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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02 May 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In India, Senior Kerala politician P.C. George, who was arrested by the police on Sunday for his remarks demanding the economic boycott of Muslims, was granted bail by a magisterial court later in the day, meanwhile in France, five million registered Muslim voters are using their ballot to protect their interests – in this case, their right to exist and practice their faith, and in Sweden, analysts are predicting that this fall’s elections are set to be dominated by a cocktail of anti-immigration politics and tough-on-crime posturing. Our recommended read of the day is by Qadri Inzamam and Haziq Qadri for Foreign Policy on how a deliberately ambiguous refugee policy allows the government to deny shelter to Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution. This and more below:


02 May 2022

India Abandons the Rohingyas | Recommended Read

On a scorching hot day in April, in a shanty made of bamboo sticks, cardboard, tattered pieces of cloth, and tarpaulin, 12-year-old Rubina Begum was consoling her 9-year-old sister, Noor. A week earlier, their mother, Hasina Begum, had been deported to Myanmar, the country she fled in 2012 to escape genocidal violence. “She will most probably be either killed or tortured there,” a visibly worried Rubina told Foreign Policy. In March 2021, Rubina’s mother was among 170 Rohingya refugees from a camp in Jammu who had been detained for verification of documents and then sent to a “holding center” located in a jail. Jail superintendent Prem Kumar Modi told FP that more than 235 Rohingya refugees whose verification process had been completed were in the holding center. “The next step is to deport them,” Modi said. “That will happen if and when the government issues such orders.” The Myanmar army has been accused of killing and torturing thousands of Rohingyas, a minority group in the Buddhist-dominated country. Since 2008—the year Myanmar held a constitutional referendum that ensured the perpetuation of military rule and with it, the military’s “genocidal acts” against citizens—nearly a million Rohingyas have fled Myanmar for neighboring countries, with the vast majority going to Bangladesh. Many have come to India. Rubina’s parents brought their children to India with them in 2012. India is home to around 40,000 Rohingya refugees who live in camps and slums in different cities. In Jammu, 5,000 of these refugees live in makeshift houses and work as day laborers or do menial jobs to make ends meet. Rubina said when the police informed her about her mother’s deportation, they also added that she, too, would be sent back to Myanmar soon. “We don’t want to go back till the situation gets normal there. We will be killed otherwise,” Rubina said. In a statement released after Hasina’s deportation, Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said “the [Indian] government’s decision to expel Rohingya refugees despite mountains of evidence that their lives and freedoms would be at risk in Myanmar shows cruel disregard for human life and international law.” read the complete article

02 May 2022

Indian state leader pushes to replace religion-based laws

India should replace marriage and inheritance laws that are based on religion with a uniform civil code, the chief minister of a northeastern state said on Sunday, taking aim at rules that allow Muslim men, for example, to have four wives. Successive governments have steered clear of adopting such a code for fear of angering voters from India's Hindu majority as well as its Muslim and Christian minorities. But members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party and its hardline affiliates want to roll out the code in some states to gauge the strength of any backlash prior to a national push. "A majority of the Muslim people that I have met want a uniform civil code," said Himanta Biswa Sarma, the chief minister of the state of Assam and a senior member of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "No Muslim woman wants her husband to marry three to four wives ... just ask any Muslim women and they will endorse what I am saying," he told Reuters. More than 30% of Assam's population of about 34 million belongs to the Muslim community. The code, which aims to unify and implement personal laws, will apply equally to all citizens, regardless of religion, sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Legal matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance are now governed by different religious rules. Sarma said he favoured the code as a way to end regressive religion-based rules and empower Muslim women who cannot easily challenge polygamy in the courts. But critics see the code, which has figured in some BJP election manifestos, as part of the party's efforts to deliver on its agenda and boost anti-Muslim sentiment. read the complete article

