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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18 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: An Al Jazeera documentary investigates what happened during the 2020 police raids in Austria that targeted nearly 70 private homes of Austrian Muslim scholars, religious leaders, and activists, meanwhile in Canada, as the sombre anniversary of the London Ontario anti-Muslim attack approaches, conversations and questions around Islamophobia in Canada are still present, and in the United Kingdom, a new report from Freedom From Torture has found that the “London Policing College (LPC) has declared partnerships with eight universities in China, at least some of which have ties to policing in Xinjiang, where Muslim minorities have faced brutal treatment.” Our recommended read of the day is by Thomas B. Edsall for the New York Times on how the presidency of Donald Trump brought together Christian Nationalism, white replacement theory, and conspiratorial zeal, creating a movement that is “determined to restore what they see as the original racial and religious foundation of America.” This and more below:

United States

18 May 2022

Trump Has Uncorked a ‘Toxic Blend of Extremist Orientations’ | Recommended Read

The chilling amalgam of Christian Nationalism, white replacement theory and conspiratorial zeal — from QAnon to the “stolen” 2020 election — has attracted a substantial constituency in the United States, thanks in large part to the efforts of Donald Trump and his advisers. By some estimates, adherents of these overlapping movements make up as much as a quarter or even a third of the electorate. Whatever the scale, they are determined to restore what they see as the original racial and religious foundation of America. “While these elements are not new,” Robert Jones, chief executive of P.R.R.I., wrote by email, “Donald Trump wove them together and brought them out into the open. Indeed, the MAGA formula — the stoking of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment while making nativist appeals to the Christian right — could accurately be described as a white Christian nationalist strategy from the beginning.” I asked Katherine Stewart, the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,” how much Christian Nationalism and the great replacement theory intersect. “The answer is complex,” Stewart said. “There is definitely a wing of the Christian nationalist movement that overlaps with the Great Replacement theory and demographic paranoia in general.” At the same time, however, she continued, “there are other wings of the movement that depend less on explicitly racialized thinking and whose concerns are centered more on religious and cultural paranoia. Christian nationalism is making significant inroads among some Latino communities, for example, and there the argument is not that a preferred racial group is being replaced but that a preferred religious and cultural value system (with supposed economic implications) is under threat.” Instead of Christian Nationalism, Stewart prefers the use of “religious nationalism.” According to some scholars, there are two versions of Christian Nationalism, one more threatening to the social order than the other. Braunstein distinguishes between two variants of Christian Nationalism. One she calls “white Christian nationalism” and the other “colorblind Judeo-Christian nationalism.” The first, according to Braunstein, “explicitly fuses whiteness, Christianity, and Americanness,” leading to the conclusion that “white Christians alone embody the values on which a healthy democracy rests; and as such, white Christians alone are suited to hold positions of social influence and political power.” read the complete article

18 May 2022

Rep. Madeleine Dean: Support for 'Islamophobic, homophobic’ Kathy Barnette is 'troubling'

Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA) joins Andrea Mitchell to discuss far-right Pennsylvania Republican candidate Kathy Barnette’s campaign for U.S. Senate, drawing from her experience running against Barnette in 2020. “When she ran against me, she revealed herself and her values. Islamophobic, homophobic, embracing disinformation, the big lie, and Donald Trump's platform of disinformation and autocracy, frankly,” says Dean. “It's troubling to me to see that that somehow might have an appeal among the Republican base.” read the complete article

18 May 2022

Trousdale Turner didn't accommodate Muslim inmates, briefly banned Quran, documents reveal

Officials at Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility admitted to policies and practices criticized by Muslim inmates for being discriminatory. The Hartsville prison once banned the Quran on a list of supplies inmates could order and did not provide certain accommodations for Ramadan, newly released court documents show. The court filings reveal a series of decisions causing some Muslim inmates to feel treated less than their Christian counterparts. It’s a situation that mirrors cases across the country, which has led to a growing movement advocating for the rights of incarcerated Muslims. "We are not surprised by the complaints in this case. It is consistent with what we have heard from across the state at different correctional facilities,” Sabina Mohyuddin, executive director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, said in an interview. "It can be difficult for a Muslim inmate to assert his or her religious rights on their own." read the complete article


