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 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the UK, a doctor in Herefordshire has been suspended by a medical tribunal for making offensive comments to a Muslim colleague, of which include muttering the phrase “porky sausages” during an encounter between the two, meanwhile in Germany, the education department of Berlin has decreed that religious attire in school should be permitted after 18 years banning them in classrooms, and in India, rallies held in commemoration of the annual Ram Navami festival have grown increasingly violent this year with the wielding of deadly weapons and threats to Muslims being reported in several provinces. Our recommended read of the day is by Faiz Siddiqui and Jeremy B. Merrill for The Washington Post on how Twitter users who follow extremist accounts are now being routinely subjected to a mix of other racist and incendiary speech due to the platform’s new “For You” timeline launched in January. This and more below: 


Elon Musk’s Twitter pushes hate speech, extremist content into ‘For You’ pages | Recommended Read

Twitter is amplifying hate speech in its “For You” timeline, an unintended side effect of an algorithm that is supposed to show users more of what they want. According to a Washington Post analysis of Twitter’s recommendation algorithm, accounts that followed “extremists” — hate-promoting accounts identified in a list provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center — were subjected to a mix of other racist and incendiary speech. Many were from users previously suspended by Twitter and let back on by new owner Elon Musk, who pledged to de-boost hate speech following his takeover of the site. The tweets appeared on Twitter’s new “For You” page, which the company unveiled in January as part of Musk’s redesigned site. Twitter says the timeline includes “suggested content powered by a variety of signals,” including “how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it.” In one instance, after an account created by The Post followed dozens of others labeled as extremist, Twitter inserted a quote and a portrait of Adolf Hitler — from a user the account did not follow — into its timeline. One user posted a quote about how immigration supposedly “dooms” Whites from a racist French novel popular among white supremacists. Twitter’s algorithms surfaced this tweet to two of The Post’s accounts, which were not following the user. According to The Post’s experiment, Twitter is amplifying hateful tweets. read the complete article

Bangladesh: Halt ‘Pilot’ Plan to Return Rohingya

Bangladesh authorities should suspend plans to send Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar, where their lives and liberty would be at grave risk, Human Rights Watch said today. Rohingya told Human Rights Watch that they were lied to, deceived, or otherwise coerced by Bangladesh administrators into meeting with a recent delegation of Myanmar junta officials as part of a “pilot repatriation” effort to return about 1,000 refugees. Some were told the meetings concerned possible resettlement to a third country. Conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State have not been conducive to voluntary, safe, or dignified returns of Rohingya refugees since 2017, when more than 730,000 Rohingya fled the Myanmar military’s crimes against humanity and acts of genocide. The prospect of durable returns has grown ever more distant since the February 2021 military coup in Myanmar, carried out by the same generals who orchestrated the 2017 mass atrocities. read the complete article


The 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq provided the impetus for many to look back at the fateful decision to launch what would prove to be a calamitous war. While some of the war’s champions provided various justifications for their cheerleading of the invasion in 2003, public sentiment has shifted sharply from broad enthusiasm for the war to widespread disapproval. How did the United States find itself launching a war that, in hindsight, would seem so obviously disastrous? The Reimagining US Grand Strategy program’s March 2023 roundtable brought experts together to discuss the lessons from the US invasion of Iraq. Participants highlighted the role of the media in promoting the outright lies of the George W. Bush administration, the lack of a process in the administration for planning what would come after the toppling of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein, and the failures of the US military to learn from its past. While the group agreed that the invasion of Iraq was a generational mistake that hurt US standing in the world, there was disagreement about whether policymakers had learned any lessons from it, especially when considering what currently shapes professional military education and allies’ perception of the US invasion. Four experts share what they believe are the main lessons from the war in Iraq and discuss whether the United States might repeat them again. read the complete article

United Kingdom

Community group condemns “Islamophobic” Kings Heath attack after Muslim man hospitalised by violent thugs

