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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23 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., Indian PM Narendra Modi’s state visit has prompted condemnation and protest from Muslim leaders, lawmakers, and allies, with several members of Congress choosing to boycott Modi’s speech, meanwhile at a press conference, the BJP party leader claimed that there is no discrimination against minorities under his government, and lastly, the popular Chinese online retail brand Temu is under scrutiny from several Western countries as investigative reporting finds that many products on the site were produced using forced labor by Uyghur Muslims. Our recommended read of the day is by  Huffington Post on how activists in the US who are calling attention to Modi’s discriminatory agenda are routinely facing retaliation against their work, which is driving some to be less public or to pull back altogether due to fear. This and more below:


Criticizing Narendra Modi’s U.S. Visit Could Have Serious Consequences | Recommended Read

Hundreds of activists are working to challenge the delicate choreography of controversial Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to the U.S. ― while risking backlash from the authoritarian strains within Modi’s movement, which are often hostile to criticism of their leader. As Modi’s government has pressured journalists, human rights groups and opposition leaders at home, he and his allies are making it harder to draw attention to India’s alarming trajectory abroad, activists argue. “Anyone who has roots in or ties to India is scared of the fact that a single word could result in reprisal,” said Raqib Hameed Naik, a journalist in exile in the U.S. who was born in the Indian-held portion of the disputed Kashmir region. The challenge of questioning Modi’s movement even bedevils some of the most powerful players in the diaspora: leading Indian American politicians. Modi’s critics want U.S. officials to engage with India and acknowledge its importance while urging the nation to abide by its stated commitment to democratic principles, including freedom of expression. Right now, they say, the Biden administration and legislators from both parties are giving Modi largely unadulterated praise that makes more rights violations inevitable and sustains an atmosphere of fear that hurts American citizens. In office, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have overseen raids on media organizations and nonprofits ― most recently the BBC ― and an increase in violence against Muslims and other Indian minorities. Additionally, the government has tightened control over Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state, and meted out a record number of internet shutdowns while casting protesters and Modi’s political opponents as enemies of India. “He’s a very rigid, authoritarian, communal and divisive leader who strongly believes in a no-questions-asked approach,” Naik said. read the complete article

Temu: Risk popular website sells forced labour goods

US lawmakers are warning of an "extremely high risk" that products sold on the Chinese online shopping site Temu have been made with forced labour. The claims arise from an ongoing investigation into compliance with a 2021 US law that bars the import of goods made using forced Uyghur labour. Nike, Adidas and Shein are also being investigated. Temu said it was not responsible for third-party sellers using its platform. The online retailer sells a variety of goods, including clothing, toys and electronics. "American consumers should know that there is an extremely high risk that Temu's supply chains are contaminated with forced labor," the House Select Committee on the Chinese Community Party said in its report. It said the company requires suppliers to agree to a "code of conduct" but relies on third parties to flag problems, describing the process as a "dubious" system. "Temu does not have any system to ensure compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This all but guarantees that shipments from Temu containing products made with forced labor are entering the United States on a regular basis," it said. read the complete article

Modi’s US visit prompts condemnation and protest from Muslim leaders

Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US has prompted condemnation and protest from Muslim leaders, lawmakers and other allies. US house representatives Rashida Tlaib, Representative Ilhan Omar, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and Kweisi Mfume are among those who have said they will boycott the Indian prime minister’s address to Congress on Thursday in light of the violence and repression of the media and religious minorities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits carried out under his rightwing nationalist government. “Modi has a notorious and extensive record of human rights abuses,” Tlaib, Bush, Omar and Jamaal Bowman said in a statement. “He was complicit in the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed over 1,000 people, leading to the revocation of his US visa. His government has openly targeted Muslims and other religious minorities, enabled Hindu nationalist violence, undermined democracy, targeted journalists and dissidents, and suppressed criticism using authoritarian tactics like internet shutdowns and censorship. A letter was also signed by 75 Democrats, detailing the human rights violations under Modi and urging Biden to “discuss the full range of issues important to a successful, strong, and long-term relationship between our two great countries”. read the complete article

Narendra Modi’s government undermines India’s democracy. So why is Ro Khanna looking the other way?

