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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09 Jun 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, a youth leader from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been arrested for anti-Muslim comments just as leaders of the party “instructed officials to be ‘extremely cautious’ when talking about religion on public platforms after derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad drew protests from Muslim nations,” meanwhile 39 international academics “accuse the UN human rights chief of having ignored or contradicted academic findings on abuses in Xinjiang with her statements on the region,” and a new report finds that “Myanmar’s military junta is using administrative measures such as identity documents to facilitate a ‘genocide by attrition’ against the Rohingya communities of Rakhine State.” Our recommended read of the day is by Barkha Dutt for the Washington Post on how the “billions of dollars of trade, oil, food exports and remittances at stake” in the Gulf is what ultimately forced the BJP take action against Nupur Sharma for making Islamophobic comments. This and more below:


09 Jun 2022

Why did India listen to Arab governments before its own Muslim citizens? | Recommended Read

In reality, however, the diplomatic kerfuffle is unlikely to draw any long-term red lines around the Hindu right wing’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. If anything, positions might become even more hard-line. Sure, for now, media representatives of the BJP will watch their words when they appear on panels. But let’s not kid ourselves. For hundreds of thousands of far-right supporters of the Modi government, Sharma is a cause célèbre. Just look at the flood of “I stand with Nupur Sharma” comments on social media and calls to boycott Qatar Airways. This mass messaging once again appears to be coordinated by a well-oiled, centralized machinery. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after some time, Sharma’s political career is eventually made rather than unmade by this ugly controversy. But this only makes the ultranationalist BJP more answerable for why it responded to outrage from governments of at least 15 Muslim-majority nations, but did not react to the hurt triggered in its more than 200 million Muslim citizens. Perhaps the answer lies in the billions of dollars of trade, oil, food exports and remittances at stake in these countries. Or it could be that Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who has had considerable success at enhancing diplomatic relations with the Muslim world — feels his personal brand has been sullied. India’s vice president, who was on a visit to Qatar when its government summoned the Indian ambassador over the issue, has been embarrassed abroad. Whatever the reason — and perhaps it is a combination of several — the BJP and the government took days to act against Sharma, and only did so when it became an international issue. In truth, the furor over Sharma’s comments were initially ignored because the BJP has never had to pay a political price for the othering of the Muslim community. Nor is it especially bothered if religious diversity and inclusiveness get rolled over by its victorious electoral juggernaut. There is a chance that the party might soon have no Muslim in parliament. If that happens, it won’t be sheepish. But today the Modi government is having to firefight on two fronts: with angry Islamic nations, where millions of Indians live and work, and rabid sections of its own base who are apoplectic about what they see as surrender. Online right-wing platforms are full of provocative outbursts about “betrayal.” Clearly, the BJP's backers believe the last word has yet to be spoken. read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

Fury at UN human rights chief over ‘whitewash’ of Uyghur repression

Dozens of scholars have accused the UN human rights chief of having ignored or contradicted academic findings on abuses in Xinjiang with her statements on the region. In an open letter published this week, 39 academics from across Europe, the US and Australia called on Michelle Bachelet to release a long-awaited UN report on human rights abuses in China. The letter, published online, included some academics with whom Bachelet had consulted prior to her visit to Xinjiang. The letter’s signatories expressed gratitude for this, but said they were “deeply disturbed” by her official statement, delivered at a press conference in Guangzhou at the end of her six-day tour. They said her statement “ignored and even contradicted the academic findings that our colleagues, including two signatories to this letter, provided”. “It is rare that an academic field arrives at the level of consensus that specialists in the study of Xinjiang have reached,” the letter said. “While we disagree on some questions of why Beijing is enacting its atrocities in Xinjiang, we are unanimous in our understanding of what it is that the Chinese state is doing on the ground.” read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

India is seeing international backlash after spokeswoman's comments on Islam

India is facing a chorus of criticism from the Muslim world this week. That's after a spokeswoman for India's ruling party made derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed. India is ruled by Hindu nationalists, and hate speech there against minority Muslims has been on the rise. Now there's an international backlash. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Mumbai. Last month, when she insulted the Prophet Muhammad on TV, Indian Muslims protested in the streets. But their voices were ignored, and some of them were even beaten by police. It was only when Gulf countries - the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and many others - lodged official complaints that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took action. read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

