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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03 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the State Department has released its annual report on religious freedom around the world, with Rashad Hussain, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, stating that “far too many governments remain undeterred of their repression of their citizens,” meanwhile in India, authorities in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka suspended 6 students for wearing the hijab, and in Australia, two Muslims were sworn in as federal ministers, with some describing the moment as a “potential reflection of changing perceptions of a community that has struggled with online and in-person vilification and abuse.” Our recommended read of the day is by Sheikh Saaliq for the Washington Post on how the ruling BJP in India is resurrecting Aurangzeb, a Mughal emperor, as a “brutal oppressor of Hindus and a rallying cry for Hindu nationalists who believe India must be salvaged from the taint of the so-called Muslim invaders.”  This and more below:


03 Jun 2022

A long-dead Muslim emperor vexes India’s Hindu nationalists | Recommended Read

Narendra Modi rose from his chair and walked briskly towards the podium to deliver another nighttime address to the nation. It was expected the speech would include a rare message of interfaith harmony in the country where religious tensions have risen under his rule. The Indian prime minister was speaking from the historic Mughal-era Red Fort in New Delhi, and the event marked the 400th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru who is remembered for championing religious freedoms for all. Instead, Modi chose the April event to turn back the clock and remind people of India’s most despised Muslim ruler who has been dead for more than 300 years. “Aurangzeb severed many heads, but he could not shake our faith,” Modi said during his address. His invocation of the 17th century Mughal emperor was not a mere blip. Aurangzeb Alamgir remained buried deep in the annals of India’s complex history. The country’s modern rulers are now resurrecting him as a brutal oppressor of Hindus and a rallying cry for Hindu nationalists who believe India must be salvaged from the taint of the so-called Muslim invaders. As tensions between Hindus and Muslims have mounted, the scorn for Aurangzeb has grown, and politicians from India’s right have invoked him like never before. It often comes with a cautionary warning: India’s Muslims should disassociate themselves from him as retribution for his alleged crimes. “For today’s Hindu nationalists, Aurangzeb is a dog whistle for hating all Indian Muslims,” said Audrey Truschke, historian and author of the book “Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth.” Hating and disparaging Muslim rulers, particularly Mughals, is distinctive to India’s Hindu nationalists, who for decades have strived to recreate officially secular India into a Hindu nation. They argue that Muslim rulers like Aurangzeb destroyed Hindu culture, forced religious conversions, desecrated temples and imposed harsh taxes on non-Muslims, even though some historians say such stories are exaggerated. Popular thought among nationalists traces the origin of Hindu-Muslim tensions back to medieval times, when seven successive Muslim dynasties made India their home, until each were swept aside when their time passed. This belief had led them on a quest to redeem India’s Hindu past, to right the perceived wrongs suffered over centuries. And Aurangzeb is central to this sentiment. read the complete article

03 Jun 2022

Journalist Rana Ayyub threatened with ‘beheading’ by online trolls

The online harassment and trolling of journalist Rana Ayyub continues, with Ayyub posting today a screenshot of comments she received on her Instagram post. The comments seemed to be in response to Ayyub sharing an Al Jazeera report on the growing popularity of “anti-Muslim songs” in India, whose lyrics contain threats of genocide. Some of the comments threatened to “behead” Ayyub. In her tweet, she tagged the Mumbai police, the National Commission for Women, and the prime minister’s office. Ayyub has often been at the receiving end of attacks online (see here and here). In January, she received multiple rape and death threats after criticising the Saudi government’s role in the war in Yemen. She said she had received over 26,000 tweets with threats of violence. In January, Ayyub was among more than 100 Muslim women displayed for “auction” on an app called Bulli Bai – circulating their photographs and inviting denigrating comments against them. read the complete article

