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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28 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the India, Delhi Police said action will be taken against the person who took to social media to allegedly threaten Muslim women with rape and murder, meanwhile in the United States, actor and founder of Muslim Casting Serena Rasoul along with the Pillars Fund and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media have developed the Muslim Women On-Screen Test, which assesses onscreen representation of Muslim women, and in France, the rector of the Paris mosque has warned that a rise in anti-Islam rhetoric in the French presidential election campaign risks creating a “spiral of hatred”, scapegoating law-abiding Muslims in a similar way to the discourse against Jews in the 1930s. Our recommended read of the day is by Samia Lokmane for the Middle East Eye on how “‘the public legitimization of racism'” and rising Islamophobia in France has given right-leaning and far-right elites new opportunity to ostracize the children of immigrants born in France and ‘cast them as foreigners.'” This and more below:


28 Mar 2022

France: Muslims fear for safety as far-right normalises racist speech and violence | Recommended Read

Six years after moving to Toulouse in southern France, Djamel Sekkak no longer feels safe there. His Islamic funeral services business recently made headlines when it was targeted by a particularly repugnant anti-Muslim act: a dead boar was hung on a pole outside his shopfront in the district of Zenith. Sekkak was stunned by this "provocation and insult" and now fears for the safety of his sons who help him run the family funeral business, Al-Isra Oua al-Miaraj. This was not the first time Sekkak's business had been vandalised. About two years ago, an attack left his shop windows smashed and walls tagged. He reported the incident to the local authorities, and after a few weeks the case was closed. Those responsible were never identified or brought to trial. Sekkak has noticed "a slow build-up" in anti-Muslim feeling in France since arriving from Algeria in the 1980s. "It used to be that we lived side by side without problem. But things have changed. I don't get involved in politics, but when I hear [far-right pundit and presidential election candidate Eric] Zemmour say that France is 'on the verge of a civil war,' I fear for the future," said the business owner. Abdellah Zekri, head of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia (ONCI) and president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), admitted that heads of places of worship tend to refrain from instigating legal proceedings "believing, rightly or wrongly, that their complaint won't go anywhere". "In 2021, I personally received 75 letters containing insults and threats to my home address and the headquarters of the CFCM. But I did not file a complaint because I know that there's no point. Most of the time, the perpetrators are not arrested and, when they are, we are told they are not of sound mind," he told MEE. According to the ministers of the interior and religious affairs, anti-Muslim incidents increased by 38 percent in 2021, while those targeting Jews and Christians have remained the same. But the true number of Islamophobic incidents in France is much higher, Zekri said. "This figure only covers incidents reported to the police. It corresponds to crimes, murder attempts, threats, the desecration of places of worship and tombs... but it excludes other violent incidents, such as the cyberhate that sweeps across social media and the discrimination to which some Muslims are subjected, including by the public services." According to Ahmed Boubeker, a sociologist and professor at the University of Saint-Étienne, a certain right-wing "French intellectual elite" have won the hearts and minds by propagating Islamophobia and "immigration phobia". He warned about "the public legitimisation of racism" and estimated that Islamophobia has given these right-leaning and far-right elites a new opportunity to ostracise the children of immigrants born in France and "cast them as foreigners". "These days things are deteriorating, not because French society as a whole has become more racist, but because the political class has failed to treat the children of post-colonial immigration as full-fledged citizens. They are perceived as foreigners in their own country, and therefore a potential threat," he said. read the complete article

28 Mar 2022

Anti-Islam rhetoric in French election risks ‘spiral of hatred’, says Paris mosque rector

A rise in anti-Islam rhetoric in the French presidential election campaign risks creating a “spiral of hatred”, scapegoating law-abiding Muslims in a similar way to the discourse against Jews in the 1930s, the rector of the Paris mosque has said. “I’m extremely worried,” said Chems-eddine Hafiz, the rector of Paris’s historic Grande Mosquée. “We’re in a society that is fractured and searching for itself, a society that is weakened and fearful after the pandemic. The fact of looking for a scapegoat – there have been precedents to that: in 1930 when the finger began to be pointed at Jews who became ‘the problem of a whole society’ … Today it’s no longer Jews, it’s Muslims … I thought in the 21st century we’d be safe from that type of discourse.” With the centrist Emmanuel Macron leading the polls and favourite to win re-election next month, some rival candidates have focused on Islam and immigration. The far-right outsider candidate Eric Zemmour, a former TV pundit who has convictions for inciting racial hatred, refers regularly to the discredited conspiracy theory of the “great replacement”, in which he claims local French populations could be replaced by newcomers, making France a majority Muslim country on the verge of civil war. In a TV interview after declaring his candidacy, Zemmour called on Muslims in France to renounce the practice of their religion. In a TV debate last month, he told a voter he was standing to “save France from Islam” and from French people’s “replacement”. The far-right Marine Le Pen, who intends to hold a referendum on immigration and ban the Muslim headscarf from all public places, is shown by polls as the most likely candidate to face Macron in the final vote on 24 April. Valérie Pécresse, who is running for Nicolas Sarkozy’s traditional right party, Les Républicains, has been criticised for referring to the great replacement theory at a Paris rally. She has vowed to limit the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in some public spaces, including by athletes in sporting events. read the complete article

