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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31 Mar 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, journalist Rana Ayyub, an outspoken critic of PM Modi’s government, was prevented from flying to Europe to speak about intimidation of journalists and rights in the world’s largest democracy, meanwhile in Australia, Greens Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi last week released her party’s vision for building an anti-racist and genuinely multicultural Australia, and in France, “as the far right enjoys its greatest cultural primacy in France in 75 years, it is Zemmour and his followers, not the National Rally, who are defining the future of the French right wing.” Our recommended read of the day is by Dr. Irene Zempi and Dr. Amina Easat-Daas for The Conversation on the hijab and how their research “shows that for many of those who wear it, the veil is not a passive garment. Rather, it is very often an important and integral part of women’s identity, an expression of personal choice.” This and more below:

United Kingdom

31 Mar 2022

The hijab is not a symbol of gender oppression – but those who choose to wear it risk Islamophobia | Recommended Read

Wearing a form of head covering is the most visible symbol of Islam in the west – and the most misunderstood. The ways in which Muslim women cover are diverse, ranging from the face veil or niqab, to covering their hair and upper body with the headscarf or hijab. And like Muslim women themselves, these come in a huge variety of colours, styles and fashions and are shaped by place, time and trends. Some people have equated covering with gender inequality and have seen it as a threat to social cohesion or, worse, as synonymous with Islamist extremism. While there are women who are pressured into covering by law or society, assuming that this applies to all who do so feeds these stereotypes, promoting a climate of racism and Islamophobia of which Muslim women, in the UK and worldwide, bear the brunt. Those who choose to cover have to navigate both these prejudicial views and the legislation, the routine media scrutiny and the political debate they engender – often without being included in any of it – in their everyday lives. But what these assumptions fail to recognise are the multiple meanings that covering holds for the women who choose to do so. Research shows that for many of those who wear it, the veil is not a passive garment. Rather, it is very often an important and integral part of women’s identity, an expression of personal choice. When deciding to cover, quite how a woman negotiates both personal choice and the fear of gendered Islamophobia is not always straightforward. For some women, as our research shows, covering is empowering. We did a number of individual and focus group interviews with Muslim women who wear the niqab in the UK. For these women, choosing to cover has been a way of demonstrating assertiveness and agency, of being in control of their bodies. In other words, the exact opposite of the passive, oppressed victimhood painted by stereotypical views. read the complete article

31 Mar 2022

Top UK school suspends teacher for alleged Islamophobia

Colchester Royal Grammar School, one of the UK's best grammar schools, has again courted controversy after it was forced to suspend a teacher for using a mug depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The school had to suspend the teacher for alleged Islamophobia after a picture of him holding a mug that had caricatures of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad was posted on social media. The Jesus figure was shown to be saying "Hey," with the Prophet Muhammad responding, "How ya doing?" The Telegraph reports that the image was taken almost two weeks ago and surfaced online recently. The drawing is believed to be the work of a British author who works under the pseudonym Muhammad Jones. The webcomic chronicles the lives and imaginary conversations between Jesus and Mo. The author has always denied that the Mo character is based on Prophet Muhammad. A Colchester Royal Grammar School spokesman told The Mirror: "We have been notified an image has been shared online of an individual appearing to use a cup that has an offensive image on it. At this time, we are looking into the matter." read the complete article

31 Mar 2022

Ramadan 2022: How Premier League football is evolving to help Muslim players

Saturday marks the start of Ramadan for Muslims around the world, taking place for a month, ending with the celebration of Eid on 2 May. Fasts in the UK this Ramadan will start between 04:00 and 05:00 BST and end between 19:30 and 20:30 as the month progresses. This means of the 52 Premier League games scheduled to take place in Ramadan, there are nine evening matches in which players may need to break their fast during the game. Last season in the meeting between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium, there was a pause in play to allow Foxes defender Wesley Fofana and Eagles midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate to do this. The offering of prayers and reading of the Quran are increased during Ramadan, along with donating money to charity to replenish one's spiritual wellbeing. But the main focus is on fasting - abstaining from eating or drinking during daylight hours - which poses a challenge for Muslim professional footballers who tend to alter their training to cope with the rigours of the month. Last season, there was an informal agreement between captains to allow a brief break at a goal kick or throw-in so that any Muslim players who needed to were able to break their fast. This season, although there has been no official guidance given to top-flight teams as it does not affect every game, captains can again request a drinks break at an appropriate moment in the game during their pre-match meeting with referees. Once the sun has set, it will allow fasting players to come to the side of the pitch and quickly take on liquids or any energy supplements before resuming the game. To gain a better understanding about the basics of Ramadan, members of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) have been booked to undertake a workshop led by Nujum Sports on Friday. read the complete article


