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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29 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Sweden, a man desecrates a copy of the Quran during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha outside of Stockholm’s Central Mosque, while in Morocco, Foreign Ministry authorities have recalled the country’s ambassador to Sweden after the Quran burning and summoned Sweden’s chargé d’affaires to express a “strong condemnation” for allowing the hateful act, and lastly, a family in India is shaken after a Hindu nationalist mob attempts to stop the family from carrying out Eid al-Adha religious customs in front of the family’s housing compound in Mumbai. Our recommended read of the day is by Aparna Gopalan for Jewish Currents on how right-wing Hindu groups in the US are pushing a narrative of victimization in an effort to shut down criticism of Hindutva. This and more below:

United States


In 2022, a long line of floats rolled through the streets, decked out in images of Hindu deities and colorful advertisements for local businesses. People cheered from the sidelines or joined the cavalcade, dancing to pulsing Bollywood music. In the middle of the procession came another kind of vehicle: A wheel loader, which looks like a small bulldozer, rumbled along the route bearing an image of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aloft in its bucket. For South Asian Muslims, the meaning of the addition was hard to miss. A few months earlier, during the month of Ramadan, Indian government officials had sent bulldozers into Delhi’s Muslim neighborhoods, where they damaged a mosque and leveled homes and storefronts. The Washington Post called the bulldozer “a polarizing symbol of state power under Narendra Modi,” whose ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is increasingly enacting a program of Hindu supremacy and Muslim subjugation. Initially, New Jersey politicians—including Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and Edison mayor Sam Joshi—decried the parade. In September, the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee, a local wing of the New Jersey Democratic Party, passed a resolution condemning the event and calling for a crackdown on what they described as Hindu nationalist groups’ operations in the state. But soon after the Teaneck resolution was adopted, nearly 60 Hindu American groups released a statement that shifted the conversation away from rising Hindu nationalism toward fears of Hindu victimization. The signatories—who made no mention of the wheel loader, Modi, or the RSS—claimed that the “hate-filled” Teaneck resolution “[demonizes] the entire Hindu American community.” A couple of weeks later, Hindu activists sponsored ten billboards in north and central New Jersey calling on Democrats to “Stop bigotry against Hindu Americans.” Before long, lawmakers began to denounce the resolution. The Teaneck incident is one of many in which Hin­du groups have worked to silence criticism of Hin­du nationalism by decrying it as anti-Hindu or “Hinduphobic.” read the complete article

Man Arrested in Attack on State Rep. After Muslim Holy Gathering

A Muslim Connecticut state representative was injured in an attack outside of an Eid al-Adha prayer gathering on Wednesday, police said. A bystander chased down the male suspect and detained him before he was arrested by Hartford police, authorities confirmed to local media. Representative Maryam Khan, the first Muslim member of the Connecticut House after being elected last year, sustained minor injuries, Farhan Memon, Connecticut chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Newsweek in a phone interview Wednesday night. The lawmaker said that when the suspect first approached them, he made "vulgar and obscene remarks," Khan told the advocacy group, adding that he "grabbed and hit her and threw her to the ground" outside the prayer gathering held at the XL Center in Hartford. "When I spoke to her this afternoon, she said that her face was bruised, and her neck has started to hurt a lot," Memon told Newsweek. "And there is the emotional trauma as well, which I can't even begin to imagine, not only what happened to her but also trying to protect her kids and her sister when this man started harassing them." Memon said the local Muslim community is concerned about the lack of police presence at the prayer gathering, which he said drew thousands of people. He said security and police were "nowhere to be found" when the incident occurred, adding that Khan and her sister were screaming for help and no one aided them until the one bystander ultimately chased and detained the suspect. Memon said that while they don't know the motive for the attack, he added, "Unfortunately, Muslims are targets." read the complete article

UN report criticizes treatment of inmates at Guantanamo Bay as ‘cruel’ and ‘inhuman’

A new U.N. investigation found conditions inside the prison at Guantanamo Bay are cruel and inhuman. Roughly 780 detainees have been held at the detention center since it opened in 2002. Today, 30 remain, 16 of which have been cleared for release. Geoff Bennett discussed the report with Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the first independent U.N. investigator to visit Guantanamo in its history. read the complete article


Turkey condemns Quran burning protest in Stockholm as a ‘heinous act’

Turkey condemned a decision by Swedish authorities to approve a small Quran-burning demonstration outside a mosque in Stockholm on Wednesday, a move that may jeopardize Sweden’s bid to join NATO before the bloc’s key summit in July. A single person took part in the planned Quran burning in the Swedish capital and images of the event show he was the only person apart from his translator at the demonstration, which coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, one of the most significant in the Islamic calendar. The decision to permit the protest was made in accordance with the right of freedom of speech, Swedish police said, adding that the demonstration does not pose an immediate security risk. But allowing such an inflammatory protest stirred a backlash in Turkey, a NATO member state that has obstructed Sweden’s accession bid. Sweden and neighboring Finland both formally applied to join the bloc after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.” Turkey’s foreign minister condemned the protest on Wednesday, calling it a “heinous act.” “It is unacceptable to allow these anti-Islamic actions under the pretext of freedom of expression. To turn a blind eye to such heinous acts is to be complicit in them,” Hakan Fidan said in a statement. read the complete article