India-Gulf row: Economics are key to countering BJP Islamophobia

The Gulf-India region is the second-largest migration corridor in the world. Remittances from the region accounted for two percent of India’s GDP in 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic. But while the Indian presence in the Arabian Peninsula dates back several centuries, the community’s largely peaceful and apolitical character in the region is coming under severe strain amid rising Hindu nationalism and the worsening situation of minorities in India. In 2020, a handful of Indian workers were deported from the UAE for allegedly making Islamophobic statements on social media. Earlier this year, an Indian restaurant in Bahrain reportedly had to shut down when staff discriminated against a customer wearing a hijab. However, for Gulf citizens and residents alike, countering the recurring challenge of Hindutva forces in their midst is not complicated by the presence of a large Indian diaspora as much as it is by the deepening geo-strategic ties between India and the two largest Gulf economies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Despite historic ties between India and the Gulf, it is only over the past decade, since the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that there has been an intense display of state-level camaraderie. Modi has long been known for his extremist leanings. It was under his watch that the worst communal riots in India’s independent history took place, leading to a diplomatic boycott against him by the US, UK and some European countries. But this did not stop the leaderships of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain from bestowing upon Modi their highest civilian honours after he became prime minister. The 2008 global economic crash, followed by the Arab Spring and a retreating US presence in the Arabian Peninsula, has prompted several Gulf states to look eastward to China and India for economic and political security. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among India’s top five trading partners. Every US administration during Modi’s tenure, including the Trump administration, has expressed concerns over rising religious intolerance in India - but only an adversarial response from the Gulf states seems to make his government spring into action. Still, this does not guarantee any long-term changes on the ground in terms of ensuring the welfare of Indian Muslims. Besides winning two consecutive national elections with a thumping majority, the BJP is also the country’s richest political party, and has been able to compromise every civil institution for its own political ends. read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

Peabody Awards: ‘We Are Lady Parts,’ ‘In the Same Breath’ Among Third Round of Winners

The Peabody Awards have today announced their third round of winners, with We Are Lady Parts and The Wonder Years taking home prizes in the entertainment category. The rebellious spirit of the Sex Pistols meets the guiding wisdom of the Quran in We Are Lady Parts, Nida Manzoor’s subversive British comedy about an all-female, all-Muslim punk band. Dressed in hijabs and ripped jeans, niqab face scarves and combat boots, the women are poised to infiltrate London’s punk patriarchy with original songs like “Voldemort Under My Headscarf” and “Ain’t No One Gonna Honour Kill My Sister But Me.” This irreverent, charming, and utterly fresh series, obliterates MENA and South Asian stereotypes and fearlessly tackles taboos about Islam, offering a multifaceted depiction of Muslim women rarely seen on screen. read the complete article


09 Jun 2022

India’s BJP asks members to be cautious after prophet remarks row

Leaders of India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party have instructed officials to be “extremely cautious” when talking about religion on public platforms after derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad drew protests from Muslim nations. Two leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said verbal instructions were given to more than 30 senior officials and some federal ministers who are authorised to take part in debates hosted by Indian news channels often broadcast live to millions of viewers, the Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday. “We don’t want party officials to speak in a way that hurts the religious sentiments of any community … They must ensure the party’s doctrine gets shared in a sophisticated manner,” said a senior BJP leader and federal minister in New Delhi, according to the report. With about 110 million members, mainly Hindus, the BJP is the world’s largest political party, while Muslims comprise about 13 percent of India’s 1.35 billion population. Last week, the BJP suspended its spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and expelled Delhi media cell head Naveen Kumar Jindal after Muslim nations demanded apologies from the Indian government and summoned diplomats to protest against anti-Islamic remarks made during a TV debate. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran were among the nations that made their complaints public. read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

