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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30 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Rida Hamida, founder and executive director of Latino & Muslim Unity, talks about her halal taco truck and her #TacoTrucksInEveryMosque initiative, which aims to “humanize two marginalized, often misunderstood communities,” meanwhile in India, journalist Rana Ayyub reflects on The Kashmir Files, stating “the record-breaking success of the film has taken the propaganda to a genocidal level,” and in Canada, Fitriya Mohamed talks about the importance of inclusion and representation of Muslim women in sports. Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Alain Gabon for Middle East Eye on how “under Macron’s leadership, and largely as a direct result of his government’s discourse and policies on Islam and Muslims, France has become significantly more Islamophobic than it was before his election.” This and more below:


30 Mar 2022

For France's Muslims, a Macron win means another five years of hostility | Recommended Read

Under Macron’s leadership, and largely as a direct result of his government’s discourse and policies on Islam and Muslims, France has become significantly more Islamophobic than it was before his election. His project of “a society of vigilance” against the Islamist “hydra”, alongside legislation against “Islamist separatism” and the “Charter of Principles” of French Islam (forced down the throats of the country’s Islamic organisations), are different parts of the same enterprise. Such rhetoric portrays Muslims as a threat, and Islam as an essentially dangerous religion in need of securitisation, mass surveillance and repression. This has led the French public to understand less and to increasingly fear the country’s Muslim population. Under Macron, Islam has come to be seen by most French citizens as an existential threat to their “civilisation”, “traditions” and “values”. It is also under Macron that the Great Replacement conspiracy theory - dismissed by most as the heinous, racist and crassly ignorant fantasy that it is - came to the forefront of public debate. Such debate has not been limited to presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, whose staggering success is itself the direct product of a complacent political and media environment. This mainstreaming of rabid Islamophobia has been consistently and powerfully fuelled by Macron’s discourse, electoral strategies and policies on Islam and Muslims, which have been denounced by major human rights organisations and the United Nations. At the same time, Muslims are fleeing France in ever-greater numbers, facilitating a significant brain drain and damaging France’s soft power. This is a regrettable loss to the nation, which could have used their voices and perspectives in numerous areas of international relations, business and diplomacy. read the complete article

30 Mar 2022

Spooked by immigration, Islam and ‘woke’ ideas: Who are Éric Zemmour’s supporters?

Far-right polemicist Éric Zemmour has vowed to reverse the immigration he blames for undermining France’s identity and core values if he wins the country’s upcoming presidential election. FRANCE 24 spoke to his supporters who gathered by the thousands in Paris on Sunday. A writer and talk show pundit known for his polarising attacks on Muslims and immigrants, Zemmour emerged as the election’s dark horse early on in the campaign, drawing from both the mainstream conservative camp and voters disappointed by the far right’s traditional champion, Marine Le Pen. He has since slipped down the table in voter surveys, polling at around 10-11 percent, though his supporters still rank among the most raucous and motivated ahead of the first round of the election on April 10. “I live nearby, it’s a nice day, I’ve come to gauge the atmosphere,” says 57-year-old Marc, observing the raucous crowd gathered on the Trocadéro. An anti-vaxxer and opponent of the Covid-19 health pass, he describes himself as the “family’s ugly duckling”. “I didn’t get the Covid jab, unlike my mother and brother who sold out to Macron,” he says. Born to a French mother and Yugoslav father, Marc says he can identify with Zemmour, whose parents left their native Algeria when it was still a French territory. In fact, he claims “lots of people of immigrant background can relate to Zemmour”. Like the far-right candidate, Marc says he is most concerned about the so-called “great replacement”, a conspiracy theory purporting that white Europeans are being replaced by immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, with the complicity of political elites. “It’s not just a theory, it’s everywhere,” says the self-employed part-time worker in the building industry, pointing to the “growing number of women wearing (Muslim) veils in Paris and its suburbs”. Aside from immigration, Marc also agrees with Zemmour’s stances on education and his opposition to “woke” ideas. “Finally, we have a candidate who challenges all the anti-racist, feminist and LGBT talk we are constantly fed by the media,” he says. read the complete article


30 Mar 2022

The Kashmir Files: How a New Bollywood Film Marks India’s Further Descent Into Bigotry

