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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24 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In Australia, a new report finds that Islamophobia quadrupled in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, with abuse against Australian Muslims spiking in the two-week period following the mosque shootings, meanwhile in China, the Uyghur Human Rights Project has identified 435 Uyghur intellectuals, including doctors, poets, journalists, and professors amongst the millions detained in the concentration camps in Xinjiang, and in the United States, members of the GOP have been targeting Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on her work defending suspects at Guantánamo Bay prison. Our recommended read of the day is by Swati Chaturvedi for Haaretz on how “Modi’s mob revels in the ritual public humiliation of Muslim girls and women after a school hijab ban, another step in the Hindutva plan to criminalize what India’s largest minority wears, eats, where they work and whom they love.” This and more below:


24 Mar 2022

In India, Modi’s Vindictive Hindu Nationalists Have a New Target: The Hijab | Recommended Read

The High Court in Karnataka, a state in the southwest of India whose capitol is Bangalore, ruled last month that wearing hijab doesn’t form an essential religious practice under the Islamic faith. It held that the state government had the power to prescribe guidelines for school uniforms, and it dismissed all the petitions filed by schoolgirls who wanted the hijab to be included as an elective but permissible part of the uniform. Forcing girls, some of whom are first generation students, to choose between getting educated and wearing the hijab puts them in an untenable position. The Karnataka order is being challenged in India's Supreme Court which will take a final decision. The Supreme Court seems to be in no hurry to put the matter on its roster. But that will be too late for some. I spoke to many girls who said they had missed important final exams as they did not want to go to a public place without wearing a head covering. Some broke down in tears, saying they were facing an unfair choice. Girls and teachers had to run the gauntlet of the cameras and the saffron-clad male mobs jeering at them while screaming Hindu religious slogans. Make no mistake: this was a ritual public humiliation. It was a theater of prejudice against girls and women which has little to do with the hijab and more to do with showing India’s 200 million Muslims their place as second-class citizens in Modi’s Hindutva project. Muslim girls are being denied education in Karnataka – a BJP-ruled state – for wearing a hijab to class. Both the official whitewashing and the exclusions are fast becoming contagious. Modi claims that he is in fact championing Muslims: He wants to emancipate Muslim women with a scheme called "Beti baccaho, Beti padhao" (Protect girls, educate them). But this project is based on compulsion: the eradication of religious choice. And what started as a single school incident involving four girls has spread like wildfire across the state and has now engulfed all Muslim women, including teachers who were not part of the original diktat. To ensure that the message and the humiliation is loud and clear, Muslim women are made to disrobe in public. Besides the hecklers, the women’s ordeal is televized live across mainstream channels, a mass exercise in punitive voyeurism. While the hijab ban played out in full public gaze, India was voting in five critically important state elections, particularly Uttar Pradesh, and the BJP wants to ensure that the visuals ram home the humiliation of Muslims on its watch. The ideology that animates Hindutva is a simple one line prescription: Hatred for the other. And the prime other, the Muslim, must be forced to erase those markers that identify him as a Muslim. Ever since Modi became prime minister and loftily proclaimed a "New India," but accessorized with distinctly old prejudices and bigotry, what Muslims wear, eat, work at and whom they love have all been criminalized. At the same time, the Modi government constantly platforms and amplifies the public exhibition of Hindu symbolism and religious practice. read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

How is the hijab row threatening Indian secularism?

A court decision to ban headscarves in schools in the southern Indian state of Karnataka last week has raised questions about new limits on diversity and inclusion in educational spaces and everyday life in the country. Given India's religious pluralism, many feel that the recent order infringes on people's right to freely express themselves through dress. "India is a country in which every 200 kilometers (124 miles), language, food and culture changes. We are such a diverse country with numerous cultures and practices. Rather than criticize someone's culture, we should support each other," Savita Gupta, a social worker from Rajasthan, told DW. "How can minority groups be required to fit into a new social order which the political class wants?" she asked. Last week, a high court in Karnataka upheld a government order that had banned headscarves in classrooms, ruling that wearing them is not an integral part of religious practice in Islam. The court's decision and the hijab controversy are part of a volatile cultural debate in India over the place of Islam, of which there are over 200 million followers in the country, in a political environment that is becoming increasingly dominated by Hindu nationalism. "The attack on the hijab is a political attempt to replace India's plurality with Hindu-supremacist uniformity. That is why it is so disturbing that the Karnataka High Court judgment has invoked uniformity as one of the reasons for upholding the decision of colleges to disallow hijabs," Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, told DW. Krishnan, who has worked as a grassroots level worker for two decades, added that she is deeply disappointed by the ruling. Additionally, with the aim of bringing school children closer to Hinduism, the western state of Gujarat's education department just announced the inclusion of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the holy scriptures, in the state's school curriculum. There are additional proposals to have it included in schools across the country. read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

