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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08 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, the new Marvel movie features a Muslim woman superhero who isn’t stereotyped around her religious customs, meanwhile in the United Kingdom, a new survey finds that seven out of 10 Muslims currently employed have experienced some form of anti-Muslim behaviour in the workplace, and across the world, six more countries have joined diplomatic protests over derogatory remarks insulting the prophet Muhammad made by spokespeople for the party of Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi. Our recommended read of the day is by Steve Rose for the Guardian on the origins of the white nationalist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory and how it has been “embraced by rightwing politicians in the US and Europe – as well as Fox News.” This and more below:


08 Jun 2022

A deadly ideology: how the ‘great replacement theory’ went mainstream | Recommended Read

On 14 May, in Buffalo, New York, 10 Black people were shot and killed in a grocery store. The 18-year-old alleged shooter is said to have endorsed the “great replacement theory” – the racist premise that white Americans and Europeans are being actively “replaced” by non-white immigrants. For a brief moment in the aftermath, it seemed the horror of the latest tragedy would be enough to ensure that the conspiracy theory would be consigned to the fringes of the far right whence it came. Instead, the opposite has happened. The Fox News host Tucker Carlson had mentioned replacement theories more than 400 times on his show before the shooting. Afterwards, he initially sought to distance himself from it. “We’re still not sure exactly what it is,” he claimed on his show on 17 May. In the next breath, though, he doubled down. “Here’s what we do know, for a fact: there’s a strong political component to the Democratic party’s immigration theory … and they say out loud: ‘We are doing this because it helps us to win elections.’” In Hungary, two days after the shooting, the newly re-elected prime minister, Viktor Orbán, was also doubling down. In a televised speech to mark the start of his fourth term, he claimed he was fighting against “the great European population exchange … a suicidal attempt to replace the lack of European, Christian children with adults from other civilisations – migrants”. A week later, Orbán was discussing the theory with American allies at a special meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee (Cpac), a rightwing American group, in Budapest. Cpac’s chairman, Matt Schlapp, even suggested outlawing abortion as a solution: “If you’re worried about this ‘replacement’, why don’t we start there? Start with allowing our own people to live.” So where did the great replacement theory come from – and how did it become so prevalent? It is not a new concept or a fringe concern. Rather, it is a fringe concern and a mainstream one – espoused by “lone wolf” mass shooters and prominent politicians. According to a recent YouGov poll, 61% of Trump voters and 53% of Fox News viewers believe it is true. read the complete article

08 Jun 2022

India: more countries join Muslim protests over Muhammad remarks

Six more countries have joined diplomatic protests across the Muslim world over derogatory remarks insulting the prophet Muhammad made by spokespeople for the party of Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi. Indonesia, the UAE, the Maldives, Jordan, Bahrain and Libya have joined Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Afghanistan in lodging official complaints over comments from representatives of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party. Meanwhile hardline party members have reacted angrily to disciplinary action against the pair after their comments went viral in the Middle East. Indonesia, which has the largest number of Muslims in the world, summoned the Indian ambassador in Jakarta. “Indonesia strongly condemns unacceptable derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad PBUH [peace be upon him] by two Indian politicians,” read a tweet by the foreign ministry. The BJP’s attempt to quell the anger by suspending its national spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, and expelling its Delhi media head, Naveen Kumar Jindal, and dismissing them as “fringe elements” who did not represent the government’s views has had little success in the Muslim world. And at home Hindu hardliners who have frequently targeted India’s Muslim minority vented their anger over the climbdown, unusually for a party that has never faced any internal criticism in its eight years in power. Many praised Sharma, who made the remarks during a debate on a rightwing news channel, and expressed incredulity that a BJP government could buckle to pressure from Muslim countries. Jindal was expelled over a tweet he made about the prophet which has since been deleted. The hashtag “#ShameOnBJP” was trending on Twitter along with expressions of solidarity with the national spokesperson and, in a rare rebuke to Modi, hardliners have suggested that Uttar Pradesh’s firebrand chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, might make a better prime minister. read the complete article