Released in Indian theaters in March, The Kashmir Files is a 170-minute Bollywood drama about the tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits, or Brahmins—the priestly highest caste of the Hindu religion. Hinduism is a minority faith in Muslim-dominated Kashmir, and the Pandits left the region en masse in the 1990s, when they began to be targeted by Pakistan-sponsored militant Islamists. The Hindi-language film has been given a tax break and is being heavily championed by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been urging people to go watch it. Government employees are being offered time off if they do. But the theme of the film, made by a Modi acolyte, and its graphic depiction of the intimidation and killings of the Pandits, is riling up Hindus and aggravating religious discord. Social media is flooded with videos of members of the audience erupting in rousing hate speeches after seeing the film, with calls for the slaughter of Muslims and a boycott of Muslim businesses. Often, these speeches are staged by Hindu vigilante organizations ideologically allied with Modi’s government. In a climate of growing intolerance, where exclusion and marginalization of Muslims have become mainstream political discourse, the movie is making Indian Muslims even more fearful. But accuracy is not the film’s priority, nor is it interested in justice and closure for the Pandit community. Instead, the purpose of The Kashmir Files is to inflame hatred against Muslims; against secular parties that Modi’s followers brand anti-Hindu; liberal intellectuals and activists, whose faith in India’s inclusive democracy runs contrary to the supremacist tenets of Hindu nationalism; and against the liberal media that the Hindu right disparages as sold-out “presstitutes.” Accordingly, Muslims are portrayed as uniformly evil, treacherous and predatory. Compared with Nazi films like Jew Süss and Die Rothschilds by some, The Kashmir Files is an escalation of Indian cinema’s revisionist trend, used to justify the brazen Hindu extremism of the present. Lynchings, humiliation, and degradation of Muslims have become order of the day. Calls for genocide and social and economic boycotts of Muslims are widespread. State-sanctioned religious hate has even criminalized the very presence of Muslims through movements against hijabs and the opposition to public prayer. read the complete article

30 Mar 2022

I tried watching ‘The Kashmir Files.’ I left the theater to screams of ‘Go to Pakistan.’

Two weeks ago, I gathered the courage to go watch the film against the advice of family and friends. “The Kashmir Files,” which portrays the exodus in the 1990s of Kashmiri Pandits, a minority Hindu community, has triggered anti-Muslim hate chants in theaters across India. As soon as I entered the theater in Mumbai, the audience broke into cries of “Bharat Mata ki jai” (Glory to India), a nationalist chant that has been repeatedly weaponized against Muslims. The man in the wheelchair soon joined the chants of “Sab mulle aatankwaadi” (Muslims are terrorists). I left before the movie even began. I tried again the next day. A group of teenagers sitting in the front row soon began chanting “Bharat Mata ki jai.” I was seated in the fourth row, between an expectant mother and an elderly man who spoke proudly of how history in India was being redeemed under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The expectant mother seated next to me turned to her husband: “These Muslims are born bastards.” Unable to take the hate, I informed them that I am a Muslim and the language they were using was hate speech against my community. “Hate is what your religion teaches, not ours,” the woman responded. Others seated near us started cheering her statement, and I left the theater, just 30 minutes into the movie, feeling humiliated and physically unsafe. A man yelled at me “Ja Pakistan!” (Go to Pakistan). I’ve written before about the power these films have to stir nationalist fervor and Islamophobic hatred. It’s now a proven formula. But the record-breaking success of “The Kashmir Files” has taken the propaganda to a genocidal level. The film is dominating all discussions. The head of government promotes it while large networks dedicate hours of programming to extolling the bravado in the film. read the complete article

30 Mar 2022

7 teachers suspended for allowing students to wear hijab during exams in Karnataka

Seven teachers in Karnataka's Gadag district were suspended for allowing girl students to wear the hijab as they appeared for the SSLC exams. On March 15, Karnataka High Court's three-judge bench dismissed all the petitions challenging the ban on hijab inside Karnataka schools. The court ruled that wearing hijabs does not fall under the essential practice of Islam. It also observed that the restrictions on wearing of uniforms were reasonable and that the students cannot oppose it. read the complete article

30 Mar 2022

Six Held for Harassment of Muslim Women Through 'Sulli Deals', 'Bulli Bai': Centre in LS

The Union home ministry in response to a question in the Lok Sabha on the harassment of Muslim women in different states through social media apps said on Tuesday that the Delhi Police and their Mumbai counterparts have arrested six persons in connection with the ‘Sulli Deals’ and ‘Bulli Bai’ apps. In an unrelated development, the alleged creators of both the apps were granted bail on Monday. The question was raised by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi and Bahujan Samaj Party MP Kunwar Danish Ali. They asked if “it is a fact that harassment of Muslim women in different States in the country through social media apps such as `Sulli Deals’ has come to the notice of the Government” and “whether the Government is aware that Bulli Bai application has also been subjected to derogatory remarks with pictures of Muslim women which were displayed and their bidding was made on the application live.” read the complete article

30 Mar 2022

Hijab Row: 40 Muslim Girls Abstain From Exams In Karnataka

Forty Muslim girl students from Udupi district of Karnataka abstained from appearing for the first pre-university examination on Tuesday as they were apparently hurt by the recent High Court verdict against wearing of hijab inside classrooms. The students decided to not appear for the examination without wearing the headscarf as they were hurt by the March 15 order, sources said. The Karnataka High Court on March 15 had dismissed petitions seeking permission to wear hijab inside the classroom, saying the headscarf is not a part of the essential religious practice in Islamic faith and also stated that the uniform dress rule should be followed in educational institutions where it has been prescribed. Those who shunned the examinations on Tuesday include 24 girl students from Kundapur, 14 from Byndoor and two from Udupi Government Girls PU college, who are involved in the legal fight over wearing of hijab in classrooms. The girls had earlier boycotted the practical examinations also. At the RN Shetty PU college, 13 out of 28 Muslim girl students appeared for the examination. Though some students reached the examination centre wearing hijabs, they were denied permission. read the complete article

