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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05 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, the city of London remembers the four members of the Afzaal family who were killed two years ago by an individual motivated by anti-Muslim hate, meanwhile a United Nations human rights panel has issued a damning report that blames the United States and seven other nations for the C.I.A.’s “torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of a Saudi prisoner who now awaits a death penalty trial at Guantánamo Bay, and in Germany, the Duisburg Central Mosque received hate mail with threats against the congregation. Our recommended read of the day is by Scroll on how anti-Muslim propagandists in India are using Friday evening’s deadly train crash in Odisha’s Balasore as an opportunity to spread false narratives. This and more below:


Even a train tragedy in India is being blamed on Muslims online | Recommended Read

Hours after the deadly train crash in Odisha’s Balasore killed at least 288 people and wounded 1,000 others on Friday evening, several social media accounts insinuated that Muslims were responsible for the accident. A preliminary inquiry by the Indian Railways says a signalling error was responsible for India’s deadliest train accident in two decades, The Indian Express reported. However, accounts known for spreading Hindutva and Bharatiya Janata Party propaganda swung into action to shield the government as well as Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw from criticism amidst the growing calls for the minister to resign. On Saturday afternoon, a Twitter account with the handle @randomsena posted an image of the crash site with an arrow pointing to a white structure with domes close to the tracks and captioned it “just saying…yesterday was Friday”. This seemed to suggest that the structure was a mosque and that Muslims were somehow responsible for the tragedy. Fact-checkers from Boom and AltNews pointed out that the shrine is, in fact, a temple run by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness or Iskcon. By Sunday afternoon, the tweet had garnered four million views and nearly 4,500 retweets. The account also posted a series of old news reports involving Muslim suspects in cases of previous, unrelated train incidents with comments such as “something is fishy” to claim a bigger “conspiracy” at work. The Twitter account of “Prof.N John Camm”, who claims to be a senior Germany-based cardiologist, tweeted “rail jihad”. Several more right-wing Twitter accounts have joined the chorus alleging “sabotage” and a “conspiracy”. read the complete article

Ecofascism Is a Rising Threat. We Should Take Modi’s Ascendance as a Warning.

Far from being a pariah, Modi is currently on a veritable world tour of world leaders courting India’s allyship in the “new Cold War” with China and Russia. Coming up later this month — a White House bromance session with President Joe Biden, to “affirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India […] including in defense, clean energy, and space.” In 2018, Modi was even recognized by the United Nations as a “Champion of the Earth,” the institution’s highest environmental honor, for his promotion of solar energy. Modi has managed to go from being known as the “Butcher of Gujarat” to a “Champion of the Earth” in less than two decades: What an unbelievable transformation, especially given the UN’s own reports simultaneously documenting India’s targeting of environmental activists. According to the Modi government’s own figures, it has curtailed the operations of more than 19,000 nongovernmental organizations since 2014, including well-known environmental and human rights groups. Hindutva’s “green” façade has been further burnished by former UN Environment Program head Erik Solheim, who in an adulatory op-ed in February, anointed India as “the country to follow this year.” Absurdly, Solheim applauds Modi for “drawing an appealing national story in which [all] feel at home” — even as massive detention centers are being constructed to contain the millions of Muslims and other “undesirables” (including people living in poverty, Indigenous Adivasis and Dalits) to be ejected from Indian citizenship under the National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Act. Incredibly, the exaltation of Modi as a green guru persists despite his piloting of India to ever-plummeting rankings on the Environmental Performance Index — currently 180th out of 180 countries, down from 155th — calculated by Yale and Columbia universities. This is not merely eco-hypocrisy, but ecofascism: the use of “environmentalism” to advance supremacist and genocidal ends. read the complete article