India: Police arrest ruling party youth leader for anti-Muslim comments

A youth leader from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been arrested for anti-Muslim comments as a row over Islamophobia continues in the country. Harshit Srivastava was arrested in Kanpur city, northern Uttar Pradesh state, following communal tensions last week during a protest by Muslims denouncing Islamophobic remarks made by another BJP official. "We arrested the local politician for making inflammatory remarks against Muslims," Prashant Kumar, a senior police official, told Reuters. He said that at least 50 people were taken into custody following the tensions in Kanpur. read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

India’s insult of the Prophet Muhammad is a sign of deeper Islamophobia

India has been on genocide watch for some time now for its ill treatment of its more than 200 million Muslims. Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, Muslims have suffered official as well as private and even mob-generated discrimination, ranging from the stripping of citizenship from native-born Muslims and an illegal occupation of Kashmir to lynchings fomented by false rumors of Muslims killing cows. Insulting the Prophet almost always signals that a country is attempting to exert dominance over Muslims, either their homegrown minorities or neighbors abroad. When France uses the insult of the Prophet as the marquee issue of freedom of speech, it simultaneously engages in all sorts of repression against the Muslim community that set a chilling tone for the rest of Europe. When racist Israeli settlers march on Jerusalem under the full protection of the state apparatus and chant “Muhammad is dead,” their aim seems to be to see all of his Palestinian Muslim followers dead as well. China bars Uyghur Muslims from uttering the name “Muhammad,” even as it has put thousands of Muslim men named Muhammad into internment camps unseen by the outside world. The insulting of the Prophet is sufficient incitement and wrong on its own, but it must always be condemned as the sign of systemic Islamophobia that its expression represents. The portrayal of the Prophet as violent is also meant to caricature Muslims worldwide as inherently in need of being subdued and subjected to discriminatory practices to prevent them from destroying the West. read the complete article

United States

09 Jun 2022

US accused of stalling on deal to free Guantanamo prisoner

A former Maryland man held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center has languished in custody months after his scheduled release despite cooperating with authorities as part of a plea deal, according to a federal suit that seeks his immediate release. Majid Khan was due to be released March 1 after serving a 10-year-sentence and assisting authorities pursuing war crimes cases against others held at the U.S. base in Cuba, including the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. His lawyers say in a habeas corpus petition filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington that the government has taken no apparent steps toward his release. They say that will make other prisoners less likely to strike similar deals that would help the Biden administration reduce the number of men held there and move close to eventually shuttering the facility. Khan is one of the most significant figures among the 37 men still held at the U.S. base in Cuba. His testimony about the torture he endured during more than three years in clandestine CIA detention facilities was the first public accounting of the treatment by a prisoner and prompted seven of eight military officers serving as jurors at his sentencing to endorse a letter seeking clemency for him. read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

Marriage Classes at Guantánamo

Mansoor Adayfi was only 19 when he arrived at the prison camp at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Growing up in a tiny village in the mountains of Yemen, “I didn’t know much about the world,” he wrote in his Modern Love essay. “Now my world was Guantánamo.” Mansoor spent his first seven years in an isolation cell. Once he was transferred to a communal block, his world expanded. He and his fellow detainees started organizing informal classes for one another. A former chef taught a cooking class. Another man taught a marriage class, where they learned about love. In this class, they shared their views on how men should treat women, they discussed what it would feel like to meet the person you love, and they even simulated an engagement and wedding celebration. “I have never been in love, but now I could feel its sweetness,” Mansoor said. Today, we listen to Mansoor's essay and then hear an update from him. Since Guantánamo, he has experienced one of the best moments of his life — and one of the most painful. He talks to our host, Anna Martin, about what he would now teach others about the art of love. read the complete article