18 May 2022

How Hindu Extremist Bajrang Muni Has Terrorised A Muslim Family In UP

On 13 April 2022, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) police arrested Mahant Bajrang Muni Udasin, a Hindu in the central district of Sitapur, for threatening rape and sexual violence against Muslim women during a celebratory procession on 2 April, marking the Hindu new year. “If you harass one Hindu woman, then I will openly abduct your sisters and daughters and rape them,” said 38-year-old Udasin, of the Badi Sangat Ashram, in front of the Sheeshewaali masjid in Khairabad town in Sitapur district, to loud cheers from his supporters in the presence of the police. On the same day that he threatened to rape Muslim women, Udasin also raised the slogan of "jab mulle kaate jayenge ram ram chillaayenge” (When Muslims are cut, they will shout ‘Ram Ram’). Muni was arrested 11 days after he made the hate speech and six days after videos of the hate speech were widely circulated on social media, triggering public outrage and calls for his arrest. While granting him bail on 23 April, additional sessions judge Sanjay Kumar noted the police registered the first information report (FIR), booking him under six sections of the Indian Penal Code 1860, on 8 April 2022, six days after he made the hate speech. “There is no explanation given for this delay,” said the judge. The FIR was registered shortly after National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote to UP’s director general of police to "immediately" register a case against Udasin. This was not the first time that Udasin had issued rape threats to Muslim women in public in police presence. Publicly available videos showed that he had issued similar rape threats on at least two occasions (here and here), for which there have been no legal proceedings, and he has threatened violence against Muslims in at least four publicly available speeches (here, here, here and here). A study of Udasin’s criminal past revealed allegations of violence and land grabbing in Sitapur, with few efforts to rein him in by police in state run by the administration of chief minister Yogi Adityanath of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). read the complete article

18 May 2022

India's top court revokes ban on large prayer gatherings in mosque

India's Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a local order to ban large Muslim prayer gatherings in a high-profile mosque in north India after a survey team said it found relics of the Hindu god Shiva and other Hindu symbols there. The top court in an interim order stated Muslims right to prayer should not be disturbed, and simultaneously the area where Hindu religious relics were said to be found should be protected. The disagreement over rights to worship at the mosque follows a decades-long campaign by Hindu activists to show that key Muslim-built buildings in India sit atop older holy sites. A previous dispute 30 years ago led to fatal rioting. The Supreme Court order comes a day after a local court in Varanasi - Hinduism's holiest city and the site of the historic Gyanvapi mosque - ruled Islamic gatherings there should be limited to 20 people. The Gyanvapi mosque, located in the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is one of several mosques in northern Uttar Pradesh that some Hindus believe was built on top of demolished Hindu temples. Hardline Hindu groups tied to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have stepped up demands to excavate inside some mosques and to permit searches in the Taj Mahal mausoleum. read the complete article

United Kingdom

18 May 2022

Muslims already feel targeted by Prevent, the Shawcross review leak will make things worse

Muslims were told to reserve our judgement of the Shawcross review into Prevent (a strategy launched in 2007 to stop people becoming terrorists) until its findings were released. But it is already turning out to be exactly what we feared – another direct attack on Muslims. According to a draft leaked to The Guardian, the review claims the Government has been too focused on right wing extremism and should instead concentrate on Islamist extremism. Many Muslims have pointed out that William Shawcross, who is leading the review, has a history of racism and islamophobia, which threatens the review’s independence. In 2012, while in charge of the neo-conservative Henry Jackson Society, he said: “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations.” This review pits communities against each other by seemingly “prioritising” one form of extremism over another. It sends out a message to victims of right-wing extremism and their loved ones that the violence they’ve experienced is somehow less significant. Muslim communities know what Prevent can do and continues to do. It inflicts violence on our children in schools, treating them as terror suspects for wearing traditional religious dress, sporting a Free Palestine badge or simply speaking Arabic. It’s the reason that my family and I regularly face difficulties when travelling through airports because one of us is always “randomly” stopped by security. Prevent is also used as justification by authorities to surveil and censor Muslims until the fear is so ingrained in our lives that we begin to censor ourselves and surveil our own neighbours. Its impact is far reaching and deeply embedded in every part of British society: our schools, hospitals, and workplaces. We move through our days never knowing when we’ll be accused of terrorism or worse, questioned and detained by the police, simply for existing as Muslims. read the complete article

18 May 2022

Alarm as leak reveals Prevent ‘carrying the weight’ for mental health services

Mental health campaigners have sounded the alarm over a leaked review of anti-extremism programme Prevent, which suggests those without extremist views are being referred to the programme to access faster mental health services. “In my assessment, Prevent is carrying the weight for mental health services,” the report says. “Vulnerable people who do not necessarily pose a terrorism risk are being referred to Prevent in order to access other types of much-needed support. This is a serious misallocation of resources and risks diverting attention from the threat itself.” Shawcross has previously been criticised for comments he made about Muslims as director of the Henry Jackson Society, where he said in 2012 that: “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future.” A former Home Office counter-extremism official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the government would use the number of terror attacks to justify an increased focus on Muslims. “It’s very shortsighted and suits Shawcross’s agenda,” they said. “The government has been reluctant to look at the definition of ‘Islamist’ itself, which feeds wider anti-Muslim sentiment.” They added that the government had still not responded to Sara Khan’s flagship review into counter-extremism. Zara Mohammed, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, which has repeatedly raised concerns about Prevent and the role of Shawcross leading the review, said: “Prevent has alienated Muslims and is now being politicised by divisive ideologues keen to frame Muslims as a phantom fifth column. As such, we are not surprised with suggestions that far-right extremism be deprioritised.” read the complete article


