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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22 Mar 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, a review of the Metropolitan Police Force finds “Britain’s largest police force as institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic,” meanwhile in Australia, findings of a new study show that most victims of Islamophobia in the country were women (78 percent) and most perpetrators were men (70 percent), and lastly, the European Islamophobia Report of 2022 (released on Tuesday) named Denmark as the most vulnerable country for Muslims, along with France and Austria. Our recommended read of the day is by Toula Drimonis for Cult MTL on how last week’s unanimous motion of the Quebec government declaring that Quebec is no more racist than the rest of the world undercuts the systemic and prevailing evidence of anti-Muslim racism and hatred in the province. This and more below:


The Quebec government continues to sweep racism and Islamophobia under the rug | Recommended Read

Quebec’s National Assembly is unanimous on this: there is no more racism to be found in the province than anywhere else in the world. Our elected officials adopted the motion last Wednesday affirming that Quebec is one of the “most open and welcoming nations” in the world. I hear that assertion a lot on social media. It’s usually preceded by that very same person telling me to go “back to where I came from,” so as gratifying as positive affirmations can be, they sometimes run the risk of reflecting perception, not reality. The motion presented at the National Assembly didn’t materialize out of thin air. It was primarily in reaction to a statement issued by an organization Canadians United Against Hate, which called Quebec “the epicentre” of Islamophobia in Canada, and actively denounced Bill 21 and its detrimental consequences for Quebecers who choose to wear religious symbols. The organization’s statement was issued following last week’s release of an Angus Reid survey on how Canadians perceive religions. The poll revealed that 52% of Quebecers have a negative view of Islam, compared with 39% of Canadians living in other provinces. It’s a significant enough difference that critics of Bill 21 are justified in pointing out that anti-Muslim sentiment is more prevalent in Quebec. The same survey shows that 72% of Canadians support the wearing of the hijab in public, but that rate drops to 55% in Quebec. Again, a noticeable difference. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Withdraw review of Prevent anti-radicalisation strategy, ministers urged

More than 200 civil society organisations, community leaders and academics have called on the UK government to withdraw a controversial review of the Prevent programme, part of its counter-terrorism strategy. The Home Office accepted all 34 recommendations in the review from William Shawcross, a former chair of the Charity Commission who concluded that the Prevent programme should focus more on Islamist rather than far-right terrorism. However, it was boycotted by groups including Amnesty International, while critics have pointed to a surge in far-right activity. Critics including Amnesty International, Liberty, Runnymede Trust, Child Rights International Network and many Muslim civil society organisations on Tuesday issued a joint statement calling on Shawcross’s review to be withdrawn. They argue it is “ideologically shaped” and increases the threat of discrimination, raises concerns about child protection and the right to free speech. read the complete article

Muslim group criticises ‘unchecked racism’ found by Casey review of Met Police

A leading Muslim organisation has condemned the “unchecked racism and discrimination” described in a damning review of the Metropolitan Police. Baroness Louise Casey’s report, published on Tuesday, unearthed a series of alarming case studies which showed officers being bullied because of their religious beliefs. In one example, a Muslim officer said they found bacon left in their boots but chose not to report the incident because they “didn’t want to be branded a person who played the race card”. The findings are part of damning assessment which described Britain’s largest police force as institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Baroness Louise Casey’s report is a damning indictment of the culture of impunity within the Metropolitan Police force, where officers from minority backgrounds have been subject to unchecked racism and discrimination and the concerns of minority communities have remained unaddressed." read the complete article

United States

Wrestler condemned for ‘unacceptable’ on-air comments about Islam

An NCAA champion wrestler is facing condemnation after he denigrated the Islamic faith following his third consecutive title win. Aaron Brooks, a wrestler at Penn State, recently won his third consecutive national title in the NCAA's 184-pound division. During an ESPN interview after his victory, Mr Brooks was asked how his Christian faith factored into his success. The wrestler uplifted his own religion, but in the process denigrated others, including Islam specifically, according to Deadspin. “It’s everything. Christ resurrections and everything. Not just his life, but his death and resurrection,” Mr Brooks said. “You can only get that through him, it will be spread only through him. No false prophets, no Muhammad nor anyone else. Only Jesus Christ himself.” The NCAA then signal boosted the wrestler's comments by sharing the interview on its official Twitter page. The tweet featuring the interview has since been deleted. In the wake of the interview, Emgage, an organisation that "educates and mobilises Muslim American voters" released a statement condemning the wrestler's comments. read the complete article