United States

28 Mar 2022

Muslim Americans sue over US border officers’ ‘invasive’ questions on religion

Three Muslim Americans filed a lawsuit this week alleging that US border officers questioned them about their religious beliefs in violation of their constitutional rights when they returned from international travel. The men involved in the lawsuit claim that US border officers at land crossings and international airports peppered them with questions about whether they were Muslim and attended a mosque and how often they prayed. Abdirahman Aden Kariye, a Minnesota imam and plaintiff in the suit, said he has been questioned about his faith at least five different times when he was returning to the country between 2017 and 2022. The repeated questioning caused Kariye stress and led him to stop wearing a Muslim cap known as a kufi, and to stop carrying religious texts when he travels internationally to avoid additional scrutiny, the lawsuit said. “I am proud to be a Muslim,” said Kariye. “But now whenever I travel back home to the United States, I’m anxious. I’m constantly worried about how I will be perceived, so much so that I try to avoid calling any attention to my faith.” The three men from Minnesota, Texas and Arizona sued Department of Homeland Security officials in a federal court in Los Angeles. The lawsuit was filed in California because some of the questioning allegedly occurred at Los Angeles airport. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the men, said the questioning violated the men’s constitutional rights to freedom of religion and protection against unequal treatment. read the complete article

28 Mar 2022

A new test looks at the way Muslim women are portrayed onscreen

There are not a lot of Muslim women in American television shows or movies. For many people in the U.S., the first Muslim woman character that comes to mind is probably Princess Jasmine from the animated Disney film, Aladdin. And that's a bit of a problem. "I see Jasmine as the Muslim version of the woman who needs saving, who's constantly the victim or the runaway," says actor and founder of Muslim Casting Serena Rasoul. "We see these particular stereotypes and tropes being used over and over and over when it comes to Muslim women...and then it still persists in media today." "It does present itself to be a negative view and negative messaging that we're giving to young girls. Not just Muslim girls, but...brown girls in general." Rasoul wanted to do something about this, so she worked with Pillars Fund and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to develop the Muslim Women On-Screen Test, which assesses onscreen representation of Muslim women. She spoke with NPR's Juana Summers about the test, how it works and how she hopes it will change the way Muslim women are represented in the United States. On the ways that Muslim women are most commonly stereotyped: When I developed this test, we really wanted to take a deeper dive and look at... why there were so many different portrayals of Muslim women from the victim or oppression context. There was a study that was done by the USC [Annenberg] Inclusion Initiative last year that found 76% of Muslim characters in film were men. And the study also found that Muslim women who did show up on screen were often shown in relation to men. They were primarily wives, romantic interests or mothers. And our research at the Geena Davis Institute took a deeper look at those portrayals and found that those traditional woman roles were usually shown from an oppression context. read the complete article

28 Mar 2022

FBI Uncovers Plot By Man, Teens to Attack Chicago Mosque 'in Name of ISIS'

In a newly unsealed document on Friday, the FBI says that 18-year-old Xavier Pelkey recruited two unnamed teenagers from Instagram to help him participate in an attack supposedly done "in the name of ISIS." The declassification of the document comes a month after the trio were arrested, with investigators finding handmade explosives with bundles of fireworks attached to them in Pelkey's Maine apartment. The three participants were to originally meet in Chicago during the teenagers' spring break and then converge to a Shia mosque. From there, the conspirators would separate children from their parents and then kill the adults to honor the terrorist organization. The unsealed document also details that agents recovered "a Remington pump shotgun, swords, knives, a bow and arrows, multiple homemade ISIS flags, and multiple electronic devices" from one of the teenagers' homes. read the complete article

28 Mar 2022

The "race-obsessed liberal" nightmare: "We have to fight for a country that doesn't love us back"

