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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27 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, authorities arrested human rights defender Teesta Setalvad, hours after interior minister Amit Shah, accused her of giving baseless information to the police about the deadly anti-Muslim violence during Modi’s chief ministership of Gujarat, meanwhile in Canada, Ron Banerjee, the director of the Canadian Hindu Advocacy (CHA), was filmed openly demanding the killing of Muslims and Sikhs in India because he said they “deserve to die,” and lastly, the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (Aman) “lodged a complaint against Twitter with the Queensland Human Rights Commission, accusing the site of failing to take action against accounts that incite hatred on the platform.” Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Jasmine Gani for her personal blog on SCOTUS’s decision overturning the ruling on abortion, and how commentators are again engaging in Islamophobia, as they are failing to own this “as an American issue, reflective of the US’s own toxic mix of right-wing and religious extremism,” and instead are “yet again pulling Islam into the discourse when it has nothing to do with this issue.” This and more below:


27 Jun 2022

Islam is Not Your Metaphor | Recommended Read

The west’s unhealthy dependence on Islam can also be found in the regular use of Islam as a metaphor to make sense of western crises, something that we’ve seen occur frequently since the United States Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the Roe vs Wade ruling on abortion. But instead of owning this as an American issue, reflective of the US’s own toxic mix of right-wing and religious extremism, commentators in the US and UK – and liberals in particular– are yet again pulling Islam into the discourse when it has nothing to do with this issue. References to ‘the American Taliban‘, ‘American shariah law‘, ‘SCOTUS Mullahs‘, or more creatively the ‘US’s own velayat al-Faqih‘ all expose a deep embeddedness of Islamophobia. Discourse carries political weight and consequences, and when people casually produce and share these word-associations with Islam or Muslims, they are helping to uphold decades of racist and colonial narratives. Images matter too of course: you don’t need to imagine SCOTUS with beards and turbans and brown skin, nor cartoonise them with burqas; rather, visualise them exactly as they are – associate their actual images with the abortion ban, not ‘foreigners’ who had no part to play in this. When people evoke Islam and Muslims – whoever those Muslims are, even if it is the Taliban – what they mean to say, directly or indirectly, is that misogyny emanates from an oriental (and religious) source, and has now spread to and tainted the previously enlightened west. What they mean to say is that this misogyny is alien to the west and is an import from ‘backward’ people elsewhere. What they are unable to reconcile is that the same countries and institutions that had such disdain for the rights of people ‘over there’ and far away are now stripping rights from people at home. And as Edward Said noted at the end of the passage I quoted above, it is an indirect way of reminding everyone that if the west is failing in any way, the ‘Muslim world’ is not doing much better either: so there is an inherent competitiveness and insecurity in these statements. read the complete article

27 Jun 2022

Canadian Hindu leader says he supports killings of Muslims, Sikhs in India

A Canadian Hindu leader has openly demanded the killing of Muslims and Sikhs in India because they “deserve to die”. Ron Banerjee, the director of the Canadian Hindu Advocacy (CHA), was filmed making these comments in a video by YouTube channel ‘Beat of the North’. The host was asking various people about their views on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau but Banerjee took the opportunity to make hateful comments about Muslims and Sikhs. “I support the killing of the Muslims and the Sikhs in the Republic of India because they deserve to die,” he said. Ron Banerjee is well known for his racist, incendiary, and anti-Muslim comments. In the video, he railed against Trudeau and said he wished Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for his right-wing, anti-Muslim policies, could lead Canada. In the past, Banerjee has protested against the religious accommodation of Muslims in schools, and often conducts rallies and events along with other anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh groups throughout Canada. read the complete article


