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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28 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In France, a collective of Muslim women football players have joined together to mount a legal challenge against the French Football Federation’s (FFF) 2021 rule against players at any level wearing religious attire or symbols in the sport, meanwhile in Italy, Bridge Initiative Senior Researcher Farid Hafez writes on the impact of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s draconian policies pitting Italian society against the “threat of Islam” with a series of draft legislative bills aimed at curtailing the building of new mosques as well as the ability for Muslims to pray in public places, and lastly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the U.S. brought new attention to the rising Hindu nationalist movement in the United States, highly supported by Modi’s BJP and RSS political organizations. Our recommended read of the day is by Hannan Adely for on a new trend in the film and television industry with the emergence of new programs showing MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) characters in a more wholistic and well rounded manner. This and more below:

United States

Hollywood has stereotyped Arabs for decades. Is it finally changing? | Recommended Read

Jenna Bosco was thrilled to land the part of the authoritative Officer Finley opposite Edie Falco on CBS’s “Tommy,” a police drama that aired for a season in 2020. But the episode made her uneasy. It portrayed a young Saudi woman who steals a diamond ring and hits Bosco’s character in the face to get herself arrested, claiming she wants help to avoid being sent home. She will be locked away or killed if she goes back, she tells police. “It had all the hallmarks,” Bosco said in an interview, describing oppressed Muslim women, references to beheading and filthy-rich parents who wield wealth and political power to get their way. “It just felt so trite and Orientalist in terms of the stereotypes and tropes we always see presented on TV.” Hollywood has long depicted Middle Eastern and North African characters in simplistic and offensive ways, often as terrorists, informants, oil sheiks or women in need of saving. The portrayals are as old as Hollywood itself, but those narratives are finally starting to change and broaden with the emergence of new television programs showing them as richer characters with varied storylines. In many cases, the changes have been ushered in by MENA actors, producers and screenwriters themselves, who are creating their own content and rallying for change in an industry once stacked against them. read the complete article


What’s fueling the rise in Hindu nationalism in the U.S.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit turned the nation’s capital into a microcosm of Indian politics on Thursday. Thousands of South Asians of every creed and community flooded the city’s landmarks — some to support the controversial leader, others to protest his visit, while many attended to simply take in the historic moment. Chants of “Go Modi” and “Jai Hind” (“Long live India”), juxtaposed against “Killer Modi” and “no justice, no peace,” echoed through the streets and buildings. The South Asian American diaspora cares about Indian politics like never before, experts say, and the common denominator is Modi. While his supporters credit him with making India a presence on the global stage, his critics accuse him of fanning the flames of Hindu nationalism in India and abroad. At its most extreme, the nationalist movement seeks to create a Hindu India, perpetuating the narrative that Hindus are oppressed in the country, and abetting violence and discrimination against Muslims and other minority groups, experts told NBC News. In the U.S., Hindu nationalism can take the form of cultural youth groups, but also online doxxing and harassment campaigns against dissenters. Charity work might operate parallel to lobbies against bills aimed at protecting those born into lower castes in India’s caste system, according to experts. Modi’s government and those that surround it — like his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the right-wing Hindu nationalist organization the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — have focused specifically on Indian Americans as the new frontier of political mobilization, Mishra, who teaches political science and international relations, said. And they’ve invested resources into spreading the word in schools, government offices and on social media. read the complete article

If India and the US really share values, Biden must call out Modi

No community of more than 2 million people can be seen as a monolith, and everyone in the Indian diaspora is entitled to their opinion about India’s trajectory under Modi and the relationship between the two countries. However, as members of the Hindu and Sikh communities — populations that make up many of India’s 1.4 billion people — we believe this is an essential moment to break through the nationalism that has masked a swift turn toward anti-democratic and authoritarian practices in India. Put simply, now is the time for the world’s oldest democracy to provide the world’s largest democracy with some critical feedback. We are alarmed by the relentless attacks on the independent press in India. In Modi’s India, the principles of free speech and expression that are vital to a healthy democracy are under attack. Political critics in India are being targeted and arrested under anti-terror laws, such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Public Safety Act. These laws allow authorities to detain people without a fair trial or due process and to hold them in preventive detention on the mere assumption that they may pose a threat in the future. Religious minorities bear the brunt of this suppression and marginalization. USCIRF has reported extensively on this issue for years, calling out harmful rhetoric and policies and urging the U.S. State Department to designate India as a “country of particular concern” for religious freedom. The recommendation has gone unheeded. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Report finds racism, sexism and elitism rife in English cricket

