption of the far-right Vox party in 2019 as a major political force affected the order and stability of Ceuta. MDyC lost one seat and the conservative People's Party, which has held a majority since 2001, also lost seats to the far right. Anti-immigrant and anti-Islam, the far-right, in parliament and on social media, tries to discredit Hossain by calling her" jihad," "sharia" or "pro-Moroccan". She says that these insults aim to portray Ceuta's Muslim population as being foreigners in their own country, linking them with illegal immigration. Carlos Verdejo, an MP and Vox's spokesman in Ceuta, once tweeted a threat to deport Hossain "back to Morocco". "We cannot remain silent before those who come to spread hatred and insults," she says. "They have not only been disrespectful towards us, but towards the entire city. We believe in democracy, and their lies must be dismantled with facts and dialogue." read the complete article


20 Jun 2022

A French city approved burkinis in its pools. Then the backlash came

Grenoble Mayor Éric Piolle was the first environmentalist to lead a major French city, and this year his Alpine town has been named a European green capital. By the end of the year Grenoble will meet all its electricity needs with renewable energy. But no one's talking about that, he says. Rather, Piolle is being assailed for allowing the burkini in his town's public pools. Piolle grew up Roman Catholic and he says 30 years ago, there were more signs of Catholicism in public. He says the religion that's more visible today in France is Islam, and that makes some people nervous. "I understand that they struggle with religious expression in the public space," he says. But the mayor says people are confusing things. While France bans outward religious symbols in public schools or in government offices to ensure neutrality, people are allowed to wear what they want in public. In mid-May, the town council approved the wearing of full body-covering bathing suits, commonly known as the burkini, in Grenoble's public municipal pools. Piolle said there was simply no reason to ban them. The backlash was immediate. In a TV interview, far-right leader Marine Le Pen called the full body-covering swimsuit a threat to French secularism and beyond. "It's a sign of separatism and of the submission of women," Le Pen said. "The opposite of our values and our constitution. This is how is Islamist fundamentalists take over. Victories involving food or clothing may seem innocuous, but are very grave." It isn't just the far right. President Emmanuel Macron's interior minister, a hardliner, called the Grenoble ruling a provocation — and immediately filed an injunction to block it in court. The mayor has appealed. read the complete article


20 Jun 2022

Edmonton SafeWalk helps Muslim women feel safe in the city

After several attacks on Black, Muslim women in Edmonton, a new initiative aims to make women feel safe while out and about in the city. Edmonton SafeWalk is a new program by Sisters Dialogue, a grassroots organization that provides culturally safe spaces and supports for Muslim women and girls. The program offers a buddy system for Muslim women, especially Black women, when they are walking around or running errands in the city. "The idea that people are safer in numbers and on walking together," said Aisha Ali, board member at Sisters Dialogue. Ali said the program was created in response to the attacks on Black, Muslim women in the city over the past number of years. A Somali Canadian woman was attacked in June last year, a Black, Muslim woman was attacked in northeast Edmonton on New Year's day, and Ali said there are many others that escaped headlines. "Of all the things that have been happening against Muslim women, in particular Black Muslim women, there has been an increased sense of fear and hyper vigilance within our community," she said. In closed women-only groups on Facebook, Muslim women shared tips to keep themselves safe, including keeping personal alarms, asking about carrying pepper spray or carrying sticks while going on walks. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 20 Jun 2022 Edition


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