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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07 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Canada, many across the country on Monday, the exact one-year mark of the deadly London Ontario attack, participated in a walk in honor of the Afzaal family to “symbolically complete the walk they never got to finish — and taking a stand against Islamophobia,” meanwhile in the United States, the new Ms. Marvel movie brings a positive representation and relatable Muslim story to the screens, and in Kuwait, a supermarket in the country has pulled Indian products from its shelves, as it joins Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries in the region, to condemn the Islamophobic remarks made by Nupur Sharma, the ruling BJP’s spokeswoman, who has since been suspended. Our recommended read of the day is by Apoorvanand for Al Jazeera on how the BJP’s Nupur Sharma’s derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad are hardly an anomaly as “Islamophobia has always been part and parcel of the BJP’s governing strategy.” This and more below:


07 Jun 2022

Insulting Prophet Mohammed is straight out of the BJP playbook | Recommended Read

As the news about the offensive remarks – and the government’s response to protests over them – reached beyond the country’s borders, at least five Arab nations, including Qatar, lodged official protests against India. Calls for a boycott of Indian goods have also been made on social media in several Arab countries and Indian products were removed from shelves in some shops in Kuwait. In the end, not the understandable anger of Indian Muslims, it seems, but the threat of international condemnation and economic repercussions motivated Indian authorities to embark on an operation to limit the damage. Soon after the diplomatic protests, the government announced that strong action had been taken against the accused – Sharma was suspended and Jindal expelled from party membership. The BJP also issued a generic statement, saying: “[The party] strongly denounces insults of any religious personalities of any religion.” India’s ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, meanwhile, said the offending remarks were made by some “fringe elements” within the party, and did not represent the views of the Indian government. The move to “suspend” and “expel” the staffers who insulted the prophet, and the efforts to distance the government from their comments, however, did not satisfy anyone inside or outside India – and for good reason. First of all, Sharma and Jindal can hardly be described as “fringe elements” within the party. After all, prior to the incident, they both held high-ranking positions within the BJP – positions that allowed them to speak for the governing party and communicate its policies and strategies to the nation. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it is difficult to argue that their Islamophobic views do not represent the government of India when none of the BJP’s leaders came out to issue a strong apology and the party’s Islamophobic policies, actions and statements are already well documented. Indeed, Islamophobia has always been part and parcel of the BJP’s governing strategy. In light of all this, it is clear that the BJP government’s claims that the offending comments by Sharma and Jindal do not represent its views are deeply disingenuous. Those remarks were not missteps by “fringe elements” within the governing party or mistakes by a few low-ranking staffers, but an accurate reflection of the BJP’s views on and attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. This reality was perhaps explained best by the Saudi Arabia-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in a statement issued about the latest controversy. The OIC not only condemned the offending remarks by the BJP staffers in its official statement but emphasised that they came in a “context of intensifying hatred and abuse toward Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims”. read the complete article


07 Jun 2022

Finishing a walk the Afzaal family never got to, students in London area march against Islamophobia

The day a year ago that the Afzaal family was attacked in London, Ont., Zeina Abdulhadi was out for a walk with her mom, and the Grade 10 student said she could hear the sounds of the sirens arriving. Zeina joined with others across the region on Monday, the exact one-year mark of the attack, to honour the family by symbolically completing the walk they never got to finish — and taking a stand against Islamophobia. It's one of numerous events that had been planned to coincide with the anniversary. "Just having everyone out here on a walk, completing the walk that they never got to complete, just means the world," Zeina said. "It just gives you that feeling of support and that people are going to be there and to reach out if you need the help." She said she was scared after the attack on June 6, 2021, because she wears a hijab. The Afzaal family was out for a Sunday evening walk when the attack happened. Police say they were targeted because of their Muslim faith. Seeing the community's response has helped Zeina feel supported and loved. Baraa Tahat, in Grade 10 at Saint André Bessette Catholic Secondary School, was alongside Muslim Student Association members, handing out ribbons to staff and students. "It honestly means a lot because I never actually knew that people actually care this much," said Baraa. "But now I see a lot of people walking. It makes me feel like there's hope and people actually care. "I feel like I'm not alone." read the complete article

07 Jun 2022

One year after London truck attack, some Canadian Muslims still fear for their safety

