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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06 Jun 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat Titan start cricket player Yash Dayal faces sharp criticism after sharing an anti-Muslim post on his instagram account, meanwhile, Bridge Initiative Senior Researcher Farid Hafez writes on how “Arab dictators are increasingly influencing Europe to treat its Muslim populations as a threat,” and in the U.S., there’s increasing incidences of Islamophobic discrimination in jails across the country as Muslim inmates discuss how prison officials will often deny them the right to Friday prayers. Our recommended read of the day is by Amira Elghawaby for The Star on the second anniversary of the murder of the Afzaal family and how Canadian Muslim still face growing concerns about safety, discrimination, and inclusion. This and more below:


Islamophobia still a threat to our lives — and our democracy | Recommended Read

Exactly one year ago, Yumna Afzaal’s cousin took to a stage to share memories of the 15-year-old high school student killed in 2021, along with her parents and grandmother, in a murderous act of hate in London, Ont. “It feels as if it was only yesterday that I had the warmth of these family members with me,” Esa Islam told a large crowd of London residents and dignitaries gathered to remember the massacre. “I miss being able to go over to their house and have fun conversations about Harry Potter with Yumna or always being cared for by my aunt and uncle.” The young man will be marking the tragedy for the second year today, along with many others, including the Youth Coalition combating Islamophobia. As part of a first official visit this past spring, I met with Esa and his relatives, now taking care of Yumna’s younger brother, orphaned by the attack. Family members expressed their hope that Islamophobia will be taken seriously as a phenomenon that can have deadly consequences, undermining social cohesion in a democracy that has enshrined freedoms of belief and equality in its constitution. They have their work cut out for them, as do many of us. A spring poll conducted by Leger, on behalf of Maple Lodge Farms, showed that less than 46 per cent of Canadians consider themselves to be allies of Muslim communities; another recent poll by Angus Reid showed Islam to be the most negatively viewed religion in the country. Not surprising then that anxiety persists. Muslim Londoners spoke of latent fears when walking in their neighbourhoods; of children worrying about the head scarves their moms or sisters wear. Mosque leaders continue to struggle with safety issues, including whether to spend scarce funds on hiring security guards during community events. read the complete article

Community prepares to mark two years since vehicle attack in London, Ont.

Maryam Al-Sabawi says she’s often startled by the sound of a passing car, haunted by the memory of her friend being killed two years ago in a devastating vehicle attack in London, Ont. Al-Sabawi, a 16-year-old now in Grade 11, was close with Yumna Afzaal, who was run down along with three members of her family at a London intersection on June 6, 2021. Prosecutors allege the attack was an act of terrorism targeting London’s Muslim community. Nathaniel Veltman, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder and is set to stand trial in September. Ms. Al-Sabawi says it has been “really difficult to recover” following the attack. “Not only was Yumna my friend but she was killed for the same thing that I believe in,” Ms. Al-Sabawi says in an interview. “I’m a visible Muslim so it’s hard to walk in the streets every day trying not to think that could happen to me.” Ms. Al-Sabawi and community leaders say London, in southwestern Ontario, has been transformed by the 2021 attack, which was the worst mass killing in the city’s history. read the complete article


How Arab autocrats exported repression of Muslim activism to Europe

In the late 1990s, and especially following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a generalised suspicion and control dominated the perspective of European nation-states vis-a-vis their Muslim populations. In most countries, these new policies were introduced by the respective ministries of the interior, clearly setting the tone for Muslims as securitised objects. But after the Arab Spring spread across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the early 201os, a new factor emerged that would shape European Muslims’ future destiny: Arab autocrats, who feared the loss of their power. Following the revolutions, several Gulf monarchies feared that political uprisings would bring democratic structures that would ultimately render power to the well-organised Islamist movements, foremost the Muslim Brotherhood. Powerful existing and emerging regional powers, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, not only cracked down on domestic Islamist movements but also supported other authoritarian regimes such as the Egyptian military in its assault on newly elected Islamists, declaring them to be terrorist organisations. And these measures did not stop at the borders of the MENA region. To mainstream its policies of declaring the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation domestically, these regimes also lobbied to achieve the same in Brussels, London and Washington. The UAE was not only going after the Brotherhood, but started targeting European Muslim organisations. As David D Kirkpatrick recently showed in his investigative piece on the dirty secrets of a smear campaign, private investigators were paid to dig up dirt on Muslim civil society organisations across Europe to disseminate rumours about alleged ties to Islamists. It seems as if the UAE leadership had become so paranoid that it saw a potential threat in every organised Muslim organisation not connected to their state efforts. read the complete article

‘Hindutva Pandemic’ documentary exposes right wing ideology’s role in Leicester unrest