08 Jun 2022

Thailand urged to let UN evaluate refugee status of Rohingya

A group of ethnic Rohingya left on a Thai island after a dangerous boat journey from Bangladesh should be given help and the opportunity to determine if they are refugees, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. The mostly Muslim Rohingya have long been persecuted in Myanmar. More than 700,000 fled to neighboring Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a military counterinsurgency campaign that the U.S. and others have called genocide. Since then, Rohingya have attempted to leave both Myanmar and Bangladesh on perilous sea journeys to Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country relatively lenient to arriving migrants. The voyages are often arranged by human trafficking gangs who charge large sums for passage on rickety old boats. Those boats that don’t sink can end up elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Thailand, especially, tries to turn them away, usually after supplying fuel and food. Boat passengers who make it ashore in Thailand are detained by authorities or sent by the traffickers to work in slave-like conditions. The navy said it will continue to follow Thailand's standard procedures, including providing humanitarian assistance, for people deemed to be immigrating illegally. Human Rights Watch said Thailand was obligated to assess the people's claims for refugee protection before trying to return them. read the complete article


08 Jun 2022

The world is finally reacting to India’s descent into hate

In the last week of May, Nupur Sharma, then the national spokeswoman of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, denigrated the prophet Muhammad on one of the country’s most-watched television networks, Times Now. The channel and its anchors, known for their pro-government stance, allowed Sharma to make insulting remarks about the prophet and his marriage. The party’s Delhi media head, Naveen Kumar Jindal, subsequently tweeted another offensive comment about Muhammad, the most revered figure in Islam. Within hours, Muslims and allies took to social media to express anger at the insults and called for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to take disciplinary action against the party members. But this time, it was not just Indian Muslims speaking out. Over the past few days, the governments of Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Turkey, Maldives, Iraq, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Pakistan and Malaysia issued stinging statements condemning the comments. Similar statements were made by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Gulf Cooperation Council. India’s turn toward intolerance and communalism is finally eliciting a response from the world. The rebuke from at least 15 majority-Muslim countries, many of whom have been traditional allies or supporters of India, comes on the heels of Secretary of State Antony Blinken naming India while releasing the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report. The kinds of views the BJP wants to characterize as “fringe” are, in fact, the language of the ruling party and state, spoken each night on the country’s leading news channels. read the complete article

08 Jun 2022

India scrambles to contain fallout over insulting comments about Islam

After a spokeswoman for India’s ruling party made disparaging remarks about the prophet Muhammad during a recent televised debate, rioters took to the streets in the northern city of Kanpur, throwing rocks and clashing with police. It was only the beginning of a controversy that would have global repercussions. Indian products were soon taken off shelves in the Persian Gulf after a high-ranking Muslim cleric called for boycotts. Hashtags expressing anger at Prime Minister Narendra Modi began trending on Arabic-language Twitter. Three Muslim-majority countries — Qatar, Kuwait and Iran — summoned their Indian ambassadors to convey their displeasure. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Afghanistan on Monday condemned the spokeswoman, Nupur Sharma, as did the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Inflammatory comments by right-wing activists and political leaders in India often make headlines and spark outrage on social media. But rarely do they elicit the kind of attention that Sharma drew in the past week, which sent her political party — and India’s diplomats — scrambling to contain an international public relations crisis. In a rare move, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, on Sunday suspended Sharma and expelled another party spokesman, Naveen Jindal, who had echoed Sharma’s views and suggested on Twitter that the prophet Muhammad married his wives when they were underage girls. In separate statements, party chiefs said they “strongly denounced” insults against any religion or religious figure. The controversy highlights one of the challenges to Indian foreign policy at a time when Modi is seeking a greater role on the world stage: Although his government has cultivated strong diplomatic ties with many Muslim nations, including both Saudi Arabia and Iran, his party has come under growing criticism for its treatment of India’s Muslim minority. It is accused by rights groups of stoking Hindu nationalist sentiment and turning a blind eye to religious violence. read the complete article

08 Jun 2022

24 more Muslim students suspended in Uppinangady for wearing hijab

Twenty-four Muslim students of the Government First Grade College, Uppinangady in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka were suspended on the charge of defying the dress code on June 7. Last week, the college had suspended seven Muslim students on the same charge. Thus, the total number of students suspended for allegedly wearing hijab in classrooms has gone up to 31. Sanjeeva Matandoor, MLA, Puttur who is chairman of the College Development Committee, said that, for revocation of the suspension, students have been told to give an undertaking in writing that they will abide by the dress code prescribed by the college. The MLA said that many students are attending classes while some, including some boys who are supporting girls wearing hijab in classrooms, continue to stay away from the classes. He said that the college will suspend students who violate the dress code in defiance of the order of the Karnataka High Court, and the subsequent decision taken by the committee. On June 6, U. T. Khader, Mangaluru MLA and Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Legislative Assembly, told mediapersons in Mangaluru that students will have to fight out the hijab issue legally and not in the corridors of colleges. Students should focus on academics, he said. read the complete article

