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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22 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, the country’s highest administrative court on Tuesday upheld a ban on burkinis in Grenoble’s public swimming pools, meanwhile in the United States, multiple detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison have tested positive for Covid-19, “creating fears that a larger outbreak could endanger the lives of the prison’s ageing detainee population,” and in the United Kingdom, recent government data shows that the NHS was the third most common sector for Prevent referrals between 2020 and March 2021 (11% of 4,915 referrals), with another report finding that “Muslims were eight times more likely than non-Muslims to be referred to Prevent through healthcare.” Our recommended read of the day is a CNN interview with Indian author Arundhati Roy on consequences of rising Hindu nationalism and Islamophobia in the country, and what all of this means for democracy in India. This and more below:


22 Jun 2022

Arundhati Roy: 'The damage to Indian democracy is not reversible' | Recommended Read

When two spokespeople from India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed last month, it prompted an international firestorm. The incident led to protests among India's Muslim minority in several states. Some Muslim-majority nations summoned their India ambassadors. India's foreign ministry said the comments did not reflect the views of the government, and the officials involved -- one of whom later withdrew her remarks -- faced disciplinary action. But for India's 200 million Muslims, these comments were not an isolated incident. Rather, they were the culmination of the BJP's "engineering hatred of a common enemy," says bestselling Indian author Arundhati Roy. "India's tragedy is not that it's the worst place in the world -- it's that we are on our way there. We're burning down our house. India is an experiment that is failing dangerously," she told CNN. "Many, many of my beloved friends -- poets, writers, professors, lawyers, human rights activists and journalists -- are in prison, most of them charged under a dreaded law called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, all of them for speaking up for minorities, Dalits and forest-dwellers facing displacement and state terror. "Among them are people I consider to be India's most important minds. It makes one wonder what living as a free person in the time of fascism means. What does it mean to be a bestselling author when the world is breaking?" writes Roy. In this email interview with CNN Opinion, Roy says Indian politics has something in common with the US Capitol riots, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is stoking hatred, and talks about who the real power in India lies with. read the complete article

22 Jun 2022

What a Disturbing New Film Reveals About Modi’s India

Earlier this year, “The Kashmir Files”—a blood-soaked historical drama with a nearly three-hour run time—became the top-grossing Hindi film since the start of the pandemic. “The Kashmir Files” is not subtle. Numerous scenes show angry and bloodthirsty Muslims leering at Hindu women, and inflicting torture and humiliations upon Hindu families. Though Hindus make up four-fifths of India’s population, the film presents Kashmir as a cautionary tale—that a large group of Muslims could at any moment turn against Hindus. To see it as anything other than a glorified exercise in stigmatization and fearmongering would be a mistake. And it was released in India at an especially perilous time. Communal violence directed at India’s Muslim minority has risen steeply in recent years. In 2014, Narendra Modi, who had been banned from the United States for presiding over the massacre of Muslims a dozen years earlier in the state of Gujarat, became Prime Minister of the country. Since then, and especially since his reëlection three years ago, Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) have either winked at or openly supported vigilante attacks against Muslims. They have also pursued more structural forms of discrimination, such as the so-called Citizenship (Amendment) Act, passed in 2019, which could permanently revoke the citizenship rights of large communities of Muslims. After the film was released, B.J.P. politicians heaped praise on it; some Indian states waived goods-and-services tax on tickets for the movie or gave government workers time off to attend screenings. Modi himself said that the film has “shown the truth” of Kashmir in the early nineties, and the filmmakers were invited to meet with him and other hard-right politicians. Unsurprisingly, audiences have erupted into anti-Muslim chants in theatres across India, and the Indian press has reported on violence against Muslims that the perpetrators admit was inflamed by the film. read the complete article

22 Jun 2022

Online ‘auction’ of Muslim women: Mumbai court grants bail to three accused persons

A Mumbai sessions court on Tuesday granted bail to three persons accused in a case related to an app that illegally posted photographs of Muslim women as part of an online “auction” aimed at harassing and abusing them, PTI reported. Additional Sessions Judge AB Sharma granted bail to Neeraj Bishnoi, Aumkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Singh. Images of prominent Indian Muslim women had been uploaded on the “Bulli Bai” application as part of an online “auction”. On January 1, many of the women who were targeted highlighted the incident on social media. This was the second such attempt in less than a year. In July last year, an app called “Sulli Deals” had posted hundreds of images of Muslim women and described them as “deals of the day”. “Bulli” and “sulli” are abusive and derogatory ways of referring to Muslim women. In his bail application filed through advocate Shivam Deshmukh, Bishnoi claimed that he was falsely implicated in the case, reported PTI. Suggesting that his co-accused had already been given bail, Bishnoi sought parity in the case. While granting them bail, the court had also asked their parents or caregivers to arrange for their counselling, including appropriate behaviour on social media. The judge had noted that the three accused persons had examinations and that their future prospects would be hampered if they were to remain in jail. Meanwhile, the court observed the allegations against Thakur, Neeraj Singh and Bishnoi were serious, adding that that they had deliberately created the app. In a chargesheet filed in March, the police claimed that Bishnoi had asked a co-accused to send him photos of 100 “famous and non-Bharatiya Janata Party Muslim women” so he could put them up for auction, PTI reported. read the complete article

