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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17 Mar 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the U.S., Congress moves to repeal the authorization for the War in Iraq more than twenty years after it was launched by former President George W. Bush, meanwhile in Canada, Toronto police are investigating the attack of a Muslim woman on the subway by a 47 year old male assailant who investigators say targeted the woman due to her faith, and a delegation from Myanmar is visiting the refugee camps in Bangladesh to explore a potential repatriation program for refugees. Our recommended read of the day is by Kaushik Raj And Alishan Jafri for Article 14 on how new study of Indian mainstream media shows a concerted effort to encourage anti-Muslim propaganda such as ‘Land Jihad’. This and more below:


How Indian Media Mainstreamed The ‘Land Jihad’ Propaganda | Recommended Read

“Devbhoomi mein zameen jihad” (land jihad in the land of God) and “Bulldozer action ki bari” (time for bulldozer action) were tickers running in news programmes on 2 January 2023, covering the protests by the mostly Muslim residents of Haldwani against a demolition drive by the Uttarakhand government. The anchor for Times Now Navbharat claimed that a “Jihadi gang” was protesting to stop the government from bulldozing 4,365 homes in the southeastern part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state. The voiceover in the show compared the Haldwani protests to the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi and claimed that women were protesting at the behest of “land jihadis”. On 29 January 2023, at a Hindutva rally, one of many organised in Mumbai by the far-right Sakal Hindu Samaj to protest “land jihad” and “love jihad”, thousands of supporters and leaders of the BJP attended this event. Open calls for mob violence against Muslims were made in the BJP-ruled Maharashtra. In February 2020, even as the muttering of “love jihad” by the fringe had become full-blown propaganda after the BJP had come to power in 2014, their government at the Centre told Parliament that no such crime existed. After successfully disseminating propaganda about Muslims targeting Hindu women and trying to out-populate the Hindu majority, similar exertions are being made by the Hindu right to brainwash people into believing that “land jihad” exists, with the Indian mainstream media fanning the falsehood and anti-Muslim hate. The propaganda is that Muslims are taking over lands owned by Hindus by harassing them, seizing their properties illegally, and squeezing them out of their neighbourhoods. read the complete article

United States

Should “Islam” matter in US foreign policy?

In the United States, it is difficult to overstate the degree to which Islam has fallen off both the domestic and foreign policy agenda. In many ways, this is a welcome improvement over the near-constant preoccupation with American Muslims and Muslims abroad as objects of concern during the post-9/11 period. With the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban,” it seemed like it might never end, with each president having their own particular approach to the “problem” of Islam. This appears to have ended with U.S. President Joe Biden. With the end of the war on terror, the securitization of Muslim identity is largely a thing of the past. American Muslims are increasingly part of the cultural mainstream, accepted and normalized to the extent that they sometimes appear to have been forgotten entirely. That said, there is a dark side to America’s loss of interest in Islam and Muslims, especially since this indifference is tied to a broader apathy toward the Middle East. The Biden administration’s Middle East policy, as reflected in the recent National Security Strategy, is effectively one of telling regional actors to “keep calm and carry on.” The priority is to prevent the problems of the Middle East from crowding out attention towards more overarching problems, such as the threats posed by Chinese and Russian adventurism. To be uninterested in the Middle East is, by default, to be uninterested in human rights, political reform, and democratization in the Middle East. A policy of maintaining the status quo with only slight adjustments is inevitably a policy of turning a blind eye to human rights violations in the interest of “stability.” read the complete article