Hijab bans in India: Where communalism and patriarchy intersect

The ongoing hijab controversy in the southern Indian state of Karnataka made me think of that young woman in Haryana. Why? Because in Karnataka, young Muslim girls are fighting their schools, Hindu right-wing mobs, the state government and even the state’s judiciary to be able to keep their hijabs on in classrooms. This is unquestionably a feminist struggle – after all, these women are fighting against patriarchal attempts to police their dress. But not everyone is seeing it that way. Hindu right-wing groups, and even certain sections of India’s elite intelligentsia, appear convinced that these women must have been “brainwashed” by their oppressive families or the Islamic orthodoxy to want to wear this garment. Smartphones and television screens across the country are filled with provocative reports and images implying that young Muslim women do not have agency. That they must be tricked into thinking this way. That they must be saved from their own families and culture – they must be saved from themselves. Of course, these points of view are not sprouting out of the ground completely organically. Amid elections in five states, including India’s most populous and perhaps politically significant state Uttar Pradesh, there were political machinations at play. The hijab controversy was being amped up by the governing BJP and the wider Hindu right wing to legitimise and whitewash their anti-Muslim attitudes and rally their supporters behind an emotive cause during elections. The BJP’s apparent urge to “save” Muslim women, of course, does not indicate any real concern over their wellbeing and, in fact, has very little to do with them. Often, in the politics of saving, the person who is being “saved” is less important than the person from whom they are being “saved”. For the Hindu right wing too, the person they are “saving”, the Muslim woman, is of little importance – the one that matters is the person they are saving her from: the oppressive, violent, sexually deviant Muslim man. The Muslim woman is nothing but a tool to vilify the Muslim man. read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

From Hijab Ban To Bulli Bai/Sulli Deals: The Muslim Women’s Assertion Against The Hindutva

During the last weeks of 2021, six Muslim girls were stopped to enter their classrooms in a pre-university college in Udupi, Karnataka, because they were wearing a hijab. The incident sparked protests around the state and the matter reached the Karnataka High Court, where a full bench on 15 March 2022, held that “wearing of the hijab by Muslim women does not make up an essential religious practice in Islamic faith.” The Muslim woman’s political assertion and resistance against a draconian political order didn’t begin with the hijab-row in Udupi. The CAA-NRC protests against granting citizenship based on religion in Shaheen Bagh in December 2019, and the infamous ‘Bulli/Sulli deals app’ on the virtual space which auctioned Muslim women, in recent times, saw the latter hurt, and wronged but still refusing to lay down without a fight. Conversations with some of the Muslim women targeted in the recent hijab-ban row and anti-Muslim apps, reveal their hurt, struggle and defiance against a government they view as totalitarian. Dr Aqsa Shaikh, founder of the Human Solidarity Foundation, and an associate professor of Community Medicine at Hamdard, in an interview, spoke of the usage of ‘flimsy excuses’ to curtail the liberty of the Muslim community. Shaikh viewed the Hijab-ban incident in continuation with the draconian ‘Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance’ or the love-jihad law, the furore over the customary Friday prayers in the open in Gurugram and the dictation of dietary practices on the religious minorities, as part of a larger plan to reduce Muslims to second-class citizens. Sana, an alumna of AJK-MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, and a journalist, spoke on being auctioned on the ‘Bulli Bai/Sulli deals’ platform, as facing ‘mental trauma’ and then subsequently, deactivating Instagram and LinkedIn. Memories attached with a photograph, which earlier was a source of delight, now turned tragic and painful by a mere glance at it. Being fetishised and objectified became a harrowing realisation that would now make Sana unsettled and unnerved which would now make her “think twice before posting pictures on social media.” For her, being auctioned on the app was a manifestation of the “insecurity of the upper-caste Hindu man”. Alima, an alumna of St. Xavier’s, Mumbai, on the hijab-ban incident, places the incident under an ‘innate Islamophobia’ and the entire hijab-row to be ‘purely political’ and ‘orchestrated’. Being a “minority within a minority”, the Muslim woman, after being educated and fully aware of her rights, is refusing to be docile and submissive and this worries the hardline Hindutva establishment. She spoke of the “inferiority complex” surrounding the entire discourse and its troubling manifestations in the form of Dharam Sansads and hate speeches that target the bodies of Muslim women. read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