08 Jun 2022

India’s ‘Love Jihad’ conspiracy theory

Many Muslims in India say they are experiencing a wave of persecution as Hindu extremists carry out a campaign of intimidation to stop interfaith marriages between Hindus and Muslims. Violence waged by mobs who believe Muslims are tricking Hindu women into marriage as an attempt to turn India into a Muslim republic. India’s Hindu nationalist government say they oppose violence and the BJP say that they have introduced laws in response to a particular kind of crime of which a large number of instances have been reported. In these cases, Muslim men have misrepresented their name and religion to marry women of other faiths, thereafter revealing their true identities and coercing their wives to covert their religion. But critics say are actually designed to stamp out interfaith marriages. We speak to Mandakini Gahlot, our reporter and her producer in India about how falling in love with the wrong person can ruin your life. read the complete article

08 Jun 2022

'National Embarrassment': English Editorials Slam BJP's Consistent Support of Hate Speech

English newspaper editorials did not mince words as foreign backlash mounted against remarks by politicians of India’s ruling party, BJP, against Islam. While most commented on the ironies of BJP’s reactions – some highlighted the 10-day delay – some others were keen to see in the suspension and expulsion of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, respectively, a sign of introspection. Times of India‘s editorial was a keenly read one, especially as the same house owns the television channel on which Nupur Sharma’s remarks were aired. “That it took diplomatic censure from strategically and economically important Gulf countries for BJP to take action against two spokespersons, whose appalling comments on TV and Twitter have been known for days, says everything about how much political discourse has coarsened in this country,” the paper said in its editorial. In a piece directly critical of BJP, the paper appears blithely ignorant of the role of media houses which invite BJP and other Hindutva group representatives, offering them a platform to speak. It records recent unfair actions which can fall under the broad umbrella of communalism, noting that the silence surrounding these has egged on “rightwing loudmouths” on television. “Bulldozing houses, slapping sedition charges on history professors and university students, evicting hawkers selling non-vegetarian food, creating controversies out of halal meat and namaz venues, not to mention strange lower court receptions to this-mosque-is-a-temple petitions – all of these institutional responses have been encouraging signs for TV and Twitter right-wing loudmouths. Nupur Sharma’s and Naveen Jindal’s comments are products of this ecosystem.” Cold calculations, if not good sense, should force a BJP rethink, it ultimately says, reminding the party of electoral costs at stake. read the complete article

United States

08 Jun 2022

Why Marvel has struck gold with Muslim superhero Ms Marvel

In 2013, when Marvel announced that they were reimagining the comic book character of Ms Marvel – originally a blonde superpowered military hero – as a Muslim Pakistani-US teenager called Kamala Khan, it was considered a controversial and risky proposition. Comic books, for the most part, have traditionally been male-dominated and white-centric – something Kamala was the antithesis of. Other attempts to diversify characters, such as creating a biracial Spiderman, had attracted backlash from some very vocal quarters of the fandom. In 2017, Marvel's vice president of sales stated that feedback from retailers indicated that readers were being alienated by the push for diversity. "What we heard was that people didn't want any more diversity," he said. "They didn't want female characters out there. That's what we heard, whether we believe that or not." Kamala's faith certainly does differentiate her from the overwhelming majority of her comic book counterparts. The depiction of Muslim characters in comic books has often been problematic, but there was an especially tricky path to tread in a post-9/11 world. It is a testament to the team behind Ms Marvel how deftly they navigated it. Wilson weaved together storylines and interactions in a thoughtful and nuanced manner that prevented characters from turning into stereotypes. Her familiarity with the religion is understandable – she is Muslim, after all – but some of the specific details that went into her writing made me often wonder if she was secretly Pakistani as well. "I just thought it was so interesting because I can see how different Kamala was from other personifications of Muslim or Arab characters in previous comics – notably other characters like Dust who were exoticised and where there is a whole element of orientalism going on," says Dr Gibson. read the complete article

08 Jun 2022

Iman Vellani On Becoming Ms Marvel, The First Muslim Female Superhero And The Newest Star Of The MCU