18 May 2022

WATCH — Islamophobia and what’s being done to stop it

It's been almost one year since a Muslim family from London, Ontario, died in a tragic and targeted vehicle attack. As this sombre anniversary approaches, conversations and questions around Islamophobia in Canada are still present. Most experts agree and statistics back them up — Islamophobia is an issue in Canada. And some people say it is only getting worse. So what is Islamophobia? Why is it an issue in Canada, where multiculturalism and diversity are celebrated? And what is being done to address it? read the complete article

18 May 2022

The next Ontario government can’t ignore Islamophobia

Ontario voters will be heading to the polls on June 2 — just days ahead of the June 6 anniversary of the London attackthat killed four members of the Afzaal family in a hate crime. Unfortunately, addressing Islamophobia has not emerged as a major election topic (although it was addressed briefly in Monday night’s leaders’ debate). Granted, the first provincial election following the onset of the pandemic has many critical issues for voters to consider. But there has also been a sharp increase in hate crimes during the pandemic, including police-reported anti-Muslim crimes. Ignoring Islamophobia is not an option. In February 2022, the Ontario NDP introduced Bill 86, the Our London Family Act, based on recommendations from the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ National Summit on Islamophobia. Disappointingly, Bill 86 did not pass before the legislature was dissolved by the Doug Ford government for the June election. Each party should reaffirm its commitment to addressing Islamophobia in concrete terms, through policies such as those suggested by NCCM, in the coming days. Voters should push canvassing candidates on their positions regarding the Our London Family Act and indicate it is of utmost importance. read the complete article


18 May 2022

Austria’s Operation Luxor: Anti-terrorism or Islamophobia?

Dawn raids on homes in Austria in November 2020 – a government ‘anti-terrorist’ measure or a sign of growing Islamophobia? Dawn police raids on nearly 70 private homes across Austria in November 2020 shocked waking Muslim communities. The authorities claimed they were part of an important “anti-terrorist” operation but many believed Operation Luxor was indicative of a growing Islamophobic culture in Austria and across Europe. This film goes to Austria to examine what happened on November 9, 2020. The raids may have been a response to a lone attacker who had killed four people the week before. But there is evidence that the raids had been planned for months, so some suggest they were part of an intelligence sting targeting the Muslim Brotherhood and other leading Islamic figures. read the complete article


18 May 2022

French government seeks to block 'burkinis' in swimming pools

On Monday, the Alpine city of Grenoble changed its swimming pool rules to allow all types of bathing suits, not just traditional swimming costumes for women and trunks for men, which were mandated before. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called the change an "unacceptable provocation" that was "contrary to our values," adding that he had asked for a legal challenge to the new regulations. Under a new law to counter "Islamist separatism" passed by parliament last year, the government can challenge decisions it suspects of undermining France's strict secular traditions meant to separate religions from the state. Attempts by several local mayors in the south of France to ban the burkini on Mediterranean beaches in the summer of 2016 kicked off the first firestorm around the bathing suit. The restrictions were eventually overturned for being discriminatory. Grenoble's mayor Eric Piolle, one of the country's highest-profile Green politicians who leads a broad left-wing coalition locally, has championed the city's move as a victory. "All we want is for women and men to be able to dress how they want," Piolle told broadcaster RMC on Monday. "I want Muslim women to be able to practice their religion, or change it, or not believe, and I would like them to be able to go swimming," he added. "I want them also to suffer less demands to dress in one way or another." read the complete article


18 May 2022

Elite Chinese police college drew on UK's Prevent strategy for Uyghur policy

A new report has found that the London Policing College (LPC) has declared partnerships with eight universities in China, at least some of which have ties to policing in Xinjiang, where Muslim minorities have faced brutal treatment. LPC is a private UK company that provides police training internationally and receives UK taxpayer money for some of its work. Among the institutions highlighted in Tuesday's report, compiled by the rights group Freedom from Torture, was the Beijing-based People’s Public Security University of China (PPSUC), the country's elite policing university, which the report says focuses heavily on counter-terrorism training and learning about the UK’s own Prevent strategy. The PPSUC engages in training cooperation with Xinjiang Police College and the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which were sanctioned by the United States for their roles in human rights violations in 2020. The latter was also sanctioned by the UK in 2021. Freedom from Torture said the LPC's partnership with the PPSUC appeared "at risk of being exploited by China to lend legitimacy to "counter-terrorism" policies which have seen minorities in Xinjiang sent to brutal internment camps for reasons as absurd as having a beard". read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 18 May 2022 Edition


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