How Donald Trump's Islamophobia Made the US Safer for Muslims

To understand this bizarre outcome, it's useful to look at the road here over the past two decades. Obviously, the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington at the beginning of this century were a notable trigger for a substantial rise in American Islamophobia. In the direct aftermath of the attacks, hate crimes against Arab Americans and American Muslims (and anyone who looked like they could be Arab or Muslim) sky-rocketed across the country. But in a stage in American culture where racism was frowned upon in our official discourse, this bigotry couldn't survive unless it could masquerade as something other than blind hatred. So, this hatred took on a thin veneer of an intellectual argument: Arabs and Muslims aren't to be hated because of who they are, but because their religious beliefs are allegedly nefarious. This malicious lie turned into a full-blown industry, where anti-Muslim bigotry became a lucrative profession, catapulting many of its advocates to prominence and seeping its way into American policymaking, including in federal law enforcement. The 2016 election at the end of the Obama presidency marked the zenith of Islamophobia in U.S. political discourse. The GOP's embrace of Islamophobia sent its candidates competing over who could sound more anti-Muslim. Presidential candidate Ben Carson said he would "absolutely not agree" with having an American Muslim ever lead the nation, claiming that Islam is incompatible with the Constitution. It's nearly impossible to imagine a presidential candidate engaging in this level of explicit bigotry against any other group and winning the presidency, but the GOP embraced it, making the unthinkable a reality. Yet therein lies the irony: Trump's presidency oversaw a decline of Islamophobia—not because his words and actions aimed to sideline this politico-cultural tumor, but in spite of his best efforts to promote it. read the complete article

Congress moves to repeal the Iraq war authorization, 20 years later

The Senate is moving forward with a vote to repeal the outdated legal authorizations for the US’s wars in Iraq. It’s mostly symbolic, but it has some real-world implications. On Thursday, the Senate held a procedural vote to repeal the 2002 and 1991 authorizations for the use of military force in Iraq. It passed 68-27, teeing up a floor vote next week. The Biden administration supports the repeal, but the measure has a tougher path in the House. It is significant that lawmakers would remove a piece of the scaffolding of America’s forever wars in the Middle East and would prohibit a future president’s abuse of the legislation. It also shows that Congress is willing to exercise its constitutional powers when it comes to war. The bipartisan effort is commendable.But it’s not enough. The repeal of the 2002 authorization for the use of military force won’t address two major ongoing dynamics that ensure that, even as President Joe Biden has ended the forever war in Afghanistan and has curtailed drone strikes, the war on terrorism continues. First, the post-September 11 authorization that Congress approved in 2001 as the basis for US global counter-terrorism operations remains on the books and endures as the legal framework for ongoing US military efforts. It has been used in at least 22 countries. It’s the justification for the current presence of US service members in Syria and Somalia, thanks to the White House’s expansive interpretation of Al-Qaeda’s associated forces that now includes ISIS and militant groups that didn’t yet exist when the authorization was passed. But it’s been more difficult to muster consensus about sunsetting this 2001 authorization, as it’s been used more broadly, including by the Biden administration. read the complete article

Former Guantanamo prisoner: Ron DeSantis watched me being tortured

Aformer detainee of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp has claimed that Florida governor and 2024 presidential contender Ron DeSantis witnessed him being tortured during the time he was stationed there. Mansoor Adayfi, a Yemeni citizen who was held for 14 years on the US Naval base in Cuba, told The Independent in an extraordinary interview that he was brutally force-fed by camp staff during a hunger strike in 2006, and that Mr DeSantis was present for at least one of those sessions. The United Nations has characterised the force-feeding of hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay as torture. The US government has denied that the practice amounts to torture, and it has been used against prisoners over successive administrations during hunger strikes. Mr DeSantis was stationed on the base between March 2006 and January 2007, according to his military records. read the complete article


'Islamophobia is global': Muslim groups urge action as UN targets anti-Muslim discrimination

A coalition of more than a dozen Muslim organisations from several countries is calling on the international community to do more to combat anti-Muslim sentiment, as the United Nations' first International Day to Combat Islamophobia is observed officially. The UN's International Day to Combat Islamophobia will take place every year on 15 March, commemorating the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, which resulted in 51 worshippers dead. While faith leaders and organisations are grateful for this day of remembrance, they believe further efforts are needed, as experts say discrimination against Muslim communities is increasing worldwide. In a letter signed by 15 organisations across the world, including the Muslim Council of Britain, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Committee for Justice and Liberty in France, Asociacion Musulmana por los Derechos Humanos in Spain and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, five calls to action were made. read the complete article

Myanmar team visits Cox’s Bazar for Rohingya repatriation project

A delegation from Myanmar is visiting Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh this week to verify a few hundred potential returnees for a pilot repatriation project. A Bangladeshi official said on Wednesday it was unclear when the mainly Muslim refugees would be going home. Nearly a million Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh in the border district of Cox’s Bazar, most having fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that is now the subject of a genocide case at the International Court of Justice. Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner in Cox’s Bazar, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, told Reuters news agency there was a list of 1,140 Rohingya to be repatriated under the pilot project, of which 711 have had their cases cleared. Cases for the remaining 429 on the list, including some newborn babies, were still being processed. “We are ready” to send them back, Rahman said, adding he did not know when that could begin. read the complete article