"Go back to your country," is something that almost every person with Black or Brown skin living in America will hear at some point in their life. White people with heavy accents could yell, "I'm from Sweden, f**k America!" and still would probably never be told to go home. It's actually pretty funny, because the U.S. is always sold as this big ol' melting pot, until a POC pisses off the owners of that said pot – and then it's no longer about "we" but more of an "us versus them" kind of thing. Award-winning playwright Wajahat Ail brilliantly captures the "us versus them" feeling in his new memoir, "Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American." Watch my "Salon Talks" episode with Ali here or read a Q&A of our conversation below to learn more about how his family survived the rise of Islamophobia post 9/11, his non-traditional journey into becoming a writer and the hilarious way he demolishes trolls. read the complete article


28 Mar 2022

Delhi Police takes note of complaint over rape, murder threat on social media against Muslim women

The Delhi Police on Saturday said action will be taken against the person who took to social media to allegedly threaten women from a minority community with rape and murder. The police’s comments came after taking cognizance of a woman’s complaint through Twitter. In her tweet posted on Friday, the woman claimed that a man named Vipul Singh was posting rape and murder threats to Muslim women on social media. She also claimed that the man was from the Najafgarh area. The Delhi Police replied, “The matter has been taken cognizance of and officials concerned have been directed to take appropriate action.” read the complete article

28 Mar 2022

Backstory: Islamophobia Permeates the Air But For Media It’s Business as Usual

A Muslim man transporting animal remains under a village cleanliness drive get beaten up by “gau rakshaks” in Uttar Pradesh…The Assam chief minister arguing that since Muslims constitute 35% of Assam’s population they can no longer be considered a minority and it is their duty to “allay fears of other communities”… Movie theatres screening Kashmir Files witness numerous incidents of Hindutva activists, pretending to be movie-goers, raising intimidatory slogans and communal slurs… Newly-sworn in Uttarakhand Chief Minister announcing a committee to implement the Uniform Civil Code…BJP MLA in Tripura wanting government-supported madrassas to be shut down because they produce terrorists… The court refusing bail to articulate young Muslim student activists Gulfisha Fatima, Tasleem Ahmed and Umar Khalid…Genocidal calls and communal slurs against Muslims being raised at a rally staged by former MLA Raghvendra Pratap Singh in UP’s Dumariyaganj… What do these developments, signify? Taken singly they reflect how the ground beneath our feet is rapidly shifting; how Hindutva-centred hatred against the Muslim community is fast permeating the space in which we live and breathe. Taken collectively they represent a slashing of that commodious concept, ‘We, the People…’, which we have jointly inherited by virtue of being born Indian. As a group of senior mediapersons observed in a public appeal recently, “The concerted amplification of hatred has been growing over the past years and months, as has the attendant advocacy of violence. Sometimes, the occasion is an election, at other times it is a political gathering, a so-called ‘dharam sansad’, or a controversy over clothing, or even the screening of a movie.” Almost all television news programming and an overwhelming and significant section of print and online media have either directly endorsed this onslaught or chosen to carry on as if oblivious to the blood-dimmed tide that is steadily rising around them. Some, far from engaging with the crisis, even find it in themselves to rile those media institutions that are functioning as media institutions are required to do and sounding the alarm when the country is being threatened by a towering tornado that funnels up every bit of energy it can gain from free ranging hate, communalised electioneering and skewed post-election policy making. read the complete article

28 Mar 2022

"Stop Targeting Girls... Let Them Live": Miss Universe 2021 On Hijab Row

Harnaaz Sandhu has appealed to the society to stop targeting girls, including on the issue of hijab, saying "Let them live the way they choose to." A three-judge Bench of the Karnataka High Court recently dismissed the petitions which sought permission to wear hijab in classrooms of educational institutions saying headscarf is not an essential religious practice and uniform dress rule should be followed in educational institutions where it has been prescribed. In a clip that has gone viral on social media, a reporter asked Ms Sandhu about her views on the issue around hijab. The video is part of an event held here on March 17 in the honour of the Miss Universe 2021's homecoming. Before she responded to the query, the organiser intervened and asked the reporter to abstain from asking any political questions and suggested the media to rather ask about her journey, success and how she has been a source of inspiration. The reporter responded, saying "Let Harnaaz say the same things." The Chandigarh-based model then expressed her anguish over how often girls are targeted in society. "Honestly, why do you always target girls? Even now you are targeting me. Like, even on the issue of hijab the girls are being targeted. Let them (girls) live the way they choose to, let her reach her destination, let her fly, those are her wings, don't cut them, if you must (cut someone's wings) cut your own," Ms Sandhu said. read the complete article