Opinion: As Ramadan begins, beware of political agendas that demonize Islam

Early Islam was astutely aware that progress hinged on inclusion. Its mission saw diverse peoples as a resource to be integrated; as building blocks to advancement. People from far and wide were invited to create and share an advanced base of knowledge. Accomplishments include the founding of the first university by a Muslim woman, and the advancement of mathematics, astronomy, navigation, medicine, surgery, botany, municipalities, literature and the harmonic scale. Indeed, what we consider “Western” originated in the Arab-Muslim cities spreading their exchanges from China to Andalusia. Yet today, the myths of backwardness about Islam persist, often used to justify Western aggression. Christian Arabs, like myself, are sometimes caught between reality and myth. I grew up with pride and questions about how Islam fit into my Arab identity. In my lifetime, fabricated narratives about Islam and Arabs have grown as a cottage industry of Western projections and intergenerational lies. The “West’s” habit of lies rely on ignorance to justify all forms of atrocities and war crimes. A Western vacuum of empathy sucks the oxygen out of knowledge. I can predict it. I feel how it derails Muslims and Arabs here and abroad. I daily scan the news to find lingering agendas that demonize Islam throughout the “Western” world. Among the more subtle derailments of language is when we unthinkingly use the term “Judeo-Christian.” In so repeating the phrase, do we erase the ethics, traditions, and harmonious codes of engagement and innovation Islam channeled and built? After all, Islamic innovations and codes abound, and are the ones we are most familiar with. “Judeo-Christian,” absent Islam, is a term glazed with myopic supremacy and it should not be grasped for so readily or so unintelligently. For example, without Islamic-led advancements, the European Renaissance could not have existed. Perhaps the problematic term is exclusivist, geographically divisive and should not be used at all. If used, could we consider refreshing it to Judeo-Christian-Islamic? read the complete article

Ethics lawyer fired for tweets about Islam can seek damages

A former Tennessee state legal ethics attorney who was fired in 2020 over social media posts about Islam has won a new chance to pursue employment-related damages, a U.S. appeals court said in an order on Monday. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said in a ruling that Gerald Dean Morgan could seek back pay and other damages against his former supervisor, the chief disciplinary counsel of the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Garrett terminated Morgan in 2020 over tweets in 2015 and 2016, before he was a lawyer for the board, that were critical of the Democratic Party and Joe Biden. In one tweet, he asked: "Where's the evidence that 'Islam is a religion of peace'"? A lawyer who was under investigation by the board complained about the posts. An attorney for Morgan, W. Gary Blackburn, said in an email on Monday that Morgan can now "proceed now with his claim for denial of his First Amendment right to speak on matters of public concern." Morgan, who had worked for the Tennessee board since 2019, was not immediately reached for comment on Tuesday. read the complete article

Ramadan an opportunity to learn about Islam

Fast forward to the 21st century, this same hatred allegedly caused a man to plow his truck into a Muslim family out on an evening stroll on June 6, 2021 in London, Ont. Four of the members of the Afzaal family were killed. This same rage caused the killing of six worshippers and injuring of five others in congregational prayer on Jan. 29, 2017, at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. In response, Amira Elghawaby, a journalist, and human rights advocate, was appointed as Canada’s Special Representative on Combating Islamophobia, described as an “historic moment for Muslims in Canada” by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Days after Elghawaby’s appointment, Islamophobia started gurgling from the depths of government with a motion in the National Assembly of Quebec denouncing her appointment, supported by the Coalition Avenir Quebec, Quebec Liberal party and the Parti Québécois. Premier François Legault called for her resignation. What’s wrong with this picture? Despite the heinous killing of the Muslim family in London, and the Quebec mosque shootings, the NCCM to this day continues its struggle to have Quebec’s racist Bill C-21 struck down. This law bans individuals from wearing religious symbols — including the hijab — by workers in the public sector. Is there a critical mass of Canadian Muslims who must die before governments take action to strike down this racist law? Politics, protectionism and partisanship before human rights and saving lives? Instead of fearing Islam, educate and inform yourselves. Knowledge is the best weapon. read the complete article