A damning independent report has found that institutional racism, sexism and class-based discrimination continue to infect English cricket. The long-awaited report into the state of the sport was published on Tuesday by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, known as the ICEC. It found that racism was “entrenched” in the English game, women were treated as “second-class citizens” and cricket was a rare option in state schools. The ICEC said the system for dealing with complaints was confusing and not fit for purpose. English cricket was rocked in 2020 when former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq said he was a victim of racial harassment and bullying through two spells at the nation’s most successful club from 2008-2018. During a tearful testimony at a parliamentary hearing in 2021, he spoke of the Islamophobia and bullying he was subjected to. read the complete article


Italy: Meloni's Islamophobic policies are pushing Muslims to the margins

Since taking office in October following the general elections, Italian Prime Minister and leading co-founder of the neo-fascist Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), Giorgia Meloni, has made more than a few bad headlines. She had worried many political elites in Europe with her far-right coalition partner, the League. Apart from pushing anti-LGBTQI policies, Meloni has supported the conspiracy theory about an alleged Islamisation of Europe. In September 2019, Meloni wrote a foreword to the "First Report on Europe's Islamisation", which was presented by the right-wing think tank, Farefuturo Foundation, where she wrote: "Because we fear the 'prophecy' of [Michel] Houellebecq, if Europe, and Italy which concerns us closely, do not decide to have policies and tools to preserve itself, may inevitably turn into reality." Now the first steps have been taken to fight this alleged Islamisation. As researcher Ada Mullol Marin mentioned in her report on Islamophobia in Italy in 2022: "Members of the [Brothers of Italy] FdI and Lega made declarations against the existence and construction of new mosques in the country, arguing that they trigger social conflicts." And this discourse, ahead of the national elections, seems to finally be bearing some fruit. As local media reported, Meloni's FdI party, which is leading the current coalition government in Italy, proposed a bill aimed at prohibiting the use of garages and industrial warehouses as mosques. FdI’s leader in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Tommaso Foti, who spearheaded this bill, claimed that it would stop the Islamisation of Italy. read the complete article


French collective seeks to overturn ban on wearing Islamic veils during football matches

A Muslim women's collective known as "the Hijabeuses" launched a legal challenge to the rules in November 2021, claiming they were discriminatory and infringed their right to practise their religion freely. The case reached the French advisory body known as the Council of State (Conseil d'Etat) on Monday where the public rapporteur, whose views are generally followed by the nine-member council, said he was against the federation's rules and recommended a rule change. Under current rules, the French Football Federation (FFF) forbids all players, even amateurs, from wearing obvious religious symbols in the name of French secularism, preventing players from wearing Muslim headscarves or the Jewish kippa. Public rapporteur Clement Malverti said there was no "neutrality requirement" for football players who should not be subjected to the same rules as public officials such as teachers or civil servants who are banned from displaying their religious convictions. read the complete article


Uyghurs in China - An Oppressed Minority

China’s Uyghur policy is a kind of quiet genocide: arbitrary detentions, torture, slave labor, cultural vandalism, the reeducation of children and adults, forced sterilizations. Beijing maintains an iron-fisted stranglehold on the Xinjiang region, which is only autonomous by name. The foundation stone for the worst oppression since World War Two was laid in 2014 by President Xi Jinping in a speech delivered behind closed doors to high-ranking Communist Party officials. In it, he called for an all-out "struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the "organs of dictatorship” and showing "absolutely no mercy.” Under the pretext of combating radical Islamism and poverty, the Communist Party of China is working on the complete annihilation of Uyghur culture. Years passed before the international community voiced its concerns. Undeterred by the threats from abroad, Beijing continues to pursue its persecution of Turkic-speaking and primarily Muslim minorities. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 Jun 2023 Edition


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