09 Jun 2022

Ms Marvel review – a glorious debut for the MCU’s first Muslim superhero

A superhero – and a star – is born in Ms Marvel (Disney+) , the latest small-screen foray into the MCU. The superhero is Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first Muslim headliner, whose solo comic book series made its debut in 2014. The miniseries tells her origin story, deviating somewhat from the source material and somehow humanising it further. Most of the first episode features her trying to persuade her parents to let her go to the Avengers comic convention a bus ride away, refine her Ms Marvel costume and placate the school principal when she is hauled into his office for her constant “doodling” and daydreaming. Although it will probably get swallowed up in the deeper joy and wider significance of seeing a Muslim character come to life, I just want to note how absolutely wonderful it is to see an accurate, loving and untrammelled depiction of passionate female fandom, so often derided or ignored while boy geeks get to inherit the world. The bangle allows her powers to be tied to Kamala’s Pakistani heritage and the trauma of Partition in particular. It belonged to her great-grandmother, one of the many who went missing during that time and who appears to be backchannelling towards Kamala through her powers. There’s a nice twist by the end of the second episode that promises a satisfying development of this element, but it is the domestic scenes and familial relationships that are the greatest strength of the opening instalments. Kamala’s culture and religion are depicted unapologetically and unfussily, in big ways (we see her and her friend Nakia, played by Yasmeen Fletcher, at prayer in the mosque – and complaining about the state of the women’s side compared with the men’s) and small (Kamala was scared of the Djinn in the dark when young, not ghosts). Some might see Kamala’s efforts to escape her family’s strictures as another unwanted/unwarranted portrayal of Islam’s repressive attitudes towards women, but I suspect that to most it will come across as Bisha K Ali, the series’ creator and head writer, surely intended – a simple acknowledgment that parents of all creeds and colours gonna parent and provide grist to any teen angst mill. read the complete article


09 Jun 2022

The world can no longer ignore the Xinjiang Police Files and China's Uyghur genocide

Thousands of photographs and documents from within this system – the region’s security architecture and police force – have been collated and released two weeks ago as part of a major project of 14 news organisations, including the BBC, to document the detention camps in Xinjiang. While China had sought to describe these prison camps as vocational training centres, places of political and social education, these photographs paint a more horrific picture. Last year it was reported that China could imprison over a million of the 11 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The BBC investigation notes that guards of the Xinjiang camps have a policy of shooting to kill would-be escapees. Protocol documents describe “the routine use of armed officers in all areas of the camps, the positioning of machine guns and sniper rifles in the watchtowers”. Speeches from officials give depth to this picture. The Chinese Communist Party believes the Islam practised by Uyghurs is indistinguishable from terrorism. Zhao Kezhi, China’s Minister for Public Security, visited Xinjiang in 2018. The speech he gave included the suggestion that two million people in southern Xinjiang alone were hosts of “extremist thought”. Other portions of the files indicate what that extremist thought was intended to be. Cameras were inside mosques, and there are a dozen or so screenshots from those cameras included in the files released. Photographs of confiscated illegal items include religious texts, prayer beads, traditional long dresses, and schoolbooks with Uyghur language exercises in them. From 2014, when China’s head of state Xi Jinping launched a “people’s war on terrorism”, these policies have had clear consequences. If terrorism extends beyond the use of violence for political ends, it can be attached to beliefs which the state finds undesirable. The eradication of those beliefs can become, as easily as that, essential aims of state policy. And so they became. Last year, the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy released a report on whether China’s treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang could be considered a genocide according to the 1948 Genocide Convention. read the complete article


09 Jun 2022

Myanmar Junta Carrying out ‘Genocide by Attrition’ in Rakhine State: Report

Myanmar’s military junta is using administrative measures such as identity documents to facilitate a “genocide by attrition” against the beleaguered Rohingya communities of Rakhine State, a human rights group said yesterday. In a new report, the advocacy group Fortify Rights says that the Myanmar state’s treatment of the Rohingya mirrors that of the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide of 1994. While armed armed attacks on Rohingya communities have largely come to an end, “a genocide by attrition has long been underway and it continues today,” according to a press statement accompanying the report’s release. The report, which was based on interviews with 23 Rohingya in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and among the diaspora, defines “genocide by attrition” as “the gradual destruction of a protected group by reducing their strength through sustained, indirect methods of destruction.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 09 Jun 2022 Edition


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