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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26 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, a father in Ontario is “questioning the legitimacy of a school board’s anti-Islamophobia strategy months after his son was singled out by a teacher during a lesson that featured racist cartoons,” meanwhile, former President Barack Obama stressed the importance protecting the “Muslim minority in a majority-Hindu India” in an interview with CNN during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S., and lastly, a study commissioned by the Ombud for Equal Treatment (GAW) in Austria finds that after reviewing 157 housing advertisement in four major cities, a Muslim sounding profile received only 50% of the listings as compared to names more commonly associated with other religious groups. Our recommended read of the day is by Zahir Janmohamed for The Atlantic on the author’s personal experience as an Indian Muslim living through Narendra Modi’s rise to power and how Modi’s Hindu-nationalistic politics impacts Indian Muslims both in India and within the Indian diaspora across the globe. This and more below:


India Is Not Modi, We Once Said. I Wish I Still Believed It | Recommended Read

Every Indian Muslim knows about the pause: the moment when another Indian, usually a Hindu, hears your name, waits a few seconds, and then, with a furrowed brow or a step back, acts surprised and confused that you, too, are Indian. The implication is one of suspicion, as though we are Indians with an asterisk—or worse, as though we are not Indians at all. The experience is exhausting, but it is not new. My father went through it growing up in Tanzania, as did his father in India. But today, presumptions about Indian identity appear to have narrowed still further, and the man responsible, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is receiving a red-carpet welcome in Washington, D.C., with a state dinner and a speech to a joint session of Congress. India was once more accepting, more tolerant. That’s what we Indian Muslims say, especially when Hindus are around. What other choice do we have? Today, whether we like it or not, India is Modi, and the United States is partly to blame, because Modi knows that regardless of what he does, he will receive a warm embrace here. Since Modi became prime minister in 2014, Indian Muslims have been attacked—and in some cases killed—for doing the following: eating beef, attending Hindu festivals, falling in love with a Hindu, posting on social media, selling vegetables, “causing” COVID-19, not standing for the Indian national anthem, praying inside a mosque, praying inside their homes, giving their child a Muslim name, protesting, driving, and wearing what they want. By 2050, India will have the world’s largest Muslim population, surpassing Indonesia, and yet it is a community in peril. Conditions in India have been compared to those in countries preparing for genocide. read the complete article


Ontario school board's anti-Islamophobia strategy questioned after Muslim student singled out

An Ontario father is questioning the legitimacy of a school board's anti-Islamophobia strategy months after his son was singled out by a teacher during a lesson that featured racist cartoons. During the January class, the high school teacher in Peel Region, which includes the Toronto-area cities of Mississauga and Brampton, showed two caricatures from the controversial French magazine Charlie Hebdo to international baccalaureate students as part of a module on censorship. Without addressing the stereotypical nature of the cartoons — which targeted Muslim, Jewish and Black communities — the teacher discussed the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre in which the magazine's offices were attacked by two Al-Qaeda-linked members who killed 12 people. The teacher then allegedly called on the student — the only Muslim person in the class, according to his father — to ask if he found the images offensive, to which he said yes. Her line of questioning then turned towards the student's views on the massacre. read the complete article

Parents expose alleged Islamophobic remarks and Cover-Up by Thames Valley District school board

Parents and sources have accused Boyd of making offensive remarks in class, specifically targeting Muslim students. The allegations include encouraging a Muslim child to eat candy during a religious fast, an act that goes against the principles of respect and understanding. Such behavior not only undermines the religious beliefs of students but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and fosters an environment of discrimination. Parents have expressed their concern that the transfer of Boyd to another school is merely an attempt to sweep the issue under the rug. They argue that addressing the problem requires transparency, accountability, and appropriate action, rather than simply relocating the issue. By allowing Boyd to continue teaching without consequence, the school board risks sending a message that Islamophobic behavior is tolerated within the education system. read the complete article

United States

We Muslims Used to Be the Culture War Scapegoats. Why Are Some of Us Joining the L.G.B.T.Q. Pile-On?