28 Mar 2022

What are we missing in the fight against Islamophobia? Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan gets to the point

‘Great,’ I thought wearily, upon hearing about the upcoming publication of Tangled in Terror: Uprooting Islamophobia. ‘Another book on Islamophobia that likely dances around the semantics and doesn’t really do much to amplify the voices of Muslims.’ Over Zoom, I put this to the book’s author, writer and poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, and we both laughed at my misjudgment of the work (by its literal cover). To quote the opening chapter, Tangled in Terror isn’t interested in definitions of Islamophobia or proving its existence (the world does that for us), but instead asks questions about its impact, and argues that “the only way Islamophobia can be uprooted is by sowing the seeds for another world altogether.” At 170 pages, it’s a short but punchy work. Within, Manzoor-Khan manages to articulate the complexities of race, security, counter-extremism, secularism and violence concisely and in an accessible manner, without compromising her values as a Muslim. On a personal level as a Muslim woman, I finished the book, equipped with the ability to put words to micro-aggressions of Islamophobia I have experienced in my life, whilst also being able to better understand the insidiuous ways Islamophobia manifests in British society. gal-dem: How do you feel this text is different from most texts that address Islamophobia? Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan: When I was approached to write this in the first place, I was like okay; the conversations that I’ve seen around Islamophobia are either around defining it, or are just really academic. They’re not very accessible. I would like to think that what makes this book stand out is that it’s more concerned with placing Islamophobia within a broader history and structure of racism in general and I think that to me is what is often lacking in our analyses. This book is trying to say Islamophobia is a manifestation of something that has much deeper root causes and that those root causes are a world system. It’s not something that’s unique to Islamophobia. It’s colonialism, it’s racism, it’s white supremacy and all of that is linked to capitalism and all sorts of other oppression. read the complete article

28 Mar 2022

Save us from ‘securo-feminism’

Welcome to the brave new world of securo-feminism*. In the long tradition of systems of patriarchal violence representing themselves as the solution to patriarchal violence, the ongoing expansion of draconian “war on terror” measures is being advertised as an advance for women’s rights. For instance, countries like the United Kingdom have extended anti-terrorism provisions to now not only strip citizenship from “terrorists”, but also from (some of) those convicted of sexual abuse: a “double punishment” reserved exclusively for dual nationals and suspected dual nationals, predominantly Muslims and other racialised targets from former colonies in the Global South. As for the women, men, and children on the other side of the US military’s operations – they continue to be denied any legal avenue of restitution from the American state for the rapes, tortures, and massacres they have endured. Instead, they have been offered paltry “condolence payments” in lieu of justice, if anything at all (and only if they are “friendly to the United States”). Now, many are advocating for states to consider violence against women as a form of “terrorism” – ignoring how counterterrorism itself has functioned globally to sanctify state violence against women as well as men. Likewise, the collusion of some strains of feminism with the “war on terror” is not an “aberration” or “co-optation”. Rather, it is the continuation of a long history of Western feminist collaborations with white supremacist and imperial rule – from penetrating colonised women’s harems, to promoting moral panics about Black and brown men for violence against women, to providing ideological cover for expanding policing and prisons. According to this version of feminism, the intensifying criminalisation of women under counterterrorism is to be hailed as a sign of “progress”. As a claimed corrective to the stereotype of the “oppressed Muslim woman”, academics and policymakers have been urging for Muslim women’s “agency” to be recognised by treating them as “terrorists” on a par with Muslim men. read the complete article


28 Mar 2022

SBW ‘too Muslim for Fox’: manager lifts lid on shock conversation

Sonny Bill Williams’ promoter claims the boxer’s Muslim “appearance” was questioned by Fox Sports when they were negotiating a fight contract with the pay-TV network. Williams’ long-time manager, Khoder Nasser, said he had a conversation with a senior Fox Sports employee about a deal for the Williams v Barry Hall fight that he will “never forget”. “We were talking at the cafe in Centennial Park and he starts talking about Sonny’s beard and asks me word for word, ‘What can we do with that beard’,” Nasser said. “I did everything I could not to go off my rocker. He is questioning why Sonny looks like a Muslim. There is no bigger insult as far as I am concerned. I told Sonny about it at the time and he was in a state of disbelief that he can have that even brought up. “I was so angry about it that I wanted to raise it with Lachlan Murdoch [co-chairman of News Corp – which owns a majority stake in Foxtel] and I attempted, without any luck, to get in touch with him. I think Lachlan needs to be aware of this kind of behaviour. I am happy to relay the story to him face to face. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 28 Mar 2022 Edition


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