A recently released documentary from Maktoob Originals, titled ‘Hindutva Pandemic,’ exposes the role of Hindutva in inciting the 2022 unrest in the city of Leicester, UK. The gripping documentary reveals the long-standing presence of Hindutva and its involvement in instigating violence in the city even prior to the unrest. In an alarming incident in 2017, the documentary explained, an ideologically inspired mob led a venomous campaign when Muslim residents moved a planning permission request to the Leicester city council to covert an office space to a mosque in Belgrave Road. The application was met with scores of objections brimmed with bigoted, Islamophobic rhetorics and Hindu supremacist sentiments. “The mosque will lead to the cultural and demographic dominance of Muslims where Hindus are a predominant community, and Muslims can recruit children to terrorism via the mosque,” one of the Hindu residents objected. The 23-minute-long documentary, directed by independent journalist and filmmaker PP Jaseem, also highlights the rise and consequences of Hindutva influence in diaspora communities and the foreign political landscape. “I think It’s incorrect to see Hindu nationalism as an Indian ideology that may be some echoes elsewhere. Rather, it is truly a global and transnational phenomenon…. The wider family of Hindu nationalist groups has real power, influence, and leadership in this movement,” Audrey Truschke, Associate Professor at Rutgers University has commented in the documentary. read the complete article

UN body faults US, other states over Guantanamo prisoner torture

The United States and seven other countries are responsible for torture and illegal detention of a Saudi prisoner awaiting a death penalty trial at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, a UN watchdog has ruled. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also hinted that the systematic use of Guantanamo to hold suspects rounded up in Washington's "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001 attacks, might in some cases amount to crimes against humanity. The working group's five independent experts ruled in a case brought by Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national of Yemeni descent suspected of being the mastermind behind the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole missile destroyer that left 17 sailors dead. In the case submitted to the working group last June, lawyers maintained that after Nashiri was captured in Dubai in 2002, he spent four years shuttled between various CIA black sites -- in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand, -- being tortured and abused. He arrived at Guantanamo Bay in 2006, where he remains detained. He was only charged in 2008, and his military commission death penalty case still remains in pre-trial proceedings. read the complete article

How Hindu Nationalists Became Best Friends With Israel

In recent years, much fanfare has accompanied the “bromance” between Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu — and the nationalist leaders’ intensification of the long-developing pact between their countries. Now Azad Essa’s new book, Hostile Homelands: The New Alliance Between India and Israel, brilliantly traces the history of their “strategic partnership.” The Hindu nationalist Modi government’s partnership with Israel is going from strength to strength, not only in the arms trade and cybersecurity, but also in the realm of agriculture and water. Yet there seems to be a wide chasm between India’s historical anti-colonial support for Palestine and its present alliance with Israel. In November 1947, India voted against the Partition Plan for Palestine in the UN General Assembly alongside Arab states. In 1974, it recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole representative of the Palestinian people — becoming the first non-Arab country to do so. Essa’s Hostile Homelands incisively probes this shift in India’s stance through a keen analysis of the history of the India-Israel relationship as well as the current ideological affiliation between Zionism and Hindutva. A deathly combination of geopolitics, trading relations, and ethnonationalism, Essa demonstrates, has enormous implications for the occupations of both Kashmir and Palestine. In tracing the more recent history of this affinity through burgeoning trade relations, a strong military alliance, and ethnonationalist ideology, Essa puts his finger on the contradictory nature of Hindutva’s kinship with Zionism. Hindutva emerged from its admiration for European fascism, which targeted Jewish peoples. Hindutva leaders saw “the Jewish question” in Europe as akin to “the Muslim problem” in India. Yet Hindutva’s admiration for Zionist ethnonationalism is based on its “religious backbone,” a statecraft fronted by a mythical, hyperopic past that conjures up visions of an ancient civilization. read the complete article


Indian cricketer Yash Dayal under fire for Islamophobic content

Indian cricketer Yash Dayal denies posting Islamophobic content on his Instagram story a few days ago in the aftermath of the brutal killing of a young girl by a boy in New Delhi last week. Yash Dayal, the fast bowler representing Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat Titans, has disassociated himself from a social media post featuring an Islamophobic cartoon. He clarified that both the original post and the subsequent apology were not made by him. The controversial Instagram post was taken down, but screenshots were widely circulated and discussed on social media platforms. The Indian cricketer had severe backlash in India and Pakistan for allegedly stoking communal tensions while Pakistani cricket fans accused him of promoting Islamophobia. Soon after, the account posted an apology stating, “Guys, apologies for the story, it was just posted by mistake. Please don’t spread hate… I have respect for each and every community and society.” read the complete article

Blaming Muslims for India's Population Growth Is Purely Hindutva Propaganda

Pew Data also suggests that while religious groups across the country witnessed irregular rates between 1951 and 2011, all major religious groups rose in number. The data shows that “the Hindu community increased from 304 million to 966 million, while Muslims grew from 35 million to 172 million, and the number of Indians who call themselves Christian rose from 8 million to 28 million”. Considering the three, Islam and Christianity are proselytising religions. However, Hindu Army chief Sushil Tiwari told The Wire that Muslims were trying to occupy land and produce more children so that they can elect Muslim leaders to power. “Muslims marry multiple times and produce children who then vote to bring leaders like [Asaduddin] Owaisi to power. They want to commit ‘population jihad’ and establish Ghazwa-e-Hind here,” he said. Countering Tiwari, Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, former Minorities Commission chairman, explained that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and like-minded outfits are not concerned about facts. Their policy, Khan says, is to twist anything if it may be used to beat Muslims. “The government data, for instance, shows that Muslims are below even Hindus when it comes to polygamy but it’s a daily Hindutva propaganda routine that Muslims marry four wives and produce 25 children,” Khan said. In the right-wing political parlance, Muslims are labelled as a community that is devoted to doubling its population numbers and occupying land illegally. Such allegations have resulted in the coinage of slurs and terms such as ‘population jihad’, implying a type of coordinated attempt by Muslims to become the majority community in India. According to India’s last census, conducted in 2011, Muslims make up 14% of the population, while Hindus 80%. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Boston councillor accused of 'Islamophobia' accepts mosque invite to discuss his views

