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.

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06 Mar 2023

Today in Islamophobia: In the United States, Hindu nationalist lobbying groups are growing in influence and have “modeled themselves on pro-Israel groups like AIPAC and forged alliances around Islamophobic bigotry,” meanwhile in Australia, a St. George’s bank branch in Melbourne flags a gift transaction from an uncle to his nephew due to the term ‘Muslim’ being included in the transaction message, and America: The Jesuit Review looks back on the historic legacy of Muslim-Christian dialogue spearheaded by Pope Francis over the past decade. Our recommended read of the day is by Wendy Via for Inkstick on the findings of a new report released by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism showing an alarming increase in the size and activity of far-right hate groups in France. This and more below:



Last month, the organization I founded, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, released a report showing a worrying number of far-right hate and extremist groups in France. Given that far-right extremism has been in the spotlight and extremist political parties have secured power in recent European national elections, we weren’t surprised with what we found. But we are highly concerned with the breadth and influence of extremist groups in France, especially when it comes to far-right political parties. The majority of the groups we identified in France are some combination of white nationalist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim, reflecting the current anti-immigrant “us against them” rhetoric and the purposeful conflation of the terms “immigration” and “Islam” by French far-right politicians and others looking to divide people. Many groups advance the white supremacist Great Replacement conspiracy theory, which has inspired racially-motivated mass killings across the world. Considering the increasing level of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric among politicians and others over the last few years, as well as legislative efforts that “[feed the] far-right ideology,” there is absolutely no doubt that anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim extremist groups have injected their hateful ideas into the mainstream. This means that even when far-right extremist parties don’t elect their candidates into positions of power, they are still pulling politics and policy to the far right. read the complete article


Hindu Nationalist Lobbyists on Capitol Hill Are Growing in Influence

The Indian American groups that began to emerge in the 1990s looked to characterize themselves as representative of the larger Indian American community. A series of overlapping Hindu nationalist organizations were developed to make India synonymous with Hindutva. In doing so, they consciously modeled themselves upon the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States and forged close ties with its leading organizations. They have become an important channel of support for the right-wing government of Narendra Modi and a regular source of hostile flak for Modi’s critics. This project of stage-managing the image of the Indian state was immediately put to use following the Hindu nationalist demolition of the sixteenth-century Babri Masjid mosque in December 1992 and the Bombay riots and anti-Muslim pogroms that followed. The New York Times described the events of 1992 as “the worst outbreak of sectarian violence in India since 1984.” Indian Americans who had once played a significant role in the agitations abroad against Indira Gandhi during the Emergency years of the 1970s were now activated to consolidate the Hindu nationalist project. These Indian Americans were now deeply established in the United States; their organizations were now a lot more networked and connected to a community with much more wealth, social status, and stability. At a fundraising dinner organized by two Indian Americans in his honor in Atlanta in 1999, Ackerman described “strong India-Israel relations” as “very critical to ensuring peace and stability in a part of the world that is characterized by instability, fundamentalist religious bigotry, hatred toward the West and its values, and murder and mayhem spawned by acts of cross-border terrorism.” He described India and Israel as “ancient civilizations [that] have much in common politically and economically and share strong democratic beliefs, traditions and values.” Within ten years, the India caucus grew from eight members to a quarter of the US Congress. read the complete article

Chinese company rejects rights accusation after US sanctions

BGI Group, one of the world's biggest genetics analysis companies, said Sunday it never would be involved in human rights abuses after the U.S. government said there was a danger some of its units might contribute to Chinese surveillance. Three BGI units were among Chinese companies added to an “entity list” last week that limits access to U.S. technology on security or human rights grounds. The Commerce Department cited a risk BGI technology might contribute to surveillance. Activists say Beijing is trying to create a database of genetic information from Muslims and other Chinese minorities. The Chinese government accused Washington on Friday of improperly attacking China's companies. BGI, headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen, said its services are only for civilian and scientific purposes. read the complete article

5 lessons from Pope Francis’ commitment to Muslim-Catholic dialogue

In his first days as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said, “it is not possible to establish true links with God while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.” The pope has more than lived up to that early goal he set for himself—engagement with Muslims has become one of the hallmarks of his papacy. Over the past decade, the pope has made dozens of visits to Muslim communities and Muslim-majority countries. He has forged bonds with leaders and ordinary believers, and he has repeatedly drawn attention to the presence of God in the experiences of Muslims and in many of the riches of their faith tradition. From his many gestures, statements, trips and—most significantly—his personal encounters with Muslims, some profound lessons emerge. read the complete article