Chetan Kumar: The Indian actor arrested for anti-Hindutva tweet

Chetan Kumar was arrested on Tuesday over a recent tweet where he said the Hindutva ideology promoted by Hindu nationalists "was built on lies". Local media reports said Mr Kumar was arrested after a police complaint from a member of a Hindu hard-line group. Police in Karnataka have charged him with "malicious intent to outrage religious sentiment" and "creating or promoting enmity". A local court has sent the actor to judicial custody for two weeks. This is the second time in just over a year that Mr Kumar, 40, has been arrested for a tweet. Last February, he was arrested for tweeting against a judge who was hearing pleas against a ban on Muslim girls wearing hijabs in schools. He was later released on bail. A US citizen and a Fulbright scholar, Mr Kumar is a fiery anti-caste activist who has taken part in several protests in Karnataka. His supporters say Mr Kumar - who faces several police complaints over his remarks on caste and religion - is often targeted for his activism. He has thousands of followers across social media platforms, where he frequently posts updates about his work, as well as his views on politics. read the complete article

India arrests Kashmir journalist Irfan Mehraj on ‘terror’ charges

Kashmiri journalist Irfan Mehraj has been arrested by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) under “terrorism” charges as New Delhi continues its crackdown on journalists in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. NIA, India’s top “anti-terror” agency, in a tweet on Tuesday said the arrest took place a day earlier due to Mehraj’s collaboration with the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an organisation directed by jailed human rights activist Khurram Parvez. Parvez was arrested on “terrorism” and other charges in November 2021. Mehraj, who is the founding editor of Wande Magazine, worked with website. He has reported for several international media organisations, including Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle. India’s Hindu-nationalist government stripped the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019, saying this was aimed at tackling “terrorism”. New Delhi has stationed tens of thousands of its soldiers to quash the decades-long armed rebellion. India has blamed Pakistan for backing the armed groups – a charge Islamabad has denied. read the complete article


One Year On, Rohingya Path Out of Genocide Remains Unclear

Today marks one year since the United States made an official determination that the Myanmar military committed genocide against the Rohingya people—and one year since U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken committed to "a path out of genocide." It was a significant moment and one that has helped to spur several useful actions. But a year later, with more than 1 million Rohingya refugees still living outside their homeland, the very military responsible for the genocide is still wreaking havoc across Myanmar. The Rohingya's path out of genocide has been far from clear. A year ago, the two of us, a Myanmar-born Rohingya activist now living in the United Kingdom and a refugee advocate in Washington, sat before Secretary Blinken and alongside several prominent Rohingya activists to mark the genocide determination as a historic and profound step. From the camps, Rohingya who fled Myanmar for Bangladesh told us how much it meant to them for the crimes committed against them to be recognized and for the United States to declare its willingness to act. read the complete article

Documentary On PM Modi's Alleged Role In Gujarat Riots Spurs Outrage, Discussions Abroad

In its most recent attempts at stifling dissent, the Indian government banned a two-part BBC documentary, "The Modi Question," launched mid-January. It is being viewed privately in homes and at special screenings in academic institutes in India and abroad to recall a 20-year-old collective poignant memory. The documentary is a painful yet necessary recollection of the allegations against the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, as it reveals very little new information except it finds Modi was "directly responsible" for the "climate of impunity" that enabled the violence in the anti-Muslim riots in the northwestern state of Gujarat in 2002. A thousand people, predominantly Muslim, were killed. Modi, then Gujarat's chief minister, was widely condemned for not directing the state authorities to stop the violence against the Muslims. Many foreign governments also took note and disengaged with him, and the U.S. government revoked his visa then. Earlier this month, the documentary was screened at Columbia University's Journalism School and Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, among others. At Columbia University, the screening was followed by a panel discussion led by progressive academics, Indian activists and journalists. read the complete article