27 Jun 2022

‘Bullet of hatred took him’: Father of teen shot by India police

Mudassir was allegedly shot dead by the police on June 10 during the protests in the state capital, Ranchi, over derogatory remarks made against Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha by members of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As relatives and well-wishers gathered at his house, only Nikhat’s sobs and the consoling words of her husband Parwez, who sells fruits on a pushcart for a living, could be heard in their rented one-room house in Hindpiri, a densely-populated lower middle-class predominantly Muslim neighbourhood behind Ranchi’s main market. “My wife and I hoped that one day our son would acquire a good education, which would improve our financial situation. But the bullet of hatred took him away from us forever,” Parvez told Al Jazeera. Nearly a month ago, Nupur Sharma, now suspended BJP spokeswoman, made offending remarks against the Prophet during a primetime debate on one of India’s leading news channels. Sharma’s comments were soon backed by another BJP official, Naveen Kumar Jindal, who tweeted in her support and made similar anti-Islam remarks. While the police allege the protesters threw stones at them, the area’s residents say the police fired at protesters without any warning, killing Mudassir and Sahil Ansari, 24, on the spot. Recalling the day he lost his son, Parwez said: “I had called Mudassir to my cart after the prayers. Meanwhile, the crowd began to swell on the road. Seeing the crowd, I started moving my cart to the other side of the road to protect it from getting damaged in the protest.” “As I began to push it, I saw Mudassir standing in the middle of the road with the crowd. I was looking at him when he collapsed due to the bullet in a matter of seconds,” he told Al Jazeera as tears rolled down his cheeks. read the complete article

27 Jun 2022

Teesta Setalvad who fought for 2002 Gujarat riot victims arrested

A United Nations expert has joined global human rights groups in expressing concern over the arrest of Indian rights defender Teesta Setalvad a day after the country’s Supreme Court upheld the findings of a special investigation team (SIT) that cleared Prime Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in 2002 anti-Muslim riots. Setalvad was picked by the anti-terrorism wing of the Gujarat police on Saturday afternoon from her home in Mumbai hours after India’s interior minister, Amit Shah, a close aide of Modi, accused her of giving baseless information to the police about the deadly anti-Muslim violence during Modi’s chief ministership of the state. On Sunday, Setalvad, who long campaigned to get justice for victims of the 2002 religious violence, was produced before a local court in Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat. The police have accused her of “committing forgery and fabricating evidence”, among other charges. Setalvad said, according to a complaint shared by her aide with Al Jazeera, that her detention was illegal and that the police assaulted her during the raid. read the complete article

27 Jun 2022

Study finds recruiters discriminate against Muslim women in hiring at entry-level jobs

A study done by Ledby Foundation has found significant discrimination against Muslim women across industries in entry-level jobs, even when they are equally qualified for the role. Released in June, the report titled — Hiring Bias: Employment for Muslim women at entry-level roles — was done in association with the Maulana Azad National Urdu University’s Centre for Development of Policy & Practice in collaboration with Centre for Development of Policy and Practice. Dr Ruha Shadab along with Vanshika Sharan and Deepanjali Lahiri are the authors of the report. The report noted that while Habiba received only 103 positive responses, Priyanka got 203 which is nearly double of what the Muslim woman’s profile got. The net discrimination rate stood at 47.1 per cent, which was evident across industries, based on the responses received. “The net discrimination rate for Indian Muslim women relative to Hindu women then becomes 47.1% representing a massive discrepancy between call-backs for Muslim and Hindu women and proving that a significant hiring bias favouring Hindu women is present across industries,” the study observed. Habiba received only a rare follow up call, whereas a large proportion of Priyanka‘s responses were call backs, according to the study. It also noted the recruiters were more cordial to the Hindu profile (candidate) and that while 41.3 per cent of them connected on phone calls with Priyanka, only 12.6 per cent opted for it with Habiba. “This research proves that a contributing factor to such a stark disparity in labour market participation is discrimination within the hiring process. Equal access to opportunities for Muslim women is vital to their social and financial equality in society and tackling biases in the hiring process is one of the most important mechanisms by which one can level the playing field,” the report stated. read the complete article