02 May 2022

Ex Kerala MLA P.C. George Arrested for Anti-Muslim Speech, Granted Bail

Senior Kerala politician P.C. George, who was arrested by the police on Sunday for his remarks demanding the economic boycott of Muslims, was granted bail by a magisterial court later in the day. George, a former Kerala Congress (M) and then NDA politician, had asked non-Muslims in Kerala to avoid restaurants run by the community. Addressing a programme organised as part of the ongoing Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday, he had alleged that tea laced with drops causing impotence were sold in Muslim-run restaurants to turn people infertile in a bid to seize control of the country. George, who represented the Poonjar constituency in the state assembly for 33 years, had also urged non-Muslims to boycott businesses run by Muslims. He had also talked of “love jihad” and an “agenda to establish a Muslim country” by “sterilising men and women”, according to the Indian Express. read the complete article

02 May 2022

In India, hijab ban threatens access to education for Muslim girls

For 18-year-old Almas AH, a resident of Udupi in the southern state of Karnataka, faith and education have been the two most important pillars of life. However, for the past few weeks, the young student has been forced to make a choice between the two due to the changing laws of the land. In January, some students including Almas approached the Karnataka High Court after multiple educational institutes across the state banned female students from wearing hijab on the college premises, citing it as an aberration from the prescribed uniform. While hearing the petitions last month, the court held that the hijab does not constitute an essential religious practice in Islam, stating that the petitioners’ pleas against the hijab ban are “devoid of merit.” “Why would we struggle, protest, and fight so hard if the hijab was not important to us? Along with hijab, they are also denying us the right to education, privacy, and freedom,” Almas, who is studying science at the government-run girl’s college at Udupi, told Devex over a phone call. “For so many years, we were fighting to ensure that girls are given the opportunity to go to schools and secure their own rights. Now, when people are finally understanding the importance of education and sending girls to schools, something like this comes up which will hamper the process. This will definitely lead to a long-term detrimental impact on the education of Muslim girls,” Padki added. read the complete article

02 May 2022

Jamia Shooter Now Amplifying Hindutva ‘Hate’ Music Videos Featuring Violence Against Muslims

Uploading “music” videos featuring the assault and abduction of Muslim men is the latest turn that the communal career of the Hindutva extremist known as ‘Jamia shooter’ has taken, but the police continues to ignore his violent activities. The young man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – first burst to prominence two years ago when, as a juvenile, he opened fire on unarmed protestors from Jamia on January 30, 2020. Since then, he has been made a number of anti-Muslim hate-speeches and gained a large following on social media as a poster-boy for Hindutva, advocating mass violence in pursuit of the cause of turning India into a Hindu rashtra. He is also an associate of the known militant Hindutva leader Deepak Tyagi, who goes by the alias of ‘Yati Narsinghanand’. His latest actions involve the amplification of ‘music videos’ that show the abduction, assault and armed intimidation of Muslims at different locations. Some of his associates who had participated in the recent anti-Muslim mahapanchayats in Haryana uploaded these “music” videos, at least four of which are doing the rounds on social media in the Hindutva hate ecosystem. read the complete article

02 May 2022

Omar Abdullah EXCLUSIVE| From hijab, halal meat to razing of bulldozers, Muslims are being targeted'

In an exclusive interview with ABP News, Former chief Minister of J&K Omar Abdullah said that Muslims are being targeted in the country. While talking about the Jahangirpuri incident, Omar Abdullah said that, first there was clash between the people of two communities and then immediately after that the bulldozer was started. He then questioned over the illegal constructions being razed in the area. read the complete article


02 May 2022

Muslims mark Eid al-Fitr holiday with joy, worry

This year, Muslims around the world are observing Eid al-Fitr — typically marked with communal prayers, celebratory gatherings around festive meals and new clothes — in the shadow of a surge in global food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Against that backdrop, many are still determined to enjoy the Eid amid easing of coronavirus restrictions in their countries while, for others, the festivities are dampened by conflict and economic hardship. In India, the country’s Muslim minority is reeling from vilification by hardline Hindu nationalists who have long espoused anti-Muslim stances, with some inciting against Muslims. Tensions boiled over into violence at Ramadan, including stone-throwing between Hindu and Muslim groups. Muslim preachers cautioned the faithful to remain vigilant during Eid. Indian Muslims “are proactively preparing themselves to deal with the worst,” said Ovais Sultan Khan, a rights activist. “Nothing is as it used to be for Muslims in India, including the Eid.” read the complete article