United States

30 Mar 2022

How Tacos and the 'Pink Hijabi of Orange County' Are Bringing Latino and Muslim Communities Together

The first thing one notices in Rida Hamida is her hot pink hijab, tied in a turban style at the nape of her neck. She laughs calling it her signature color. "Everyone calls me the pink hijabi of Orange County," Hamida, founder and executive director of Latino & Muslim Unity says. A reflection of her vibrant, energetic personality, she says, she dons the hijab every Ramadan as she takes her #TacoTrucksInEveryMosque initiative to local mosques in Anaheim, Santa Ana and Garden Grove. The trucks serve halal meat, which has been prepared in adherence to Muslim law, alongside her latest civic mission. This Ramadan, with the primaries around the corner, her goal is to register Muslim and Latino Americans to vote. She also has a summit in the works to empower women to be financially free. In 2021, she used the taco trucks to start a vaccine drive. In 2019, the focus was on the Census and in 2018, voter registration was her priority. "This is more about celebrating life and celebrating the human spirit and not how resilient we are, but how empowered we are as humans as individuals," Hamida says about what distinguishes her movement from others. It doesn't fight a cause but rather humanizes two marginalized, often misunderstood communities. In 2017, Hamida was triggered with Donald Trump in the White House as president. Trump had been elected on a campaign that was rife with the anti-Muslim and anti-Latino sentiment. The campaign, she says, demonized and dehumanized the two groups so that people were in fear of them. "Instead of making a statement of who we aren't, we were making a statement of who we are," Hamida says about what prompted her to start the #TacoTrucksInEveryMosque initiative. Initiatives like the Women's March and the anti-Muslim ban protests at the airport existed but she says there was no "sense of celebration." read the complete article


30 Mar 2022

Fitriya Mohamed Is Breaking Barriers—and Ankles—for Muslim Women in Sports

“When I was growing up I didn’t see much; even now in Toronto there are more basketball leagues for Muslim women to participate in than I had,” says Fitriya Mohamed. “I fell in love with the sport and wanted to take it a step further.” It’s easy to underestimate the value in representation because of the way its absence results in more discreet, minuscule ripples that roll for years, but just think about it. If you, as an impressionable child, do not see those that present as you do on the media platforms you consume and engage in, you would likely find it difficult to even fathom yourself in their place. Perhaps you’d subconsciously accept that because people like you aren’t participating, it must not be your place to join in. All too often, inclusion is dismissed as tokenism by those who find it hard to imagine their favourite mediums featuring people and images unlike themselves; to others, invisibility has been the long-held standard. But for Mohamed, a Toronto-based basketball player, organizer, and academic, the familiar experience of subtle exclusion of marginalized people was turned into an unrelenting motivation for cultivating visibility—a space for those like her to comfortably do what they love, and know that it’s OK. “Just based on my experience growing up and playing basketball; it was the reason why I wanted to create a space for Muslim women,” she says. Mohamed’s love for facilitating the inclusion of Muslim girls in sport, the same inclusion that she’d missed out on in her journey as an athlete, guides her community involvement. An African Muslim myself, we came to a quick understanding about the effects of not seeing those that look like you participating in your interests, and the subsequent impact it can have on our goals and self-esteem. Something that can be quite tough to identify and bring language to as children. So naturally, she grew up feeling a drive to correct these blanks in representation as an adult; becoming precisely what she once needed to see. read the complete article


30 Mar 2022

Riz Ahmed: Five movies that helped define the British Muslim Oscar winner's career

Riz Ahmed's Oscar win for the live action short The Long Goodbye is the latest and most prestigious addition to a growing awards cabinet. The British Muslim actor made history in 2021 when he became the first Muslim to be nominated for the best actor Oscar, which eventually went to fellow Briton, Anthony Hopkins. With Ahmed both co-writing and featuring in the short, The Long Goodbye tackles anti-immigrant sentiment after Britain’s campaign to leave the European Union. The film, which runs at just under 12 minutes, is part of his nine-track concept album of the same name that explores notions of identity and belonging. Centred around the life of a British Asian family, the film warns of the danger of a dystopic future should hate speech and racism be left unchecked. The film ends with a rhymed monologue, in which Ahmed, an accomplished rapper, talks about the place people of colour occupy in British society. In 2017, Ahmed delivered a speech at the House of Commons questioning the lack of on-screen diversity in the media, and warning that excluding Muslim youths from the creative industries could push them into the hands of groups like the Islamic State. That same year he graced the front cover of Time Magazine, as one of its 100 most influential people. His campaign for better representation led to the creation of The Riz Test, which is now used by filmmakers to assess Muslim representation in film and TV, and to raise awareness of casting Muslim actors in stereotypical roles. In one interview he made light of the experience and said: "My ‘random selection’ flying to LA was so reliable that as I started travelling more, I went through a six-month stretch of being searched by the same middle-aged Sikh guy. "I instinctively started calling him uncle, as is the custom for Asian elders. He started calling me beta, or son, as he went through my luggage apologetically." Such experiences must cut a stark contrast with the fame and adulation Ahmed has received since. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 30 Mar 2022 Edition


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