'Silence Not an Option': Journalists Appeal to Constitutional Bodies to Curb Anti-Muslim Hatred

Twenty eight senior journalists and media persons issued a statement on Wednesday, March 23, appealing to all Indian constitutional bodies to “uphold their constitutional mandate” and take action against the increasingly frequent attacks against minorities, especially Muslims, in the country. The appeal, titled, ‘In the Face of Orchestrated Hatred, Silence Is Not an Option’, begins by highlighting that the country, in recent years, has seen a “concerted amplification of hatred” as well as an “attendant advocacy of violence”. The signatories are prominent journalists and include The Wire‘s three founding editors. “These calls for violence… have been met with a cold and calculated silence from the country’s top leaders,” the appeal continues, highlighting one such instance: the demonisation of Muslims during the early days of the pandemic citing the Tablighi Jamaat meet in Delhi’s Nizammudin area. Some sections of the media had coined and amplified the term ‘corona jihad’ to spread hatred against the Muslim community. Legislators even began to call for a socio-economic boycott of Muslims. The appeal also noted that the police either failed to act against those inciting anti-minority violence or booked those guilty under “disproportionately mild sections (of legislation)”. This, according to the appeal, strengthened the “perception that such offenders are above the law”. read the complete article


24 Mar 2022

Ilham Tohti Wants the Uyghurs to Be Free

A practical approach has also defined Ilham’s advocacy on behalf of China’s oppressed Muslim Uyghur minority. Prior to his sentencing in September of 2014, Ilham used his platform as a prominent academic at Beijing’s Minzu University to call attention to the systemic persecution of his people, part of the Chinese government’s broad campaign against minority groups that it believes represent a threat to its one-party rule and territorial integrity. His advocacy earned him near-constant surveillance and harassment, despite the fact that it was couched in pragmatic appeals to the government’s interests. He discovered that even straightforward descriptions of the Uyghurs’ plight could land him in trouble. “The environment for Uyghurs to survive and develop socially is extremely dire,” he said in a 2008 interview for the site he founded, Uyghur Online. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested for the first time on separatist charges. Jewher Ilham says she has not heard from him since 2017. “Instead of an image, it’s more of a sound,” Jewher, who’s lived in the United States since 2013 and Washington, D.C., since 2019, said of how she remembers her father. “The sound of his typing. Sometimes for over ten hours.” He published the bulk of that work on Uyghur Online, a website he founded in 2006 to promote discourse between Chinese minorities and those who identify as Han, China’s majority ethnic group. Ilham and other writers published articles on cultural, political, and socioeconomic trends among Uyghurs and other minorities while repeatedly (and carefully) petitioning for fair treatment. In addition, the forums, which Ilham monitored and contributed to extensively, provided a platform for Uyghurs, Kazaks, and Kirghiz to engage with Hans as equals — and, Ilham hoped, to relate to one another. Among the millions detained in the camps, the Uyghur Human Rights Project has identified 435 Uyghur intellectuals, including doctors, poets, journalists, and professors. According to Cao, part of the driving force behind publishing Ilham’s work was the belief that his words may very well be what saves him. “The world ought to know what this Uyghur scholar has said,” Yaxue told me. “We want to advocate for his freedom. We have to persist until Ilham Tohti is free.” read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

