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 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, Tommy Robinson led a crowd of far-right protesters who were filmed chanting anti-Muslim slogans in London, elsewhere in the UK, Faiza Shaheen, a left-wing candidate blocked by the Labour party, has suggested she could run against the party as an independent and detailed her experiences of Islamophobia in the party, and in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance is projected to win a majority in the general election. Our recommended read of the day is by Juliette Jabkhiro for Reuters on how the Macron government is targeting Muslim academic institutions, which many advocates and analysts say is impinging on religious freedom. This and more below:


Muslim schools caught up in France's fight against Islamism | Recommended Read

Last year, Sihame Denguir enrolled her teenage son and daughter in France's largest Muslim private school, in the northern city of Lille some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from their middle-class suburban Parisian home. The move meant financial sacrifices. Denguir, 41, now pays fees at the partially state-subsidised Averroes school and rents a flat in Lille for her children and their grandmother, who moved to care for them. But Averroes' academic record, among the best in France, was a powerful draw. So she was dumbstruck in December when the school lost government funding worth around two million euros a year on grounds it failed to comply with secular principles enshrined in France's national education guidelines. President Emmanuel Macron has undertaken a crackdown on what he calls Islamist separatism and radical Islam in France following deadly jihadist attacks in recent years by foreign and homegrown militants. Macron is under pressure from the far right Rassemblement National (RN), which holds a wide lead over his party ahead of European elections this week. The crackdown seeks to limit foreign influence over Muslim institutions in France and tackle what Macron has said is a long-term Islamist plan to take control of the French Republic. Macron denies stigmatizing Muslims and says Islam has a place in French society. However, rights and Muslim groups say that by targeting schools like Averroes, the government is impinging on religious freedom, making it harder for Muslims to express their identity. Four parents and three academics Reuters spoke to for this story said the campaign risks being counterproductive, alienating Muslims who want their children to succeed within the French system, including at high-performing mainstream schools such as Averroes. read the complete article


A Modi Win Will Only Mean More Trouble for Indian Muslims

More than two years have passed since a picture of me, picked up from my personal social media handles, was put up with a price tag for auction on the internet. It was part of a website called Bulli Bai, a religious slur used for Muslim women in India. Why was I targeted? Likely because of my reporting. The perpetrators wanted to shame and humiliate a journalist who was determined to expose the failures of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s gender, caste, and religion-based violence. But more importantly, they wanted to shut up a Muslim woman who had dared to be vocal in Modi’s India. As the ongoing election in India is set to finish on June 1, it has once again offered deeper insight into how political dialogue is fueling this culture of hate. Particularly, the political campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP has leaned into anti-Muslim sentiment, progressively making Islamophobia one of the defining features of this election. It was most prominently on display when Modi, in a thinly veiled reference to Muslims, referred to the 200 million Indian Muslim population as “infiltrators” at a BJP campaign rally while addressing voters in the Western state of Rajasthan on April 21. The Prime Minister also accused the opposition Congress party of planning to distribute the country’s wealth to Muslims. The alarming rhetoric about Muslim population growth too have dominated the election discourse, fueled by the BJP's top leader, Modi, who has been criticized for his Islamophobic remarks, evoking memories of Gujarat's 2002 riots. While he later denied singling out Muslims in an interview with an Indian news channel, his history of linking them to population growth fuels a Hindu-majoritarian conspiracy theory. read the complete article

‘Minority exclusion’: Are Indian Muslims facing voter suppression?

Three hours later, when Mustagir returned to the booth to cast his vote, a police officer summoned him. “They seized my voter slip and Aadhar card and tore it into pieces,” he alleged. A voter slip is issued to voters by the authorities to inform them of their nearest booth, while Aadhar refers to India’s biometric identity card, carrying of which is mandatory for a voter along with the voter identity card. Mustagir, 30, said at least six police officers shoved him into a van as his younger brother Alam recorded a video of the detention on his mobile phone. He claimed he was beaten and abused inside the vehicle as the officers took him to Sambhal’s Asmauli police station. “They said: ‘Mullah, you’ll vote for cycle?'” he told Al Jazeera. Mullah is a common pejorative term for Indian Muslims. The bicycle is the election symbol of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the main opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and politically crucial state that sends 80 members to the lower house of parliament, the most by any state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu majoritarian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rules the state, as well as nationally. The Sambhal incident is only one among a series of allegations of vote suppression of India’s largest minority in the country’s mammoth election, which comes to an end with the final phase of voting on Saturday, June 1. Votes will be counted on June 4, when results will also be announced. read the complete article

India’s exit polls show a majority for Modi’s BJP-led alliance in election

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance is projected to win an emphatic majority in the general election, TV exit polls say, suggesting the right-wing party would do better than expected by most analysts. Most opposition parties accuse India’s main news channels of being biased in favour of Modi, charges the channels have denied. They also say exit polls in India are mostly unscientific. read the complete article

India awaits results of general election marred by 'unprecented' disinformation

The biggest democratic exercise in history brought with it a surge of false social media posts and instant messaging, ranging from doctored videos to unrelated images with false captions. Raqib Hameed Naik, from the US-based India Hate Lab, said they had "witnessed an unprecedented scale of disinformation" in the elections. "Conspiracy theories... were vigorously promoted to deepen the communal divide," said Naik, whose organisation researches hate speech and disinformation. With seven stages of voting stretched over six weeks, AFP fact checkers carried out 40 election-related debunks across India's political divide. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Muslim Council of Britain urges Labour to address Islamophobia allegations, blocking of Muslim candidate