03 Jun 2022

Six students suspended, 12 sent back for wearing hijab in Karnataka

Authorities in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka on Thursday suspended 6 students for wearing hijab in spite of a series of warnings. In another instance, 12 students were sent back for wearing hijab while attending classes. Six students of the Uppinangadi Government Pre University College have been suspended for repeatedly violating hijab guidelines. The principal of the college took the decision to suspend the students after holding a meeting with college lecturers. The 6 girl students were informed about the government order and the decision of the High Court prohibiting the wearing of hijab in classrooms. Though the authorities of Mangaluru University College near Hampanakatte have been sending back students wearing hijab, 16 girl students who came wearing hijab on Thursday demanded that they should be allowed to attend classes. The college principal denied their entry into classrooms and sent them back. The decision was taken in the Syndicate meeting. The students had also gone to the District Commissioner's office and had complained about not being allowed to attend classes. read the complete article

03 Jun 2022

One Month Since Mob Attack on Muslim Locality in Shivamogga, No Arrests Made

In February this year, Shivamogga in Karnataka was at the centre of an outbreak of communal violence after a Bajrang Dal member, Harsha ‘Hindu’, was killed allegedly by members of the Muslim community. At the time, police had denied that there was any communal motive behind the killing, saying that Harsha had been “involved in at least five cases of assault and attempt to murder, some of which included attacks on rival anti-social elements from the Muslim community too.” However, the backlash that the killing drew saw thousands of Bajrang Dal members rioting through the city, vandalising property and committing arson through the course of funeral procession. While the police accompanied the procession, they reportedly played a passive role, allege witnesses, using tear gas to control the mob only five hours in. While the region slowly made its return to normalcy after the wave of violence, a similar but less reported series of events took place on May 6, where the Muslim community residing in the Sulebailu village on Shivamogga’s outskirts was subjected to ostensibly retributive mob violence, but this time, from people they knew. On May 6, a car reportedly belonging to the friend of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yuva Morcha leader was attacked by two Muslim youths near the Gas Godown chowk at Idganagar in Sulebailu. Locals claimed that that the car had crashed into the two-wheeler vehicle to the Muslim youths and that the youths followed the car and attacked the driver following the crash. While different parties gave conflicting reports of the incident, the police proceeded to register a suo motu case against the attack on the car as well as an attempt to murder case, and arrested the accused. But while the details of the catalytic incident may have been murky, the scale of the violence that followed appears to have been disproportionate, targeting the Muslim community of the area at large. read the complete article


03 Jun 2022

Online abuse against women is rife, but some women suffer more – and we need to step up for them

Women online suffer a disproportionate amount of harm and abuse, but it isn’t all based on their gender. This “cyber violence” is also shaped by a range of other intersecting factors such as race, religion, class, caste and disability. Our ongoing research involves collecting case studies from both India and Australia to understand how various marginalised identities can impact young women’s experiences of online violence, and how social media companies – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – aren’t doing enough to stop it. India is a rich case study for this research, as it’s a country where women have many different expressions of identity in large numbers – and where there remains a lot of racial, religious and social tension across society. However, although Australia and India have significantly different cultures, women in both countries fall victim to online crimes, including cyber stalking and cyber harassment. And those with marginalised identities have to deal with more more stigma and targeting. What’s worse is platform content moderators are failing to recognise this cyber violence – often because they don’t understand the nuance and contexts in which stigmas operate. read the complete article

03 Jun 2022

US says some Indian officials 'supporting' religious attacks

The United States has said that some Indian officials have supported attacks against religious minorities, in a rare if indirect criticism of the record of its emerging ally. Unveiling an annual report on international religious freedom on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered bleak assessments of several US adversaries including China, Iran and Myanmar. But he said that elsewhere as well "the rights of religious minorities are under threat in communities around the world." "In India, the world's largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we've seen rising attacks on people in places of worship," Blinken said. Rashad Hussain, the US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, added, "In India, some officials are ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship." "Governments must speak out and protect the vulnerable and marginalised. Anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, and xenophobia are on the rise in many countries," Hussain said. In the report, the State Department pointed to laws restricting religious conversions, quoted accounts of discrimination against Muslims and Christians, and said that "politicians made inflammatory public remarks or social media posts about religious minorities." Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government has led a series of measures that critics have called discriminatory. read the complete article