The political right’s exhausting and cruel war on “wokeness” is now aligning with the efforts of some Muslim Americans to attack the L.G.B.T.Q. community under the guise of protecting religious freedoms and parental rights. After enduring a gantlet of scapegoating after 9/11, you’d think we Muslims would have learned. The increasing political demonization of L.G.B.T.Q. Americans is following the same script that has been used to marginalize Muslims and drum up fears about the supposed dangers of Shariah finding its way into the American legal system, all to pander to a constituency that is terrified of pluralism. Let’s take a DeLorean back to the post-9/11 years, during which Islam, especially the specter of Shariah, was frequently made the villain. Compare all that with now: Before the 2024 elections, the L.G.B.T.Q. community has emerged as the boogeyman du jour. Right-wing media and G.O.P. elected officials are routinely accusing liberals of being groomers. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene recently said that transgender people are “sexual predators,” and the Texas G.O.P.’s new platform explicitly rejects trans identity and refers to homosexuality as an “abnormal lifestyle choice.” In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis defended his “Don’t Say Gay” law by saying his critics support “sexualizing kids in kindergarten." Now that queer Americans are being singled out, why are some Muslims so willing to go along? read the complete article

'He banned travel from unsafe nations': Stephen Miller endorses Trump for president

Stephen Miller, a former Donald Trump administration official focusing on immigration matters, announced a formal endorsement of the former president on Twitter and included a list of Trump's accomplishments. Among those wins, Miller said, was that Trump "banned travel from unsafe nations." Miller was likely referencing the so-called Muslim ban, of which Miller was purportedly a chief architect. The travel ban was significantly narrowed in scope by the courts after its initial inception. read the complete article


‘Seeking peace’: Why Islam is becoming popular in southern Spain

Today Puertas is one of a growing number of converts to embrace Islam in Spain. According to the Islamic Commission of Spain, there are 2.5 million Muslims in Spain, which is about 5.32 percent of the population of 47 million Spaniards. The number of converts, as per the commission, has increased to an estimated 10 times in the past three decades. “Now in Granada there are 36,000 Muslims, with 3,800 being converts as a third generation,” Spanish Islamic Society Association and Granada Great Mosque Foundation President Umar del Pozo tells TRT World. He says a similar trend is taking place across Andalusia in cities such as Jaen, Marbella and Girola. In Granada, Pozo who was born into a Muslim-convert family, says there are Shahadahs performed most Fridays among Spaniards and other nationalities, such as the English population living in the region. Typically he says people visit the city and stop off at the Mosque where their interest is sparked after discussing Islam with staff. Afterwards he says many gain new insight about the religion which he suggests is counteracting Islam’s negative portrayal in the media, as many decide to accept the faith into their lives. read the complete article


Modi’s White Lie in the White House

After more than 100 episodes of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and being used to his ‘monologues only’ style, I blinked in disbelief when I read about Modi holding a press conference in Washington – even if he had agreed to take just one question each from an Indian and a US reporter. The Wall Street Journal’s White House correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui was given the opportunity to ask a question to Modi. “India has long prided itself as the world’s largest democracy, but there are many human rights groups who say that your government has discriminated against religious minorities and sought to silence its critics. What steps are you and your government willing to take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your country and to uphold free speech?” she asked. Modi replied blithely that there was no discrimination in India based on identity. “We have always proved that democracy can deliver. And when I say deliver, this is regardless of caste, creed, religion, gender. There’s absolutely no space for discrimination. And when you talk of democracy, if there are no human values and there is no humanity, there are no human rights, then it’s not a democracy,” he said. This categorical denial of discrimination and violence is being hailed by BJP supporters on social media as the “shutting down of a Pakistani journalist” by Modi. Siddiqui, who is actually Indian American, is also being attacked online for her Muslim identity by Hindutva supporters. In response to the trolling, she posted pictures of herself and her father in blue jerseys, supporting the Indian cricket team. The fact that Siddiqui felt compelled to respond tells its own story about what India has become in the last nine years and should not surprise us. But Modi’s blatant denial of the systematic targeting of Muslims in India is shocking for any journalist who has been reporting on the daily injustices and oppression faced by Muslims in India under his government. It is also bewildering that even on a global stage, he can misrepresent the truth with such ease and also get away with it. read the complete article