02 May 2022

Twitter, Facebook and other platforms fail to remove 9 out of 10 anti-Muslim posts: report

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have failed to remove 90 percent of Islamophobic content on their platforms, according to a report published on Thursday. The Centre for Countering Digital Hate reported a total of 530 posts between February and March this year. They were found to contain examples of dehumanising content, such as racist caricatures, conspiracy theories and false claims. The posts had been viewed at least 25 million times. Such posts included images likening Islam to "cancer", conspiracy theories promoting narratives that Muslims are "taking over Europe", as well as depictions of Muslims as pigs, and other inhuman caricatures. Several posts that social networking sites failed to act on were shared by Hindu nationalists propagating hate narratives against Indian Muslims, who are currently faced with a surge in Islamophobic violence. Islamophobic content on apps such as Tiktok, Instagram and Twitter was easily detectable, with the sites allowing for hashtags such as #deathtoIslam, #raghead and #Islamiscancer to easily spread. Content spread using the hashtags received at least 1.3 million impressions. The report also found that social media platforms failed to remove 14 out 20 posts glorifying the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, including footage of the attack itself. read the complete article

02 May 2022

China’s aggressive efforts to bring back fugitives grow more brazen

As Beijing’s high-profile hunt for international fugitives escalates, activists and some lawmakers in Europe and North America are raising the alarm about its use of coercive tactics to repatriate people and calling for Western governments to be cautious with requests to send criminal suspects to China to face trial. Among the reasons they cite for rejecting Beijing’s demands are its misuse of international law enforcement platforms like Interpol as a tool of transnational political repression and its failure to appropriately guarantee a fair trial for those who return. Within the European Union, some fear that states like Cyprus, one of 10 members that have signed extradition treaties with Beijing, are at risk of being complicit in the international expansion of controversial Chinese policing practices that often ignore human rights safeguards. Since 2014, China’s issuance of Interpol “red notices” — essentially, requests to police forces around the world to apprehend a suspect and send them to another jurisdiction — has increased dramatically from around 30 a year to more than 200 annually, according to figures published by Chinese media. The notices target not just allegedly corrupt officials and executives but also, according to reports, include political activists and ethnic Uyghurs or Tibetans who fled Chinese repression in their homelands. At least 1,574 Uyghurs have been detained and repatriated from outside China since 1997, with 1,364 of those cases taking place since 2014, a new analysis by the Wilson Center detailed. The report noted that Chinese practices targeting Uyghurs include withholding passports, cyberattacks, intimidation, surveillance, pressure on families, spying through informants and abuse of Interpol and extradition treaties. Under what China calls a counterterrorism program, at least a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained since 2017 in Xinjiang province and subject to political indoctrination, torture and psychological abuse, according to the State Department. read the complete article

02 May 2022

German Parliament to discuss situation of Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang

In a bid to create pressure on China regarding human rights violations of the Uyghur community in the country, the German Parliament will hold a discussion on the situation of Uyghurs on Saturday. Ahead of the upcoming discussion on April 30, Enver Can of Ilham Tohti Initiative organized a press conference on Friday (local time). The conference witnessed the participation of a camp survivor Sayragul Sauytbay, author Alexandra Cavelius, researcher Adrian Zenz, Uyghur American attorney Nury Turkel, and Prof Marie Holzman. In the conference, the participants elaborated on the deteriorating situation of Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [XUAR] and also talked about the torture, religious restrictions, cultural cleansing, and forced abortions and sterilization of ethnic nationalities in China. Notably, the discussion on Uyghurs in the German Parliament may create monumental pressure on China. read the complete article