An anti-racist community group has condemned the attack against an elderly Muslim man who was savagely attacked by thugs as he walked home from a mosque in Kings Heath yesterday. Local residents and councillors have expressed shock at what has been described as a “racist” and “Islamophobic” attack by campaigners against hate crime. Police have launched an investigation after a pensioner was assaulted by three men on his way home from a mosque in the Kings Heath suburb of Birmingham. The victim, aged 73, was walking along York Road after Ramadan evening prayers, when three men got out of a black vehicle which was parked on the street. One of the men ran up to the victim and kicked him in the back, causing him to fall and hit his head on a display board. The men then fled. The victim was taken to hospital with a broken hand and cuts to his face after the attack, which happened at around 11pm yesterday (29 March). Both men are heard whooping before the vicious attack as they attempt to illicit a response from the victim. In the video, they can be heard shouting “Oi, yo raghead!”, a racist slur often directed at Muslims and Sikhs – before the violent attack, which causes the victim to crash land into sandwich boards outside Fletchers Bar & Eatery. read the complete article

Gen Z Muslims in UK have similar experiences to non-Muslims, except on religiosity

A new poll has found that young Muslims and non-Muslims in the UK hold largely similar views and have had similar experiences, including on Muslim representation, climate change, and personal finance. They only diverge on personal religious beliefs. The survey interviewed around 2,000 British people aged between 16 and 24, of whom roughly half were Muslim and half were a representative sample of non-Muslims weighted by age, gender, region, and religion. It found that 65 percent of "Generation Z" Muslims, born between the late 1990s and 2012, believed that UK media coverage of Muslims was not accurate, slightly higher than the 51 percent of non-Muslim Brits who concurred. Meanwhile, 87 percent of Generation Z Muslims said that employers should offer Muslim employees time off work for the Eid festival - a statement 62 percent of non-Muslims agreed with. Nine in 10 (89 percent) of Muslims between 16 and 24 said they prayed at home, while 75 percent said they visited a mosque regularly. Among non-Muslims, 64 percent said they rarely or never prayed at home, while 66 percent rarely or never visited a place of worship. A significant proportion (81 percent) of young Muslims said religious leaders influenced their lives, while the figure was just 38 percent for non-Muslims. On experiencing Islamophobia - a question only asked of Muslims - around half of young Muslims had experienced it in school (49 percent) or in a social setting (47 percent). In both settings, women were more likely to have experienced Islamophobia than men. read the complete article

Islamophobia 'ignored' by bystanders as academic calls for better training to tackle hate

Islamophobia is going unchallenged by bystanders in Birmingham with the public turning a blind eye to hate, an academic has said. Professor Imran Awan, one of the country's leading criminologists, has called for more bystander training to raise awareness of Islamophobic hate crime. It comes as new research shows that Islamophobia is on the rise in Birmingham post-pandemic. Professor Awan's research found that media narratives that portrayed British Muslims as 'super-spreaders' of the virus have contributed to increased levels of hate against the community. Researchers interviewed over 130 Muslims across Birmingham and found that over half had felt increased levels of anxiety since the pandemic. Muslims are said to be the UK’s second 'least-liked' group after Gypsy and Irish Travellers, according to research published last year. "A lot of people we spoke to said they had experienced Islamophobia but told us no one had stepped in to help or support them," said Professor Awan of Birmingham City University. "Muslim women in hijabs were particularly vulnerable as they were instantly identifiable as Muslim. "They told us that their physical appearance was often a trigger to them being targeted and being victimised in public places. From the people we spoke to on the ground, we heard about physical Islamophobia and abuse - but also more subtle forms of Islamophobia which are very difficult to describe unless you've been a victim of it." read the complete article

How to support Muslim colleagues during Ramadan – and beyond

Ramadan, a holy period for Muslims, is known for involving fasting – which presents many challenges on its own – but that isn’t all this period is about, nor is it the only thing Muslims want everyone else to take note of. In a new survey for Hyphen, an online publication specialising in news, culture and lifestyle about Muslims in Britain and Europe, half (49%) of Gen Z Muslims said they’d experienced islamophobia in school or work. The majority (87%) also said they felt they should get time off work to celebrate Eid.b The latter is something businesses could do immediately to support Muslim peers. But if you’re not at the policy-making level of a company, you can still make a huge difference. At a time when many of us have returned to office or hybrid working, it’s important to show more consideration at work. These are the things you should keep in mind. read the complete article