How I Travel Without Trepidation As A Black Muslim Woman

For as long as I can remember, the intersections of my identity as a Black woman, a Muslim, and a Muslim woman have come with labels of caution. These labels were about how I would be regarded in the world and in most cases, it was negative. To many people, nothing about my physical appearance indicates that I have the right to live in the most complete and robust version of myself. There’s a belief that my identity isolates me and that, outside of America, others would not accept or respect me. As a Black woman, I am seen a certain way: aggressive, loud or uneducated. As a Muslim woman, I am often perceived as oppressed, docile or the person you’ll find walking 10 paces behind a man. Combining the two would instinctually befuddle people because, to many people outside of the U.S., Black people are from Africa and Africa only. My first relocation took place in 2015, exactly one month after Sandra Bland was killed. While I had never lived overseas before or even traveled much abroad, I felt that my safety in my own home was being jeopardized and I didn’t have many alternatives left. So I purchased a one-way ticket to Cairo, Egypt. Even though I was aware that women, Muslims and people of color faced prejudice and marginalization on a global scale, I was steadfast in my belief that there must be a location on the planet where I could live without fear of suffering such dire repercussions for being who I am. And so I began what would become a search for my soul’s home. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Isolating a Muslim people and Islamophobia

This week marked the second International Day to Combat Islamophobia, a day of recognition accepted unanimously by all members of the United Nations. Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Around quarter of all people on the planet are Muslims. In modern history, atrocities have taken place against Muslims right across the globe including here in Europe at Srebrenica in 1995. Even as I write this, genocide takes place against Rohingya and Uyghur Muslims, and Kashmiris and Hazara Muslims face persecution. In the UK much has been done to tackle this important issue of Islamophobia. There are over three million Muslims in the UK; 94 per cent feel able to practise their religion freely. We have laws in place – specifically the Equalities Act 2010 which make it a criminal offence to discriminate against someone because of their race or religion or other protected characteristics. We do, however, still face an ongoing challenge to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice across the country. As Member of Parliament for Peterborough, a constituency with a significant Muslim community, I am very aware of the horrific prejudice some constituents have encountered because of their faith and that is why today is such an important day – to celebrate the progress that has been made but to remember that there is still so much to do. The Government have promised a formal definition of Islamophobia. They now need to deliver. read the complete article


Muslims in Germany call for determined stance over hate against Islam

Germany's Muslim community have called for a more determined stance against anti-Islam racism, saying Muslims continue to experience prejudice, hate crimes and discrimination in their daily lives. "The anniversary of Christchurch mosque attacks painfully reminds us that stirring up prejudices and hatred against Muslims do not stop at words, but they can be carried into action," the president of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany said in a statement on Wednesday. "This also makes it clear that we have to take a much more determined stand against Islamophobia in our society, even if it sometimes hypocritically portrayed as the criticism of Islam," Aiman Mazyek said. On March 15, 2019, an Australian white supremacist shot dead 51 Muslim worshippers and wounded 40 others at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Last year, the UN designated 15th March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. read the complete article


Police investigate after man allegedly pulls knife on Muslim woman on Toronto subway

Police are now probing the case of a man who allegedly pulled a knife on a Muslim woman on a Toronto subway train last week as a suspected hate-motivated assault. In a news release on Wednesday, police said the incident, which took place on March 9 at about 5 p.m., is being treated as a "suspected hate-motivated" offence after officers consulted the service's specialized hate crime unit. Initially, police did not consider it a possible hate crime. "Investigators believe the victim was targeted because of her Muslim faith," police said in the release. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), in a news release on Monday, had urged police to consider the incident a suspected hate crime. According to police, the woman was on Line 1 heading southbound from Vaughan Metropolitan Station, when she was approached by a man. The man began talking to her and then pulled out a knife, police said. Police said the woman ran from the subway train at Wilson Station, before police were called. The NCCM said the woman, who was wearing a hijab, ran across several subway cars and stopped when a bystander helped her by pulling the train's emergency alarm. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 17 Mar 2023 Edition


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