United States

22 Jun 2022

Guantanamo Bay: Several detainees test positive for Covid-19

Multiple detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison have tested positive for Covid-19, sources told Middle East Eye, creating fears that a larger outbreak could endanger the lives of the prison's ageing detainee population. It is the first news of a Covid-19 outbreak at the facility since the pandemic began more than two years ago. The outbreak was first reported by The Intercept, which said that at least four detainees had contracted the virus after an outbreak in Camp Six. Camp Six is one of Guantanamo Bay's newer buildings, constructed in 2006, and houses detainees designated "low-value" and who have never been charged with a crime. The $37m prison unit was originally designed as a medium-security facility with communal eating and recreation areas. However, the communal eating area was closed off and recreation areas were turned into individual cages. Mansoor Adayfi, a former Gitmo detainee and now Guantanamo project coordinator for the London-based advocacy group Cage, told MEE he was also informed of at least four detainees who have tested positive for Covid-19, but said the US government was not publicising any information about which detainees had the virus. "Right now we're really concerned. How are they being treated? I hope they have been taken care of," said Adayfi, who is also the author of the memoir, Don’t Forget Us Here, which chronicles his time at the notorious prison. "When I was there, at least two brothers died of medical negligence." A lawyer for several Guantanamo detainees told MEE that they were informed two prisoners had tested positive for the virus, adding that they were unaware of the detainees' wellbeing. read the complete article

22 Jun 2022

Muslim Women Finally Positively Portrayed With Ms. Marvel

Oppressed housewives, terrorists, exotic belly dancers or shop owners are just some of the stereotypes we are used to seeing when Muslim women are showcased on screen. Disney's latest addition to the Marvel superhero universe, Ms. Marvel, comes as a breath of fresh air, showcasing the first Muslim superhero story. It is time such positive portrayals become the norm, to counter the decades of damaging representation suffered by Muslim women. Ms. Marvel follows Kamala Khan, a Muslim American teen struggling to find her place in the world until eventually discovering her superpowers. We see Kamala go from the mosque to Comic-Con, reflecting the nuanced lifestyles thousands of Muslims in the West live—Islam is not at a constant clash with the West. Unlike other shows with Muslim characters, Ms. Marvel is written by a Pakistani Muslim writer, Bisha Ali, providing authenticity. In a 2019 survey, only 0.3 percent of employed screenwriters in the Writer's Guild of America West were Middle Eastern, despite the numerous narratives produced about the region. For years, Muslim portrayals, especially of Muslim women, by Hollywood have focused on negative stereotypes, which shape how Muslims are seen in the real world. A study conducted by USC Annenberg in 2021 and supported by Pillars Fund, found that only 1.6 percent of 8,965 characters studied in movies were Muslim, while 24 percent of the global population follows Islam. Of those characters, 39 percent were perpetrators of violence, reaffirming the Islamic terrorist stereotype. The figures are more daunting for Muslim women, accounting for only 24 percent of all Muslim characters shown on screen. These roles are usually shown only in relation to their male counterparts as wives or romantic love interests. A study by Muslim Casting and the Geena Davis Institute went further and discovered that these female characters were usually weak and oppressed. read the complete article


22 Jun 2022

French court upholds burkini ban in Grenoble’s public pools

France’s highest administrative court on Tuesday upheld a ban on so-called burkinis in Grenoble’s public swimming pools. In mid-May, the southeastern city’s council narrowly voted for new regulations, scrapping several bathing dress codes and permitting burkinis — the all-in-one swimsuit worn by Muslim women — in the city’s pools. After the local administrative court then suspended the policy, only a few weeks after its adoption, Grenoble appealed the decision, which led to Tuesday’s verdict from the French court. The burkini has raised controversy in France for years, especially among right wingers and some feminists who argue it is a symbol of Islam’s unequal treatment of women and say that it is at odds with French laïcité, or state secularism. In its decision Tuesday, the top French court stated that Grenoble’s planned policy “undermines the equal treatment of users, so that the neutrality of the public service is compromised.” The court added that the change in policy was only intended to “satisfy a religious demand,” and so it wrongfully “derogated, for a category of users, from the common rule, enacted for reasons of hygiene and safety, of wearing bathing suits close to the body.” French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted that the ruling was “a victory for the law of separatism, for secularism and beyond, for the whole Republic.” read the complete article

22 Jun 2022

The French are obsessed with the burkini – and it’s all getting a bit embarrassing