Fire blazes through crowded Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

A massive fire raced through a crammed refugee camp for Rohingya people in southern Bangladesh, leaving thousands homeless, a fire official and the United Nations said. Thousands of people lost their homes as the fire, which broke out on Sunday, burned down or damaged at least 2,000 huts, officials from the Balukhali fire department told Al Jazeera. The blaze hit Camp 11 in Cox’s Bazar, a border district where more than a million Rohingya refugees live, with most having fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017. read the complete article


St.George Bank defends flagging payment of $30 that had 'Muslim' in transaction description

For his nephew's birthday last month, Ali did what he had done many times before — transferred money to his sister-in-law, Fatima*. Ali sent $30 as a gift for his 9-year-old nephew, who is named Ibrahim* Muslim. He entered "Muslim BDAY" into the description field for the transfer. Ali then received an email from St.George Bank, requesting he contact the bank's economic and trade sanctions team to provide more information about the transfer to prevent it from being cancelled. "Please confirm what Muslim refers to," the email read. "If [Muslim refers to] an individual please provide Full name, DOB and address." Muslim is a common given name among adherents of the Islamic faith. As a Bank of Melbourne customer, Ali was confused to receive correspondence from St.George, and suspected it may be a hoax. Ali reported the email to Westpac Group's hoax reporting team, who confirmed the correspondence was indeed genuine. "Why are they targeting a particular group of religious people? That was a bit upsetting," he told the ABC. The bank later apologised to Ali, but in a statement to the ABC defended flagging the payment. Deriya Iner, research coordinator at Charles Sturt University's Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation and a board member of the Islamophobia Register Australia, said cases like Ali's needed to be handled with greater sensitivity. read the complete article

United Kingdom

West Ham’s Hawa Cissoko targeted with racist, Islamophobic abuse on social media

West Ham United Women defender Hawa Cissoko has again been subject to online racist abuse. Cissoko, 25, shared a series of messages, which contained racist, misogynistic and Islamophobic insults, on her Instagram story. The France international captioned the screenshot with: “I thought we were done with this story. Obviously not.” West Ham immediately reported the abuse to the relevant social media platforms and the police. read the complete article


Uyghur woman in jail for over 2 decades for sending children to religious school

For over two decades, Uyghur woman, Ayshemhan Abdulla, has been serving sentence in jail for sending her three teenage children to a local home-based religious school, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Abdulla, now 62, thought she was doing what was best for her two daughters and one son by ensuring they received Islamic religious instruction in keeping with their Muslim Uyghur identity in China’s far-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Abdullah, a resident of Ghulja county, or Yining in Chinese, was sentenced to 21 years in prison in 2017 for sending her children to a house religious school, said a security chief from her village in Qarayaghach township. “She is serving her prison term in Baykol Women’s Prison in Ghulja city. For each child she sent, she received seven years in prison,” said the man who declined to be named, RFA reported. According to the village security chief, the authorities also took Abdulla’s children to a camp and held them for more than a year, but later released them. read the complete article

United States

‘WE BELONG HERE’: Documenting Arab American and Muslim American life without stereotypes

Eventually, Al-Badry’s family was relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska. “When you come in as a refugee, you think everything is beautiful. You think you made it to the promised land; everybody’s equal,” he said. “But then you realize there’s little hints.” As he grew up, Al-Badry became more aware of racism. Teenagers mocked his mother’s hijab; many Americans, he realized, had been conditioned to see Arabs and Muslims as intrinsically strange, angry, or violent. The images in Al-Badry’s series “From Which I Came,” many of which feature his own family and friends, might easily be marshaled to represent a cultural clash—but his work asks you to focus on the individual, the intimacy of daily life. The people in these photos are rarely smiling. Al-Badry’s aim is to present them as resilient and dignified, even if it makes the photos less immediately inviting to his audience. His allegiance is to the people he is photographing; he wants his subjects to see themselves in the absence of imposed stereotypes. “We belong here,” he said. “We bring this very rich culture with us. But we’re not archaic figures; we’re not stuck in the past.” read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 06 Mar 2023 Edition


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