A year after four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., were murdered in a hate-motivated truck attack, Ingy Akkary's son Youssef still gets jumpy when he crosses the street. "He's afraid to cross the street," Akkary told The Current's Matt Galloway. "Even in the neighbourhood, if he sees a car coming he will run to [a] front yard." She said her son's reactions have broken her heart. But despite his fears, she can't reassure him that a similar attack will never happen again. "I tried to tell him nothing will happen to you, but I know that anything can happen," she said. "I keep talking to him like it's destiny … if something is meant to happen, it will happen anywhere." "But it's OK. We can walk together. I'm holding your hand. If Allah is with you, don't be scared." Since the event, Akkary said the community has been trying to celebrate the Afzaals' lives more — and focus on how Canadians have come together to stand against Islamophobia. "Seeing everyone come together, our kids see that, our youth see that. They feel that, OK, everyone stands together and no one will be OK with hate." Nusaiba Al-Azem, the second vice-chair of the London Muslim Mosque, said referring to these hate-motivated attacks as Islamophobic has been a "contentious issue" in the past, so it was a "milestone moment in the collective Muslim consciousness" for politicians to continue denouncing Islamophobia. "We can't improve without having something to measure against, and you can't fix a problem if you pretend it doesn't exist," she said. It also helps that cities like London are becoming more aware of local Islamophobia and working harder to combat the issue. read the complete article

07 Jun 2022

Quebec teacher removed from classroom over Bill 21 says taking off hijab to keep her job would send wrong message to students

For the first time in her chosen country, Ms. Anvari felt afraid in public, her hijab making her a target. Maybe she should stop wearing it, to be safe? But fear, she decided, was not a good reason. Six months later, she was called into the principal’s office of the elementary school in Chelsea, Que., where she taught English. A recent court decision meant that Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, would be enforced at English schools in the province. Ms. Anvari would have to remove her head scarf, or lose the job she loved. The decision was once again clear. Before even being asked, she told her apologetic principal, “I am not willing to take it off.” A law that ordered her not to wear the hijab felt as wrong as one that forced women to put it on. And what message would that send to her students? “I am always about encouraging kids to find their own identity, and grow on their own terms, and that nobody should dictate who they are,” said Ms. Anvari, 28, in an interview. “I wouldn’t have been me in my class.” When asked if she would call herself a political person, she says she’s “just a person going about life.” But last December, she became a prominent symbol of the consequences of Quebec’s controversial law and renewed a conversation about tolerance and multiculturalism in Canada – a place where, Ms. Anvari, an Iranian-Canadian, had once believed she could wear what she wanted and not be judged. The mother of a student eventually spread word about what had happened, and she became the topic of dinner conversations, with parents forced to explain to their kids why Ms. Fatemeh was no longer their teacher. She becomes emotional when she talks about the support she received, including a stack of cards from students – many of them on green paper – declaring her “marviles,” and “the best teacher ever,” or that “Bill 21 should not exist.” read the complete article

07 Jun 2022

Canada: Calls to tackle Islamophobia, 1 year after London attack

Muslim community leaders in Canada are renewing their calls to tackle Islamophobia as they commemorate the one-year anniversary of a deadly attack on a Muslim family that authorities say was motivated by hate. Over 150 delegates are meeting with parliament members in the capital, Ottawa, on Monday to demand concrete action to address Islamophobia and hate crimes, said Fatema Abdalla, spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) advocacy group. “Muslim communities are still reeling from this incident,” Abdalla told Al Jazeera in a phone interview about the deadly attack in London, Ontario, on June 6 last year. “This brutal attack has forever altered the relationship that Muslim community have with Canada. Muslims are afraid to walk across the street; they’re afraid of congregating at masjids [mosques] without having to look over their shoulder.” The attack renewed sorrow and trauma for Muslim community members across Canada, many of whom were still reeling in the aftermath of a deadly 2017 assault on a Quebec mosque that left six worshippers dead, and a fatal stabbing at another mosque in Toronto in 2020. For years, Muslim community leaders have called on authorities to tackle racism, hate-motivated violence, and the prevalence of far-right groups in Canada. Researchers in 2020 found that the number of hate groups operating in the country had tripled in recent years, with anti-Muslim rhetoric one of the “most salient” topics among right-wing extremists online. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to tackle the problem, holding a national summit on Islamophobia in July of last year. read the complete article

07 Jun 2022

Canadian government to introduce anti-Islamophobia representative

On the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, the federal government has announced it is beginning its search for a key role to combat Islamophobia. Applications are now open for Canada’s first-ever special representative on combatting Islamophobia. That person will be reaching out to communities and advising the prime minister and the government on the best ways to fight hate against Muslims in Canada. “It is impacting Muslim Canadians from across the country,” Minister for Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen said, adding the government is committed to fighting hate. “The application process is open for anyone interested to fulfill the role,” he continued. “They will issue recommendations and they will work tirelessly to promote work to combat Islamophobia.” Fatema Abdalla with the National Council of Canadian Muslims tells CityNews this, along with several other positive developments, is a step in the right direction. “It’s about time that we see action,” she said. However, Abdalla stresses more needs to be done, including better protection. “Security infrastructure program funding that allows for mosques and places of worship to better protect themselves,” she said. read the complete article