27 Jun 2022

As Bulli Bai Creators Get Bail, The Risks of Normalising Violence Against Women

With the granting of bail to Neeraj Bishnoi, the alleged creator of the ‘Bulli Bai’ app, and two of his co-conspirators, all six accused in the case are now out on bail. As the case winds its way through the courts, and the app’s sordid aspects, its creators, and its supposed “purpose” fades from public view, their release on bail reminds us once again of the larger issues at stake – mainly the implications of such abusive online behaviour and its role in normalising violence against women. French sociologist and cultural theorist Pierre Bourdieu coined the term “symbolic violence” to describe a kind of non-physical violence imposed by a dominant group upon a subordinate group, while other social thinkers have shown how language can be symbolically violent in the ways it is used to sustain and impose relations of domination. Trolling (also stalking, doxxing, sexting and cyberbullying) are all forms of symbolic violence mainly targeted at women and other subordinate/minority groups as a way to harass, dominate, and proclaim symbolic control over them. In India, while trolling is experienced by many individuals, the bulk of the abuse and harassment – specifically including rape and death threats, and sharing of personal information (called doxxing) – is focused on women in the public sphere, and those who are perceived as somehow transgressing societal norms. Women journalists, activists, academics, and others who speak out in certain public contexts are among those targeted on a regular basis. Death and rape threats, via private messages, trolling, doxxing and sexting in conversational threads on online forums including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms mean that these women are subjected to symbolic violence regularly and relentlessly. read the complete article

27 Jun 2022

‘Extremely violent and brutal’: India’s Islamophobia problem has no end in sight

Resentment from the Hindu right-wing towards Muslims is emblematic of Islamophobia stemming from the BJP itself. Narendra Modi first came to power in 2014, promising development and progress but also a majoritarian onslaught against minorities, particularly Muslims. Modi’s victory opened the floodgates of Hindutva — spearheaded by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the far-right Hindu outfit that BJP draws its spiritual sustenance — and allowed Islamophobia to set deeper roots in the world’s largest democracy. The resistance from mainstream political parties to majoritarian communalism has been ineffective. For instance, the Indian National Congress, the BJP’s main rival, has weakened its ostensibly secular position. Zafar-ul-Islam Khan, an Islamic scholar and former chairperson of the Delhi Minorities Commission, said “almost all opposition parties have adopted soft Hindutva, which means they will do or say nothing which goes against or angers Hindus.” Nupur Sharma — who frequently appears on such abrasive television debates to defend the Modi government and Hindu supremacy — made similar insulting remarks against Prophet Muhammad on multiple programmes that day. But Sharma was merely amplifying arguments that an ecosystem of Hindu fanatics have flooded social media with, that the Quran stated the world to be flat; disparaging Shab-e-Meraj, the night in which Muslims believe the Prophet rode a horse to the heavens; and bringing up the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Ayesha when co-panellists wouldn’t relent. Khan, the Islamic scholar said “the BJP has weaponised Islamophobia through using its IT cells and a pliant media to constantly attack the Muslim community… Since BJP benefits politically from the vilification of Muslims, there is no hope that it will revise its anti-Muslim policies.” read the complete article

27 Jun 2022

India house demolitions: Another Israeli-style war crime against Muslims

As a Muslim born into a political climate irreparably shaken by the illegal demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992, studying and observing these realities in India and in other parts of the world helped shape my generation's political consciousness. Images from Palestine – land colonisation, apartheid, and home demolitions – further deepened my knowledge about a Muslim political subjectivity marked by structural violence. Today such images have become a part of everyday life for Indian Muslims. Recent developments in India should be analysed with the backdrop of a war against Muslim minorities within a nation triggered by Islamophobia. Taking a page out of Israel’s playbook, the right-wing Hindu nationalist Indian government has been using bulldozers in recent years as a tool of repression and collective punishment. Deemed legal, property demolition often targets critics and peaceful protesters and is aggressively carried out without meaningful notice. In Uttar Pradesh, the home of Javed Mohammad, a political activist with the Welfare Party of India, was razed following his arrest in connection to protests that broke out in Allahabad. The demolition notice came just one night before the home was bulldozed on 11 June. His wife and daughter were briefly detained, but subsequently released. Recently, Hindu festivals and gatherings have become a stage to unleash widespread violence against Muslims, especially in the states ruled by Hindutva. Processions during the Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti religious celebrations this year incited communal violence as Hindutva organisers passed by mosques and Islamic shrines. The resurgence of violence against Muslim minorities culminated in a massive demolition campaign targeting their homes, mosques, and businesses. In a short span of time, Muslims have turned into refugees in their own villages due to this violent state-sponsored pogrom and institutional repression. read the complete article