Recognizing the Chinese Communist Party’s brutality is not ‘hysteria’ or ‘paranoia’

I have not seen my mother since my law school graduation nearly 19 years ago. The Chinese government has prevented her from leaving China. She has been used as a tool of transnational repression against me, a U.S. citizen, for my work in service of the United States and on behalf of the Uyghur people, who have been victims of genocide for the past six years. My story is not unique. It is the story of thousands who have fled China to take refuge in the United States and other free countries who respect human rights. Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will not let us go, and is determined to harass, threaten and blackmail us here in the United States, often using the safety of our family back in China as a bargaining chip. I was surprised to see that CNN and Washington Post journalist Fareed Zakaria sees bipartisan concern over these issues — the basic well-being, safety and human rights of individuals in America, citizens and guests, as an indication of a dangerous “groupthink” mentality. The fact that Zakaria fails to even mention the ongoing Uyghur genocide is inconceivable. Two successive U.S. administrations and 10 parliaments, including Taiwan’s, have formally recognized these atrocities. The Uyghur genocide is the largest incarceration of an ethno-religious group since World War II. Downplaying its gravity is akin to denialism of historical atrocity crimes and past collective punishment of ethno-religious groups, to include the Holocaust. read the complete article


Socioeconomically weak Muslims, immigrants, refugees most prone to becoming targets of Islamophobia in Denmark: Expert

In Danish society, Muslims who are socially and economically backward, those who migrated to the country in recent years, or those seeking asylum are the ones most likely to suffer from anti-Muslim discrimination and racism, according to an expert. “My worry is that these policies (against Muslims), they often vilify Muslims in general but the ones they hit the most are the ones who are socioeconomically vulnerable, the ones who don’t have citizenship, the ones who are more recent migrants or asylum seekers. I think that’s where my big contention is with Islamophobia in Denmark,” sociologist Amani Hassani told Anadolu. Hassani, a Danish Muslim and a research director at the Center for Muslim Rights in Denmark, shared her views on the current state of Muslims in Denmark. The European Islamophobia Report 2022 released on Tuesday named Denmark as the most vulnerable country for Muslims, along with France and Austria. According to Hassani, Muslims on the lowest rung of the social and economic ladder, as well as refugees, face discrimination not only due to the rising anti-Muslim sentiments but also stricter citizenship and the country’s ghetto policies targeting low-income Muslim communities. Islamophobia is taking away their avenues to have a voice in society, and one way of doing that is by removing citizenship or the ability to gain citizenship, she said. read the complete article


Most victims of islamophobia in Australia are women and bystanders are failing to show support

There’s a gendered nature to islamophobia, and despite its prevalence in public spaces, bystanders don’t seem to be intervening to support victims, according to a new report. Findings showed most victims of islamophobia were women (78 per cent) and most perpetrators were men (70 per cent), with two in three women being harassed by male perpetrators. The Islamophobia Register Australia’s (‘Register’) flagship research report was released on Tuesday. Since the inception of the Register (2014-15) until the start of the Covid-19 era (2020-21), there’s been a concerning fall in witness reporting of islamophobia which dropped by about half (from 47 per cent to 24 per cent), according to the report. Principal Researcher and CSU Associate Professor Dr. Derya Iner says the islamophobic incidents in the report “were mostly committed by men perceived to be from Anglo/European backgrounds and from older cohorts” with the victims being “mostly younger hijabi women from non-White ethnic backgrounds and from vulnerable cohorts, unaccompanied or with children”. Dr. Iner says these significant characteristics of islamophobia have been seen repeatedly over the eight years of reported incidents and that incidents in guarded places reached up to 70 per cent in the last reporting period. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Mar 2023 Edition


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