31 Mar 2022

Indian journalist prevented from flying to Europe to speak about intimidation

A prominent Indian journalist has been prevented from flying to Europe to speak about intimidation of journalists and rights in the world’s largest democracy. Rana Ayyub, an outspoken critic of the government of Narendra Modi and columnist for the Washington Post, was not allowed to board a flight at Mumbai airport on Tuesday. She had been due to travel to London to address a conference at the International Centre for Journalists. “I was stopped today at the Indian immigration while I was about to board my flight to London to deliver my speech on the intimidation of journalists with @ICFJ. I was to travel to Italy right after to deliver the keynote address at the @journalismfest on the Indian democracy,” she said in a tweet. Ayyub, 37, says she has been subjected to harassment by far-right Hindu groups because of her reporting. Her book, Gujarat Files, on the anti-Muslim pogram in 2002, accuses Modi, who was ruling the state at the time, of being complicit in the atrocity. In February, UN rights experts called on the government to stop “misogynistic and sectarian” online attacks against her. Under the Modi government, journalists and civil rights activists have complained of curtailed freedom and harassment. In 2020 Muslim comedian Munawar Faruqui spent weeks in jail over a supposedly anti-Hindu joke he had not told. Facebook posts disparaging the government can occasionally result in a knock on the door by a policeman. read the complete article

31 Mar 2022

Karnataka: BJP Leader Demands Ban on Halal Meat, Says it Is Part of 'Economic Jihad'

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary C.T. Ravi on Tuesday, March 29 said that Halal meat is part of an “economic jihad” by the Muslim community. He further said that it has been imposed on them so that they don’t have to do business with others. “When Muslims refuse to buy meat from Hindus, why should you insist Hindus to buy from them?” the BJP legislator from Chikmagalur said in Bengaluru. He further said that such trade practices are a two-way street. “If Muslims agree to eat non-Halal meat, then Hindus will also use Halal meat.” read the complete article

31 Mar 2022

Does the Muslim Woman Today Have the Right to Chase Her Dreams?

I am no scholar of the Quran or the Hadees; I am just an ordinary Muslim woman who had the good fortune of having parents who believed in putting their children, whether male or female, in the best educational institutions they could afford and in allowing them to abide by the prescribed curriculum and uniform (if there was one). So much for my parents’ role, but as a student, I also had the good fortune to have governments in power which never interfered with school uniforms and curriculums. So I don’t take any credit for having made, at the end of the 1960s, a career which allowed me to earn my own bread and butter, in addition to leaving a substantial amount for my other responsibilities. But there were girls in co-education colleges and universities, even in those days, who wore full-length Burqas which covered their faces. No one interfered, least of all the university management or the government. Some fellow students may have laughed at them or passed an odd remark, but never in bad taste. Some of these girls reached great heights and many were able to realise their dreams after completing their studies in peace. I shudder to imagine myself in today’s age and times, when governments are putting dress restrictions on girls who wish to go ahead with education; to make a better life for themselves than that of chattel. I am sure that in the present times, I would not have been able to pursue any education worth its name and would have ended up chained to the commands of some male or other; or left at the mercy of a better-placed woman relative, with no rights over my movements, my dreams and desires, god forbid. And god be thanked that I was born decades earlier. read the complete article

31 Mar 2022

‘It’s going to be a long night’: A young Muslim reflects on India’s broken constitutional promises