03 Jun 2022

China a ‘glaring example’ of religious repression, US says

China provides a “glaring example” of how governments are cracking down on religious minorities, a US official has said, as the Department of State released its annual report on religious freedom around the world. Rashad Hussain, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said during a news conference on Thursday that “far too many governments remain undeterred of their repression of their citizens”. “It comes as no surprise that the People’s Republic of China is a glaring example here,” he told reporters. “The PRC government continue[s] to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.” A day before US President Joe Biden took office, Washington announced it had determined Beijing was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” against Uighurs in the western province of Xinjiang, where rights groups and witnesses have said more than one million people are being held in internment camps. China initially denied the existence of any detention camps in Xinjiang, but in 2018, said it had set up “vocational training centres” necessary to curb what it said was terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism in the region. The Chinese government has rejected abuse allegations, decrying “slanderous attacks” about conditions for Uighurs and other religious minorities in Xinjiang. “China continues its genocide and repression of predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other religious minority groups,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday at the news conference unveiling the 2021 International Religious Freedom Report. “Since April 2017, more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and others have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang,” he said. read the complete article

United States

03 Jun 2022

'A nightmare': Mom outraged by alleged attack on Muslim daughters wearing hijabs

A New Jersey mother of two teenage Muslim girls is expressing outrage after a woman was charged with bias intimidation for allegedly yelling at the girls and hitting one at a nail salon in Clifton, approximately 10 miles outside Newark. “It is a nightmare for us," the woman, Fadwa, who did not want her last name used for fear of retaliation, told NBC Asian America. "I’ve been here in this country for many years. Then, something like this happens to my daughters. It’s like, what is going on?” Nancy Jones, 59, allegedly approached the 13-year-old and 15-year-old girls in a nail salon, yelled profanities at them and told them to go back to their country before striking the younger girl in the head on April 30, according to Clifton Police Chief Thomas Rinaldi. Both victims were wearing hijabs. The two girls told their mother that Jones shouted at them for staring at her and yelled at another Muslim woman in the salon, mistaking her for their mother, according to Fadwa. read the complete article

03 Jun 2022

Muslim woman claims McDonalds deliberately gave her bacon

A complaint has been filed against a McDonald’s restaurant in Massachusetts for allegedly stuffing a fish sandwich with bacon while serving a Muslim woman. The Massachusetts body of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MA) said in a statement on Wednesday that a complaint had been filed against the McDonald’s with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). The complaint stated that employees at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chicopee added three to four strips of bacon to a fish sandwich ordered by Ghadir Alahmar for her 7-year-old twin sons when she visited the outlet on 29 June. The statement added that Ms Alahmar, who is “visibly Muslim as she wears a hijab” had made an explicit request for a plain sandwich. Muslims are strictly prohibited from eating pork in Islam. “McDonald’s employees willfully added bacon to the Complainant’s food in an effort to offend, humiliate, and cause distress to Complainant and her young children,” the complaint said. read the complete article


03 Jun 2022

Australia’s first Muslim federal ministers Anne Aly and Ed Husic hope appointments mark ‘new era’ of inclusivity

For Anne Aly, her swearing in this week as minister for early childhood and youth was more than just a personal achievement. It was a moment that signified change and hope for her and fellow Muslim cabinet minister, Ed Husic. Making history on Tuesday, Aly and Husic were sworn in to the federal cabinet, proudly clutching their Qurans, as the nation watched on. It was a moment they had been hoping would happen, a potential reflection of changing perceptions of a community that has struggled with online and in-person vilification and abuse. “In the post 9/11 years, Muslims around Australia were left with a profound sense of loss,” Aly told the Guardian “It particularly impacted young Muslims who had never considered themselves anything but Australian. The political rhetoric that followed those years fed into Islamophobia and division. “I hope that we are now witnessing a new era – an era where Australia is truly inclusive and where that inclusivity is reflected in our political institutions.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Jun 2022 Edition


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