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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Germany, a new report released by the Alliance Against Islamophobia and Muslim Hostility shows that over 895 anti-Muslim incidents were recorded in the country in 2022, meanwhile in the UK, an inquiry collected evidence from over 4,000 people and found widespread discrimination, racism, sexism, and abuse in English cricket, and lastly, the Hindu festival of Ram Navami was marred this year by anti-Muslim violence and threats of violence across several states in India with vandalism of religious sites a common occurrence. Our recommended read of the day is by Carol Rosenberg for The New York Times on a new report from the UN Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights on the conditions at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, finding circumstances to be “cruel, inhuman and degrading under international law”. This and more below:

United States

Conditions at Guantánamo Are Cruel and Inhuman, U.N. Investigation Finds | Recommended Read

The last 30 detainees at Guantánamo Bay, including the men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, are being held by the United States under circumstances that constitute “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law,” a United Nations human rights investigator said on Monday. Fionnuala Ni Aolain, a law professor in Minnesota serving as special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, included the finding in a report drawn from a four-day visit to the prison in February, which included meetings with an undisclosed number of detainees and interviews with lawyers and former prisoners. She issued the report one month before her term as rapporteur ends. She specifically cited the cumulative effects of inadequate health care, solitary confinement, restraints and use of force to remove prisoners from their cells as contributing to her conclusions. She said the conditions at the prison “may also meet the legal threshold for torture.” The report called the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, “a crime against humanity.” But Ms. Aolain pointedly called the United States and its use of torture on the men now facing criminal charges at Guantánamo Bay “the single most significant barrier to fulfilling victims’ rights to justice and accountability.” read the complete article

Searching for Justice at Guantanamo: Tainted evidence and the fight for accountability

When the prison at Guantanamo Bay was opened, it was announced that it would hold terror suspects, picked up by the US in their War on Terror. It quickly became a dungeon that tortured its inmates and violated some of the most basic principles of humanity. Subsequent presidents, although not all, have said that they will close down the site and release the prisoners. However this task has been fraught with difficulties. While the vast majority have been never been found guilty, or even been charged with a crime; those that have been charged, have claimed that the evidence against them was extracted by torture, and was only given to make the abuses stop. Such is the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In May, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention condemned his continued detention, and the torture that he suffered in prison, and how he had been denied rights to guarantee and fair trial. This week on The New Arab Voice, we look at the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, how the torture he endured at the hands of his captors is playing into his trial, how efforts to close the prison have failed, and what needs to happen to ensure that victims of Guantanamo get justice. read the complete article


India is rewriting textbooks to appease Hindu nationalists

Earlier this month, the international press reported with incredulity that revisions to textbooks in India will mean that large numbers of schoolchildren in the country can complete their high school education without being taught about foundational scientific concepts and ideas, including the theory of evolution. In response, India’s national council overseeing the curriculum claimed that the revisions were a routine exercise intended to ensure that material was introduced at the “appropriate stage.” It did not explain how the textbooks were edited or by whom. On June 15, 33 Indian political scientists who have contributed to school textbooks wrote to the director of the national education council to demand that their names be removed as authors because “this creative collective effort is in jeopardy.” The omissions and deletions, they argued, had violated the “core principles of transparency and contestation.” They had taken their lead from Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palsikar, eminent academics — Yadav is now a politician — who had complained just days earlier that the textbooks they had worked on, “once a source of pride,” were now a “source of embarrassment.” I spoke to Palsikar on the phone and asked him about the politicization of Indian schooling and the intent behind textbook revisions. read the complete article

Weaponization Of Hindu Festivals: A Catalyst For Anti-Muslim Violence In India

The celebration of a Hindu festival, Ram Navami, which marks the birth of Lord Ram, was tarnished by violence in late March across 10 Indian states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Delhi and West Bengal. In Jharkhand state, the violence was sparked by the alleged desecration of a Ram Navami flag. There were rumors that the banned flesh of an animal was affixed to a religious flag, a social activist, Kashif Siddique, told He added that a senior police officer clarified that the controversial object was merely remnants of a chicken, tied to a pole as a common practice in nearby meat shops to keep animals away. Siddique also said that although police successfully defused the situation initially, accusations and offensive remarks against the Muslim community incited further unrest the following day. Suddenly, stone-throwing escalated toward mosques and Muslim homes. Soon thereafter, some attackers selectively targeted Muslim-owned businesses for arson. This is not the first instance when processions during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti, another Hindu festival, have resulted in violence. read the complete article

Islamophobia In Private Sectors: A Case Of Muslim Exclusion In India

Over the past few years, Indian society has witnessed a concerning trend of growing polarisation along religious lines. Regrettably, Islamophobia has found its way into various sections of society, including the Indian private sector. Recently Khalid Parvez, a former employee at Apple, recently shared his decision to resign from the prestigious tech giant without securing a new job. In his LinkedIn post, Parvez raised serious accusations, including mental harassment, abusive language, possible business misconduct, and Islamophobic comments. He also highlighted managerial errors that led to four months of homelessness for him and his family, resulting in severe mental health issues. Parvez’s experience underscores the need for a comprehensive examination of workplace practices and the urgent implementation of measures to combat Islamophobia. It is crucial for organisations to foster inclusive and diverse environments that promote understanding, empathy, and equal opportunities for all employees. Employers in India’s private sector are not currently legally bound to refrain from discriminatory practices based on religion when considering job applicants, thereby indicating that there are no provisions to sue the company, compel consideration on merit, or impose sanctions in cases where Muslim candidates are disqualified due to discriminatory hiring policies. read the complete article


White House blasts harassment of reporter who asked India's Modi about human rights