07 Jun 2022

Qatar, other Muslim nations condemn India over anti-Islam remarks

International backlash is growing against India after a ruling party official made Islamophobic comments during a televised debate, with Qatar and several other Muslim nations lodging official protests against New Delhi and demanding a “public apology”. At least five Arab nations have lodged official protests against India, and Pakistan and Afghanistan also reacted strongly on Monday to the comments made by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Anger has poured out on social media, and calls for a boycott of Indian goods have surfaced in some Arab countries. Al Jazeera TV on Monday reported that Indian products were removed from shelves in some shops in Kuwait. The anger has been growing since last week after the two BJP members – national spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and Delhi BJP staff Naveen Jindal – made remarks that were seen as insulting Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha. Modi’s party took no action against them until Sunday when a chorus of diplomatic outrage began with Qatar and Kuwait summoning their Indian ambassadors to protest. read the complete article

07 Jun 2022

Kuwait supermarket pulls Indian products as row grows over Prophet remarks

A Kuwaiti supermarket pulled Indian products from its shelves and Iran became the latest Middle Eastern country to summon the Indian ambassador as a row grew on Monday over a ruling party official's remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Workers at the Al-Ardiya Co-Operative Society store piled Indian tea and other products into trolleys in a protest against comments denounced as "Islamophobic". Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries in the region, as well as the influential Al-Azhar University in Cairo, have condemned the remarks by a spokeswoman for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, who has since been suspended. At the supermarket just outside Kuwait City, sacks of rice and shelves of spices and chilies were covered with plastic sheets. Printed signs in Arabic read: "We have removed Indian products". "We, as a Kuwaiti Muslim people, do not accept insulting the Prophet," Nasser Al-Mutairi, CEO of the store, told AFP. An official at the chain said a company-wide boycott was being considered. read the complete article

07 Jun 2022

Prophet Muhammad remarks embroil India in row with Gulf states

The ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) suspended its national spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, and expelled its Delhi media head, Naveen Kumar Jindal, after their comments went viral in the Middle East, where they were met with a chorus of diplomatic anger. The governments of Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Afghanistan and Pakistan described the comments as “insulting”. In a television debate 10 days ago on India’s rightwing news channel Times Now 1, Sharma made derogatory comments about Muslim worship and the prophet Muhammad and mocked her Muslim debate opponent. Following an outcry over the comments, Jindal posted a tweet about the prophet – that he has since deleted – which also caused anger. The BJP immediately removed both spokespeople and said “strong action has already been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks”. However, many observers pointed out that the two had faced no action when their comments had first been flagged over a week ago by Muslims and civil rights activists in India. Instead there had been calls by BJP supporters for the arrest of the journalist who had called out the Islamophobic comments on social media. On India’s rightwing news television channels, anti-Muslim rhetoric is expounded nightly by supporters of the BJP but is rarely, if ever, met with apologies or retractions. The incident highlighted the increasing tension between the domestic policies of the BJP – a Hindu nationalist party accused of systematically marginalising and overseeing the persecution of the country’s 200 million Muslims – and India’s strategic foreign objectives and growing trade with the Muslim world. Nearly 40% of India’s gas requirements come from Qatar and about 6.5 million Indians live in the Gulf region. read the complete article

United States

07 Jun 2022

‘Ms. Marvel’ Brings Much Needed Positivity To Muslims On Screen

While Muslims are still underrepresented in mainstream entertainment, there are many examples of them on screen. The problem though, as a major study identified last year, is that when Muslims do show up, they appear primarily in negative contexts of violence and terror. And of course, these are scenarios largely alien to the daily lives of American Muslims. So, Ms. Marvel co-creator and executive producer Sana Amanat sought to bring audiences a more relatable Muslim story with the upcoming Disney+ series. “What has been missing…[is] positive representation of our faces,” said Amanat. “And I think this show is just joyful, and fun, and heartwarming, and hopeful…So for us it just feels like a breath of fresh air.” Ms. Marvel, Marvel Studios’ latest entry in their ever-growing blockbuster franchise, centers around a Muslim, South Asian high school student from New Jersey. And the story is as colorful and upbeat as one might expect from a Disney series set around teenagers. The protagonist, Kamala Khan, falls for boys, dives into animated fantasies, and dreams of a brighter future. This is very much the story of a Muslim girl growing up in the United States, and its authenticity comes in how familiar that journey is for any teenager growing up. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 07 Jun 2022 Edition


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