‘Now I am happy’: a woman’s 10-year fight for justice against gang-rapists

On a hot and quiet afternoon, a woman lies on a wooden charpoy under a squeaking slow-moving fan inside her mud-walled house. “I have not been this happy in the past 10 years,” she says. It is days after a court in Muzaffarnagar found two Hindu men guilty of gang-raping her and holding a gun to her baby son’s head. A third man died before the case came to court. Amena* was 26 when the violence swept throughthe Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state – in September 2013. A decade on, she was the last of seven women to still be pursuing justice for a rape reported to police at the time. The others withdrew their complaints in the face of years of intimidation. The convictions in May are being welcomed by Muslims facing increasing discrimination under the populist rightwing prime minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) is in power in Uttar Pradesh and is pushing a Hindu nationalist agenda it calls Hindutva. In a political climate where religious minorities feel persecuted, a Muslim woman’s battle for justice has caught the popular imagination. The violence was triggered by rumours that a Muslim boy had sexually abused a Hindu girl in Kawal village. The boy was killed by a gang of Hindu men, which allegedly provoked an angry Muslim mob to take revenge. The riot spread across western Uttar Pradesh. When Amena heard chants of “Kaato Musalmano ko” (slaughter the Muslims) in her village in Samli district, she took her three-month-old son and, like her Muslim neighbours, ran. But as she hid in a sugarcane field, three Hindu men found her. The men were local and known to her husband, she says. “That day everybody ran for their lives, so did I. But as soon as they got hold of me, they snatched my child away and put a gun at his temple threatening to kill him, and then they raped me,” says Amena. The events of that day and faces of the rapists have not faded from her memory, she says. read the complete article

In India’s Gang Rape Culture, All Women Are Victims

Society and government institutions often excuse and protect men from the consequences of their sexual violence. Women are blamed for being assaulted and are expected to sacrifice freedom and opportunity in exchange for personal safety. All Indian women are victims, each one traumatized, angry, betrayed, exhausted. Many of us think about gang rape more than we care to admit. In 2011 a woman was raped every 20 minutes in India, according to government data. The pace quickened to about every 16 minutes by 2021, when more than 31,000 rapes were reported, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. In 2021, 2,200 gang rapes were reported to authorities. Gang rape is used as a weapon, particularly against lower castes and Muslims. In 2002 brutal violence between Hindus and Muslims swept through Gujarat State. Ms. Bano, then 19 and pregnant, was gang raped by an angry Hindu mob, which also killed 14 of her relatives, including her 3-year-old daughter. Critics accuse Mr. Modi — Gujarat’s top official at the time — of turning a blind eye to the riots. He has not lost an election since. read the complete article


Community prepares to mourn, remember Afzaal family killed 2 years ago

Two years after a Muslim family set out for an evening stroll and never make it home due to an act of hate that shocked Canadians from coast-to-coast, their community is inviting everyone to events to honour their lives. Madiha, Salman and Yumnah Afzaal and grandmother Talat Salman were killed June 6, 2021, after being hit by a pickup truck driver who police say was motivated by anti-Muslim hate. "Combating hate of any kind takes courage, leadership and the ability to get up, and keep going everyday. The resilience shown by the members of London's Muslim community is nothing short of remarkable," London Mayor Josh Morgan said in a statement released by the city. "The events to honour and remember Our London Family over the next few weeks demonstrates the ongoing support and healing happening in our community." Many of the events start this weekend and last throughout June. read the complete article

Canadian city where Muslim family killed gets funds to fight hate

Muslim community advocates in Canada have welcomed an effort aimed at combatting hate and Islamophobia in an Ontario city where a driver ran down a Muslim family two years ago, killing four people. The government of Ontario announced this week that it was investing about $372,000 (500,000 Canadian dollars) to help the city of London develop an anti-hate public education campaign and an online library of resources. On Friday, the National Council of Canadian Muslims advocacy organisation embraced the move as “another step … towards positive change”. “That night two years ago changed the way our community sees itself in Canada,” the group’s CEO, Stephen Brown, said in an earlier statement. “We were forced to confront hate directly, and that is an ongoing task for all Canadians of good will. This commitment toward public education will hopefully be a catalyst in that direction, as we still have a lot of work to do as a country to reckon with Islamophobia.” Four members of the Afzaal family, including a 15-year-old, were killed on June 6, 2021, when a driver ran them over with a pick-up truck while they were out for a walk in London, a city of about 420,000 residents 200km (125 miles) west of Toronto. Authorities said at the time that they were “targeted because of their Islamic faith”. read the complete article

First Black Arab-Canadian Muslim spy speaks out

Daniele Hamamdjian sits down with a former CSIS agent who is telling her story as the first Black Arab-Canadian Muslim spy in a new book. read the complete article