Herefordshire doctor suspended after making ‘porky sausages’ comments to Muslim colleague

A doctor in Herefordshire has been suspended by a medical tribunal for making offensive comments to her Muslim colleague. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal ruled that Dr Colathor Eshwari, originally from India, who practices at Hereford County Hospital, demonstrated hostility based on assumptions about her colleague’s race or religion, reported BBC. The panel met between 27 February and 2 March and heard both Dr Eshwari and her colleague – referred to as Dr A – who is originally from Pakistan. During that encounter, Dr A said that Dr Eshwari had muttered the phrase “porky sausages” more than once, which she took to be an insult. Dr A alleged that there is a “poor relationship” between Pakistan and India that had led to Pakistan being subject to pork-related slurs in reference to Muslims not eating the meat. Dr A also said to the panel that she poured some mineral water from a bottle into a kettle and that Dr Eshwari grabbed it, threw the water into the sink, and said: “Don’t make this kettle dirty with your dirty water.” read the complete article


Berlin to allow Muslim teachers to wear headscarves

The German state of Berlin will allow Muslim teachers to wear headscarves, authorities confirmed on Wednesday. Headscarves and wearing of religious symbols by teachers will be allowed in general and can only be restricted in individual cases if it poses a danger to school peace, Berlin’s education department said, in an official letter sent to school directors. Under Berlin’s neutrality act, which prevents civil servants from wearing religious clothing and symbols, teachers in the city were banned from wearing headscarves since 2005. But several court rulings in recent years underlined that a blanket ban on headscarves constitutes discrimination, and violates religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution. read the complete article


Ram Navami rallies in several states turn violent, anti-Muslim

Stone pelting at mosques and dancing with swords to communally charged songs repeated on Thursday, 30 March, during Ram Navami processions leaving dozens injured. Although reports suggest the violence didn’t escalate like last year, clashes and hate crimes were reported in several states including, Bihar and Maharashtra. In the early hours of March 30, clashes were reported from Maharashtra’s Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, previously known as Aurangabad, leaving 12 people, including 10 policemen, injured. The trigger for the sudden violence is allegedly due to some miscreants playing loud music outside a mosque in Kiradpura. Fake claims that the famous Ram temple was under attack were busted by AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel. In videos circulating on social media, Jaleel said the Ram Temple is safe and appealed for peace. Meanwhile, the Navami procession led by suspended BJP MLA T Raja Singh, a serial hate-monger, in Hyderabad had a portrait of Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse on displayed during the yatra. Several people taking part in the ‘Shobha Yatra’ were seen carrying a picture of Godse. Ram Navami procession is taken out by Hindu groups in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri without police permission, leaving police and the Muslim community on high alert. read the complete article


'It's remarkable': How Ramadan has changed for Australia's first hijab-wearing senator

Fatima Payman says a small prayer to herself before she bites into a hard date and takes a sip of water from a glass. The sun starts to set at around 7pm. It's the first taste of food or water she's had all day. She's in her office, in between Senate sittings, when she breaks her fast. The Labor senator is observing her first Ramadan in parliament. It's a holy month when Muslims abstain from food or drink between dawn and sunset while increasing prayer and charity. She's only had two sips of water and the smell of her chicken curry, not yet touched, wafts through the room. She ditches her meal, the first for the day, and rushes to work. "I've gotta go. I'll be back," she tells SBS News. She heads back to the Senate briefly before she returns to pray and starts eating. Growing up in Perth's northern suburbs in a close-knit family of six, it's not how she's used to celebrating Ramadan. The family would get up together before dawn to eat an unusually early meal, called suhur, and feast together at sunset. But it looks a little different this year for Senator Payman, who is observing her first Ramadan alone. The hours are long, with the Senate sometimes sitting past midnight. Senator Payman made headlines after the 2022 federal election, becoming the first Afghan-born and hijab-wearing politician in parliament. She came to Australia as a refugee at the age of eight in 2003, after her father fled Afghanistan by boat in 1999 and saved enough money to sponsor her and her family. Now, she's just one of the politicians who helped establish Australia's 47th parliament, celebrated as the most diverse in the country's history. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 31 Mar 2023 Edition


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