Obama remarks on India’s treatment of Muslims ‘hypocritical’ – minister

India’s finance minister has derided comments by the former US president Barack Obama that Narendra Modi’s government should protect the rights of minority Muslims, accusing Obama of being hypocritical. During the Indian prime minister’s state visit to the US last week, Obama told CNN that the issue of the “protection of the Muslim minority in a majority-Hindu India” would be worth raising in Modi’s meeting with the US president, Joe Biden. Obama said that without such protection there was “a strong possibility that India at some point starts pulling apart“. The Indian finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said she was shocked Obama had made such remarks when Modi was visiting the US aiming to deepen relations. “He was commenting on Indian Muslims … having bombed Muslim-majority countries from Syria to Yemen … during his presidency,” Sitharaman told a press conference on Sunday. “Why would anyone listen to any allegations from such people?“ The US state department has raised concerns over treatment of Muslims and other religious minorities in India under Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party. The Indian government says it treats all citizens equally. read the complete article

Why Did Democrats Embrace the Far-Right Narendra Modi?

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, who is on a state visit to the White House this week, is one of the most significant far-right leaders in the world. His persecution of religious minorities has troubled even the US State Department, which has taken note of the problem in its annual Religious Freedom Report. His administration has passed discriminatory laws against Muslims that have helped lead to a horrifying rise in violence against Muslims in India. Modi has also jailed journalists and activists and attempted to use the judicial system to suppress a BBC documentary critical of him. He was denied a US visa for years because of his role in a 2002 anti-Muslim riot in which more than a thousand people, mostly Muslims, were slaughtered. If this sort of fascistic politics has a home in the United States, most people would assume it would be in Donald Trump’s Republican Party. Yet Joe Biden and the Democrats are laying out the red carpet for Modi this week. During their joint appearance Thursday, President Biden not only did not mention any of the human rights problems with Modi’s regime, he heaped explicitly misleading praise upon it. Why do the Democrats love Modi? After all, they hate Trump, a domestic right-wing leader whose politics are similar in many ways to the prime minister’s. Partly, it’s geopolitical imperial strategy. Just as the United States was happy to back General Augusto Pinochet in Chile during the Cold War, today Biden seeks a partnership with Modi to counter China. The visit has included a rollout of the two major powers’ plans to cooperate on defense. Democrats also love Modi’s commitment to neoliberal capitalism. Some big corporate partnerships between Indian and US companies have been announced this week, including one between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics. During the visit, some big arms sales and a massive push by US company Micron to build semiconductors in India have also been announced. As well, Indian-Americans are an important voting bloc. More than 70 percent of Indian-Americans are believed to have voted for Biden in 2020, yet Modi also remains extremely popular here. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Far-right fitness guru jailed over terror manifestos

Kristofer Kearney, 39, from Liverpool, is believed to be the first member of a group known as Patriotic Alternative to be convicted of terrorist offences. Known online as Charlie Big Potatoes, he shared posts encouraging violence against Jews and Muslims. He was sentenced to four years and eight months with a two-year extended licence period at the Old Bailey. The offences relate to two Telegram posts on 23 January and 8 March 2021 which disseminated dozens of documents encouraging extreme right-wing terror attacks. This included the manifestos of Christchurch mosque killer Brenton Tarrant and Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway. Two other far-right extremist manifestos related to Texas Walmart mass killer Patrick Crusius and John Earnest, who shot people at a California synagogue in 2019. In 2021, he posted a numbered list and links to 89 extreme right-wing documents. The court heard material on Kearney's profile depicted violence or encouraged violence in the battle against "white genocide". read the complete article


Study reveals racist discrimination in Austrian housing market

The Austrian housing market suffers from racist discrimination, especially for people with Muslim backgrounds, a study commissioned by the Ombud for Equal Treatment (GAW) has shown. In early 2023, 157 housing advertisements in the major Austrian cities of Graz, Vienna, Innsbruck and Linz were responded to by two fake profiles, public broadcaster ORF reported on Sunday, citing the study. The first profile "Muhammad Asif" received an appointment in only 50 percent of the cases. The second profile with the fictitious name "Michael Gruber", who always called after "Asif", always received an appointment. "People who are discriminated against outside the workplace because of their ethnicity report this to us most often in connection with the search for an apartment," Sandra Konstatzky, the study's director, told ORF. "Because individual cases are often difficult to prove, we wanted to use this study to show how often discrimination occurs in the housing market, " she added. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Jun 2023 Edition


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