Wang Yi Attends OIC Meeting as Special Guest

Pakistan’s prime minister on Tuesday urged foreign ministers from Muslim-majority nations to help end Russia’s war in Ukraine, appealing also to China’s top diplomat to join the effort. Imran Khan spoke at the start of a two-day gathering in Islamabad of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which for the first time saw the attendance of China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, as a special guest. Wang’s attendance underscored China’s increasing influence among OIC countries — as well as the Islamic organization’s readiness to overlook charges of widespread attacks by Chinese authorities on the country’s minority Muslim Uyghurs. Khan, who has made fighting Islamophobia a top priority, has refused to condemn China over allegations of abuse against the Uyghurs. Pakistan has signed a multi-billion dollar road and energy project that will link its Arabian Sea port of Gwadar to China in the north. read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

Rohingya in Bangladesh cheer US decision on Myanmar 'genocide'

Saying she saw with her own eyes her two daughters killed by the Myanmar military, Rahima Khatun is hopeful the US designation of the 2017 onslaught against the Rohingya as "genocide" will bring some justice. The girls, thrown into a burning house as their village was razed to the ground, were among thousands of victims of a brutal crackdown against Myanmar's long-marginalised Muslim minority. Myanmar's junta denies the allegations and the case is currently being heard at the United Nations' highest court at The Hague, but the US declaration has provided hope for justice among many Rohingya. "The Myanmar military slaughtered and raped women. One day they came and threw our children alive into the fire. My two daughters were among them," said Khatun, 52, tears rolling down her cheeks at a refugee camp in Bangladesh. The crackdown prompted an exodus of about 740,000 people into Bangladesh, joining more than 100,000 others who had fled earlier waves of violence. They live in a vast network of squalid camps made up of bamboo shacks, refusing to return home until Myanmar ensures the rights of the Rohingya. Washington said this week there was clear evidence of an attempt at the "destruction" of the minority group. Community leaders in the camps, activists and victims told AFP that the US move would bring Myanmar's military to account and -- perhaps -- allow them to go back and rebuild their villages and lives across the border. "We have been waiting for a long time for this day. The US is the world's most powerful nation. Their decision will reverberate across the world. Maybe we'll get justice soon," local leader Sayed Ullah told AFP. read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

Amnesty urges Saudi Arabia to halt extradition of two Uyghur men 'facing torture, detention' in China

Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia to halt plans to extradite two Uyghur men to China, where the rights group said they are "likely" to face detention and torture. Aimidoula Waili and Nuermaimaiti Ruze - described as religious scholars by Amnesty - have been detained in the kingdom since November 2020 with no reason given for their arrest. The human rights organisation said they are at "imminent risk" of being forcibly repatriated to China, where a well-documented "genocide" against Muslim minority communities in Xinjiang - involving mass detention and indoctrination - has been launched by authorities. "If sent to China, it is highly likely that these two men will be subjected to arbitrary detention and torture in Xinjiang's network of repressive internment camps or prisons, where hundreds of thousands of other Uyghurs have faced grave human rights violations," said Lynn Malouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "Under international law, the Saudi government has an obligation not to extradite Waili and Ruze." read the complete article

24 Mar 2022

Cubs owners denounce racism after backlash over bid for Chelsea football team

The owners of the Chicago Cubs, who are bidding for Premier League club Chelsea, touted their anti-racism credentials Wednesday after a backlash in England about offensive comments by the Ricketts family patriarch. It has been three years since Joe Ricketts apologized after online media outlet Splinter News published emails featuring him making Islamophobic comments, such as “Islam is a cult and not a religion.” The racist comments have gained a renewed focus during the competitive bidding contest to buy Chelsea, which has been put up for sale after Russian owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the British government over his ties to President Vladimir Putin amid the war on Ukraine. Paul Canoville, Chelsea’s first Black player, tweeted “a big fat anti racism NO to the Ricketts bid.” The London communication firm tasked by the Ricketts with advancing the bid says Joe Ricketts is not involved in the bid, which is led by his son, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. They have also linked up hedge fund manager Ken Griffin for the bid. “Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms,” the Ricketts family said in a statement. “Racism and Islamophobia have no place whatsoever in our society. “We have developed deep and abiding partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as with all communities of color.” read the complete article


24 Mar 2022

My ‘third child’ made me a target for Islamophobes, but has delivered powerful insights