Biden administration officials on Monday blasted an online harassment campaign targeting a Wall Street Journal reporter who asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about his government's human rights record during a White House press conference last week. "It’s completely unacceptable and it's antithetical to the very principles of democracy that ... were on display last week during the state visit," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said of the online vitriol that's been aimed at White House reporter Sabrina Siddiqui. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later added that "we're committed to the freedom of the press" and "condemn any efforts of intimidation or harassment of a journalist." During a press conference with President Joe Biden and Modi at the White House on Thursday, Siddiqui said "there are many human rights groups who say your government has discriminated against religious minorities and sought to silence its critics," and asked "what steps are you and your government willing to take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your country and uphold free speech." Modi, who rarely takes questions from reporters, said at the time that he was "surprised" by the question. “In India’s democratic values, there is absolutely no discrimination, neither on basis of caste, creed, or age or any kind of geographic location,” Modi said through a translator in response to Siddiqui. read the complete article

A New Brand of Hindu Extremism is Going Global

Far-right Hindu nationalism is fuelling violence and sparking fears for the future of Indian democracy – and is now spreading its influence across the world, and winning admirers among Western extremists. India’s populist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, advocates a hardline form of Hindu nationalism, known as Hindutva – which has been accused of inciting deadly violence in India, as well as inflaming the tensions in the US and UK. And this radical brand of nationalism – with its unapologetic Islamophobia – has found an unlikely fanbase among the Western far-right. read the complete article

‘Bombed Muslim nations’: BJP ministers to Obama over Modi remark

Prominent ministers from India’s ruling party have derided comments by former US President Barack Obama that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government should protect the rights of minority Muslims, accusing him of being hypocritical. During Modi’s state visit to the United States last week, Obama told CNN the issue of the “protection of the Muslim minority in a majority-Hindu India” would be worth raising in his meeting with US President Joe Biden. Obama said without such protection there was “a strong possibility that India at some point starts pulling apart”. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said Obama “should not forget that India is the only country which considers all the people living in the world as family members”. “He should also think about himself as to how many Muslim countries he has attacked,” added Singh, whose remarks came a day after another top Indian minister slammed the former US president for his remarks. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said she was shocked that Obama 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?” read the complete article


Study finds nearly 900 anti-Muslim incidents occurred in Germany last year

A total of 898 anti-Muslim incidents were recorded in Germany last year, while the number of unreported cases remains high, according to a situation report released on Monday by the Berlin-based non-governmental organization the Alliance Against Islamophobia and Muslim Hostility. According to the study, racism is part of everyday life for Muslims in Germany, with many recorded cases involving women. Among the documented cases were 500 verbal attacks, including inflammatory statements, insults, threats and coercion. Eleven threatening letters to mosques with "often excessive threats of violence and death" were also recorded. The letters contained Nazi symbols or references to the Nazi era. In addition, the report mentioned 190 cases of discrimination and 167 cases of "injurious behavior." The latter category included 71 cases of bodily harm, 44 cases of property damage, three arson attacks and 49 other acts of violence. In addition, racially motivated attacks on young people and children are increasing, it said. There are cases where women were attacked in the presence of their children and pregnant women were kicked or hit in the stomach. read the complete article

German voters elect far-right AfD candidate to lead district for the first time

A candidate from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won a local leadership post for the first time on Sunday in a resounding victory for a group whose anti-migrant, Euroskeptic and anti-Muslim agenda is under surveillance by German authorities. The AfD’s Robert Sesselmann triumphed over incumbent Jürgen Köpper of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party to become district administrator of Sonneberg, in Thuringia, central Germany, at the weekend. Sesselmann was elected with 52.8% of the vote, while Köpper gained 47.2%, according to the Thuringian State Office for Statistics. Opposition lawmakers sounded the alarm on Sesselmann’s win, saying it threatened the political center and signaled a rise in populism among the electorate. read the complete article

United Kingdom

English cricket condemned as racist, sexist and classist in damning new report

Institutional racism, sexism and class-based discrimination are deep-rooted and widespread in English cricket, a report has found. After receiving evidence and recommendations, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) acted on one recommendation - saying sorry. "We certainly apologise to anybody that has felt excluded or discriminated against," ECB chairman Richard Thompson told Sky News. "Reading those lived experiences clearly was very shocking - to read what people have experienced in a way that they should never have had to have done." More than 4,000 people provided evidence to the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) which found: Half of respondents experienced discrimination, Racism is entrenched in cricket, Women are marginalised and routinely experience sexism, Little to no focus on addressing class barriers, Complaints systems are confusing and not fit for purpose, and Equity, diversity and inclusion require significant improvement. read the complete article


Spain's Muslim community struggles to find space to worship

Like many mosques in Spain, Tuba Mosque in Santa Coloma de Gramenet does not look like the holy temple it is supposed to be. A few shacks make up the worship space that Omar Majdi, the secretary, is embarrassed to call a mosque: “This is not a mosque”. The Muslim community of Santa Coloma de Gramenet ended up in this situation after they tried to open a small mosque in the city centre back in 2004. Although complying with all the rules and regulations the city council established for the installation of worship spaces, the initiative was welcomed by a strong backlash from neighbours. Pan-banging protests to disturb prayers, signature collections to close the mosque and harassment against worshippers pushed the mayor to intervene, but neighbours would not cease. Finally, the mayor placed some shacks in a far-away isolated piece of land and asked the Muslim community to move there until they found a solution. 19 years on, Santa Coloma’s Muslim citizens remain without a decent and accessible worship space, and this is not an isolated case. The responsibility to protect those rights and regulate worship spaces falls under the jurisdiction of the regional governments, but these, in turn, pass the issue to the city councils, who depending on their political nature, legislate to hinder the installation of mosques. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 27 Jun 2023 Edition


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