Councillor Mike Gilbert was refused the role at a meeting of Boston Borough Council on May 22 due to the posts he made during the Qatar World Cup. Coun Gilbert denied the posts were racist and said he was highlighting aspects of Islamic doctrine. During the discussion, Coun Dorrian, who served as mayor at the time and chaired the meeting, entered the debate by expressing her concern about the increasing prevalence of hate speech. The Standard has since spoken to the Boston Imam – director of Boston Mosque and Islamic Centre, Abdul Hamid Qureshi, who gave his take on Coun Gilbert’s Facebook comments. “My immediate understanding of the views expressed are that they are speculative and assumptive rather than factual,” he said. “Secondly they are out of context and selective. He added: “I would love to invite the person to visit the mosque and discuss the views expressed based on knowledge.” We asked Coun Gilbert, of the Blue Revolution party, if he would take the Imam up on his invitation. He told us: “I’ll take him up on the offer, I’m very happy to do so. read the complete article


Attacks on mosques in Germany spark concern as anti-Muslim hatred surges

A mosque in the central German city of Duisburg has received a threatening letter filled with racist imagery, a religious official has said. The Duisburg Central Mosque, affiliated with the Turkish-Muslim umbrella group DITIB, reported that the letter contained a swastika symbol and the phrase ‘NSU 2.0’, a reference to a neo-Nazi group known for a series of murders. The mosque promptly shared the letter with the police and filed a criminal complaint. Yusuf Aydin, the head of the DITIB Central Mosque Association, expressed deep sadness over the incident and demanded the swift apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators. With over 84 million people, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. It is home to nearly five million Muslims, according to official figures. A recent report by Brandeilig, an initiative of rights group FAIR International, has shed light on the growing threats and attacks targeting mosques in Germany. However, the majority of these crimes have not been adequately investigated, leaving many perpetrators unidentified and contributing to an alarming cycle of further attacks on Muslim worship sites. Brandeilig, which established Germany's first reporting centre for attacks on mosques, meticulously documented approximately 840 incidents between 2014 and 2022. The findings from a detailed analysis conducted in 2018 revealed that only nine out of the 120 recorded attacks had identifiable perpetrators. This lack of identification and subsequent impunity not only exacerbates the vulnerability of Muslim communities but also emboldens neo-Nazis and left-wing extremists to continue targeting mosques. read the complete article

United States

The Prison System Can’t Stop Discriminating Against Muslims

For years at Lovelock Correctional Institution in Nevada, Jummah prayers were provided to Muslims every Friday. But in the summer of 2018, Said Elmajzoub, a Muslim who is incarcerated at Lovelock, noticed something different. Jummah services weren’t being provided for Muslims anymore. “The chaplain said that the only time they would be able to give us was 8:00 in the morning on Friday, but he knew that would be wrong,” Elmajzoub told me. “So, I filed the necessary paperwork and said please just give us any room. We just need an hour on Friday afternoon.” Filing grievances didn’t help, so he filed a lawsuit. A year later, the Council on American–Islamic Relations got involved in his case. “There was a strong hint that Muslims lost their rights to Jummah prayer because of a belief by the chaplain at Lovelock facilities that he thinks Islam to be a racist, Black-supremacy organization,” said Justin Sadowsky, a trial attorney at the CAIR Legal Defense Fund. This belief was memorialized in writing. After an interfaith meeting in 2018, Lovelock chaplain Scott Davis wrote notes that were later presented in court as evidence suggesting that he had offered an excuse to the group for why Jummah prayers were ending and felt unable to tell them the real reason. “I couldn’t say in front of all them that it is because they teach racism, hate, black supremacy,” he wrote. “There would have been a riot.” This note was the smoking gun Elmajzoub’s case needed. “CAIR said to me it’s probably the strongest case they have ever seen because the prison was [so] stubborn and anti-Islamic in their views, that they allowed other religions to gather and pray, they just wouldn’t let Muslims do it,” said Elmajzoub. What proceeded was a cat-and-mouse period during which the Lovelock officials would alternate between saying that they had fixed the problem and continuing to deny prayer space and blaming things like a shortage of staff or prison lockdowns. Even after an eventual court order forced the prison to offer Jummah services—and after the prison reached a $90,000 settlement with Elmajzoub—the problems for Lovelock’s Muslims continued. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Jun 2023 Edition


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