Morocco recalls envoy to Sweden as anger widens over Quran desecration

Morocco has recalled its ambassador to Sweden for an indefinite period after a man tore up and burned a Quran outside Stockholm's central mosque, the state news agency said. Morocco's Foreign Ministry also summoned Sweden's chargé d'affaires in Rabat early on Thursday and expressed the kingdom's "strong condemnation of this attack and its rejection of this unacceptable act", the state news agency said. Sweden's police first allowed the burning of Quran by an extremist and later launched a probe into hate speech. In its written decision granting a permit for the attack on Muslim holy book, Stockholm police said on Wednesday the security risks associated with the burning "were not of a nature that could justify, under current laws, a decision to reject the request". As anger widened, police said they launched an investigation over hate speech against the Iraqi-origin attacker who burned a copy of the Quran in front of a mosque in the Sodermalm district of Stockholm as Muslims across the world celebrated Eid al Adha. read the complete article


Headscarves in women's football spark new French secularism debate

At the centre of the latest soul-searching is a legal challenge by a collective of Muslim football players who are seeking to overturn a ban by the French Football Federation on women wearing religious symbols during games, even those organised by amateur clubs. The "Hijabeuses" collective received a legal boost on Monday when the state's legal advisor concluded the rule was unjustified during a hearing at the country's Constitutional Council, where the case is being heard. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, an immigration hardliner in the government of President Emmanuel Macron, said Tuesday that he was "very opposed" to the council authorising headscarves on football pitches, echoing alarm expressed by other right-wing politicians. A final decision from the nine-member body, which rules on constitutional matters, is expected in the middle of July. The issue goes to the heart of the notion of French secularism, which is intended to keep the state neutral in religious matters, while also guaranteeing citizens the right to freely practise their religion. Authorising the hijab in football "would be a real regression for the rights of women and a shameful submission to Islamism", the head of the right-wing Republicans party, Eric Ciotti, said Tuesday. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen wrote on Twitter: "No to the hijab in sport. And we will pass a law to make sure it is respected." "Our combat is not political, not religious. It is about sport and only sport," Foune Diawara, head of the "Hijabeuses", told reporters afterwards. "There are women who are excluded from football pitches every weekend because they wear the veil." read the complete article


Quran desecrated at Sweden mosque during Eid al-Adha

Salwan Momika strutted into view behind rows of police officers outside the picturesque Stockholm Central Mosque, waving two Swedish flags as the national anthem blasted over a speaker system. With white AirPods in his ears and a cigarette hanging nonchalantly from his mouth, he then desecrated the Quran repeatedly on Wednesday by tearing it up and lighting it on fire. Momika, an Iraqi refugee seeking to ban the Quran in Sweden, also laid a strip of bacon on the holy book and began stamping on it with his foot. Another unidentified man with him spoke to the crowd through a megaphone. It was a scene intended to shock and antagonise the Muslim community celebrating the holiday of Eid al-Adha. Instead, the display was largely mocked, dismissed, or ignored by about 200 people gathered outside. Avsan Mezori, 32, a financial manager in the crowd, said, “I feel bad for him [Momika], not for us”. He added that, as a Muslim, “what I have in me, he can’t take; I don’t want to give him the attention”. Husam El Gomati, a political activist originally from Libya, dismissed the act as a “trick” intended to provoke a reaction that could be used to “portray Muslims as violent”. He said Momika chose the Muslim holiday to “plant hate”, but added he was proud of the community for remaining calm and not reacting. read the complete article


'Mob Attacked Us': Tensions in Mumbai Society Over Family Bringing Goats for Eid

"They called me a terrorist and threatened to slaughter a pig inside my house," alleged Mohsin Khan, 31, as he struggled to come to terms with what transpired in his housing society in Mumbai on the evening of 27 June. Residents of JP North Garden City in Mira Road area, Mohsin, his wife Yasmeen, and their 4-year-old child were in for a shock as they returned home at around 6.30 pm on Tuesday. Their car was stopped at the society's main gate by a crowd of approximately 200 people allegedly over the family bringing home two goats ahead of Eid al-Adha on 29 June. "When we reached the entrance of our society, two men approached our car and began knocking the window. They asked for my exact address. When I refused, the matter escalated and my wife intervened to stop them. Soon, the crowd started chanting 'Jai Shree Ram' slogans." Mohsin told The Quint. As tensions escalated, an FIR was filed against 11 people at the Kashimira Police Station under eight sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including unlawful assembly, rioting, assault on a woman, voluntarily causing harm, wrongful restraint, insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, and criminal intimidation. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 29 Jun 2023 Edition


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