There are many contenders for the inaugural GAG award, but I have decided to give it to France. There is plenty happening in France, yet huge swathes of the populace are still exerting embarrassing amounts of energy arguing about how much flesh you need to show in order to set foot in a public pool or resort. The French are obsessed (OBSESSED!) with debating the question of appropriate swimwear and it is getting very cringe. More specifically, the French are getting their knickers in a twist over burkinis. The head-to-toe swimsuit, most often associated with Muslim women, was banned in a number of French towns several years ago. This ban has been strictly enforced and seems to have been extended to anyone wearing more clothes than the state deems strictly necessary. In 2016, for example, armed French police made headlines when they forced a Muslim woman on the beach in Nice to remove some of her clothing and issued her a ticket stating that she wasn’t wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”. As every good secularist knows, the way you demonstrate good morals is with a bit of sideboob. The far-right leader Marine Le Pen declared that green-lighting burkinis was “how Islamist fundamentalists take over”. (Got to keep those fundamentalists at bay by persecuting any woman who wants to wear long sleeves for a swim.) Meanwhile, the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, described Grenoble city council’s policy as an “unacceptable provocation”. Speaking last week to National Public Radio in the US, the mayor of Grenoble noted that the burkini decision “touched some very intense emotions for people”. With all due respect, those people ought to find a therapist to deal with those intense emotions. If you are triggered by a woman not showing her bare legs in public, the problem isn’t Islam, it’s you. While it may be dressed up with arguments about secularism (laïcité), the backlash against burkinis has obvious roots in France’s deep Islamophobia. read the complete article


22 Jun 2022

The role of the West in the plight of India’s Muslims

India’s Muslim population of about 204 million, remains uniquely invisible to the world despite increasingly becoming one of the most hostile places for minorities. The national spokesperson of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nupur Sharma recently came under fire for her derogatory comments against the Prophet Muhammad on national television. Amidst growing international pressure, the BJP distanced itself from her remarks, describing it as the views of the fringe. In the wake of the international debate sparked by this event, far-right Dutch politician and lawmaker Geert Wilders, known for his anti-immigrant and anti-Islam stance, expressed his support for Sharma calling it brave and heroic. Wilders views were quickly circulated on social media platforms and mainstream media alike. Many prominent Indian news channels went on to give a platform to Wilders on their prime time debates where he was given space to openly express his anti-Muslim views. There is a visible convergence of narratives across Europe, the US and Asia into a language anchored around the Muslim faith with anti-Islam sentiment increasingly becoming the organisational principle for far-right politics and a vehicle for its global expansion. The establishment of the Muslim figure as the opponent of democratic values, an infiltrator and a polluter of cultures can be traced back to a vocabulary that was produced in the post-9/11 era against the backdrop of the global “War on Terror”. Increasingly, the logic of securing borders from Muslim “invaders” is also being exported to South Asia, with the key difference being that Muslims who have lived for centuries on these lands are being declared as outsiders. There is a common perception of Islamophobia as a problem specific to Western countries with Muslim immigrant populations, but this obscures the increasingly hostile conditions of the countries of the Global South. read the complete article

22 Jun 2022

U.S. ‘rallying’ allies against Xinjiang forced labor as import ban begins

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that the United States is rallying its allies against forced labor as it begins implementing an import ban on goods from China’s Xinjiang region, where Washington says Beijing is committing genocide. U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday began enforcing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in December. CBP has said it is ready to implement the law’s “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 barred from import unless it can be proven otherwise. The agency has said a very high level of evidence would be required for importers to receive an exception to the law. “We are rallying our allies and partners to make global supply chains free from the use of forced labor, to speak out against atrocities in Xinjiang, and to join us in calling on the government of the P.R.C. to immediately end atrocities and human rights abuses,” Blinken said in a statement, referring to China by its formal name, the People’s Republic of China. read the complete article

United Kingdom

22 Jun 2022

Interrupting care: How Prevent undermines Muslims’ access to UK’s public health sector

The past two years stressed the importance of access, trust, and care in public health services for racially minoritised communities in Britain that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. However, as long as Prevent exists in the NHS, these crucial cornerstones of healthcare will remain out of reach for the Muslim community. The chilling effect of Prevent is widely recognised across the education sector in Britain, in particular how the policy causes a breakdown of trust between teachers and students. Yet, the impact of Prevent on healthcare has largely gone silent in the policy and academic discourse. Although the referrals come from the education sector and police, recent government data shows that the NHS was the third most common sector for Prevent referrals between 2020 and March 2021 (11% of 4,915 referrals). These startling stats comes on top of findings by Medact’s False Positives report in 2020, which discovered that Muslims were eight times more likely than non-Muslims to be referred to Prevent through healthcare. The leaked contents of the Shawcross review will only lead to a harsher crackdown on Muslims already under state surveillance. While racism is becoming acknowledged as a public health crisis across the world, are we also recognising how Prevent can lead to racial outcomes in health for the Muslim community? In a conversation with Reem Abu-Hayyeh, the Campaigns and Policy Lead for Peace and Security at Medact, she discussed Prevent in relation to undermining the importance of informed consent. “[Prevent] duty itself reminds people of their confidentiality and consent-seeking practices, but it also prioritises national security concerns over other professional and ethical obligations for medical practitioners,” Abu-Hayyeh states. The False Positives research report found that Prevent training itself actively discouraged healthcare professionals from seeking consent. In turn, this means a patient may be unaware that a Prevent referral has happened on their behalf by a healthcare provider. Thereby, disrupting the element of trust – which lays the foundation between a patient and a healthcare practitioner. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Jun 2022 Edition


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