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has raised concern about the Labour Party's treatment of candidates in the upcoming general election, after a Muslim woman was unexpectedly barred from contesting a seat over complaints regarding her social media activity related to Israel and Gaza. In a statement published on Thursday, the council urged the party to clarify why Faiza Shaheen was banned from standing and to address the Islamophobia allegations. "We note with grave concern of fresh allegations of Islamophobia coming out of the Labour Party. This is being exemplified by a British woman reportedly being blocking from standing as a Member of Parliament," MCB said in a statement. Earlier this week, the left-wing Labour Party abruptly banned Shaheen from contesting a London seat in the 4 July general election, after allegedly receiving complaints from a Jewish Labour group over a post on X that she 'liked'. The council, which advocates for the UK's Muslim community, said it hoped that the election campaign would be respectful to all religious or minority groups. read the complete article

How Nigel Farage, Major Media Outlets and Ofcom ‘Normalised Islamophobia and Then Justified It’

Islamophobia has passed the dinner table test and is now on the television screens. The fact that Britain’s major TV news channels are hosting and broadcasting blatant broadsides against British Muslims including the allegations that they do not subscribe to British values and are “trying to change our way of life” may have shocked some people. Those who choose an occupation where all things Muslims are read and watched, know that this was not some one off. Nigel Farage, bought the daily fodder of GB News on to mainstream news even eliciting shock and some pushback from Sky News host Trevor Philips. This is general election season and the non-Parliamentary candidate has been given prime air time on the biggest News channels including the BBC, to not only repeat his mantra of immigration is bad, but to single out Muslims as particularly so. The BBC this week attempted to explain why Farage is so relevant saying in the nineteenth paragraph of its story that the Reform UK president singling out Muslims was merely “accusations of Islamophobia”, and that the man who has stood seven times for a Parliamentary seat and been rejected by voters each time, added “excitement” to the general election campaign. It says something about the acceptability of Islamophobia when the national broadcaster finds excitement in what many consider out and out racism against one community. read the complete article

Tommy Robinson marchers lead Anti-Muslim chant in London demo

Raf-right Tommy Robinson supporters were filmed chanting anti-Muslim slogans at a protest where police were on high alert by the presence of marchers involved with previous disorder. Marchers chanted “who the f*** is Allah” and other hateful slogans at the protest in central London. The Metropolitan Police said it had spotted attendees “previously well known for involvement in anti-lockdown protests during the pandemic and associated disorder.” Laurence Fox was pictured alongside Tommy Robinson at the front of the protest as the throngs behind them chanted “we want our country back”. The banner they marched behind read ‘This is London, not Londonistan’. Robinson took to the stage where he was applauded and cheered by supporters as Laurence Fox smoked a rolled-up cigarette behind him. read the complete article

Blocked Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen ‘considering standing in election as an independent

A left-wing candidate blocked by Labour has suggested she could run against the party as an independent. Faiza Shaheen has previously said she is considering legal action against the party. Ms Shaheen, an economist, was set to contest Chingford and Woodford Green seat held by Iain Duncan Smith, which many predicted she would win on 4 July. she said she was told on Wednesday that the party was suspending her after she liked social media posts that criticised Israel and its actions in Gaza. Now she has said she is considering standing in Chingford as an independent and wants to do it "for the right reasons”, according to LBC. Ms Shaheen has also claimed she had faced “a systematic campaign of racism, Islamophobia and bullying” in Labour. “This campaign of prejudice, bullying and spiteful behaviour has finally been rewarded by Labour’s NEC [national executive committee] and my name has been added to the list of those not welcome in the candidate club. And it is no surprise that many of those excluded are people of colour,” she said in a statement this week. read the complete article

Special Investigation: ‘Muslim Grooming Gangs’ – An Old Conspiracy Mainstreamed by Today’s Politicians and Press

The narrative of ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ entered the mainstream in 2011, when The Times published an exposé on a “conspiracy of silence on UK sex gangs”. According to experts, the story contained the two key planks that became central to the narrative: that Pakistani-heritage men were preying on white British girls, and that the authorities failed to intervene for fear of being branded racist. In the years since, thousands of articles on ‘grooming gangs’ have been published by The Times and other newspapers – helped by endorsements from mainstream politicians. The issue was also given supposed scientific support through a ‘study’ by the controversial Quilliam Foundation. The now defunct group, once headed by conspiracy theorist Maajid Nawaz, claimed that it had found that “84% of grooming gang offenders are Asian”, in a piece of work dismissed as “shoddy pseudoscience” by academics for its failure to use complete data in its analysis. In the narrative as told by groups such as Quilliam, the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation from Muslim backgrounds commit these crimes because of problematic beliefs in their culture and faith (while those from a white British background are individual deviants). In 2020, a two-year study of crime data and academic research by the Home Office concluded that “group-based offenders are most commonly white” and that there was no credible evidence that one ethnic group is overrepresented in the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation. Despite these findings, politicians have continued to discuss ‘Muslim grooming gangs’. One prominent example of this has been former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who has repeatedly and baselessly claimed that south Asian Muslims account for a significant number of paedophile rings operating in the UK. read the complete article


German anti-Islam activist injured in knife attack

A man has attacked six people, including a police officer, with a knife at a market square in the south-west German city of Mannheim, police say. One of the people injured was anti-Islam activist, Michael Stürzenberger, who had been preparing to hold a rally in the square, according to his group. The attack is understood to have happened at the same time as a rally in the market square hosted by far-right anti-Islam activist, Michael Stürzenberger, and his organisation the Citizens' Movement Pax Europa (BPE). According to Bild, Michael Stürzenberger is the author of an Islamophobic blog, as well as a member of the BPE, an organisation which says it stands against the "Islamisation" of Germany. The 58-year-old is one of the authors of the anti-Muslim platform PI-News and is being monitored by the Bavarian domestic intelligence service. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 03 Jun 2024 Edition


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