I’ve described the Islamophobia Register Australia as my third child. I founded it when I was on parental leave with my first child and this year they are both eight years old. It’s definitely the child that has given me the most amount of grief. Recognising the increase in anecdotal experiences of every-day Islamophobia among my circle of friends, I felt compelled to start the register to track these incidents. The point, of course, was that authorities needed to know that these incidents were not just random – the victims were being targeted for appearing to be visibly Muslim. Eight years on from launching the register, last week we released the third Islamophobia in Australia report to coincide with the third anniversary of the Christchurch terror attacks as a reminder that Islamophobia kills, to put it bluntly. The report found that there was a noticeable spike in the abuse endured by Australian Muslims in the two-week period after the Christchurch terror attacks. In fact, reports of Islamophobia quadrupled in the wake of the attack. I repeat, quadrupled. It’s harrowing to think that after 50 Muslims were murdered in a live-streamed Islamophobically motivated killing spree in what was one of deadliest attacks in New Zealand’s history – Muslims became even greater targets. I cannot begin to explain how psychologically damaging that is on a number of fronts. The Christchurch terror attacks will forever be etched into my memory and not only because a member of my extended family was murdered in the attacks (71-year-old Afghan refugee Daoud Nabi) but because we had felt like we had gut wrenchingly failed in our advocacy. So many of us had warned authorities prior to the attacks that an attack of this nature was inevitable. What the third Islamophobia in Australia report also highlights is the increasingly gendered nature of Islamophobia – with the victims being predominantly women (82 per cent) and the perpetrators, predominantly men (78 per cent). Eight-five per cent of these women were wearing hijab while 15 per cent were women in the presence of their children. Alarmingly, being in “guarded locations” with security personnel or security cameras present did not serve as a deterrent for the perpetrators – which again speaks to the normalisation of Islamophobia. read the complete article

United States

24 Mar 2022

GOP Attacks Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Work Defending Guantánamo Prisonsers

To begin our coverage of day two of the historic nomination hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, we discuss the attacks by Republicans on her work defending suspects at Guantánamo Bay prison. Given that Jackson was one of hundreds of legal professionals in a project that exposed the lies and brutality undergirding Guantánamo, “to criticize her work in that project is nonsensical to me,” says Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center of Constitutional Rights, who has represented people held at Guantánamo and defended their rights. “Her work should be valorized.” JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: After 9/11, there were also lawyers who recognized that our nation’s values were under attack, that we couldn’t let the terrorists win by changing who we were fundamentally. And what that meant was that the people who were being accused by our government of having engaged in actions related to this, under our constitutional scheme, were entitled to representation, were entitled to be treated fairly. That’s what makes our system the best in the world. That’s what makes us exemplary. I was in the Federal Public Defender’s Office when the Supreme Court — excuse me, right after the Supreme Court decided that individuals who were detained at Guantánamo Bay by the president could seek review of their detention. And those cases started coming in. And federal public defenders don’t get to pick their clients; they have to represent whoever comes in, and it’s a service. That’s what you do as a federal public defender: You are standing up for the constitutional value of representation. AMY GOODMAN: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was later grilled by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham about her time representing people detained at Guantánamo. read the complete article


24 Mar 2022

‘Thank god he didn’t use the axe first’: Yet another frightening incident leaves GTA Muslims feeling vulnerable ahead of Ramadan

For Noorani Sairally, the first sign something was wrong inside the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre early Saturday morning was the sound of a spray bottle, followed by a scream. “I thought somebody is sick, or somebody fainted,” recalled Sairally, who has been attending the Mississauga mosque for more than a decade and is a volunteer. Instead, it was an intruder with a canister of bear spray, and an axe. And while worshippers immediately sprung to their feet and managed to subdue the man without serious injury, Sairally said he’s still shaken by thoughts of what could have happened. “Thank god he didn’t use the axe first,” he said. “As much as I want to shake it off and move on, it’s a big thing that happened, it’s kind of left a scar.” As Muslims across the GTA look forward to their first Ramadan in more than two years without strict COVID-19 health measures, another act of violence has left community members calling on governments to do more to combat hate. Many mosques have already added security cameras, increased volunteer capacity and brought in security training since the deadly 2017 mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque. That attack, during which an anti-Muslim gunman opened fire, killing six, brought some federal funding to help pay for such security improvements. But places of worship continue to feel unprepared as cases of allegedly hate-motivated violence have only grown more frequent, said Mohammed Hashim, the executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, who attends the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 24 Mar 2022 Edition


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