“Everybody is so oblivious to the persecution of Muslims,” he said. “I wake up to a new video of lynching, or another hate speech, or a genocide-enabling cartoon, but I go to office and find people discussing what place makes the best sushis and what place makes the best cheesecakes.” But then we worried about other friends who worked in outright communal workspaces, with colleagues needling them every now and then over their religious beliefs and deduced that even an apathetic space was a privilege. And of course, we shuddered at the thought of what Muslims, especially the ones visibly so, in the informal sector – street vendors and rickshaw-pullers – might be facing every day. Being a print journalist who has worked in English newsrooms, I have been largely saved from such experiences. I worked under some truly secular editors, and others, who, I later realised, were secular only because of the prevailing office culture – they turned out to be surprisingly footloose in terms of ideology. The conversation then turned towards what has become the staple of every conversation between young, privileged Muslims: should we leave India? Even as I begin to write my thoughts, I feel a gush of anger, closely followed by an impulse to moderate my expression. This is exerted either by a fear of the law or the anxiety to express an “acceptable” shade of opinion. This is the first mark of control and oppression, for it limits my voice, pre-setting the range of my vocabulary, and, thus, diminishes upon its very birth, the cry for my rights. It is almost incredible how the law and the discourse-setters work together to sanitise testimonies and, subsequently, erode justice. If there was a metaphor for what the Indian state does to its Muslim citizens, it is that of the police torturing the 23-year-old Faizan during the violence that broke out in Delhi in February 2020. The man is lying on the ground, along with other Muslim men, writhing in pain, and the cops are forcing him to sing the national anthem while prodding him with sticks. Faizan dies later, quite apparently killed by the state. More than two years later, there is not a flower of justice on his grave. Writing in 1962 for The New Yorker, in an essay titled “Letter From a Region in My Mind”, the Black American writer James Baldwin noted, “They had the judges, the juries, the shotguns, the law – in a word, power. But it was criminal power, to be feared, but not respected and to be outwitted in any way whatever.” read the complete article


31 Mar 2022

France’s Far Right Turn

With only one month to go until France’s presidential election in April, the office of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right party the National Rally, sent the usual Sunday email outlining her schedule for the coming week as “candidate for the presidency of the Republic.” Unfortunately for Le Pen, many of its recipients were at that moment en route to a rally for her rival, where several formerly trusted members of her inner circle would fill the front row. Ever since Éric Zemmour, a far-right pundit and former newspaper columnist, declared his own candidacy for president last November, members of Le Pen’s party had been departing in a steady trickle for his. And yet there was something particularly plaintive in Le Pen’s notification. A final defection was expected that day — that of her niece, Marion Maréchal, quite likely spelling the end of Le Pen and of her party’s hold over the far right. Emmanuel Macron’s presidential victory as an independent five years ago shook up France’s multiparty system. As parties on the right and left fractured and regrouped, the National Rally remained largely constant. Now Zemmour and Maréchal’s alliance, with its “anti-wokisme” and its appeals to anti-immigrant sentiments, has forged a revanchist politics that captures a notable shift in the public mood. As the far right enjoys its greatest cultural primacy in France in 75 years, it is Zemmour and his followers, not the National Rally, who are defining the future of the French right wing, even if no one expects him — or any other right-wing candidate — to wrest the presidency from Macron. Maréchal left the National Rally in 2017, taking time out from politics to work in the private sector. There had long been reports that she was being sidelined, partly because her popularity was seen as a threat, but also because her positions differed from the party line. Still, her retreat from the National Rally was based on a calculation shared by many: that her aunt, having lost in the two previous presidential elections, was incapable of winning. As Zemmour’s candidacy evolved, it became clear that a primary goal was to end Marine Le Pen’s control over far-right politics in France, by breaking through the cordon sanitaire that the mainstream political establishment had erected around the Le Pen family for decades, and ultimately to remake the French right. read the complete article


31 Mar 2022

“Racism Does Kill People”: Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi on an Anti-Racist Australia

Another key reason for the pervasive racism could be that following 1901 federation, parliament passed a series of bills ensuring only white people could migrate and remain on the continent. Even today, the decades-long White Australia Policy doesn’t get called out as white supremacist in nature. Indeed, the just released third Islamophobia in Australia report reveals that right after the 2019 Christchurch massacre – which saw an Anglo-Australia man gun down 51 Muslims worshipping at mosques – there was an uptick in the number of reported anti-Muslim incidents in this country. So, in light of all this, Australian Greens Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi last week released her party’s vision for building an anti-racist and genuinely multicultural Australia. Key aspects to the policy include providing federal politicians and public servants with anti-racism training, the development of a national anti-racism strategy, a strengthening of laws that criminalise hate speech, and establishing a national database on racial disparities and discrimination. The Australian Greens also want to hold a referendum so that the public can decide on whether to amend section 44 of the Australian Constitution, so that individuals holding dual citizenship can run for federal parliament. The flipside of the policy is that it seeks to establish a genuinely multicultural society, so that the diversity that one finds on street corners across the continent will be reflected in positions of power, whether they be political, social or financial. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 31 Mar 2022 Edition


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