United Kingdom

27 Jun 2022

UK's anti-terrorism strategy has 'negative effect' on Muslim communities

The UK's anti-terrorism strategy, dubbed Prevent, is facing criticism from a UN special rapporteur for "targeting Muslim communities" ahead of a controversial independent review. Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said the strategy has had a "negative and discriminatory effect on Muslim communities" and its implementation is "inconsistent" with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. While the effect of the initiative "has not been felt equally by all children," Ni Aolain said, "minority ethnic or religious communities" were impacted in particular. She said the UN "has a number of concerns about the Prevent strategy" and that she addressed these kinds of government strategies used by the UK and other countries with the organisation's Human Rights Council. There have been regular calls for the strategy's removal due to its discriminatory nature against Muslims and because the UK government has failed to provide any evidence that it prevents terrorism. read the complete article

27 Jun 2022

Muslims 'expect attack any time' as research shows Islamophobic hate crime rising across UK

Almost half of mosques across the UK experienced attacks in the last three years, according to a study conducted by the Muslim Engagement and development group (MEND). The report, which studied data from more than 100 mosques across the country, also found that 35% of Islamic institutions experienced a religiously motivated attack at least once a year. The most common form of attack is vandalism, followed by theft. The chair of Finsbury Park Mosque, which fell victim to a terrorist attack in 2017, says the situation now is even worst. "Our community still feels the fear and intimidation, and they expect an attack at any time. What happened was not a one off," says Mohammed Kozbar. "The situation is even worse than it was five years ago. Islamophobia is on the rise, and no one can deny that." He continued. read the complete article


27 Jun 2022

Australian Muslim group lodges complaint against Twitter for failing to remove ‘hateful’ content

An advocacy group for Australian Muslims has lodged a complaint against Twitter with the Queensland Human Rights Commission, accusing the site of failing to take action against accounts that incite hatred on the platform. The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (Aman) argues that as a publisher Twitter is responsible for content posted by a far-right account that has been cited in the manifesto of the extremist who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011. The network says despite multiple requests, Twitter has refused to delete the account and replies to its posts that “vilify” Muslims. These include comments such as “Ramadan means killing infidels” and claims that the Qur’an should be referred to as the “terrorist handbook”. Comments cited in the complaint refer to the Qur’an as “this satanic memoir” and to Islam as “the most violent and sexually perverse cult”. The network says it engaged with Twitter between July 2020 to July 2021. Aman says it asked the platform to remove several accounts that were inciting hatred but Twitter refused to act, saying the accounts were assessed to be “consistent with their policies”. The complaint before the Commission contains 419 items, including 29 tweets it claims incited hatred and 390 comments and quotes on those tweets. Rita Jabri Markwell, a lawyer for the network, said: “We were engaging with Twitter for over a year with really shocking examples. Pictures of Muslim men with guns being shoved into their mouths and pictures of Muslims depicted as monkeys and cavemen chasing people with knives. “We want Twitter to take responsibility for their platform. It shouldn’t be left up to ordinary people to monitor their platform for them.” read the complete article

United States

27 Jun 2022

Roe v Wade: Muslim women say overturning of decision will hurt everyone

Asifa Quraishi-Landes, a legal scholar and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches Islamic law, says religious minorities within the US are feeling unseen. She says that women should be able to continue going to their imam or rabbi to make their own decisions rather than have to contend with state-imposed decisions. "It is signalling that the state is aligning with one particular view within the Christian community and using the power of the state to impose that particular Christian view on everybody. And that should be a concern to any religious minority," she said. Many have been referring to the Supreme Court's decision as being akin to "sharia". But according to Quraishi-Landes, apart from being an Islamophobic trope, the rhetoric also unnecessarily drags Muslims into the conversation over the Christian right's crackdown on LGBTQ and women's rights in America. "The complaint is basically you're being theocratic. But instead of saying theocratic, they say: 'that's sharia', with the presumption that sharia insists that the state should impose moral religious values on everybody," she said. "But if you look at the history of Muslims, that is actually not the case at all." read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Jun 2022 Edition


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