United States

02 May 2022

War Crimes Hearing Revisits U.S. Soldiers’ Abuse of Detainees

Defense lawyers are delving into the early days of detainee abuse in wartime Afghanistan in pretrial hearings in the destroyer Cole case, with descriptions of a key informant being held hooded and nude, deprived of sleep, used as an ashtray, and made to clean up a fetid spill of human waste and diesel fuel with his bare hands. “I laughed at him while he did it,” Damien M. Corsetti, a former Army private, testified last week in sorrowful tones of his role in the military intelligence campaign to prepare a Saudi prisoner, Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi, for interrogation at the Bagram Air Base detention facility in the summer of 2002. Mr. Corsetti said he also subjected Mr. Darbi to periods of painful double wrist shackling in what were called “stress positions,” sometimes on his knees, sometimes with arms raised above his head. He smashed furniture near Mr. Darbi’s hooded head and saturated the hood in a mock waterboarding. It all took place inside an old Soviet MiG hangar where, when not being interrogated or held in isolation, prisoners were forced to sit silently on rugs the size of prayer mats in one of five cages named for Qaeda attacks: Tower 1, Tower 2, the Pentagon, Pennsylvania and the Cole. Now it is up to an Army judge, Col. Lanny J. Acosta Jr., to decide whether to allow F.B.I. agents to testify to what Mr. Darbi told them at Bagram nearly 20 years ago at the eventual death penalty trial of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Mr. Nashiri, 57, is accused of plotting the bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole, which took place off Yemen in October 2000 and killed 17 U.S. sailors. read the complete article

02 May 2022

Highland Park’s ‘Home is Where We Make It’ mural defaced days after completion

The mural painted by Amrisa Nirajan at 75 Raritan Ave. was completed on Wednesday. Police believe it was vandalized on Friday sometime between 7 and 10 p.m. The star of David and the words USA were sprayed painted over the face of a woman wearing a hijab. News 12 New Jersey was told there were also pieces of paper with USA written on them taped to the mural. The artist's and the collaborators' names at the bottom left-hand corner were also sprayed painted over. News 12 New Jersey spoke with the artist who said she was racially harassed while working on the mural. She said she was asked questions like why there weren't any white faces on the artwork. The mural was meant to be a beacon that welcomes refugees and asylum seekers to the community. read the complete article


02 May 2022

No, Burning Qurans in the Street Isn’t “Part of Our Democracy”

Over Easter weekend, Quran burnings organized by Danish far-right provocateur Rasmus Paludan led to several days of rioting in Sweden. The serial stunts were staged in neighborhoods well known for their diverse communities with large Muslim populations, whom they deliberately sought to offend. Counterprotesters reacted by throwing stones at Paludan and burning police cars. The language of a “warzone” became ubiquitous, with one police officer interviewed saying of the rioters, “These are terrorists, not counterprotesters.” Such scenes have become sadly familiar in the Nordic countries in the five years since Paludan first formed his political party, Stram Kurs (Hard Line), in Denmark. He has consistently failed to gain political office in that country, and today seems on track to fail in Sweden, too; the Easter weekend provocations were an attempt to drum up support for his new party Stram Kurs Sweden, which has just 170 followers on Facebook. Yet, while it seems that Paludan will continue to flop electorally, what really matters is what the riots and the Islamophobia that triggered them have to say about Sweden. One lesson is the long-standing potential of radical-right politics to capitalize on issues in neighborhoods wrought by racist stigma and neoliberal restructuring. The second is the Swedish political mainstream’s prompt concern to claim that these events are really explained by the deviant cultures and values of non-Westerners. In the days since the riots, a consensus has emerged that those involved in violence against police were not legitimate counterprotesters but organized members of criminal networks or even foreign agents. But even if such claims are borne out, they must not distract from the growing far-right influence behind the stunt — and the simmering social conditions behind the anger the Quran burnings provoked. Indeed, with the political response to this episode we have seen that there is no longer room to propose social solutions to social problems. This fall’s Swedish elections are instead set to be dominated by a cocktail of anti-immigration politics and tough-on-crime posturing. read the complete article

United Kingdom

02 May 2022

Beyond diversity: How Black and Muslim women are changing the publishing industry