United States

US Muslim groups urge White House to apologize, make good after mayor rejection

A coalition of dozens of advocacy groups called on the White House Friday to apologize to a Muslim American mayor who was disinvited from an Eid ceremony just moments before it was to begin. Mohamed Khairullah, the longtime Muslim mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, was informed that despite being invited to the gathering hosted by President Joe Biden, reminded to confirm his attendance and driving nearly four hours from his home state, he would not be allowed to attend the May 1 ceremony. He was given no reason for the abrupt rejection by either the White House or the Secret Service, which is in charge of security at the executive mansion. A total of 42 Muslim American advocacy groups urged the executive mansion to publicly explain why Khairullah's invitation was canceled at the last minute, including the exact reasons why his security clearance was denied. In addition to an apology, the groups are seeking a review of Khairullah's security status to prevent future incidents from happening, the extension of a new invitation to discuss the "tangible harms" produced by secret watchlists, and the disbandment of blacklists altogether. read the complete article

Woman Charged After Alleged Racist Confrontation With Melrose City Councilor

A Melrose woman is facing criminal charges in connection with an incident last winter involving a city councilor, who believes it all started because of a hijab. Melrose City Councilor Maya Jamaleddine says she and her family are still shaken up over a racist rant they say was directed at them at a gas station last winter. “We will never heal from this incident,” said Jamaleddine. Joan Ditomaso, 67, has been charged in connection with the case. She’s accused of assault and battery, but not of a hate crime. ”We are disappointed that a clerk magistrate decided not to charge the defendant with a civil rights violation. But we respect the clerk’s decision, and we will be focusing our attention on the assault and battery case,” said Barbara Dougan of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Jamaleddine is Muslim and wears a hijab. She was at the Melrose gas station in December with her husband and two of her children. She says that’s when Ditomaso swore at them and told them to “go back to your country.” read the complete article


Cash Incentives and Coercion: The Controversial Strategy for Rohingya Repatriation

Reports of coercive tactics and cash incentives being employed by the Bangladeshi government to induce Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar have stirred concern among human rights advocates and humanitarian agencies. The authorities in Bangladesh are reportedly utilizing misinformation, threats of violence, and financial incentives as part of a larger strategy aimed at facilitating the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, roughly 1 million of whom are currently residing in camps in Bangladesh. Beginning on May 30, Bangladeshi authorities reportedly initiated a campaign on Bhasan Char, a silt island serving as a makeshift refugee camp, promising Rohingya families a cash incentive of $2,000 if they agreed to return to Myanmar. According to two refugees who have come forward to speak about the offer, a similar proposal was extended in Teknaf on May 29. By May 31, around 300 Rohingya families had expressed their intention to participate in the pilot repatriation program. By June 1, there was a significant surge of families, not initially listed for repatriation, lining up in Bhasan Char to avail of this offer. Critics are wary of the motivations behind the cash incentive, equating the amount – even the very few educated refugees working for NGOs might take two years to earn $2,000 – to coercive tactics that exploit the desperate financial situations faced by these refugees. read the complete article

U.N. Body Condemns Torture of Guantánamo Prisoner Awaiting Capital Trial

A United Nations human rights panel has issued a damning report that blames the United States and seven other nations for the C.I.A.’s “torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of a Saudi prisoner who now awaits a death penalty trial at Guantánamo Bay. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also named as responsible the United Arab Emirates, where the prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was captured in 2002, and Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand, where he was held as part of a rendition and interrogation program run by the George W. Bush administration. The working group, which has no enforcement authority, adopted the 18-page report on Nov. 15 but did not release it until this weekend. The group called for the immediate release of and compensation for Mr. Nashiri, who is accused of orchestrating the bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole off Yemen nearly 23 years ago. It said the Guantánamo war crimes court, which was devised to prosecute only non-U.S. citizens, deprives Mr. Nashiri of “the fair trial guarantees that would ordinarily apply within the judicial system of the United States.” read the complete article


Turkish mosque in Germany receives neo-Nazi hate mail

A mosque in Germany's central Duisburg city received hate mail with threats against the congregation on Saturday. The Duisburg Central Mosque, which is affiliated with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), got the threatening letter, which included both a swastika and the word "NSU 2.0," referring to a neo-Nazi group responsible for a string of murders. Yusuf Aydın, head of the DITIB Central Mosque Association, said on Saturday they shared the racist letter with the police and filed a criminal complaint. "We are deeply saddened. We demand that the perpetrator or perpetrators be apprehended and brought to justice as soon as possible," Aydin said. He added that the mosque has already received over a dozen threatening and insulting letters. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Jun 2023 Edition


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