For his complicity in the mass murder of hundreds of Muslims during the pogrom, the U.S. banned Modi from entering the country in 2005. The ban lasted until Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014. Today, Modi is still the prime minister and is on his first official state visit to the U.S., and he’s been invited to speak to Congress. Bizarrely, the person who encouraged House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to extend that invitation is one of California’s most progressive members of Congress, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara. He should know better. In recent years though, a growing Hindu nationalist ideology (a recent political phenomenon, not to be confused with the Hindu faith) has taken hold in India. Among those most responsible for this ideology’s explosive reach is Modi, who has consistently pushed a Hindu nationalist vision for the country, with all its bloody consequences. First conceptualized in the 19th century by admirers of European fascism, Hindu nationalism posits that India must be a Hindu nation — not Muslim, not Christian, not Buddhist, not Sikh. Colleagues of Modi in the Bharatiya Janata Party regularly call for their followers to kill Muslims, leading to violent processions through Muslim neighborhoods, where mosques and Muslim-owned homes are destroyed by armed party supporters. Hindu nationalist ideology has torn apart whole communities, where people of different faiths once lived side-by-side in peace, by sowing hate against Muslims, Christians, Dalits and liberal critics alike. Khanna’s push to invite Modi to speak before Congress not only runs counter to his own earlier vocal criticisms of Hindu nationalism but also helps further legitimize its most prominent proponent. In California, where supporters of Hindu nationalist groups have worked to influence state and local policy, it raises the question of whether Khanna has allowed this pressure to shift his position on human rights. read the complete article


‘No space for discrimination’ in India: Modi amid rights concerns

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has denied that discrimination against minorities has existed under his government during a news conference with United States President Joe Biden. Asked on Thursday by a US reporter what steps he was willing to take to “improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your country and to uphold free speech”, Modi said they did not need to be improved. “Our constitution and our government and we have proved democracy can deliver. When I say deliver, regardless of caste, creed, religion, gender – there is absolutely no space for any discrimination [in my government],” the Hindu nationalist leader told reporters at the White House. Since he took over as India’s prime minister in 2014, the 72-year-old leader has been accused of presiding over his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passing anti-Muslim legislation and implementing anti-Muslim policies. That includes a law on citizenship and the end of the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority region, in 2019. The United Nations human rights office described the 2019 citizenship law as “fundamentally discriminatory” for excluding Muslim migrants. There has also been demolitions of properties owned by Muslims in the name of removing illegal constructions and a ban on wearing the hijab in classrooms in Karnataka when Modi’s BJP party was in power. read the complete article

Staged online videos feed Islamophobia in Modi's India

The acting is dire and the scenarios fake, but staged videos are peddling disinformation and fanning sectarian tensions in India, which has seen rising Hindu radicalisation under nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. One such five-minute film purported to show a Muslim man mixing toilet cleaning liquid into a street snack, before being "confronted" by passersby. The video got more than five million views on Facebook. Asked about the impact their work may have, the video-makers say the clips are just meant as "entertainment" - and to make money. The toilet cleaning liquid video was made by Narendra Verma, who has a Facebook page with 55,000 followers and runs a successful YouTube channel. Experts say videos like these are shared widely to reinforce negative stereotypes and conspiracy theories about the roughly 210 million Muslims in the world's most populous country. One with 1.2 million views features a man disguised in a burqa - a garment worn by some Muslim women - being pursued with a "stolen" child under his arm. "Burqa hides terrorist activities. Burqa promotes crime. Burqa should be banned in India," the caption reads. Others show Hindu women who have supposedly been duped into marrying a Muslim, a common trope with the Hindu far-right. These videos are often included in social media campaigns to economically boycott or attack Muslims, or when communal tensions flare. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 23 Jun 2023 Edition


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