When it comes to diversity, the publishing industry in western countries has long had a reputation for failing to publish books by people of colour and those from different religious backgrounds. Whether that characterisation is justified is a subject of debate but authors from diaspora groups and religious minorities often complain of their struggles to get their stories published. Some say they get immediate rejections, while others are told that their stories, which feature characters that are not white and revolve around themes of religion and culture, would not resonate with wider audiences or simply not sell. A number of major publishing houses, such as Penguin Random House and Harper Collins, are making highly publicised efforts to publish authors from Middle Eastern and Muslim backgrounds, among others. Nevertheless, some authors and publishers are taking things into their own hands, turning to self-publishing or establishing alternative book publishers who aim to produce books that are dedicated to communities that have traditionally been under-represented within literature. British-Egyptian author Yousra Samir says that she wrote her debut book Hijab and Red Lipstick at a time when books centred on Muslim characters, especially women, were scarce. Published in 2018, the story is semi-autobiographical and is inspired by her experiences growing up under the guardianship system in the Gulf. However, the process of getting published was not straightforward. “I struggled to find an agent,” she said, adding: “The feedback I kept getting was that there was nothing wrong with my writing but they couldn’t see a place on the market for it. “I felt this was not true; there are so many Muslims in the UK and beyond who were vocalising the wish for more books written by Muslim authors, centring Muslim characters." Eventually, Samir had her book published in 2020 by Hashtag Press, after winning a writing competition where the prize was a book deal. read the complete article


02 May 2022

French Muslims Overwhelmingly Backed Mélenchon. Will the Left Take Note?

Yet despite national defeat, the French left overwhelmingly won the votes of one key demographic: French Muslims. According to IOFP polls, 69% of Muslims voted for Mélenchon, while Le Pen received a measly 7%. What does the overwhelming endorsement of this group mean for the future of the French left? Thinking of a ‘Muslim’ vote in religions terms (such as directed by an iman or doctrine) is inaccurate. Muslims in France are legally not allowed to organise politically (Macron’s first term resulted in the implementation of a charter that saw the “instrumentalisation of Islam to political or ideological ends” banned). But, like any other demographic, the five million registered Muslim voters in France use their ballot to protect their interests – in this case, their right to exist and practice their faith. Most of these Muslims have African backgrounds, descendants of post-World War II waves of immigration from the likes of Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, Mali or the Comoros Islands. The majority live in Paris and its banlieue, its oft-demonised suburbs. In these poorer urban sectors, being part of a religious minority defines voting tendencies. While low-income voters in French overseas territories with majority Black and Creole populations overwhelmingly voted for Le Pen in the final round, in mainland France, persecuted Muslims plumped for the left. Lina, born in France to North African parents and raised in the Paris suburbs, has backed the left for years. “Mélenchon, for all his character flaws, gave me an unexpected surge of hope by the end of 2021, and I truly believed there was a chance for a positive change at last,” she tells Novara Media. “It pushed me to talk about politics with my family and friends. Some of them didn’t read the programmes [manifestos] and had little to no idea about what candidates offered.” For Lina, Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (LFI) was the best hope for low-income Muslims. Muslim support for the LFI was not viewed positively by all, however. Following polling, many mainstream media outlets from across the political spectrum blamed Mélenchon for creating a “communitarist vote” and for fuelling “Islamo-leftism”. Leftwing magazine Marianne went so far as to accuse Mélenchon of promoting a “fundamentalist entryism”. But in a country where everything Muslims do is viewed as extreme, how could French Muslims not feel alienated by other candidates? “As a French Black Muslim man, I’ve never been listened to or represented,” says 24 year-old Awad, who is of French-Comorian descent. “Mélenchon’s party was the only party that made us feel like we were legitimate French citizens.” read the complete article


02 May 2022

Quebec man seen on video spewing racist insults at Muslim woman working

A video of a young Muslim woman working at a mall on Montreal’s south shore being berated by a customer has gone viral, after the man is heard spewing Islamophobic comments at her. “I really got harassed for no reason, just for a piece of cloth, the young woman said. CityNews agreed to keep her identity confidential, as she fears repercussions. “He said, ‘I’ll make you close your shop, your kiosk, and you’re going to have to leave,'” she recounted. Because the young woman is wearing a hijab, the man in the video is seen approaching her, telling her about Marine Le Pen, a French politician opposed to wearing the veil in public spaces. He’s then heard telling the woman he’s going to make her take off her hijab publicly while stating her name and date of birth. “I was like, bye. And I waved at him. Then he said, ‘No, I will not wave back at you. I do not like women who wear the hijab. You are a submissive woman and I consider you sexual abusers.’ And I was shocked,” she said. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 02 May 2022 Edition


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