“It’s not really the brown girls from Jersey City who saves the world,” a line from the Ms Marvel trailer that perfectly epitomised the sentiments of young South-Asian girls who grew up watching superhero flicks, but never dared to imagine themselves in it. This was until, Iman Vellani, a Canadian-Pakistani teenager entered the MCU as Kamala Khan in the Ms Marvel series. Within the first 5 minutes of our Zoom interview, I forget that I am talking to Iman and this isn’t actually the goofy teenager Kamala Khan from the much-awaited Ms Marvel trailer. Every inch of her room is covered in Avengers art, just like her character, if this isn’t a sign that she was destined for this job, I don’t know what is. Disney+ Hotstar’s Ms Marvel will be staking a claim on many firsts—A woman Muslim superhero, correction: A Muslim woman superhero who isn’t stereotyped around her religious customs. Characters making Bollywood pop culture references and showing the subtle nuances of a South-Asian home and the difference in upbringing—without making a mockery out of it and using it as a punchline. Traditions (Mosque gatherings) and festivals (Eid) will be integrated into the storyline, providing a launch pad for Kamala to become Ms Marvel, as opposed to being projected as a pigeonhole. At the centre of it all is Iman Vellani, the teenager who manifested her dream. From writing fan fiction about the Avengers to becoming a superhero and joining their realm—the 19-year old speaks to ELLE about the responsibility of accurate representation, working with her heroes and living the dream that wasn’t even a part of her wildest fantasy. read the complete article


08 Jun 2022

Canada's Muslims renew calls to tackle Islamophobia one year after deadly attack

On the one-year anniversary of a deadly attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario, Muslim community leaders are renewing calls for the Canadian government to tackle Islamophobia in the country. On Monday, delegates met with parliament members in the capital, Ottawa, demanding concrete action to address Islamophobia and hate crimes, reaching all the way up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who tweeted a photo of a meeting with delegates from the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). The attack placed the Muslim community in Canada in a state of fear, grief and anxiety, renewing the same sorrow many held 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. The attack, however, did not take place in a vacuum, according to members of London's Muslim community. In 2020, researchers found the number of hate groups operating in the country had tripled in recent years. Trudeau vowed to tackle the problem and held a national summit on Islamophobia in July 2021. In response to calls from Muslim community leaders, the Canadian government has opened up applications for an envoy for combating Islamophobia, a role that would reach out to communities and advise 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. "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 of the NCCM said the announcement is a step in the right direction, but added that more needs to be done to ensure better protection of Muslim communities. “It’s about time that we see action,” she told CityNews. "Security infrastructure program funding that allows for mosques and places of worship to better protect themselves." The group is also calling for more action to tackle online hate, a national public education campaign on Islamophobia, as well as changes to the criminal code. read the complete article

United Kingdom

08 Jun 2022

7 in 10 Muslims in UK 'face anti-Muslim hate in the workplace'

Seven out of 10 Muslims currently employed in the UK have experienced some form of anti-Muslim behaviour in the workplace, a new survey has showed. Released on Tuesday, the survey was commissioned by Hyphen, a new online publication focusing on issues important to Muslims across the UK and Europe, and conducted by polling company Savanta ComRes. Anti-Muslim encounters during work-related engagements included interactions with customers, clients, and other people (44 percent), during work-related social events (42 percent), and when seeking promotions (40 percent). A total of 1,503 British Muslims were interviewed between April 22 and May 10 to collect data that, according to the pollsters, is representative of UK Muslims by age, gender, ethnicity, and region. Black Muslims were found to have experienced higher levels of anti-Muslim encounters compared to other Muslims. While 37 percent of all Muslims reported instances of discrimination at the recruitment stage, the figure spike to 58 percent for Black Muslims. read the complete article


08 Jun 2022

'Tool of genocide': Chinese government is forcibly removing organs from prisoners' bodies

The leading medical transplant journal in the world recently made the case that Chinese prisoners are being forced to give up organs at the expense of their lives. The journal article carried this shocking headline – "Execution by organ procurement: Breaching the dead donor rule in China." The authors, Matthew P. Robertson and Jacob Lavee, documented 71 cases, spread across China, where organ procurement likely occurred before brain death. "In these cases, the removal of the heart during organ procurement must have been the proximate cause of the donor's death," Robertson and Lavee wrote. "Because these organ donors could only have been prisoners, our findings strongly suggest that physicians in the People's Republic of China have participated in executions by organ removal." The grisly topic also was the subject last month of a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing, “Forced Organ Harvesting in China: Examining the Evidence." Commission co-chair Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said the practice of forced organ donation amounts to “a tool of genocide meant to cull minority populations deemed ‘undesirable’ by the State.” In practice, prisoners who are earmarked for organ donation wind up condemned. New evidence suggests that execution by organ donation is a continuing part of the systematic campaign against Uyghurs, Falun Gong, Tibetans, Christians and other people Beijing classifies as politically problematic. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 08 Jun 2022 Edition


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